TESCO: Not every little price ticket helps

This shot of Buxted free-range chicken was taken in Tesco yesterday. The pack price of these chickens is uniformly £6: what could be easier?

Well, the problem is that all the chickens are of different weight: the one on the right (which I bought, because it was the cheapest in the cabinet) cost £3.21 per kilo. The one on the left cost £3.70 per kilo. That’s a massive price difference.

And I’m afraid the truth is that the vast majority of birds were up in the £3.60 – £3.90 per kilo range.

I’m not saying this is illegal. I’m merely pointing out that it’s complex and confusing…although it is worth nothing that two weeks from now, Tesco will be able to use this as the precedent for a ‘price-drop’ example – thus allowing them to claim a reduction on the higher price per kilo.

But it isn’t just the misleading price/value thing. Tesco’s price marking is sloppy at best. Two beer offers will give a clear price per litre, the next three won’t. Two slices of salmon will have a cost per 100 grams, another will show it by 300 grams or the kilo. At least half the tickets I surveyed yesterday lacked the standard per litre or kilogram comparison UK supermarkets are supposed to provide for all shoppers.

On Tesco till receipts these days, there’s a rhetorical question at the bottom asking ‘How did we do?” The site address is tescocomments.com. I suggest all those fed up of less than transparent Tesco pricing should tell them.

29 thoughts on “TESCO: Not every little price ticket helps

  1. Yours is the first blog I look at every day John. Not blowing smoke in the general direction of your fundament – just saying. Perceptive and valued comment, mixed with waspish humour and insight… all delivered in excellent prose, an example to us all.

    Imagine, therefore, the chill hand which clutched at my vitals when I read, “I suggest all those fed up of less than transparent Tesco pricing should tell them”. Fed up WITH … (pause as I realise the enormity of what I’ve just done, and ready myself for the slings and arrows about to be hurled my way).


  2. @Caratacus

    No ‘slings and arrows’ from me but I do wonder where this would end up if correcting any other contributions for minor errors became adopted as good practice. You state yourself the quality prose we enjoy from JW, this is clearly a one off error that slipped under the radar.

    I hope this degree of what I would call, pickiness, wont become a trend.


  3. My God what evil b@stards Tesco are. I mean, charging you more for one product that the other. And having the audacity to try and hide the fact by writing the price (per kilo no less) on the actual label! How sneaky is that? How can a person be expected to deal with such mendacity?


  4. Quite right @Jwoo, Personally, though I like to see the Kings English spoken and written correctly, I let most go by and I usually reserve pickieness and pedantry only for contributors who spout Boll*x in their comments.
    @John, well done sir, keep stealing the cheese out of their mousetraps.


  5. And on the next shelf they will have chickens all at the same price and the same weight selling at the same price per kilo with the price you pay in bold as per the pictured example.

    Not everyone studies the prices/price per kilo in detail. The point being made is that it is meant to confuse the customer to the advantage of Tesco. It is never the reverse. Why in this case do they not charge the price per kilo and put that price on the label, thus showing that the smaller chicken is more expensive than the larger ones or would that make things too transparent?


  6. It would be an interesting exercise for those of us outside of the UK to compare the cost of basics in our supermarkets.


  7. From the photograph of the chickens on the header two of the chickens price/weight details can be identified.

    One is £3.21 per kilo and weighs in at 1.87 kilo. That equates to £6.00, the price that Tesco are charging for it.

    The other chicken is £3.70 per kilo and weighs in at 1.67 kilo. That equates to £6.17 but Tesco are charging £6.00 for it. Advantage to the customer.

    Unless JW can provide evidence of the final price slipping the other way then I do not see what the problem is. From this small sample no one is being cheated.


  8. Butter here in NZ is usually NZ$3.95 for 500g. Milk is bloody expensive considering we are one huge dairy farm. Ranges from NZ$2.80- to 4.50 for 2 litres. The $2.80 price is only when you buy 2 @ $5.60


  9. Unfortunately (for this campaign) I do not have a full size Tesco anywhere near enough to be useful. This is somewhat surprising as I am in SW London and there are nearby Sainsbury’s, Co-Op, Waitrose and Lidl as well as nearly nearby Asda.

