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Tesco’s Price Promise – one promise to rule them all?

Tesco store

Tesco’s new Price Promise automatically compares prices with its rivals, instantly giving you a coupon if your basket would’ve been cheaper elsewhere. Will it really help ease the strain on your supermarket shop?

This week Tesco launched its latest Price Promise; an at-till price comparison on your basket against Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.

After our most recent supermarket survey found that only 27% of Which? members think Tesco is helping to ease the strain on their food budgets, will this scheme encourage you to give them your custom?

How does Tesco’s Price Promise work?

When you shop in a Tesco Extra, Superstore or Metro Store and purchase at least 10 different items (including one comparable product) you will automatically receive a Price Promise receipt showing you a price comparison against Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

If your basket would have been cheaper elsewhere, Tesco will give you a coupon for the difference on the spot. Online customers will receive their coupon via email within 24 hours. These coupons will expire in 28 days and are capped at £10.

You don’t need to go online

One of the biggest problems with these schemes is that they often rely on you entering your receipt details on the supermarket’s website. While I had some minor success with Asda’s Price Guarantee, I invariably misplaced my receipt or forgot to check altogether.

Tesco’s immediate at-till comparison will take the hassle out of comparing prices and claiming back the price difference.

Another bonus of Tesco’s scheme is that it covers both branded and own-brand goods, as well as special offers such as buy-one-get-one-free promotions.

Price it right first time

Is there a catch? Well, almost half of Tesco’s stores will not be included in the scheme. Of Tesco’s 3,054 stores in the UK, 1,487 are Tesco Express stores which aren’t participating in the Price Promise. The scheme also isn’t quite as generous as its double-the-difference price promise.

It does look like an improvement on previous schemes, but pricing products right in the first place would be a genuine commitment to helping consumers in these cash-strapped times.

Plus, if Tesco really wants to help shoppers compare prices, it should include clear and consistent unit prices to help us spot the best value products there and then. I want to be able to easily compare products for myself, based on my own preferences. I want Tesco to help me do that, not fill my wallet with coupons designed to tempt me into regularly shopping in its stores.

The Tesco Price Promise claims ‘you won’t lose out at Tesco’, but what have we got to gain other than coupons?


I don’t trust Tesco with a visit to find out
….not anymore…enough said.

Surely this is very similar to the Sainsbury’s Brand Match scheme where you end up with a tuppenny-ha’penny coupon that expires before you need to do another big shop. Tesco also includes own-label items in its scheme but I hardly think either of these ideas are what customers really want: competitive pricing on like-for-like products, standardised weights & measures and clear unit pricing, and no more deceitful promotions where prices are manipulated to produce fake discounts. Tesco is wearing the hair shirt at the moment over its delinquency and lack of diligence in its processed meat supply chain. The trouble is, for so many people, Tesco has a local monopoly and they have killed off every form of competition with their one-store-sells-everything philosophy. Their potty motto – “every little helps” – actually refers to their bottom line, not the family budget.

I’m sure this will be another failed promotion from Tesco. Remember the Big Price Hike they rolled out a year ago? I’d love to get hold of their prices from a week/month or so ago, as I’m sure they’ve upped some to pay for this.

And if you actually manage to find 1 product in Tesco that’s cheaper in your basket of 10 you’ve wasted the benefit of this promotion.

And does it list anywhere if other stores promotions are included ?

And do the allow multiples ? ie. If I buy 10 banana Friji at the smaller size of 471 ml (used to be 500ml) at Tesco for £1.25 will I get a voucher for £7.50 back ? Yep Asda are selling them for 50p each.

With all the pricing mistakes you can spot easily I just don’t trust Tesco’s IT department, so I’d rather just go to whichever supermarket is the cheapest and save the money there and then and not have to do another shop to benefit from it.

JFisher says:
12 March 2013

What a pointless article. Which is just another business conning the public to trust them.. You have no teeth. Pointless.

Hi JFisher, our Conversations are here to start the debate, to set the scene and then leave you the community to have your say.

You may also be interested in more about our unit pricing campaign, with Morrisons and Sainsbury’s already promising to have clearer unit prices on labels following our campaigning.

If you’d like to give us further feedback, please use our contact us form, as we need to keep this debate on topic. Thanks

I got one! It said:

“Thanks for shopping with us today. You didn’t realise you were stupid enough to pay too much for your groceries, did you? But don’t worry; customers like you are really important for our profitability. So why not pop in next week when we can fleece you again. And as long as you don’t lose this coupon and remember to present it at the till, we will give you some money back to help you pay for next week’s overpriced shopping. Who knows, you might even get another coupon to remind you what an idiot you are!”

richard says:
14 March 2013

I have never trusted or liked Tesco anyway – I prefer the Sainsbury instant Cash reduction – I often get a few pounds off instantly – not points – This coupled with free delivery on-line over £100 (I order once a fortnight) and no hassle of parking with an excellent delivery time slot within half an hour of that stipulated – Typically say 12 to 1 o’clock chosen – actual delivery 12:30. . If Sainsbury stocked a wider range of goods I wouldn’t need to ever shop locally – as it it all items needed are available on-line somewhere usually post free. So at the moment it is actually cheaper overall now than it used to be when I went shopping at the local Mall with parking charges and petrol.

