The food scams revisited

Admittedly it was at the Guardian but a couple of the comments were quite sane:

As a former manager for Currys PC World, I have to say neither consumers nor Which truly have any idea of the scale of the problem. The sheer volume of fictitious ‘offers’ I used to see was simply outstanding, and the companies that use them have become awfully good at masking them and convincing consumers and regulators alike that as is well so it’s rather unlikely anything will change.

There was more on that but wanted to get to the food shopping.

My local Aldis are awful. The aisles are cramped, the fresh stuff is all pre-packed in plastic multi packs (I really am not going to be able to eat 4 leeks and courgettes before they go mushy, and don’t get me started on the unnecessary packaging), the checkout is always rushed, they have 3 or 4 aisles of odd crap like bicycle pumps and corn plasters stacked in the middle, and I nearly always have been unable to buy what I want, even normal stuff like dried fruit and cheese crackers. Although the stuff I’ve bought is of decent quality, and it is cheaper than Tesco or Sainsbury’s, I can’t say Aldi is any better than where we usually shop – Asda.

I’ve occasionally gone to an Aldi for things in the specials bins in the middle. Picked up some work shoes for next to nothing. However, when approaching the checkout, there are always around twenty five to thirty people queued up.

But that’s not really what I wanted to write on.  It’s the dishonesty I’m so down on and it’s not just the supermarkets, it’s the manufacturers, the suppliers. Most disgraceful was Ry-Vita thins – box which should have had 24 or so stacked, like the current Matzos here. There were 11 whole ones and the rest were broken.  Second box was no better.

Another thing which annoys me is: the comparison of prices is made more difficult by one item being shown at “£11.50/kg” and then a competing item being shown at “£1.20/100g” They honestly are taking advantage of people’s inability to move a decimal point. Next to each other on the shelf, but people tend to go for the lower £ amount. SO deceitful.

Deceitful’s the word in the case of people who don’t do mental arithmetic each day, which my project does require.  This is not just dodgy pricing but actual fraud at times.  One of the Guardianisti wrote:

I’m not sure which is worse, the supermarket for trying to pull that stunt, or the consumer for being fvcking stupid.

Now look, chum, when you go along with your list of what to get, you do check a certain amount.  You’re not going to spend an hour in there, are you, maybe 20 minutes, tops.  Sure you do your maths on similar items but even here they trick you.  Biscuits in one aisle are similar to others in another aisle. Yes I know you can walk one aisle but this is on most items.

What they’ve done is call one of them “food of the world” or whatever and though it’s a standard brand, they mark it up hugely.  If you spend five minutes – and that is a long time in a supermarket, a real five minutes, doing a thorough check on one product, you see their sneaky little moves.  Then what do you do?

Personally, I think one of the biggest gifts for supermarkets was the demise of the price sticker. Items no longer have any fixed price and prices can be manipulated very quickly. Then, there is the added bonus that the customer has no reminder in their cupboard of what they paid for something. Very few people quick till receipts and compare them item by item week on week or store by store.

Well I actually do keep them and check but I’m strange.  Would I be right in saying that we’re similar, you and I, in that we’ll gladly pay for quality, even a large amount but we’re damned if we’re going to pay well over the odds for lesser stuff which they’ve defrauded you over.

The Competition and Markets Authority stopped short of a full-blown market investigation but has announced a series of recommendations to bring more clarity to pricing and promotions to the grocery sector.


And who are the clever d***s actually doing all this in the little offices upstairs or at SMHQ?

The one that really p’d me off a few years ago was when the Tesco CEO announced a “new strategy” of cutting prices. Then the next day all the prices were “cut”, complete with promotional banners and signage.

Now, firstly, how did they design, manufacture and install the banners suuposedly within 24 hours of the new policy being announced?

But more importantly, what Tesco actually did was raise the prices off the affected products quite significantly a few months beforehand, and then after the “price cut” was announced dropped them down to slightly above what they were before. This was quite obvious to me as I was unemployed at the time and so watching prices very closely.

Annoyingly the media, including The Guardian, reported the price cut as a major news story (which would be questionable even if the cut was honest) and even more annoyingly took it completely at face value.

