/ Shopping

Has Ocado’s switch to M&S worked for you?

It’s been three months since Marks and Spencer became available on Ocado. Is it still a draw, or are you shopping online elsewhere?

To much fanfare at the start of September, Marks & Spencer products became available for delivery on Ocado, ending its long-standing arrangement with Waitrose. 

At the time shoppers were told that not much would change – Waitrose products would have an equivalent available from M&S.  

Which? research also demonstrated that people would save money – spending £2.74 less on M&S-branded products than they would on the Waitrose equivalent

So a different brand, but a similar shopping experience. Three months on though, is this still the case?

Price and selection may vary

There seems to be a difference between M&S and, well…. M&S. Back in October, shoppers noticed how prices on some M&S items were different in store than on Ocado

In addition to price changes, community member Alfa says she’s noticed the selection on Ocado appears to have changed as well. She told us that some brands have disappeared, while others have been replaced.

She’s also noticed some M&S products increased in price after three weeks. Alfa’s now decided to get a regular Waitrose delivery once a month alongside Ocado in order to account for some of her regular products not being available.

Still delivering for you?

If you’ve shopped with Ocado before, how has the M&S changeover been for you? Has it been a positive experience to get M&S products delivered, or have you started looking at alternatives from other supermarkets?  

Ocado was a popular option for many who shopped for groceries online during the spring national lockdown. 

When we asked back in July though, most of you told us that you’d be returning to the shops when the pandemic eases.

Now that restrictions are somewhat easing depending on where you live, have you been continuing to shop for groceries online, or have you been returning to the shops?

Comments

If you are lucky enough to get a Waitrose slot this side of the New Year, you are fortunate indeed. Both their delivery and click and collect are fully booked or unavailable until January 3rd 2021 in my area, although I am registered on their priority list. I have managed to obtain a delivery on Sunday 20th with Ocado, but they had (a) increased their minimum spend to £90 and their delivery charge to £9.99!

It seems very clear to me from peoples comments that Waitrose are
presently the winners since leaving Ocado, due mainly to (a) people preferring Waitrose food to M&S and (b) Waitrose free delivery service, although this perk could be hidden and swallowed up in their more expensive prices. Some of their produce was. I noticed, substantially reduced during the take over period in September, no doubt in order to procure more discerning Ocado customers away from the clutches of M&S.
.
Personally I do think that Waitrose food has the edge over M&S, as they have always enjoyed a monopoly status in my area and, because of this, I have been a Waitrose customer for many years, that is until the fairly recent appearance of German owned Lidl who unfortunately are not contemplating offering a delivery service, in the near future.

At the moment, it’s very much a case of accepting what is available if you, like me depend upon your food delivered to your door and are probably open to exploitation from whoever you are fortunate enough to be able to obtain a delivery slot. I can get used to M&S food, although I still prefer Waitrose, and also learn to be grateful for whatever is delivered to my door during an extremely difficult time for everyone.

It might be worth pushing Ocado to give you free delivery, Beryl. According to their website:

“How much does delivery cost?

The delivery charge depends on the day and time of your slot, and the value of your order.

If your order is less than £75, there’s a minimum charge of £2.99 and a maximum of £6.99. For standard orders of £75 or more, you may be offered free delivery. You can view the various options when you book your delivery slot. There you will be able to select a delivery time and cost that best suits you.”

Just have to say that it is nothing new for Ocado at this time of year a week or two before Christmas, to have a minimum spend of £90 pounds and £9.99 for delivery. I have shopped with them for at least ten years and this has always been the case.

I wonder if Ocado knows that you can’t just display prices and charge more for goods or services. I wonder if anyone has reported this to Trading Standards.

Beryl, it is worth keep checking for delivery slots, which is how I get most of my Waitrose deliveries as they always look fully booked. I managed to catch one to take advantage of their 25% wine discount recently. I have seen posts where people say they book deliveries with several supermarkets then decide at the last minute which ones to cancel. Also, I was trying to get a Waitrose delivery a couple of weeks ago and suddenly a block of them appeared on one day presumably as another driver or van became available. They went very quickly though So it is worth keeping the delivery page open and keep refreshing if you can.

On Ocado, I was probably one of the first to be offered a Christmas week slot so was able to get it easily and as I shop for two households and was limited to one delivery, I let my mum have it. To make sure she always gets a daylight delivery, she also has my regular weekly Ocado Reserved slot and I was rather annoyed that this was cancelled for Christmas week and had to be rebooked. All slots that week cost £9.99 even though I pay for their Smart Pass that recently more than doubled in price and was sold as With your Anytime Smart Pass, your delivery charges will disappear.