    Some odd shelf labelling must be down to staff error (as in 2 for £4 on chorizo that is £1.50 each, after checking i found that the offer was in fact for the alternative next to it at £2.25 each). I find Sainsbury’s to be the worst for double scanning errors at the checkout.

    Lidl is usually good at shelf tickets. The main problem here is if you want to try and keep to UK produce. The shelf often contradicts the packaging in this regard, especially for a month or so after the home grown produce has finished its season. Lidl also uses an orange sticker system for 30% off clearance items. There is no bar code on this sticker so an eagle eye is needed to ensure the checkout operator deducts the discount. They often do not.

    When I am in Southampton (about once a month) I visit Aldi, mainly to get a different choice of cheap wine. Their “shelf tickets” are usually overhead and there is no consistency in them lining up with the correct product, or being present at all. A new Sainsbury’s will open later this year in Portswood. Will this be the death of its already over charity shopped high street? Is it any co-incidence that parking restrictions are being introduced in a large area around the new store to coerce people visiting the high street to park in the Sainsbury’s car park.

    I have two Tesco Express stores within walking distance and have always avoided them. They are incredibly expensive (as are Sainsbury Locals) for most items as they simply do not stock many cheaper brands. What do we expect when they are designed (in an urban area) for the disorganised shopper? There are in any case many “ethnic” alternative independents that are cheaper and have a greater range.


  10. Yes food is expensive and becoming more so,living in London with a bolt hole iin the north,I make good use of the trips up north.Every second month,I make a bee line to ASDA in Aintree for staples.Since November 2011,a large box of Ariel washing powder has jumped fron £8.92 to over £16.00p,recent stock have less powder and the new increased price-however this is “an everyday lower price”-in whose world?Their extra-lean mince has rocketed since Christmas from £5.00 for 2x500g to £6.00 another every day low price!As for their teabag labeling you need a Phd.However,compared to prices in Central London they are a steal!


  11. Wal cart. have been selling by rounded price for months.$5,$10 etc at first no weight listed.They can then reduce without relabeling,”save $1,Reduced!! It’s all marketing.


  12. @ Jwoo & Gerry Parker.

    I stand abashed, hat in hand, head bowed.

    It’s just that that particular one always reminds me of Len Murray (TUC leader in the 70s). There he was, plodding through the rain, that familiar lined face at its lugubrious best (definitely a lost-a-quid-and-found-sixpence sort of chap, our Len), as he answered a lot of respectful queries from a BBC reporter: “People are fed up of unemployment, they’re fed up of high prices, they’re fed up of guvvament cuts … “, the list continued thus for some minutes in dismal monotony as he splashed on through the puddles; and he read English at university.

    Anyway, I crave forgiveness. My correction says more about me than John’s excellent commentary!


  13. @Drain Alert

    So you are saying that two different sized chickens should be charged at different rates per kilo? On what basis would that be?

    Chicken is er, chicken. So when I look at different size packs of pre-packed cheese and joints of meat, they cost the same per kilo but obviously different in total. I understand that, it is after all obvious, but what is the advantage of doing what Tesco have done here, other than to make it more difficult to work out which is better value?

    Of course they can do what they want but the effect is to encourage people to buy bigger because it’s cheaper per kilo and therefore ‘better’ value. But if you end up buying more than you need to get a better price per kilo, it isn’t value is it?

    It is just tacky and invites the question ‘would you buy a second hand car from this retailer ?’ Answer no, nor a new one.


  14. Tecco Uckfield yesterday. In the discounted (date stamp today section) steak ‘reduced to £3.45’ next to the “old” price of 3 for £10…Not the first time I’ve spotted this wheeze and bear in mind that’s for meat they have to bin at the end of the day if unsold. W*****s.


  15. “Why in this case do they not charge the price per kilo and put that price on the label, thus showing that the smaller chicken is more expensive than the larger ones or would that make things too transparent?”

    THEY HAVE!!!!!!!

    Its there in black and white. Each chicken costs £6, one is bigger than the other so the price per kilo is different, and the price per kilo is written slap bang in the centre. How much more obvious do you want it? Letters three inches high?


