The supermarket wars are in full swing as they vie for our attention, and more importantly, our cash.  

Tesco's latest tactic is to convince us they are offering the best possible deal with their Brand Guarantee, but can we trust them?

Here's exactly what Tesco say in their headline for the offer:

Never pay more for your branded shop

If it's cheaper at Asda, Morrisons or Sainsbury's we'll take the money off your bill

Sounds ideal.

There are a few conditions hidden in the small print but they seem reasonable: only brands are included (own brands are not), you need to buy at least ten items to be eligible; Tesco limit themselves to a maximum of £20.

Basically, you shop in confidence that Tesco will automatically deduct the difference from your bill if a specific branded item is cheaper.

Does it work?

For my first foray into this tempting offer I wandered around my local(ish) Tesco Superstore, picking up a variety of branded and own-label items. Almost at the end of my spree I looked at coffee and debated which one to buy.  The Nescafe 200g was on offer, but the 300g jar was not.  As an experiment I stood in the shop and checked the price of the coffee in Asda using my mobile phone.  Tesco were a few pence cheaper for the 200g, however Asda were a huge £2.00 less for the 300g jar.

Safe in the knowledge that Tesco would automatically match this, I placed the larger jar in my trolley.

So how much did Tesco deduct from my bill?

After completing the transaction at the till I studied my receipt. Below you can see exactly what did NOT happen:

Coffee item on the receipt, brand deductions of 4p for something else

Coffee item on the receipt, brand deductions of 4p for something else

I pad the full £7.00 for the 300g of coffee, so no brand matching there.

Customer Services

I wandered over to Customer Services and explained the pricing error. I showed my receipt, the jar of coffee, and also my phone which clearly showed the Asda price for the same coffee.

The lady at the desk was not sure what to do next.  She called someone on the phone and explained my issue; she assured her call recipient that I had over ten items, I had a branded item, and evidence it was £2 cheaper in Asda. I'm not sure her call recipient was too interested -- she came off the phone still not clear what to do.  After speaking to a colleague beside her she decided the only sensible action was to give me a £2 'good will' refund.

And my point is?

We should be able to trust Tesco to honour their end of the deal.  

Yes, I got my money back, however should I have to police my receipt each time? 

The price of the coffee has been the same in Asda for some time -- I saw it myself in-store the week before.  This was the only reason it registered with me as a brand match when I was shopping in Tesco.

Tesco claim that they undertake:

Daily web scans of the Asda and Sainsbury’s grocery shopping web sites

Nescafe price at Asda

Nescafe price at Asda

More questions than are needed

Something has gone wrong!  

How many other people have trusted Tesco to automatically check for brand prices?

How many of us have been mislead? 

Who actually monitors the supermarkets and their offers?

 

Tesco have a legal obligation not to mislead the consumer over pricing or offers. How confident are you in their efforts to entice you in store with their big headline offers and execute these accurately?

 

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