With their continual out-of-stock problems, I am worried she won’t get her turkey crown for Xmas dinner. It was ordered weeks ago but has been showing as out-of-stock for some time now.

Ned Ryder says:
19 December 2020

Reported what exactly? What have they done that’s illegal?

Under the The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations you are not allowed to mislead customers and advertising a service at a lower price than you charge is misleading.

Is this what they are doing? I presume the delivery charge is made clear before you place an order? Otherwise it would be wrong.

I recently placed an order with Amazon, over £20 so free delivery. After I’d placed the order I found delivery had been added, as the default was 1-2 days (if I remember correctly). When I later realised the total charge was more than I expected I went back to and – easily – removed the charge before despatch.

Rather like Prime, a little to easy to end up paying for something you didn’t want.

As I see it, it would depend on how the charge was shown. Tesco started charging £1.50 for the privilege of collecting groceries for my click & collect order, whereas previously I had not paid for this service. That was made abundantly clear because choosing a delivery slot involved in selecting a box marked £1.50. If Ocado wants to charge more at Christmas, why not put this on their website? Then there is no chance of misleading and possibly alienating customers.

I’m normally careful about online websites but have managed to to sign up to Prime twice. It’s easy to cancel and I believe that you are reminded by email. I wonder how many times you can be signed up and cancel.

The Ocado delivery charges were clearly displayed next to every available time slot and all were £9.99. When you are left with no option other than choose one you have to pay up. Waitrose were fully booked at the time and as a slot was available with Ocado, I went for it. It’s being delivered tomorrow between 7 and 8 am.

Thanks Beryl. That means that it is not misleading, but I wonder why they show the incorrect information on their website.

I hope you get everything you order and no substitutions.

Their terms and conditions include Christmas deliveries “ The £40 minimum spend does not apply during the Christmas period, whereby the minimum order requirement will be £90 (excluding delivery charges). The Christmas delivery period is from 20 December to 24 December inclusive. The Christmas delivery charges will be the charges applicable at the time (as determined by Ocado in its sole discretion).”.

Thanks Malcolm, but you can still see different information on this page: https://help.ocado.com/hc/en-us/articles/360017551912-How-much-does-delivery-cost-

I’m hoping that Waitrose is still providing free delivery for orders over £40.

It does, according to their website. I haven’t yet used a delivered service; I much prefer getting inspiration searching a real shop and then selecting the nicest example and best date. Now we are in tier 4 I might think again.

I was parked near a Waitrose yesterday so decided to do my shopping. It was OK but I was not especially impressed with the quality, although there was plenty of choice. I did find a nice bottle of Manzanilla Pasada and their own Malbec which I’ll be interested to try. Got the priorities right (also bought some food).

They do not come out too well in this Which? investigation. However, special offers are a common supermarket tactic that distorts their general value. Finish dishwasher tablets seem a prime contender at Tesco. And difficult to compare the value for money of food; my daughter says her Lidl meat, although relatively inexpensive, always seems good quality.

Waitrose minimum free delivery spend used to be £60 but it has now been reduced to £40, equaling that of Ocado. Waitrose are really upping the competition and it’s seems to be working, which is probably the reason why their slots are so hard to come by. Ocado need to revise their delivery charges if Waitrose continue to offer free delivery. During the first Lockdown JL were sending staff to work in Waitrose which they will probably repeat next week to help out with the busy pre Christmas food shopping week.

I preferred to shop in store but after nine months I have become accustomed to ordering groceries online. Waitrose deliveries are a challenge to get but I’ve booked a click & collect between Christmas and New Year. Generally these are easier to get with most supermarkets and leave the deliveries free for those who don’t drive or wish to leave the house.

I’m sorry you are now in Tier 4. This is going to cause problems for many people over Christmas.

Beryl – Round here, Waitrose are maintaining good stocks, their substitutions are sensible as are their ‘use by’ dates. I’ve not placed many orders myself but a friend often orders groceries for me, and vice versa.

Whoops. A bit late now but three comments up I referred to “this Which? investigation” but forgot the link, which is https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/supermarkup-which-reveals-the-grocery-products-that-you-could-be-paying-too-much-for/

Oh dear, another dissatisfied customer. I too had been optimistic about the changeover but finished up so disappointed for all the reasons given by others. I had wondered how a full blown supermarket could be replaced by a ‘Food Hall’, but was prepared to find out and hope that the M&S brand would make up for that. Ocado have been fine in terms of product availability (apart from many of the M&S products) and deliveries and they graciously refunded a months Smart Pass when I cancelled, because I hadn’t used it for the previous month. I now use Waitrose deliveries and have a Morrisons midweek pass which is so cheap that it’s useful to keep up my sleeve if I have a problem with WR.

