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Tesco.com’s smaller packs left me feeling short-changed

If you shop for food online, you’ve probably had to deal with ‘substitutions’. But what happens if the substitutions are just smaller versions of the products you asked for, while the prices stay the same?

I like to do the bulk of my food shopping online, and most of the time it’s straightforward and hassle-free. But I was recently unimpressed when, as part of Which? research into online shopping, Tesco sent me smaller versions of several products I’d ordered.

I received a 900ml tub of Carte D’Or Light Vanilla ice cream instead of the one-litre tub I ordered; a 330ml pack of Magnum ice creams instead of 360ml; and a 592ml bottle of Ariel Excel Gel with Febreze in place of the 667ml bottle.

I wouldn’t have had a problem with receiving smaller packs if the prices had been reduced – but that wasn’t the case. As we’ve found in the past, when the pack sizes of grocery items are reduced, the prices often stay the same.

I could even have forgiven Tesco if it had informed me that I was getting smaller packs for the same price. But neither the receipt nor the delivery man made any mention of these changes.

Easy to miss errors like this

When we asked Tesco why this had happened, it told us:

‘Our suppliers are required to inform us of changes to their products, so that we can update our customers. We are sorry that this hasn’t happened in a small number of cases, and are reminding all our suppliers of their obligations.’

My research may well have unearthed an isolated incident, but unless you check your groceries against your receipt immediately – which is almost impossible to do, as in my experience drivers are keen to drop shopping off as quickly as possible – there’s no way to spot this kind of error until it’s too late.

It can also be difficult to keep track of shrinking products, as many don’t display clear unit pricing. With no standard way to compare products by weight, it can be easy to miss when your favourite ice cream suddenly gets a bit lighter in your shopping bag.

Do you always carefully check your receipt when you do food shopping online? And have you spotted size discrepancies in the products you’ve ordered?

Comments
Guest
Kath says:
18 April 2012

I think you are a little unfair on Tesco. I bought a pack of Carte D’Or icecream in Waitrose last week – no choice of size, so just picked it up and brought it home. Reading your article today, I have just checked, and yes it is 900ml, and checking old boxes (saved fo re-use) they are all 1lr. There was no notice to tell me of the change. Of course had I noticed I would still have bought it, as this is the brand I like.

Guest

Antonio’s and Waitrose’ own have both reduced to 900 ml a long
time ago.

In case of ice cream, worth going for the dearer premium
brands.

Guest
Lyn says:
18 April 2012

You say above that “It can also be difficult to keep track of shrinking products, as many don’t display clear unit pricing. With no standard way to compare products by weight, it can be easy to miss when your favourite ice cream suddenly gets a bit lighter in your shopping bag.”

Sometimes the reduction in size is very apparent but it is still charged at the higher price. Today I thought I would stock up on Tesco Finest Madagascan Vanilla ice cream which I have been buying for a number of years as it is delicious and was considerably cheaper than similar premium branded ice cream. It use to be sold in 1 litre tubs and was usually on offer of 2 for £5.00 It has now shrunk to * 500ml* tubs, but still on ‘special offer’ of 2 tubs for £5.00 or individually at £3.99. This was such a considerable drop in size for the same price I was flabbergasted and didn’t buy any especially as it is now only a few pennies cheaper that the branded ice cream. Did they think shoppers wouldn’t notice? All this after reading that Tesco are trying to win back shoppers – I would suggest stop trying to rip the customer off would be a good start. (would agree that the premium brands of ice cream are the ones to have). I also bought some Innocent smoothies which also seem to have shrunk in size but cost the same .

Guest

For the second time in as many weeks, have been stocking up
on both Innocent apple and (smooth) orange juices on a BOGOF
offer at Sainsburys.

Contrary to what has been said elsewhere as to it being partly
constituted from concentrate, it says on the label:

“Our oranges are picked and squeezed in 24 hours.
Our juice is never concentrated and never sweetened.
Not now, not ever.”

Same assertion also as to apple juice minus the 24 hours
bit.

Used to come in one litre carafe but now with a 10%
reduction in volume that has been for quite some time, and not to
750ml someone else alluded to previously.

Guest

Argonaut, the Innocent juices are also currently on special offer at Tesco (at least when I went a few days ago) and I think are cheaper there and can be bought singly. The 750ml sizes that someone else mentioned relate to the smoothies, not the juices. The 1 litre cartons of smoothies used to be good value whenever they were on special offer (not at full price) but now they are 750 ml cartons and have yet to see a reasonable price tag on them. Also, I think it is devious the way they reduced the size of the cartons. They reduced the volume by reducing mainly the width and depth, while the height was only reduced slightly – presumably because a difference in height is more noticeable.

Guest

So innocent is guilty (of doing the same as many other companies). 🙂

Guest
Pangit says:
20 April 2012

Innocent was If my memory is correct taken over by coca cola.
Remenber coca cola was selling tap water in bottles as mineral water – which of course tap water is as it contains minerals e.g limescale, flouride.
Don’t buy coca cola products, just buy coca cola shares they are one of the best marketing companies in the world and give very good dividends. Theres money to be made in muck.

Guest
Stephen Deen says:
19 April 2012

My life long loyalty to Tesco is looking threadbare.
Shrinking pack size is just one problem, but I’m unaware if all the supermarkets are up to the same trick. On the till receipts, Tesco ask “How did we do?” I’ve emailed them at least 3 times, with minor complaints, without response. If they cared, they’d reply.
The pack size trick, and I think it is a trick, can only be carried out once. If food inflation carries on, Tesco can either continue reducing the pack size or charge more. Obviously pack size reduction can only go so far, so what is the point of the exercise?
My belief is they think we’re mugs, although my experience of other supermarkets is limited. It’s obviously time I found out what’s going on in other stores, and stopped being lazy!!