I like to think I’m a savvy shopper who knows how to weigh up how good special offers are. But a recent experience with B&Q’s ‘3 for 2 all plants’ special offer showed me I’ve still got tricks to learn.
After an entire summer of digging out bindweed and ground elder from my flowerbeds, I can finally enjoy filling my neglected garden with flowers.
I’ve got many spaces to fill on a tight budget, so I was delighted to see the massive ‘3 for 2 ALL PLANTS’ signs at my local B&Q. ‘I can choose from all the plants – if I get three of each, I’ll get one of them free,’ I reasoned.
I spent an hour carefully picking out three of each of the plants I wanted, adding up the price of buying the first two, and weighing up the impact of the free flower power against the cost.
Which one’s the free one?
Imagine my surprise then when I got to the checkout and the discount on my £100 of plants turned out to be £22, not the £33 I was expecting. I looked at my bill again, adding up the plants I thought should have been free – ‘yep £33’.
I approached the floor manager who got his calculator out and confirmed that, according to my logic, the discount was wrong. Then a member of the gardening department pointed out the teeny, tiny small print on the offer – ‘buy two get the cheapest one free’.
So, rather than getting three of each plant for the price of two, they’d given me the cheapest eight of my 24 plants for free. So I’d paid £8 for all three Russian sages, and got a handful of £2.48 chrysanthemums for free.
Complain for change
Some might say that this should be obvious – after all, other shops like pharmacies usually state that it’s the cheapest items which will be the free ones. But then with other ‘3 for 2’ deals, such as the ones in supermarkets, it’s one of the three identical items that’s free.
I challenged their logic, as I didn’t think it was clear that they’d take off the cheapest items, and was glad that I did. I insisted that the small print was so small compared to the ‘see it the from the ring road’ size of the ‘3 for 2’ that they give me a refund.
Once I’d received my refund I then went back to the queue and incurred the dirty looks of the people behind me as I paid for each set of three plants separately. But I don’t care. It’s obviously cheaper to buy them in sets of three, allowing me to group them so that some of the most expensive plants fall into the ‘free’ category.
By paying for each plant type individually I saved £11, which I’ll spend on a couple of nice lavenders. And I’ll remember to read the small print first next time.