Online shoppers unhappy with substitute grocery items

tesco electric van-jj-002 Our good friends over at Which! have highlighted the shoddy practice where supermarkets play fast and loose with the goods that customers order when they do their grocery shopping online.

We speak of course about the dreaded ‘substitution’ – namely the item that a supermarket will send you when the thing that you’ve actually ordered isn’t in stock. The problem is that the replacement item isn’t always up to scratch,

Which! say that “one shopper received a chocolate pudding instead of the black pudding they ordered, while a customer received fondant icing instead of the icing sugar they’d ordered to make meringues. Another Sainsbury’s shopper ordered fresh lemons – and received Flash lemon cleaner.” Hmmm...

The Which! survey says that a quarter of surveyed members (fnarr fnar) have received an unacceptable substitution at some point, with one in five of Tesco and Sainsburys punters huffed by what has been offered up as a replacement.

Don’t forget that if you’re not happy, you can always refuse a replacement when it is delivered to you. And if the delivery man asks if he can touch your hair, you’re allowed to refuse that as well. Stay safe crimefighters...


  • Darren
    god people love to moan. You can put in the notes what substitution you want if they do not have it, or choose not to substitute, which is what I do. Learn how to use the system before ordering and stop moaning people!
  • Inspector G.
    To be fair, if I was in charge of choosing the substitutions I'd do the same too.
  • bushbrother
    As Darren says, just tick "No Substitutions" when ordering ...
  • Mark C.
    I ordered tomatoes and cheddar from Tesco once, and instead of what I ordered, I received character actor Peter Sallis and the People's Republic of North Korea.
  • PokeHerPete
    If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. And if you don't tick "No substitutions" you're just asking for it!
  • andy y.
    If I want to read a non story culled from an inane WHICH?! press release I'll just buy the Daily Mail.
  • Nick T.
    I ordered a bottle of £3.50 wine from Asda and the substitution (for which I still only paid £3.50 remember) was a bottle listed at £7.99. Nameless Polish bored picker drone, I salute you.
  • PS
    I ordered crisps, burgers, chocolate bars and cakes and got slimming pills.
  • Mr S.
    What really drives me up the wall is when substitutions screw up a deal - it's happened to me more times than I can count. They did a £10 meal deal recently that included a bottle of 'Finest' wine that would normally be £8. But when they delivered it, they had substituted a £2.50 bottle of Tesco Value wine! So the meal deal was actually worth less than the £10 they charged, as well as leaving me with undrinkable wine. Just this week I ordered 10 bottles of shampoo on 2-for-1. They only had 9, meaning I was paying full price for one. To be fair, they always sort it out and refund the appropriate amount when I complain, but it actually gets pretty embarrassing when I am having to ring them after every single delivery. They desperately, desperately need to sort out how their system works when substitutions/omissions are part of a deal.
  • zeddy
    Nick, Would that be Buckfast, then?
  • Nick T.
    Why? Would it be a Big Issue?
  • Nick
    I've never had this problem with Ocado - the service is excellent, and okay they'll never really compete on the stuff that everyone does, but the quality of their own products is excellent, and a good substitute if you don't happen to live near Borough Market.
  • Ten B.
    [...] Online shoppers unhappy with substitute grocery items [...]
  • asda d.
    well the reason for all the subs mess is that they are not choosen by humans. meaning a software program called palm express chooses them for you which is why you get completely different things. ASDA DRIVER. tesco dot com drivers get 2 pounds an hour more than me
  • UKoap
    It's the beer substitutions from Asda that get my goat, ordered 4.5% export beer which got substituted with a 3.5% version. I reckon if Asda don't have certain things or stocks are low, they should not be listed
  • Jan
    I can't understand why a low stock warning does not appear, as other online shopping companies do it. I just received an order from Asda this morning and 7 items had to be substituted. I was over charged on a 2 for £10 Prosecco offer with a cheaper £7.00 bottle so had to point this out to driver who kindly deleted one. Oat bread was substituted with white, yuk, rejected that one. All I can say is if it's in your favour great accept it but don't accept substitutes that are not. I'm just grateful I didn't have to go shopping today as I'm not well. :)

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