/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Our super-complaint on dodgy supermarket pricing practices

Put an end to misleading pricing

From dodgy multi-buys to shrinking products – it’s time to shelve misleading supermarket pricing tactics for good. That’s why we’ve deployed one of our most powerful legal weapons – a super-complaint.

We’ve been alerting retailers to misleading pricing tactics for the last seven years, and yet dodgy offers still remain on supermarket shelves.

Many retailers are creating the illusion of savings that don’t exist, which in turn mislead people into buying products they may not have chosen if they knew the full facts.

Our supermarket pricing super-complaint

Enough is enough. We’re now using one of the most powerful legal weapons in our armoury – a super-complaint – to demand action from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Which? has legal powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to formally raise matters that may be significantly harming consumers’ interests with regulators. It’s a power we only use after a great deal of work to exhaust every other possible route to change businesses practices. The CMA now has 90 days to respond to our super-complaint (PDF 4.7Mb).

Millions lost to dodgy offers

With £115bn spent on groceries and toiletries in 2013, we could be collectively losing out to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds, even if only a very small proportion of offers are misleading. Some of the dodgy pricing practices we’ve raised with the CMA include:

  • Confusing and misleading special offers.
  • A lack of easily comparable prices because of the way unit pricing is being done.
  • Shrinking pack sizes without any corresponding price reduction.

What’s more, we’re concerned about how supermarket price matching works in the context of these dodgy pricing practices.

The cumulative impact of all these different pricing tactics means it’s virtually impossible for you to know whether you’re getting a fair deal. This is particularly true when prices vary frequently, when you’re in a rush or if you’re buying numerous items of relatively low value.

We want an end to misleading pricing tactics and for all retailers to use fair pricing that people can trust. If you agree, please sign our petition. And if you’ve spotted any pricing tactics that really wind you up, share them in the comments below.

Comments

Can you provide a link please to the super-complaint so we can read it.

Hi Diesel, knew you’d ask 🙂 The super-complaint file was too big for us to upload here, so had to wait until I was up this morning to add the link.

Fed up mother says:
21 April 2015

Multipacks are being reduced slyly and tins of beans are being reduced from 420g to 410g and we are still being charged the same…if not more. This has got to be illegal as supermarkets are ripping us off. In times of austerity it’s bad enough trying to afford things but when we are being ripped off by multi million making companies….

Its not the supermarkets, Its the manufacturers who produce smaller sizes.
Lots of fruit juices now sold in obscure sizes of 850ml instead of a litre.

So what is wrong is that inflation statistics are probably calculated incorrectly.

It would just be altogether more honest of the entire food industry to sell constant sizes such as 250ml, 500ml, 1l or whatever and if the price goes up, it goes up. Its no big deal. It still remains a consumer choice or what represents good value.

I have just finished reading the super-complaint and I have to say it is a super super-complaint. It is very well written, well argued, concise, specific and well backed-up with research evidence, so I hope the CMA treat it with the respect it deserves.

The authors of the document go uncredited, which I think is a shame. I hope they will understand that we do appreciate their work very highly and look forward to a big step forward in the right direction in light of the CMA’s eventual response.

Well said John. I’m always glad to see reports that are easy to understand. It helps that most of us will be all too familiar with the subject matter and I hope that the document is widely read. I am waiting to see responses from the supermarkets.

Unless Which? is engaged in hot desking, it looks as if it has come off the computer of Sue Davies MBE, who is Chief Policy Adviser for Which? and Chair of the Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). She is a regular presenter of Conversations on food issues.

Thanks to Sue and everyone else involved.

Thanks for your comments John and wavechange. I’ve passed your feedback to Darren, Sue and the rest of the team here at Which? for their interest and consideration 🙂

Reverend Canon Alan Hughes says:
21 April 2015

On Saturday we visited our local Tesco store, a store whose application to build I supported.

