Tesco has been reprimanded by the advertising watchdog for leaving out a key condition in its promise to refund the difference if customers find a basket of shopping cheaper at rival supermarket Asda.  

It failed to clearly state a £20 limit per shop on refunds under the scheme, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found.

While this formed part of the terms and conditions of TV, web and leaflet promotions for its Price Check guarantee, it was not stated in the supermarket's key message.

For instance, one complaint to the ASA quoted the Tesco website, which stated: "We'll check the price of your comparable grocery shopping versus Asda. Of course, we're confident you will find your shopping cheaper at Tesco, but if not, we'll refund double the difference."

Only the text in the 'frequently asked questions' (FAQs) section stated the £20 limit.

The offer still exists, though Tesco will only now refund the difference, not double the difference.

ASA judgement

The ASA ruled: "We considered the £20 limit was a significant restriction likely to affect the average consumer's decision to shop at Tesco during the promotional period. Because the restriction was not included in [some] ads we concluded they were misleading.

"Because the restriction was only found in the fair-use policy for [another] ad we concluded the terms and conditions contradicted rather than clarified the headline claim and therefore that ad was also misleading.

"We told Tesco to ensure that particularly significant conditions were included in the main body of advertising."

Price Check watered down

This cap was introduced in March in an attempt to prevent shoppers, including many of our forums users, using a loophole by buying items simply to get money back, which made some customers hundreds of pounds each.

The previous limit was £100 in vouchers per month.

A month later, Tesco changed the offer to just refund the difference between a cheaper basket of shopping at Asda, rather than the previous double the difference.

A Tesco spokesman says: "We introduced the £20 limit in March to stop the tiny minority of people who were abusing Price Check and putting at risk the continuance of the scheme for genuine customers.

"Given it was aimed at such a small minority we included the change on our website rather than in the advertising itself. We have subsequently included the limit in our advertising so have already taken account of this ruling."

However, at 12.30pm today, the Tesco Price Check website still did not state the £20 limit in the main body of text, only in the FAQs. We are awaiting comment from Tesco on this.