According to the Panorama special ‘The Truth About Supermarket Price Wars’ it seems a lot of the time you can’t. And many of you have joined us in criticising supermarkets’ confusing product prices.
When we last wrote about confusing prices on supermarket product labels, Terry said:
‘I’m a Chartered Accountant so I feel comfortable with numbers and I’ve noticed this “marketing scam” by Tesco’s, Sainbury’s and Asda of late. I normally can’t be bothered to calculate what the best deal is.’
But many of you disagreed with Terry and thought along the lines of Richard:
‘To me it’s simple – take the mini bananas and weigh them on the scales usually provided, then you will have the price per kg for both items – the choice is easy.
‘At least it was when I taught Everyday Maths at school. Has the standard of “sums” dropped that low? I don’t think so, though the level of laziness has grown. I’ve never been that busy that I couldn’t spend a minute literally to check…’
Unfortunately, it’s often not a case of every day maths. Particularly when you have to compare something like clementines at £2.89 per kilogram with clementines at £1 for six.
Getting to the bottom of confusing supermarket prices
As Richard points out, scales are usually provided, but should you really have to use scales to tell which product is cheaper? There are a number of other reasons why supermarkets have to sort out their product pricing:
1. Older people, or those with learning difficulties, can not be expected to do the calculations required to work out which is the cheaper item.
2. People with young children in tow don’t have time to do these calculations, even if they are able to.
3. There can be several types of the same product (sometimes up to 62 types of jam) – the human brain just isn’t capable of storing the amount of information required to calculate which is cheaper if the unit pricing isn’t consistent. And even if you are up to it, this could significantly increase shopping time.
4. Furthermore, as Panorama showed, prices are often displayed in such a way as to make shoppers gloss over a product’s unit price. Shouldn’t it be the supermarkets’ responsibility to clearly display the unit price so that comparisons can be made quickly and easily?
We’ve had lots of examples of supermarket labelling issues sent in by readers, some of which you can see at www.which.co.uk/pricing, so we know there’s a problem and we want supermarkets to fix it.
If you watched Panorama earlier in the week, did it change your mind or confirm your thoughts about how supermarkets price their products? Do you get frustrated by confusing supermarket prices, or is this issue just a load of hot air?