We bought our usual grocery purchases then turned to wines…needing Prosecco we looked at the choices, ranging from £4 to £8 then spotted two unopened boxes of (white) Plaza Centro not priced. We asked an assistant who went away, scanned a bottle and returned with “£6.49 and if you buy six you get another 25% off” so we took six before choosing a further mixed case of six table wines..all of which listed claims that they were greatly reduced……call me naive!!! And you may in a moment.

On reaching the till I watched in horror as the numbers ratchet up….the system was charging the bottles at £12.99 a bottle. When I questioned this a supervisor was called and the queue behind us built up to our great embarrassment. There then began an encounter which lasted 20 mins…staff sent off to scan individual bottles to price check yet again. In the end I remained firm that I would only pay the price the staff initially marketed the bottles to me…£6.49.

I then noticed a lady at the next till with a box of six….she was told £12.99 a bottle and caved in.

When we reached the shop door I noticed a stack of boxes of Plaza Centre Prosecco, with a huge yellow ‘£6.49 a bottle’ notice..which I lifted and carried back down to the till to be told…”that is the Rose, the White is £12.99.”

As the late Dennis Thatcher is reported to have opined “Shurely shum mishtake?”

So what is going on….you may describe to me a marketing pattern of price ups and downs, I would say ‘caveat emptor’ yet again…..lowering customers trust in supermarkets. It would be interesting to find out what the producer of the wine would say, £12.99 against what they were paid per bottle. Hasn’t advertising an item at a vastly inflated price then later claiming a huge reduction had been outlawed….it ought to be

I could go on at length noting Tins of tomatoes offered at 24p a can or SPECIAL OFFER £1 for four…etc but let me end with the mixed case we purchased. I got out the ipad on our return and price matched our ‘bargains’ and found that all could have been bought cheaper elsewhere including Tesco’s own ‘wine by case’ ….the said Prosecco advertised all over the place, including sites with links to Tesco at £38.94 a case…6.49 which to us is a fair price and the 25% discount in store THE REAL AND GENUINE short term special officer to entice folk to store to buy other things.

http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=273884670
BTW the 25% ddiscount appears to have disappeared when I checked back on the link.

” Plaza Centro Prosecco 75Cl
25% off wine, when you buy 6 bottles or more** This discount will not appear on your online basket or when you check out online. The discount will appear on your receipt. Offer valid for deliveries made on or before Tuesday 21st April. Excludes Scotland. Further T&C’s apply.”
£77.94 per case Equivalent to £12.99 per bottle 77 Clubcard Points

The Plaza Pink Spumante is £6.49

The law is AFAIR, that the contract to buy and sell comes when you are at the counter and the offer and acceptance takes place there. The fact that a bin was mislabelled or a customer was misinformed unfortunately does not count for establishing Offer and Acceptance the two parts of the buying process.

You can appreciate for supermarkets staff errors happen and malicious persons could alter prices to create problems. The case law is quite old now.

It may be in a supermarkets interest to forego some profit where it is their error but I suspect the shop floor managers discretion has a limit.

In the interests of full disclosure I have supported Waitrose and Lidl in setting up in new areas. I regard most supermarkets as untrustworthy so always check the calculations as to what is good value.

Alan hughes says:
21 April 2015

Tesco wine by case web site advertised Plaza Centre Prosecco at £38.94 on Saturday last…bit troubled about ‘malicious persons altering’. The two boxes were on the shelf but no price beneath, a staff member went away and scanned, up came the acceptable figure of £6.49.

When the till later registered £12.99 a bottle the supervision had other staff members go to a terminal and scan again, each time it came up £6.49 but the till remained adamant at £12.99….

I have since looked at price checking web sites and find that the price goes up and down from £12.99 to £6.49 or thereabouts like a fiddlers elbow….

We see this constantly in our Tesco. I remember buying a case of beer that was priced at £8 for one or 2 for £18. Naturally I bought one. I could go on & on & on but it would become tedious. Needless to say we shop only when essential at Tesco as it’s a 24 hr branch.

I know that sometimes the pricing structure is difficult for the mere mortal to decipher but with regard to the £8 each or 2 for £18 that is because it is any 2 across the 2 for £18 range so you could have bought that beer for £8 and another variety that was £12 for £18 thus saving £2 you do not have to buy 2 of the same

JT, providing if you buy two of the £8 each ones you are charged £16.