Fiona Chesterman says:
18 December 2020

Sadly the change from Waitrose products to M&S products was never destined to be a positive one for me. I have shopped with Ocado since the beginning but now only continue to do so as their slot availability is much better than Waitrose delivery. Similarly to other reviewers I now juggle my shopping between the two and hope in the future that Waitrose will expand its delivery service.

Christopher Bowles says:
18 December 2020

As a long-time M&S food customer I welcomed the opportunity to get delivery from Ocado and the service has been good BUT it’s very difficult to get a delivery slot and you can’t use M&S vouchers or the Sparks loyalty scheme, so I have to mix deliveries with store visits, which defeats the object really.

Jacqui says:
18 December 2020

I’ve been with Ocado for about 6 years but have just cancelled my smart pass. Since they teamed up with M&S I’ve had missing or substitute items almost every delivery, which NEVER happened when they were with Waitrose.
I love M&S food but they should have done their own delivery then at least we would have been able to use the Sparks offers with it.

Ocado got greedy and took on lots of new customers at the beginning of lockdown, loyal customers (since 2003 in my case) didn’t get a look in. They did sort that after a couple of months and I was able to get slots as a ‘priority’ customer. Then came M&S. I don’t really like M&S food, the ready meals are full of sugar and cheap fillers, there is less organic/sustainable choice for fresh food. The Ocado website is still great, as are the drivers, but that doesn’t make up for the poor choice. It’s a bit harder to get Waitrose slots, but that’s where I shop online now.

Reading the comments, I seem to be the outlier here as I have actually found the M&S choices better, and often cheaper, than the Waitrose ones – with excellent quality too. I rarely have missing items or substitutes from Ocado and have signed up for the weekly shopping delivery where it automatically books you the same slot each week. I can only assume it depends on which Ocado distribution centre your shopping comes from as to the reliability of your order.

My Ocado loyalty is strong though, have been with them on and off for around 6yrs and I’m extremely grateful for the way they managed to deliver my shopping throughout the pandemic. That and their customer services and delivery staff are top notch and super friendly. I’ve been online grocery shopping for 10+ yrs and have tried most of them over the years – living rural, kids and working full time, it’s saved me a half day of my precious weekend each week. Ocado is the only supermarket delivery service I’ve used where there are rarely missing items and the perishables have long dates.

Susan says:
18 December 2020

I have shopped with Ocado for over 10 years and have a mid week smart pass. As others have said it’s virtually impossible to get a slot and if you do, in addition to having dropped many of their previous lines which weren’t Waitrose, there are so very many products out of stock. In fact I was unable to get a slot midweek during first lockdown and ended up paying 6.99 for a delivery in addition to my monthly smart pass charge. There is no loyalty shown to long standing customers nor those who are vulnerable. I mostly use Waitrose now, finding slot availability much better in our area, their substitute policy is better and their products good quality if sometimes a little more costly. Like an earlier contributor I also noticed prices of Marks products at Ocado increased substantially after a few weeks! Marks & Spencer food on line with Ocado has, sadly, not met my personal expectations.

Margaret says:
18 December 2020

I have shopped with Ocado for many years and have particularly liked their freshly picked goods with long sell by dates. Am I imagining it or has that changed? It may well be that M&S stuff comes from their shop rather than direct which makes a big difference.

Most of our neighbourhood stopped shopping with Ocado at the beginning of the year when we became aware of their plans to build a huge distribution depot in a residential neighbourhood, right next to our children’s primary school (www.nocado.org). This would have meant hundreds of polluting diesel truck journeys, right next to the playground, every day. I’ve mostly been shopping in-store at Waitrose since then – one of the benefits of lockdown has been not having to rely on deliveries as much – and I can get a two hour delivery from the Co-op which comes by cargo bike, to fill in the gaps during the week. I much prefer the Waitrose quality, and I like picking my own fruit and veg. I’m hoping Waitrose expands their delivery slots once we have to work back in the office again.

Finally, someone else who discovered the Co-op’s alternative service.

Ocado’s website collapsed under the strain within a week of lockdown and it never did let me place my order, even though it did remember it when the site finally returned. Morrison’s was the first company to get me a delivery, albeit it was one of their ‘take what you’re given’ boxes, and Waitrose was the first to get a delivery of what-I-asked-for to me. Under the circumstances Ocado was already on a loser when it switched, particularly since one of their suppliers had a Covid outbreak just before the switch. Ocado did assure me that they weren’t planning on using anything from that supplier but I’m afraid the die was cast. I do like Waitrose’s products anyway, but now that I know I can get deliveries within 30 minutes from the Co-op, let’s just say they’re doing quite well out of me!