Last shop I apparently saved £7.61 yet Tesco aren’t confident enough to give me a breakdown. They are fooling no one expect maybe themselves. At least the person on the till didn’t try to big it up unlike the people in Sainsburys “Oh look sir, you’ve saved xyz this shop”, well maybe that’s cos I’ve come here to buy the stuff that you’re selling cheaper than Tesco this time. Sigh.

Fair enough for a Tesco price match promise.
However ASDA don’t match prices they beat them by 10%.
So far this has worked for me with vouchers when appropriate and led me to stop shopping at Tesco

I try not to be a creature of habit. I spread my shopping across four or five supermarkets. And there’s a couple of small, independent shops that get some of my trade, too. Incidentally, Tesco is not on my list!

You soon recognise what to buy where (a balance of value, quality, tastiness, etc) – without being obsessed about it.

So, who’s shopped at Tesco and had a result with its Price Promise? Were there any exclusions you weren’t expecting?

My last shop at Tesco’s just included a total of how much I’d apparently saved. No details were shown how these savings were made or if any items were excluded.

Clint Kirk says:
21 March 2013

I’ve just done a weekly shop, where I apparently saved £1.89 on a £41 spend. I then went on their website to see the detailed breakdown of how the saving was calculated. (William, you said no details were shown – that’s not my findings; indeed the breakdown was very detailed.) The previous week, I had received a 2-pence voucher on a £10 shop because Tesco was more expensive on that occasion. Of course, I carefully looked after that voucher and presented it at my next shop to get my discount. 😉 Even though its value wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

Going by my experience, I think the Price Promise is actually reasonable, but could be better:

1. The comparison is on the total shop, not item-by-item, so an item that’s cheaper at Tesco will offset a more expensive item. So it helps if you separate your shopping into the more expensive items and the cheaper items. Then pay for the more expensive items, get your voucher with maximised value, and use it to buy your cheaper items. It helps if you go with a partner, get one trolley each, then hand your voucher to your partner behind you to use it to buy the cheaper items.

2. It compares a total shop against each of the three rivals. This means that if your soap was £1 less at Sainsbury’s and your meat was £1 at Morrison’s, your payment will only be compared as a total against one or the other. So you can save £2 by buying your soap at Sainsbury’s and your meat at Morrison’s, but the maximum refund you’ll get at Tesco is £1.

3. A couple of my items were yellow-sticker discounted because of the sell-by date. Yet the discounted price was used to compare with the non-discounted price at rivals. I think this is totally unfair and misleading, as they are not comparing like-for-like.

In summary, you can actually use the Price Promise to your advantage, as long as you know what you are doing.

I only looked at the paper receipt they gave me and I don’t think of checking online. And not everyone has internet access. Yet everyone will be given a paper receipt.

We returned to on-line shopping with Tesco about a month ago after bad experiences with both Waitrose (failed to deliver), and Ocado (phoney comparisons), and have found the Tesco price comparison both useful (we have had small refunds) and effortless.

On two successive weeks savings have been:

£0.71 on £27.64 of comparable spend (2.57%), and
£2.69 on £61.34 of comparable spend (24.38%).

The savings on each occasion have resulted from the comparison with ASDA; Sainsbury and Morrisson being more expensive.

Re “were there any exclusions that I was not expecting?” the short answer is YES.

On the more extensive list 18 out of the 51 items were excluded claiming “no equivalent”, typically because they used different pack sizes, although Asda were clearly cheaper e.g. Fresh Spinach: Tesco £1 for 200g, Asda £1 for 1kg; Green Beans: Tesco £1 for 220g, Asda £1 for 240g. Even where there was an exact match the cheaper Asda item was ignored e.g. 150g packs of Raspberries: Tesco £2, Asda £1.50. In fact there were comparable items for 8 out of the 18 excluded and in each case Asda was cheaper. Had they been included I estimate it would have doubled our refund voucher.

It was effortless in so far as the calculations were done automatically, and the emailed voucher arrived automatically, leaving me to key it in on the following weeks shop. Just a pity that they did not automate that bit.

So from my point of view as an on-line shopper, it is good as far as it goes, but there is room for refinement.

For 24.38% read 4.38%

Anthony T says:
17 April 2013

At any supermarket, it seems we have to watch out for larger ‘economy’ packs costing more per unit than smaller packs on ‘special offer’. Sometimes significantly more.