/ Shopping

The supermarket ‘special offers’ that aren’t so special

Supermarket offer

Would you buy two drinks for £4 when you can get one for £1? Sounds daft, but it’s just one of the really rubbish offers we’ve found on the supermarket shelves.

It could be a simple mistake, it could be poor maths, or at a push, supermarkets could be trying to make us laugh. But next time you spot a special offer ticket screaming a saving if you buy more, check very carefully.

Examples of daft offers at some of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains have been sent to us by eagle-eyed Which? members. And they show that clearly not all of these offers are worth the ticket they’re printed on.

For instance, why bother buying two bottles of Old Jamaican ginger beer from Tesco for the ‘bargain’ price of £1.60, when they’re only 50p each?! Then there’s the new, lower priced Sainsbury’s tin of peas, reduced from 35p to… 35p. Yes, you read that right. Or how about buying one Strawberry Muller Vitality Drink from Asda for £1, or two for £4? Deal!

A gallery of daft offers

We’ve embedded a gallery of all the ‘offer’ photos we’ve been sent so far, but if you have any other examples please send your photos to helpwanted@which.co.uk and put ‘daft offers’ as the title. We’ll continue to publish the most ridiculous ones.

What laugh-out-loud offers have you seen while out shopping? Tell us below.


Good tip. I’m about to go shopping and will avoid these special offers!

Big value pack mcvities digestive biscuits (2 x 500gm) for £1. 59 or further along the shelf buy 2 packets of the same for £1.50 which is the bargain!!! Not the first time I’ve noticed these oddities and am very aware that “bargains” are not always so and was interested to hear the subject debated on BBC breakfast show.This particular item is in Sainsburys.

When we looked on one day in August we found 600 examples where the bigger packet was poorer value for money compared to the smaller packets. Less packaging – bigger price??

Karen Elliott says:
28 November 2010

I shop at Tesco and always buy Dairylea strip cheese for my son. I am absolutely disgusted at the prices of the larger packs of these. You can buy a pack of 4 for 85p, however a pack of 8 will set you back a whopping £2.38!!!!!!! Packs of 12 are £2.82. And yes, you can guess, they hardly ever have any 4 packs available!

Emmett Lawlor says:
29 November 2010

On Saturday 27th November 2010 at Sainsbury’s on the Lewes Road, Brighton, I saw this offer:

First Cape Sparkler 75cl
A great value fizz with lemony citrus flavours and a crisp acicity. Try with party snacks.
2 FOR £10. UNIT PRICE £10.99

If you only want one, buy two, save yourself 99p and throw the other away.

Peter H says:
4 December 2010

Last week Tesco had a Buy 1 get 2 Free on Dr Pepper 6-packs. I misread it as Buy 1 get 1 free and took 2 packs to the checkout. I was charged full price for both. I challenged Tesco and they said the offer was for 2 free and if I only took 1 free it did not fulfil the offer and I would be charged for both. So it seems I could have 2 free but not 1! So I went back to the till with another pack and they gave me my £2.85 back. This offer is misleading and Tesco are once again, in my opinion, conning customers.

I have made the same mistake a few times that I know about. Perhaps someone who has worked for a supermarket chain might tell us how common this mistake is and whether it is a deliberate strategy to catch out the unwary.

Leslie says:
2 January 2011

My local Tesco is selling individual tins of Tuna chunks in Sunflower oil for 60p per tin (good price). If you buy the better value pack of 4 tins, it costs £3.25p. Der!

Graham says:
18 January 2011

I saw two completely daft ones today in Tesco’s store in Gillingham in Kent.

Firstly Bird’s Instant Custard triple pack either normal or low fat were both £1.00 each but Tesco’s had the tempting Any 2 for £2.00!!!

The other really daft one has been going a while now. Tesco’s Antibacterial Handwash. If you buy the standard 500ml bottle with has a plunger type dispenser it is 55p. If you buy the refill pack with out the dispenser it is 70p! 15p, 27% dearer! Who would buy the refill? Also not very green since the plunger uses considerably more plastic/metal and energy to produce over the plain plastic cap on the refill bottle.

Went to Tesco in Cardiff (Grangetown) on 17th Jan. When studying my receipt (I do because they make so many mistakes) I noticed that my four identical purchases of Tetleys 80’s tea bags were charged at different prices 2 at £1.13 and 2 at £1.50. The security guard told me that the self serve scanners were also faulty and often charged reduced items at full price.

