Which!!! special offers actually cost you more?
We all like a good BOGOF every now and again, but a new Which!!! investigation has uncovered some situations where buying products on special offer might not only not save you any money, but in some cases would cost you more than if you had bought the product when it was not on offer.
Coming on the back of Which!!!'s super-complaint to the CMA last month, complaining about supermarkets' dodgy pricing strategies and offers, the consumer group have now highlighted some examples of offers that blatantly flaunt consumer guidelines on special offers and some that actually cost you more money.
The worst offending 'offers' both came from Asda, who would like you to buy two 2-litre bottles of Pepsi for 'just' £3, which at a cost of £1.98 each saves you a tidy 96p. Unless you consider the fact that, when not on special offer, you can buy the same bottles of pop for £1 each, meaning the 'special offer' actually costs you £1 more. Similarly, Elvive shampoo and conditioner costs around £2.80 each, but you can buy two products for £4, allowing you to pocket the difference of £1.60. Yet anytime the products aren't on special offer, they actually cost £2, so the offer saves you precisely zip.
Government guidelines set out how retailers should use special offers that aren't misleading and ensure they're complying with the law. Which!!! identified three ways in which the bigger supermarkets appeared to be breaking the guidelines:
Running a special offer for longer than the higher ‘was’ price was in effect. This makes it appear like shoppers are getting a discount, when actually the lower ‘discount’ price is a more accurate reflection of the value of the product because it’s been available for longer. Gillette Venus razors, for example, were sold at £2 in Asda for 37 days, then 97p (‘was £2’) for 86 days, more than twice as long.
Referring to a higher ‘was’ price that was used for fewer than 28 days in a row (on a non-food item). The short period of availability is again not the best reflection of the value of the product. Which!!! found Sainsburys had a cracking deal on Finish dishwasher tablets for £6, but the higher £9 price had only been available for 19 days prior to the offer starting.
Not referring to the price immediately before the offer started as the ‘was’ price, but referring to an older, higher ‘was’ price instead, exaggerating the amount of discount. Asda (again) were selling Hovis white bread at ‘just’ £1, with a crossed through price of £1.20, despite the fact that the bread hadn’t actually cost that much bread for 116 days.
Overall, the supermarkets are just making things worse for themselves, and this extra evidence is sure to help Which!!!'s CMA complaint, a decision on which is due in the next couple of months. It's no wonder shoppers are eschewing silly offers and turning to discount supermarkets instead, where a price appears to be just the actual price, all the time...