I almost got caught out in Tesco last week, I was looking for GU10 50w halogen lightbulbs & found the right ones in Tesco, pack of 6 shelf-priced at £4.50. When I took them to the checkout they came up as £9.50 – fortunately I only had one other item otherwise I may not have noticed at the time. Even the checkout assistant exclaimed, “these are expensive!” A supervisor was summoned & had to trek back to the display, meanwhile a long queue was forming behind me…Supervisor returned & agreed the shelf price was £4.50 but for a pack of 3. As it seemed I’d picked up the only pack of 6 for which there was no price ticket she refunded me the £5 difference.

David Waddell says:
21 April 2015

One to be careful of at Waitrose (and perhaps other places).

A range of items are on offer at buy one get one free. So I choose a couple of items at £3 and a couple of items at £2, hoping to get one of the £3 items free and one of the £2 items for free. But the system offers only the cheaper item for free so you end up paying £3 for two items and the 2 £2 items come free. Waitrose staff defended the practice, but it seems the computer system weights its decision in favour of the supermarket.

Nowadays if I encounter such offers in Waitrose, I ring them through in separate transactions.

I think this is a con that should be stopped.

Holland and Barrett do this fairly so you would get a £3 and a £2 item free if you shopped there. Supermarkets should be made to operate in the same way as it can be done.

They also spread products around so it is very difficult to tell which offer they belong to as they can have several bogofs or similar offers in the same general area. Then you get to the till and find you pay full price for all of them.

Anton says:
25 April 2015

Sorry to disappoint you but I think Holland & Barrett are one of the biggest merchants on the high street in comparison to independent health stores, which are usually considerably cheaper, often even when H&B have their “buy one, get one for a penny” promotion. Check out your local independent (assuming you have one) – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

I agree with you on their spurious pricing. We don’t have an independent health shop so we save our shopping for when they are running promotions.

If they can afford to sell items for a penny, they should be able to reduce prices considerably and permamently.

alexandra says:
21 April 2015

on 20th April 2015, I visited Boots. they have the offer on Johnson and johnson 500ml series. The offer is 2 for £4. One of the products is Johnson’s baby bath bedtime. With the original price at £3.95, it seemed a very good deal. Later on, we visted Waitrose who also have special offer on this product. The original price was at £2.75. It’s outrageous that Boots’s price is significantly higher and being dishonest about their promotions. I suspect that they have raised the original price to make it look like a good deal. I

Nagina says:
1 May 2015

I stopped buying anything at Boots years ago because I noticed that they were more expensive on most items, including deals.

Having looked at the super-complaint document, I do not understand why Which? did not take this action years ago. Everyone who shops in supermarkets will be familiar with the ways that are used quite deliberately to make it difficult for customers to make informed choices.

At one time I was optimistic that unit pricing would put an end to the supermarkets’ games, but Tesco does not tell me the unit price for multi-buy offers or for products are sold individually rather than by weight. Other games used by supermarkets to discourage shoppers from using unit prices are discussed in the report.

I have signed the petition and hope that the super-complaint is successful, like the one on card surcharges. I am just not optimistic that we will win the battle until every supermarket has been taken to court to teach its directors that the cheating must end.

“but Tesco does not tell me the unit price for multi-buy offers” that’s because of the section on promotions in the Price Marking order 2004. I’m guess some lobbying went on there to make items on promotion almost exempt.

This is obvious para phrased from the actual law but I’m hoping they made sure it was correct before posting. See the section on promotions.

http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/cgi-bin/glos/bus1item.cgi?file=*BADV087-1011.txt

Thanks Darren. The problem is that those of us who post regularly usually don’t know what is happening unless a new Conversation is published, a member of the team posts a snippet of information or there is an article in the magazine.

I admire the patience of William, who has posted a great deal on the problems of supermarket pricing.

It would be a great help to be told where supermarkets are acting illegally. Armed with this knowledge, we can help apply pressure on the offenders and encourage our friends to do the same.