W A Smith says:
18 December 2020

I have waited years for Ocado to deliver to slightly peripheral areas.
e.g. Berwick on Tweed and now Fishguard Still no news

Cumbria is also outside their delivery area.

I have been unable to get a slot with Ocado since the Covid pandemic started. Prior to that I didn’t shop for groceries online. Waitrose however came up trumps and I have managed to get a slot almost every week. I have been very impressed with the quality of their produce and will continue to shop with them while I can. I do love M & S food but I am over 70 and prefer to have my groceries delivered now.

Lynne says:
19 December 2020

Here in Northern Ireland we have no choice with the worst of both worlds I.e. no Ocado and no Waitrose!

We used to enjoy being able to buy Waitrose products from Ocado (as we have only a Little Waitrose nearby) and then shop at M&S to top up. Now we do the opposite although Little Waitrose stocks only a limited range. Our main disappointment is that so many of the M&S products supposed to be available from Ocado are regularly out of stock and other M&S products that we liked have disappeared altogether from the Ocado website. So overall the change has been negative for us.

I’ve found the switch by Ocado to M&S to be a case of swings and roundabouts. I have lost some valued products with no viable replacement (wraps in resealable packaging please), but found some M&S products I buy regularly that didn’t have equivalents available before. I do think that overall we’re spending more though. We also haven’t had problems with deliveries, we have smartpass and book our weekly delivery well ahead and have always found a slot since the initial lockdown panic eased. We even got a Xmas Eve delivery slot which was unheard of previously, but I think that was just luck as my wife happened to be up late when the announcement came through that they were open for booking.

I have been an Ocado customer from the beginning. This year has been a strange one for everyone. I think all supermarket delivery services came under immense strain to provide a delivery service throughout this year. There were many hiccups at the beginning of the lockdown as supermarket software was not up to the massive task of the influx of customers. Was Ocado better or worse – I would say from speaking with family and friends, Ocado got on top of the issues faster than most, but I had my frustrations – being unable to get a delivery slot for 6 weeks (they refunded my smart pass).

Waitrose V M&S – on the lead up (once the change over was agreed) Ocado increased the number of their branded products, I would guess to make up the difference between the M&S / Waitrose offerings. Have I noticed the difference – no. I have always like M&S products and the Ocado subs are as good as Waitrose. My shop is consistently cheaper.

I was not loyal to the Waitrose brand – I was loyal to Ocado because, from years of trying other services, this was the one delivery service that sent what I ordered. Rarely are items missing (and that has always been the case).

I have barely seen any difference since the change over and intend to remain an Ocado customer.

I have been very dissatisfied with the poor quality of M&S food which is nowhere near the quality of Waitrose food so I have switched to getting my deliveries from Waitrose. I had expected M&S food to be at least as good as Waitrose but unfortunately it is not.

D Finch says:
20 December 2020

I’ve been paying for an “Off Peak” Smart Pass with Ocado for a few years, delivery slots only Tues to Thursday. It’s been increasingly difficult to get a slot – so much so that I’m paying monthly when I’m lucky to get one slot a month. It would be much cheaper to pay for each delivery. In recent months I have found that so many things are now repeatedly out of stock to that I have to shop elsewhere – our favourite natural yoghurt, for instance, Walkers crisps for the kids (now like gold dust!). My biggest gripe is, to try to cancel (which I now have), they instruct you to phone a certain telephone number. I refused and simply emailed – although it took some time and had to go through links for other requests. There is a link for everything else, apart from how to cancel your Smart Pass. Really bad show, in this day and age, to make people jump through hoops to cancel. I haven’t got time to phone and be put on hold, then be quizzed about why I want to cancel, at any time of year, yet alone before Christmas. For this alone, I now begrudge shopping with them at all and will take my business elsewhere. Strange how these things influence your shopping power so much.

H Cheung says:
20 December 2020

The great north divide extends to M&S deliveries by Ocado – not available in Newcastle

Christine Willshee says:
22 December 2020

Since our local M&S food closed about a year ago I have really missed some of their foods, which I purchased regularly. When the link up with Ocado was announced I was really pleased. To begin with I was very impressed but recently most of the M&S foods that I wanted have been out of stock. Add this to the fact that you can’t earn Sparks points or use food offers that M&S send through the post and I have regretfully decided that I shall just have to do without my favourites and go elsewhere. Neither is travelling miles to an M&S shop, an option for senior citizens like us!