/ Shopping

Does Waitrose understand the meaning of “price match”?


I don’t know about you, but when I see the words “Price Match” I assume it means exactly what it says – an item’s price will be matched, without loopholes. It’s something Waitrose doesn’t appear to have understood.

Waitrose and Ocado’s promises to match online prices with Tesco on a selection of branded items looked great at first. But it’s only once you’ve taken the time to look a bit closer that you’ll have discovered that the price matches are only based on Tesco’s “standard retail price”.

The price match loophole

This means that when Tesco puts a product Waitrose and Ocado are “price matching” on special offer, Waitrose and Ocado don’t drop the price to match the offer.

Product prices comparedThat’s fair enough. Special offers are usually negotiated between supermarkets and manufacturers well before the offers hit the shops, so Waitrose and Ocado would have to constantly play catch-up with Tesco if they tried to do this.

But why then, do Waitrose and Ocado continue to say that these items are price matched, when in fact they’re charging more than at Tesco when the items are on offer?

To give a few of the examples of what we found: on one day a pack of 20 Persil Non Bio Capsules was £3.94 at Tesco, but £5.99 at Waitrose. On other days, we found that selected Pizza Express pizzas and Colgate toothpastes cost twice as much at Waitrose and Ocado than Tesco.

The simple solution

Whenever I find out about a loophole like this it just makes me less likely to trust a supermarket’s promotions. And that loss of trust could have been easily avoided if these items were simply removed from the price match promotion while they were on offer at Tesco.

What do you think? Have you noticed Waitrose and Ocado’s price match promotions when shopping and did you know that they didn’t match special offer prices?


I’m very old fashioned and I have high moral principles which – at least up until now – I have had the luxury of being able to afford.
Therefore I would not set foot in Tesco to save my life because of Lady Porter’s “Homes for Votes” outrage and because of Tesco’s relentless flouting of the law on planning issues.
Tesco can afford to offer the lower prices in part because of their size and therefore the bulk-buying power they have and partly because of the ethics that they subscribe to, which don’t sit easily with mine.
I therefore put up with paying a little more at other shops (mainly the Co-Op, Waitrose and sometimes Sainsbury’s) for the sake of my conscience.
As for Waitrose’s understanding of Price Match, I agree that the situation is a little ambiguous and may mislead some people. That isn’t acceptable and Waitrose need to make the wording clear, but I strongly suspect that if one reads the small print that has probably been done already. Maybe it needs to be made more obvious.
Bottom line: Customers need to put up with less pleasant shops, poorer service and possibly slightly inferior goods (and close their eyes to ethics) if having the lowest price is their number one priority, otherwise they shop where they can get what they want in pleasant surroundings and served by good staff (probably with a clear conscience) and accept a slightly higher price tag. Shops just need to be upfront, honest and clear.


Dave – In the Middle Ages, flour was sometimes adulterated with chalk, milk was watered and goods were sold underweight. Throughout history, there have been unscrupulous traders and misrepresentation has long been part of the game. I am not surprised that Waitrose is playing the same game as other supermarkets. As Ramar says below, we have to read the T&Cs or take the chance that there is no hidden catch in a special offer.

At least we live in a country where food is generally safe and wholesome. With the exception of the Co-oP, ethics does not seem high on the agenda, at least for the large supermarkets.

[Hi Wavechange, we’ve edited your comment due to potential libel issues. Email us if you have any concerns. Thanks, mods.]


Well edited and apologies for my sense of humour.


All “price match” schemes have small print and they couldnt exist without it.
Its reasonable to complain about schemes whose small print effectively prevent any claims at all e.g. one of the budget airlines used to offer price match as long as the flight left from the same airport and within a very short time of their flight – almost impossible !

But these days consumers will just have to get used to reading the T&Cs for any offer especially those which seem to good to be true.


My first thought when I read this was that Tesco are dropping the prices of the price-matched products to proved a point.

Or am I just too cynical?


If I flitted from store to store chasing the lowest price – lowest usually by quite a small amount – on a random jumble of items that happened to be cheapest in different ones, I’d probably spend more on fuel, and waste considerable time, than if I just bought everything on my list in my usual supermarket.
What really REALLY tempts me though, wherever I see it, are BOGOFs and – above all – that magic word REDUCED!
By the way I shop at Waitrose and the Co-op as they are nearest to where I live and I like both very much.

Frank says:
19 August 2011

This is one reason to shop at Aldi and Lidl. No having to compare prices or decipher marketing weasel-speak. Good quality products at prices you know are very competitive and one or two examples of each. Simples!

Rob W says:
19 August 2011

If you see a headline FREE*, you know there’s going to be a cost.

But it’s actually not acceptable to announce a good deal in highly legible displays on shelves, and have terms and conditions hidden away somewhere else, if that is what’s happens.

The large print giveth. The small print taketh away.


Re Rob W

The law is clearly on your side when it comes to bringing reasonable and sufficiently prominent notice to your attention before you effected the transaction… and no amount of small print relating to exclusion clause howsoever, whether made contemporaneously or otherwise, can be added to vary the contract of sale to your detriment.

What you see is what you should get in the case of shop displays, as opposed to the Ocado
case that I alluded to elsewhere.

Would be happy to be corrected if this is not the case in law.