  16. “other than to make it more difficult to work out which is better value”

    Well I know the usual intellectual standard of Tesco customers isn’t exactly to PhD level, but how thick do you have to be to not instinctively know that if they are the same price, and one’s bigger than the other, which one offers the better value? If you can’t work that one out, you have bigger problems in life than buying cheap chickens.


  17. My word, you are a charmer aren’t you Jim?

    However, you miss the point entirely. You could try reading my comment again, that might help you, but given the forcible way you write, I suspect that you have too narrow a field of vision to see the subtleties under discussion.


  18. “So you are saying that two different sized chickens should be charged at different rates per kilo? On what basis would that be?”

    Tesco are entitled to price their goods in exactly whichever way they please. And one way is not morally superior to the other. It is entirely down to the customer to decide whether they want to buy chicken on a fixed price per bird, or not. As long as all the relevant information is provided (which it is) I cannot see how this is in any way some example of unethical behaviour.


  19. John Im afraid this is just another example of newtonian thinking with regard to purchase of chickens. You have made the error of considering chicken purchase as a continuum wheras in fact it is more correctly understood as discrete quanta of chicken with a value of £6. You may place one £6 chicken in your basket or if you become excited may jump to 2 chickens (£12) but there is no price range of chicken purchase between these values. Utilising this quantum mechanical approach to chickens will hopefully free up some time for your trademark bollocks deconstruction


  20. People should stop winging about tescos, I live in cyprus and to buy a chicken typically costs 10 euros, A loaf of bread topping 2euro and milk just as expensive! We dont know if our chickens are free range, pumped full of water!! The Uk yes is getting more expensive but at the same time stores such as lidl, aldi kwik save iceland can save a great deal of money plus the voucher system is a way to utilise the system and get discounts.. watched a prorgram the other day regarding a woman that would send a letter to bernard matthews saying ”keep up the good work” and she got vouchers” If i was back in the UK i would be writing to everytone… Do you all seriously think the UK is expensive?? elissa


  21. Chicken’s Chicken and the price per kilo ought to be the same.

    The total price per item ought to be a reflection of the total weight as wrapped at the uniform price of the meat per kilo.

    It’s just another jew trick to cheat those not so fleet of mind.

    Predatory Marketing.


  22. Hmmm… An interesting take on pricing, in the Tesco example outlined, I’m not overly pleased, or indeed, miffed.

    However, I think Sainsury takes the biscuit for sheer gall…

    Once one has had one’s shopping put through the till by some charmless halfwit, Sainsbug’s computers lovingly calculate whether you’ve paid more for branded items than their main competitors currently charge. If so, said nerk is thrilled to present a discount voucher to be utilised on one’s next trip. They then can’t seem to comprehend my sullen scowl as I point out that if their systems know my shopping would be cheaper elsewhere, why didn’t they just reduce the prices to give me an appropriate price-matching discount there and then, instead of giving me a time-limited voucher which I’ll never get round to using.



  23. WE WERE CAUGHT BY THIS.nothing short of..legalized deception,…i know there has been losses but this is going too far… the customer always pays…… again chickens took one from shelf showing at £5 the wife noticed on the ticket ( after of course when were had eaten it ) were charged £9.25 …yesterday doing weekly shopping i took note, that out of all the racks contains the chickens, there was one with the same packaging with no prices on label only small figure showing £4 kilo when you’re in 70s your sight is not so good, ….maybe thats what was intended so what turned out a very expensive chicken…..Sir Terry take note…


  24. when they reveal the price per kilo, i have heard that chicken meat can be pumped with water to increase size and weight


  25. Yes but even the smallest Buxted Free Range Chicken is a darn site cheaper then a Tesco Free Range Chicken and when you can get a big one it is really good value, now Tesco have removed Buxted from their range, is it because of this blog, I am annoyed, Buxted was the only free range I used to buy, they are tasty now I am faced with having to pay Tesco prices or not buy chicken at all.


  26. Just to stick an oar in…..larger chickens tend to have a higher meat/carcase ratio by weight. I’m not prepared to do the Maths; just though I’d mention it.


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