The Complaining Cow: Are supermarkets giving us value for our money yet?

Helen Dewdney

Consumer rights blogger

11 Apr 2016

Helen Dewdney is a consumer rights blogger, The Complaining Cow, and author of the bestseller ‘How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!‘. She regularly appears in the media discussing consumer issues including those around supermarkets. She has complained regularly about all the supermarkets – including Tesco since her first blog post in 2012 and in particular in 2013, winning a Small Claims Court case she brought against Tesco. Here she looks at the value for money from supermarkets. Her views are her own.

Where is the value for money in supermarkets? Aren’t you fed up with all those ridiculous promotions in store and online? Frequently you need a calculator to work out the best offers!

It’s particularly confusing when it comes to brand matching. Oh, the changes we have seen in all the supermarkets! Matching everything, matching brands, bits of paper, some things do count, some don’t, who is matching who, and are X’s own veg matched with Y’s anyway?

But, that said, brand match schemes logically give you a saving. And at least Tesco now give you that money back at the till thanks to Brand Guarantee.

Sainsbury’s, of course, stopped matching Tesco long ago and has now dropped matching Asda and is getting rid of the whole scheme. Time will tell if that money will be put back into reducing prices or not.

As of today, Tesco will accept Sainsbury’s Brand Match vouchers until the end of June, as well as giving their own brand match guarantee on top. This is great news for Sainsbury’s customers – Tesco’s task now is to keep those customers for the long-term.

More generally we need supermarkets to offer simpler prices and promotions on all products, all the time. Which? started a super complaint last year which called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate promotional tactics that could potentially mislead consumers. Over the last year, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda have all been in the media announcing that they would be dropping confusing pricing practices. To be fair in January 2015 I remember watching the then new Tesco CEO presenting on the changes he was going to make. He said that Tesco would drop promotions department by department and place more focus on permanently reducing prices. An example is their bacon, sausages and burgers.

Tesco hasn’t set an end date for when all the departments will have been gone through and there’s still more work to do in my view. Sainsbury’s are also following suit and have said that the majority of multi-buy deals will have ended by August this year. Whether other supermarkets will follow Tesco’s lead remains to be seen.

What customers want is simple: The lowest prices and transparency. There is still a long way to go before that truly materialises in any of the supermarkets – but there’s no doubt things are starting to improve at Tesco.

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