Tesco need to buck their ideas up. I reported them for selling creme eggs on offer when they had been on sell previously as they were new in this year, They changed the wording from on sale to new a week or so later.

steely says:
21 April 2015

Be aware, recently available in Tesco – 12 pack of cheese and onion walkers crisps, which you would think would be cheaper buying in “bulk” £2.95. 6 pack bags of walkers cheese and onion crisps £1.00 each, meaning it costs you 95p extra to buy 12 instead of 6, sneaky and misleading ?.

In the past the larger packs would have had wording like bigger pack better value plastered all over them. They stopped using that wording as that was the only thing legally binding enough to mean that had to make sure it was true. And as they can’t be bothered they stopped using it. I don’t think there’s anything in the law to make large packs better value. I do believe supermarkets are using our shopper logic that surely it should be better value to their advantage and our disadvantage.

Judith Purssell says:
21 April 2015

There are many ways the manufacturers and supermarkets are scamming us! I bought a special offer pack of 9 Andrex for £4 from Tesco. As soon as I picked it up I thought it felt light. When I got home I weighed a roll and, surprise, surprise, it weighed considerably less than the roll in the pack I had bought before. The size of the roll was, as a consequence, also smaller. I can’t help wondering if this is legal???

From my ConsumerReports [USA] account I can tell you that this is happening in the US also:
“Downsizing has hit the toilet paper aisle as rolls become narrower, cardboard tubes grow in diameter, the number of sheets per roll falls, and the sheets get smaller. With Americans using an average of 46 sheets of toilet paper a day, according to Kimberly-Clark, you want to make sure the kind you buy gets the job done. Consumer Reports tests toilet paper for strength, softness, disintegration, and tearing ease. Two winners top our latest toilet paper tests.
At 25 cents per 100 sheets, White Cloud 3-Ply Ultra sold at Walmart was named a CR Best Buy. It got excellent marks for strength and softness, and disintegration and tearing ease was very good. While tearing ease for Charmin Ultra Strong was excellent, it did not score as high on the other three attributes and costs 41 cents for 100 sheets. But it too made our list of top toilet paper picks.
The also-rans include Scott 1000, 8 cents, which is neither soft nor strong; Marcal Small Steps, 25 cents, which is almost as harsh as Scott 1000 and doesn’t tear easily, and Cottonelle CleanCare with Touch of Soft Cotton. Despite its name, it’s less soft than many and at 44 cents per 100 sheets costs more than all but one other tissue in our tests. And don’t buy by brand alone. Various Scott, Cottonelle, and Charmin products scored quite differently”

jbllewellyn says:
23 April 2015

“With Americans using an average of 46 sheets of toilet paper a day,”

That’s insane. Who needs that much toilet paper?

Maybe there are other uses for toilet rolls. When I was a research student, every bench in every lab had one or more pink toilet roll, which we used for every imaginable purpose from precision cleaning to mopping up spills. To start with, I thought it was rather naff to have toilet rolls on my lab bench and hid them in a drawer. Apparently the pink rolls were cheaper to buy in bulk than white ones.

Maybe the Americans have found interesting alternative uses for their toilet rolls.

That statistic of 46 sheets a day was the average; some people might get through a roll a day. It’s the people who use two or three sheets a day that I would regard with circumspection; trouble is, there’s no telling.

John, definitely worth a taking up a bogof offer. 😀

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32382829

The BBC writer points out that in fact supermarket offers are down as it is quite apparent that Lidl and Aldi are doing very well indeed by simplifying the shopping experience and having very limited offers. Which chimes with my view. : )

As to wavechanges view why Which? has not been more on the case I agree. In Australia the consumer organisation there awards Shonkiy’s annually and I have recommended this really useful idea to Which? at my site.


