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Tesco is tops again – this time it’s in daft deals

Tesco promises that customers will always pay the lower price in any ‘daft’ deal, but what about deals for internet shoppers?

Is Tesco especially daft? Every week we run a “daft deal” on this page, and in today’s issue it’s Tesco pizzas: £2.85 each, or two for £6. I try to vary the supermarkets, but it’s not easy; the trolley-loads of these deals spotted in Tesco by our readers far outnumber those from the other big chains.

This may be down to Tesco’s size; it has a market share of around 30%, or more than Sainsbury’s and Morrisons combined. But even factoring that in, it still seems to lead by a long way.

Initially, we regarded these silly offers as just that – the result of a fat finger on a keyboard, a local manager who couldn’t add up, or the like. But the pizza deal was more puzzling. It was sent in on the same day by readers in Edinburgh and south-west England.

Evidently, it wasn’t a local error, but something that had been concocted centrally. Did it mean the stone-baked pizza lovers of Britain had been systemically over-charged if they popped two margheritas in their basket?

Tesco assures us this is not the case. A weary sounding press officer, evidently accustomed to dealing with questions about weird pricing, says the key word in what might otherwise appear to be a daft deal is “any”. He tells us that, in this case, there should have been other pizzas on the shelf which would have been priced at more than £3, so the two-for-£6 deal could have made sense.

But what if a shopper did buy two of the £2.85 margheritas? Would they be charged £6? Again, an emphatic “no”. The tills will automatically charge the lower price, we were told. (Please, readers, confirm this is the case.)

We decided to check some other of the daft deals received in recent weeks. A one-litre Alpro Soya Cholesterol Lowering milk pack at Tesco said “72p. Any 3 for £3″. But looking into this brought us to a new level of daftness – and prompted us to ask if shoppers who buy groceries online from the supermarkets are getting a poor deal.

Sure enough, Alpro Soya comes in numerous (differently priced) versions: organic, chocolate, unsweetened, calcium etc. On Tesco’s website, all were retailing for more than £1, so “any 3 for £3″ was indeed a good deal.

But the promotional deal didn’t exist online. Indeed, even the cholesterol lowering variant, which our reader had found in Cardiff Tesco at 72p, was priced at £1.45 online. Could it be true that buyers online were being charged nearly double compared to in store? It would go against everything Tesco says about its prices being the same from Inverness to Penzance, in store and online.

This one stumped Tesco for a while. Eventually, it returned with an explanation. The picture came in on 4 February, and the tag showed the deal running to 7 February. Our online check (which showed there was no three for £3 deal) was done on 7 February, but it appears Tesco removes the online deals one day before they are taken out of the stores. That’s because if you buy online, you can only do so for delivery tomorrow, when the price will be higher. Head-scratching stuff, but it just about makes sense.

Still, I have a nagging doubt about online grocery shopping. Do you get the deals? Are you palmed off with veg that’s super-close to sell-by dates? Let us know at © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds