/ Shopping

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?

Adrian says:
22 April 2012

I don’t do my grocery shopping online, but this story does just confirm my suspicion that Tesco appear to have a deliberate policy of confusing shoppers by inconsistent, misleading or simply false product pricing.

Last year I noticed an offer on Tesco ice cream which noted “2 for 1 on 1l or 900ml packs”. Yes, it was labelled, which was good, but was it just a way of easing in a price rise due to pack shrinkage?

The size of Tesco brand savoury slices was reduced some months ago. The shelf label showed the old size and, now incorrect unit price – and did so for at least two months after the pack size changed.

To say that they haven’t been informed by their suppliers is, to put in politely, disingenuous. They make the same ‘mistake’ with their own products and are very slow at correcting the ‘error’.

Paul says:
23 April 2012

What I’d be very interested to know if anyone has an before and after shrinking pack and compare the barcodes, they _ought_ to be different. If they aren’t then it looks like the supplier is trying to pull a ‘fast-one’. If they _are_ different then the supermarket must be complicit because they would have had to set this up in their system and therefore should have known that the pack size had changed.

ktc says:
25 April 2012

I regularly do on-line shopping with Tesco. The shrinking pack size at the same price is quite common. The items are usually labelled correctly, you just have to remember what the size was before. The two examples in my recent shop:

1)Tesco Baby Ultrasoft Wipes now come in packs of 64 instead of 80 (I’ve looked at bar codes – they are different. The packaging is exactly the same apart from number change)
2)Oaktree Estate 5 Sausage Roll 300g (as on my receipt)
Oaktree Estate 4 Sausage Roll 240g (what I actually got) (this is mis-selling?)

ktc says:
25 April 2012

To be fair, Tesco online do refund money no quibble when you do complain about items delivered


Morrison have a clever one.They put Ltr bottle of Whiskey on offer and fill the shelves with 70cl when the small quantity Ltrs go.You dont know untill you get home.


Aldi display a pack of assorted seeds as 150 gram.On the pack is printed 120grams.Maybe a case for trading standards?


Maybe just have a polite word with a member of staff.


Not strictly an online issue, but I have a Clubcard coupon from Tesco’s that gives me 75p off any skinless & bonelss red or pink salmon if I purchase a 180g tin; the coupon is recent and valid intil 25 May 2012. But, yes, you have guessed right – all the tin sizes have been reduced to 170g and the coupon is not accepted at the till!

Ann says:
26 April 2012

I usually shop at Tesco and have noticed that the bars of Nature Valley Cereal Bars sold 6 in a pack are noticeably smaller than they were, but are sold at the same price.
Tesco Super Concentrated Liquid Detergents, approved by the Good Housekeeping Institute, are now sold in smaller bottles, but at the original price.
Copella fruit juices are now sold in smaller bottles, but at the same price. The label on the bottles advises us of the “new size 750 ml”, they are not specific in saying “smaller size for the same price”.