Shonky Awards 2014: CHOICE Shames Australia’s Worst Products
Chris Jager
14 October 2014 4:30 PM

Earlier today, Lifehacker attended CHOICE’s 9th annual Shonky Awards, where Australia’s most misleading, shoddy and unsafe products are named and shamed. From rip-off bank accounts for kidds to self-disintegrating cosies, these are the dodgiest Australian products of 2014.
For the past nine years, consumer watchdog CHOICE has been doling out the dreaded “Shonky Awards” — an anti-prize for Australia’s worst products and services. Each Shonky recipient is either misleading, dangerous or of particularly bad value to consumers.
“When CHOICE started the Shonkys eight years ago, it was probably on the hope that they would run for a few years and that we’d ultimately run out of material,” CHOICE’s CEO Alan Kirkland said at the event.
“Sadly, there’s no shortage of examples of businesses that need to do better. When we put out the call to the public this year we were swamped by the number of nominations.”
Dishonourable mentions
Each year, CHOICE highlights a few “almost-rans” that weren’t quite terrible enough to make the Shonky shortlist. (Better luck next year, eh?)

Fantastic “Gluten Free” Rice Crackers
Like most snack foods that fulfill a specific dietary requirement, Fantastic’s gluten-free rice crackers carry a pretty hefty premium. What the company refrains from telling you is that its regular rice crackers contain no gluten either. In the words of Shonky host Kate Browne; “what you’re paying for is a bigger font on the packaging.”

Coles “Fresh Baked” Bread
As we previously reported, Coles was recently busted for misleading customers about the freshness of its bread. The Australian Federal Court found that certain bread products advertised by Coles as “freshly baked in store” were sometimes produced months previously in other countries. The supermarket giant has subsequently been banned from promoting baked-then-frozen bread as “fresh” for three years.2

I think you will agree that perhaps Which? needs to be more aggressive and carry a longer memory on these matters. With so mnay members and a website it should be easy to recruit members to eyeball what is going on and perhaps take a few legal actions in members names to both provide copy for the newspapers and to keep the supermarkets more honest.

Chris says:
21 April 2015

I stopped shopping at Morrisons shortly after they started their Match and More card, along with the promise that they price match other supermarkets. What they didn’t say was that if an item is cheaper in Morrisons they take that amount back! For example a bottle of whiskey was £34.99 in Morrisons and £25 in Asda. If I bought that on its own in Morrisons I got £9.99 worth of points on my Match and More card. However, if I bought the whiskey and a jar of Coffee that was £2.49 cheaper Morrisons than in Asda I only received £7.50 of points back. even the store staff were shocked, not everyone reads the small print. The large print says we ‘price match’ misleading in my book at best. I suspect other supermarkets that price match do the same.

I have voted with my feet and do most of my shopping in Aldi and Lidl where the prices are fair and I am not constantly wondering if I am being conned by offers that are not offers!

Malcolm says:
24 April 2015

Not sure I agree about Aldi pricing.Soon after placing a range of fruit and veg in my trolley I noticed that the prices were being increased.

I was charged the higher price at the check out but if I had not seen the prices being changed I would have been oblivious to the fact that I was being charged about 10% more than the price I thought I was paying.

Took this up with Aldi customer service and received a standard reply which I would sum up as “tough luck”

Adrian Betham says:
21 April 2015

In North London several years ago the Highgate Society’s study found that prices in the local independent grocer were equivalent to that at the nearby Tesco. More recently a study found supermarkets including at Nags Head and Sainsbury in Camden Town to be more expensive than the local independent alternative in nearby Archway.
Two examples that may or may not be replicated elsewhere, but which seriously call into question the supermarkets’ advertising message that they offer cheaper prices to the public. This apart from the independents offering lower food-miles and a wider range of local employment than shelf-stacking.

Reduced-Price Multibuy Rip-Off: Waitrose have just changed their policy to be “in line with other retailers”. This means that if you buy short-dated, reduced-price food as part of a multibuy, they will charge you the same price as if you bought food fresh onto the shelves! Madness! If the price reduction on old stock causes the total cost to be the same (or less) than the multibuy promotional price – they just don’t give you anything more off for the multibuy at all! So why would anyone in their right mind buy reduced-price food from Waitrose, when they can have fresh stuff for exactly the same price?
They may be ‘in line’ with other retailers, but it’s not something for Waitrose to be proud of. Their previous policy was fair & benefitted both them & customers. They got rid of old stock & if customers were prepared to buy a bit extra, they got the benefit of both reductions. But now they want to have their cake & eat it – at our expense. I’m really disappointed in them; I used to think they were responsible & intelligent in their attitude to customers, but now I’m not so sure.

