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When promos go wrong

Most ridiculous offers spotted by MoneySavers

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Consumer Team | Edited by Martin

Archived 20 Sep 2011

We've been inspired by tweeter @Wallprice to come up with a 'We're not stupid' name and shame gallery, where we asked you to snap the worst pricing offenders in retail.

The results are in we've selected the top silly supermarket pricing clangers. A massive thanks to all the MoneySavers who sent us the following photos:

Why do these mistakes happen?

These renegade offers seem obvious to us, but supermarkets clearly miss 'em:

The big bold sign is there, lurid colours aim at drawing us in yet even a five-year-old can see they're not worth it.

Supermarkets have told us the key reasons why mistakes happen:

  • picture of calculatorHuman error. For example, where the wrong shelf label is placed beside a product and staff have failed to spot it (or even do the maths properly).
  • Technical issues. Mistakes can also boil down to technical issues if the system hasn't registered an offer, or numbers get crunched up in a glitch.
  • Out-of-date pricing. In other cases, a special promo on a limited range of stock may have ended, but the labels haven't been updated. This results in two conflicting prices (the original and promo price) displayed beside each other for the same product.
  • Super-quick offer turnover. Another reason given by supermarkets for the ridiculous pricing is down to fast 'n' furious competition. Supermarket price wars can promise to give you double the difference if you find a product cheaper elsewhere, so each retailer's constantly slashing prices and generating new special offer barcodes to compete.

Quick tips to protect your pocket

picture of shopping basketIn the haste to lure more shoppers, sometimes retailers forget to amend or temporarily de-activate original prices, leaving you wondering how much you'll actually pay at the checkout.

While most supermarkets say they'd never over-charge customers when there's a pricing error (so you'd pay the lower of the two conflicting prices), watch out as you could still be charged more.

Here are a few quick tips to safeguard against pricing errors:

  • Do the maths yourself. Hopefully, as a MoneySaver, you can spot a price discrepancy at a hundred paces. But even if not, do a quick mental calculation before you pick up something that's on offer to check it's really cheaper. After all, there's no need to spend more on a mistakenly-priced multibuy when the items cost less to buy individually.
  • Always check at the till. It's down to the barcode, so always check that it scans at the lower price when you're at the checkout, and raise it if not. It may be that the items need to be scanned in separate transactions to avoid mistakenly coming up as a pricier multibuy.
  • Check your receipt. It's best to take a quick look before you leave the shop as any mistakes can be rectified quickly. Wait until you get home to do this and you'll have a groan-worthy treck back to the store.
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