More specifically:

The price per 100g is unreliable too. I have previously noticed in Tesco sultanas at 99p/300g (33p/100g) and 800g for £2.99 (37.4p/100g) but the shelf label on the latter stated 30p per 100g.

This could go on forever.  Best stop here.

10 comments for “The food scams revisited

  1. wiggia
    July 16, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Don’t know what it is with Lidl and Aldi here, but the few I have used are like a jumble sale, certain areas are so disorganised that I could not be bothered to look, and despite claiming on the quality of products, the nearest Aldi has veg that looks like it has been out in the sun for a few days, no point spending time saving on what is good in those stores if you have to make another trip to a supermarket that actually has a range of goods.
    Strange as the likes of Tesco are cutting there ranges to be more competitive Aldi announce they are expanding theirs, could be that soon we will just have another two supermarkets with the same goods and same prices.

  2. The Jannie
    July 16, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    We shop where we can buy the items we like at the best price; Asda, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl. We make a special point of not shopping at Morrisons or Sainsburys because their stores are claustrophobic. One regular Tesco habit has us taking note, though, the “£1 each or 2 for £3” special offer. This is often backed up by the “small bag – 500g for £1; visibly larger bag – 750g for £2 . . .

    The ready broken biscuits are a speciality of theirs, too. A saving grace is that here in the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire supermarket staff are almost always friendly and helpful, unlike our experience of their counterparts at Tesco in Wokingham.

  3. DICK R
    July 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    IF any body is daft enough to be taken in they deserve it !!!

  4. Brightside Bob
    July 16, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Morrisons special trick is to have a display of a particular product, highlighting what a bargain it is. Trouble is, the actual items that make up the display are a (subtly) different (but more expensive) product.

  5. July 16, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    the best sticker I ever saw was on a shelf which held packs/cartons of powder bleach.

    The sticker read, and this is actually honest truth:-

    I pack====£7.00 2 packs=====£14.00

  6. July 17, 2015 at 7:18 am


  7. July 17, 2015 at 8:38 am

    There is quite a bit of grief being expressed in the press at the moment, concerning maths – and that the UK is allegedly bad at it. This blog comment has a bit of concern on that, over supermarket pricing.

    Surely only a very small proportion of the country has difficulty comparing between “£11.50/kg” and “£1.20/100g”.

    I have an even bigger concern. Many of the supposed weaknesses identified in the UK population relate to arithmetic, a small part of mathematics – and pretty much the easiest and certainly the first learned.

    Sympathy might sometimes be felt, even reasonably expressed, with those who struggle with maths – things like algebra, geometry, statistics, trigonometry, calculus. Expressing the same sympathy for those debilitated by a lack in arithmetic is like sympathising with a teenager who struggles to get up in time for school – it makes the problem worse.

    So this is a problem of language, not mathematics.

    Best regards

    • July 18, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      There are probably more people than we think who struggle with mathematics, including calculating the price per kilo versus the price per 100g.

      It would be nice if supermarkets could give a consistent comparison for everything. A price per 100g across a product line, e.g. all brands of mayonnaise or flour, would be helpful. Shoppers shouldn’t have to figure everything out for themselves.

      However, the different pricing schemes — per kilo mixed with per 100g — is part of today’s supermarket genius. /sarc

  8. Rossa
    July 17, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Another one is the multi buy offer where the price per kilo or 100g is for the full price of the item. Sometimes the multi buy is less but a couples of times I’ve noticed it isn’t. Usually when there are different sizes of the same product. Jars of Mayo where 3 x 600g was a better deal than 2 x 800g on ‘offer’. The ubiquitous bogof deals are also no always what they are cracked up to be.

    The other issue has been the reduction in the contents in the same size pack. Container looks the same but the weight has changed. I’ve seen some funny jam jars with weird, odd weights in them, less than the 450g full pound you used to get. 384g was an odd one.

    And same as Mike I did laugh at the 3 for £12 on some wine on the end of an aisle which was £4 a bottle on the usual shelf.

    • July 18, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      Re the wine: it’s probably expressed in a different way for different mindsets.

      Also, I’ve been in a rush many a time and haven’t been able to clock two displays of the same product.

      At least the price — £4 — was consistent.

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