Check out the August 2013 story of the ‘tenacious’ Daphne Smallman v Tesco over the so-called ‘half-price’ strawberries by entering Tesco + strawberries into a search engine or by going directly to the BBC website and looking for bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-23755528. Tesco were fined £300,000 and had to pay costs of £65,000. Persistence pays!!

Patrick from Warwick says:
21 April 2015

I think Tesco have been the market leader in these shoddy practices for years , and have been copied by the other Supermarkets, so far Lidl and Aldi who I shop with and offer goods at a fair price and with few gimmicks such as “buy one get one free”. I like the idea of awarding Supermarkets awards for their shoddy practices each year. May I suggest “Con of the year” Just watch the fines that the Government watchdogs hand out when Which finally gets action (Well Done) it will be of the “Tap on the wrist” variety compared to these giant supermarkets annual turnover .

[This comment has been edited – please stay on topic. Have a read of our commenting guidelines for more info – Thanks, mods]

Some weeks ago, I bought from Tesco an item that now escapes me, but the incident doesn’t. The yellow reduced price ticket on the shelf appeared to say that something was reduced from £3 to £2. £2 seemed to be a fairly cheap price, so I bought one. I was charged £3, so I queried it with Customer Services. They went and found the display, brought back the yellow ticket to show me. The smaller print on the label said £3 each, and saving £2 (or words to that effect!). Both the £2 and the £3 were the same size, bold font. I guess this is my fault for not inspecting the ticket. BUT when I later checked other yellow ticket offers, some had the ‘saving’ price to the left and the ‘each’ price to the right. Others were the other way around. Surely this is done deliberately to mislead us?

Bernard Turnbull says:
21 April 2015

Hi Have a look at Waitrose; Back bacon 9.50 per Kg, same product in the constant 3 for £10 for £12.50 per Kg, Chicken at 3.15 per Kg, same product in the constant 3 for £10 for £3.66 per Kg. Pointed out to the store manager 3 times months ago but no change. Wine; Vasse Felix 2011 £25+, same bottle in in Costco £7.85. I could go on but I have stopped shopping at Waitrose now.

Gerry says:
21 April 2015

I wish that Which? would campaign vigorously against all these wretched Multi-Buy scams (e.g. “3 for 2”, “2 for £7, three for £10, four for £12” etc). It’s just another variety of Price Confusion.

In reality, they add a large surcharge on to the single item price with the result that only the multi-buy quantities aren’t rip-offs. This practice discriminates viciously against single people and those who prefer to buy fresh produce frequently rather than in bulk once a week or fortnight. It also causes a lot of waste when the second or third item of a ‘3 for 2’ has deteriorated or gone past its Use By date before being consumed. There’s clearly a public health issue here as well.

A similar scam is that it can be virtually impossible to buy say, a single pork chop or a few satsumas; everything is packaged in couple or family sizes with very little sold loose.

Multi-buys should be banned except where there are demonstrable economies of scale. Compared to individual items, it may be slightly easier to fill the shelves with 12-packs and to scan them just once at the till, but this can only justify a very slight surcharge on the single item price, no more than perhaps 1 – 2%.

Come on Which?, start battling on behalf of SINGLE people and those that buy small amounts of FRESH produce FREQUENTLY ! !

Why do I have to buy 2 or 3 of an item to get the reduction? eg 1 for £1.95 or 3 for £6.00. Why can’t I just have one for £2 – as a single person, by the time I get to the end of a fruit or veg multi buy the product has usually gone off. If the supermarkets in the USA can and do price this way, why can’t ours do the same?

Er! One for £1.95 is cheaper than 3 for £6 Thus single person buys are better value. However, I think we get the point you were trying to make!