I queried the tea bag error with HQ and I have to say that they were extremely nonchalant and adopted a couldn’t care less attitude which was proven in the fact that they were to send a £5 voucher on 27th which hasn’t surfaced and I don’t suppose is every likely to. They said that the fault arose because the Bar coder needed a new printing part!!

I seriously worry about this company as on Jan 14 2007 I was robbed by a member of staff – I was undergoing chemo and taking meds and didn’t notice that he memorised and stole my card then spent £600 plus on it!! The police commented at the time that they were very busy so it would be better if he (the robber) worked until their arresting officer had time to make the arrest –a week later! It wasn’t until our local mp intervened that he was immediately arrested & served 12 mths.

So, a lesson to everyone, wtch out for their staff and- always, always, check Tesco receipts they charge…………..well, whatever they like it seems!

Anthony says:
4 February 2011

This week at the Sainsbury’s store in Beeston, Nottingham I saw a price label for a First Cape Sparkling Wine at £3.99. Or you could buy 2 bottles for £8.00. I asked a store assistant to confirm the price and her response was that she would be right back to let me know. After waiting 5 – 10 minutes, I thought she would not return and made my way to the checkout tills and pay for my other purchases. At this point I was asked by security if I had taken a photograph. I replied yes and he asked me to delete it. My reponse was yes but where were the notices saying I could not take photographs in store. The situation escalated and ended up with security physically assaulting me and throwing me against the window 3 or 4 times outside the store. I have requested the Police to make a full investigation into the physical assault that happened to me whilst shopping at a Sainsbury’s store. Incredible!

Malcolm Slade says:
4 March 2011

Just been in Sainsbury’s to buy Creme Eggs for the whole business. 2 boxes of 6 for £4.50. Great deal until you look 2 inches left and see 3 Creme Eggs for £1.

Love it.

Thanks for including my contribution, which I sent in response to the article in Which? last year.

We could do with a bit more humour, such as photos of interesting signs, like ‘The stationary department has moved’.

Andy says:
3 April 2011

Tesco – squash £1.35 a bottle special offer 2 for £2.75.

J Glenister says:
21 April 2011

We have been into 3 co-op supermarkets today to get a special price offer leg of lamb, not ONE co-op supermarket has this item in stock & do not know when they will be getting them in. so annoying, we live in the Southend area..

Ian says:
23 April 2011

Just been to my local Asda in Kingsthorpe, Northampton. Strawberries priced at £1.50 per punnet. Large sign above display: “2 for £3.00”.

Andrew says:
11 June 2011

I’ve never noticed Waitrose get up to much mischief with their offers, although sometimes the offers on smaller packs of loo roll are a marginally better deal than the simultaneous offers on the “12 for the price of 9” or buy two 9-packs. I think they’ve had a soap-in-a-dispenser which has been a penny cheaper to buy two than to buy one in the past year. The amazing deal is when they have anything on a multibuy offer when those same items are hugely marked down for quick sale (typically fresh fruits/salads – use by today)… there are times when they’re literally paying you to take the produce out of the store!

Went to Tesco tonight…

420g pack of ham £2.49
or 2 for £5.00


James says:
17 October 2011

Dettol offer in Waitrose. Two bottles next to each other. Special offer buy 500ml for £1 per bottle next bottle 750ml costs £2.99. You can buy1500 for £3.00 on the special offer.

Andy says:
18 October 2011

I would like to see Which do an investigation into Tescos and there amazing ability to ‘accidentally’ charge more (its never less) on so many items. Every other week I have to go to customer services because I was overcharged. Its generally on the special offer type deals. The explanation is always, ‘oh the computer hasnt been updated at HQ’. In my opinion it is deliberate. I have made my complaints to the story manager but they always pass the buck.

Ian White says:
14 November 2011

Tesco’s store at Riverhead, Kent has an offer on Polish “Selected U Jerdusia Dumplings” – a misprint for U Jedrusia. Individual packets are priced from £1.30 to £1.45, according to variety. The deal is for “Any 2 for £3.50”! I can supply photographs of this generous offer for your gallery.

Phil Dunn says:
31 December 2011

Tesco’s special noted today – Brandy Sauce (500ml) 93p but get two for £3 !