In the shops now! - Somerfield's flip-flopping chicken surprise

23 February 2009

I have a love / hate relationship with my local Somerfield. I love that they're a convenient five minutes walk away, that I can pop in and pick anything up I missed in the week's big shop. I hate that once a month, without fail, they over-charge me. The Caramel bar that's 5p more than the shelf label states, or the special offer on Corona that leaves me £2 out of pocket; it's rare to buy even a small number of items without discovering a mistake.

But one offer in particular has caught my eye; that is to say, it caught my eye several months ago and it's still there today. As far as I'm aware, Somerfield have been selling chicken breasts at half price for months and months. As it turns out, the truth is even more contrived; while I'm always paying half price for the product, I've noticed Somerfield repeatedly switches the way it promotes it. This is how the product was displayed at the beginning of February:

And this is how Somerfield are advertising the same product now:

This product spends its life in a permanent chicken limbo, never enjoying life at full price. Consumer law states a product advertised as half price must have been available at the full price for 28 days within a six month period. It could be that when the product was advertised at half price, the comparison was made against prices at other Somerfield stores - in which case the specific detail should be clearly visible to the customer. If it occurred at this branch, I didn't notice it. Perhaps I was off chicken that month. If it ever was sold at full price, it'd be the most expensive chicken in town. Perhaps because the weight of the product varies each time the offer changes, Somerfield can argue the two products are different from one another.

The result a confusing fudge of an offer that has been available at my local Somerfield for months, and this is ultimately why Bitterwallet rallies against special offer labelling when we do. This sort of labelling can confuse a customer into believing they're benfiting from an offer that is in fact available on a near-permanent basis. Instead of bamboozling consumers with inpenetrable deals that don't stack up, why not just sell the bloody chicken breasts at £3.50?


  • Joff
    "why not just sell the bloody chicken breasts at £3.50" Because customers are stupid and need to be told something is a bargain.
  • Craig
    Like Joff says, more people will buy it simply because it has an enticing red label on it, as has been shown with some of the bizzarre deals posted on here before, even though an offer is actually more exspensive or costs the same as when there is no offer, people will still buy it. Like moths to a flame, sale/offer labels are irresitible!!
  • Geoff J.
    If I see any special label on meat I avoid it. Simply because it looks like they are putting the price down as the meat is going off. :D
  • Martin
    When it is sold with 100% extra free, it is sold at "full" price. You pay the full price for part of it, and nothing for the free bit. That way, they always make sure there is a period it is sold at full price (just with extra for free), even though (on average over the whole product) they are giving it to you at the reduced price.
  • Tim
    Martin - but when sold with 100% free, it's being sold at £3.50, whereas the 'full' price is supposed to be £7 according to the half price deal.
  • MBeeching
    Ahh, so i'm not the only one. I've also been noticing this for quite some time. It always brings a smile to my face when I imagine Somerfield ever selling 3 breasts for £7. Most of their deals are in limbo, especially pizzas. They never actually stock both varieties at the same time, they just disappear and re-appear every two weeks.
  • Tim
    Cathedral City cheese - anyone ever paid anything close to full price? This is always on offer at Somerfield
  • Paul
    Look closely - the top offer is 520g, the bottom offer is 500g. They may not, in this case, be breaking any laws if the 500g WAS previously on sale at the higher price. Cheeky buggers. BTW - 500g of chicken is always £3 in Iceland, sometimes 2 for £5 :)
  • Andy
    Didn't they change the law last year, so that now the word "sale" can be for anything as long as the item's higher price was charged for "a reasonable period of time" beforehand, rather than 28 days?
  • Lumoruk
    It only has to be at one of their stores anywhere in the country, that can include obscure places
  • Biffo B.
    Best way, whether it's chicken or a piece of furniture, is to ignore how much 'off ', 'extra', 'was', 'worth', and just ask yourself "is it cheap/good value/whatever" at that price.
  • magicbeans
    same here...stupid somerfield always over charge
  • Biffy
    It's like when the Officers Club had a constant 70% off sale for about 6 years
  • Steve
    Looks like the cheap, nasty, intensively farmed chicken anyway, so I'll stay clear whether it's BOGOF or 1/2 price!
  • micflair
    how about stop moaning about nothing, 3.50 for over a pound of chicken is a bargain no matter how they price it. You must just walk round supermarkets whining at everything, get a job or a life mate!
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    The whole point of the article is that £3.50 is regular price... ie. not a bargain. You're looking like the target audience for this promo.
  • micflair
    no mate your wrong. I work in a supermarket and can assure you that over a pound of chicken costs more than 3.50, so its still a good price at that. Get down to your local tesco or sumat and have a look for yourself.
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    Maybe your supermarket is overpriced then. I hate arguing about chicken breast prices but look on mysupermarket for prices. ASDA and Tesco are both normally priced below £3.50/500g Regardless, if the price is ALWAYS £3.50 then it's not a bargain. It's the normal price and the sticker is a joke. Which is the point of this article.
  • Lorna
    I was going to pop into my local Somerfield tonight specifically just to buy 4 chicken breasts and couldn't remember how much they were, so thanks for reminding me! My local butcher sells fabulously succulent large slabs of tasty chicken breast, but I'm always taken aback by the higher price. I guess you get what you pay for.

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