I only shop at Tesco because Aldi and Lidl are 15 miles away.

I can confirm that supermarkets in the USA give you the equivalent offer price if you only buy one item of a multibuy offer.

This makes it fair to single people or the elderly struggling on their pensions.

So why do the US supermarkets bother with multi buy offers at all?

We shop at M&S where you can buy a single leek or potato if you want to. Their “3 for” offers give a large choice, and much of it can be frozen in single portions if you wish. Just buy what you need and feel is value. There is always the high street butcher for a single chop, the market for veg. Shop where you feel you get best value.

Bob says:
21 April 2015

Multibuy makes you buy more than you need so more gets thrown away. They are nearly always a con so I do most of the shopping in Aldi. Usually pay the same or less for one item that is in a supposed great multibuy offer – I hope Aldi/Lidl don’t go the multibuy way.

Use “multibuy” properly – a mix of products such as pork chops, fish, chicken – and you don’t buy more than you need. However an option, as you rightly say, is to shop where they don’t make such offers. However imposing a ban would simply remove freedom of choice – something we should protect. No one is forced to take up multibuys.

“No one is forced to take up multibuys.”

I have posted before about Tesco cucumbers offered at 90p each or two for £1. A single person is unlikely to want two cucumbers, or to pay an extra 80% for the privilege of buying one cucumber. I want to be able to buy one cucumber for 50p.

I have no problem with multi-buy offers on washing powder and toilet rolls, but they are not acceptable for greengrocery items and other products that have a short life – i.e. any product with a ‘use by’ date.

if you don’t want a multibuy, don’t buy it – go somewhere else for half a cucumber. No shop forces you to buy, nor is it obliged to sell at the price you dictate. You, others and I may find some legitimate practces not to our liking but we, like the shop, have a choice. I grow my own cucumbers and they taste a good deal better than bought ones – easy to grow outside. For some reason F1 seeds can cost around £1 each but I choose the older varieties.

Gerry says:
21 April 2015

@ wavechange

Exactly ! Multi-buys are not genuine discounts, in reality they are just Single Surcharges.

Apart from the disgraceful waste they cause (e.g. that shrivelled-up second cucumber), Single Surcharges also deter people from trying new products and ones they haven’t had before. If your “3 for 2” scam turns out to taste horrible, you still have two more of the wretched things left…

Gerry says:
21 April 2015

@ malcolm r

“If you don’t want a multibuy, don’t buy it – go somewhere else for half a cucumber. No shop forces you to buy.”

Yes, there’s plenty of choice. You can always buy half a cucumber at the Home and Colonial, between Woolworth’s and Abbey National and right opposite Achille Serre and Kwik Save.

Oh, wait…

Malcolm – Like many people, I don’t have any other shops nearby. Tesco put the local greengrocer, butcher and (I suspect) the milkman out of business.

As Gerry says, multi-buy offers are Single Surcharges and well acknowledged as a major reason for wasted food. The consumer must win the battle.

Several years ago, Asda announced that they planned to phase out multibuy offers. See Conversation: “Asda phasing out multibuys – should other shops follow?” There are still some press articles online but I don’t believe this ever happened.

I haven’t looked in Tesco’s store, but, online, cucumbers are 49p each (half for 35p). Less than 50p.

When not on ‘special offer’ the prices are sensible. When there are special offers it can become expensive for anyone who wants a single item.

We often try new products when they are discounted as a single item but not if they are part of a multibuy.

There is simlply no need for BOGOFs. A simple 50% off would suffice. You’d think a government would be able to pass a simple enough law very quickly to make a lot of voters happy. As you’ll never get all the supermarkets to play nicely under their own steam.

Tough. They cost 90p each. Buy it or don’t buy it. that’s your choice.
people are spoiled by choice and have raised their expectation levels too high.
Fruit and veg out of season and from all over the planet .

I can assure you that the cucumbers I referred to were British, though I cannot see that the source or season has anything to do with a stupid practice that wastes food and has been widely condemned by many organisations and individuals.