Phantom supermarket special offers uncovered by Which?'Half price' offers being sold at full price

28 April 2011

Fairy and Ariel washing powder on 'special offer'

Sainsbury's stores across the country were selling Fairy and Ariel washing powder at full price (£20) despite adverts saying it would be available for £10. 

A Which? investigation into supermarket special offers has revealed phantom offers and with dubious ads for deals that weren't actually available.

Undercover shoppers made 198 visits to Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores. They looked at over 2,000 items, all of which had been advertised in newspapers or on TV as being on special offer. 

All four supermarkets were found to be advertising some products that weren't in stock on the day the offer was advertised, and some stores were selling items at full price when they had been advertised as being on offer.

In one example, Which? researchers found Fairy and Ariel washing powder, advertised as being on offer at half price by Sainsbury’s, being sold at full price in three quarters of the Sainsbury's stores visited.

Advertised prices should be honoured

Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive, said: 'If supermarkets are going to promote special offers, they must make sure all stores honour the prices advertised. There is no excuse for selling a product for £20 when it has been advertised at £10. They should also make sure they have enough stock to meet demand.'

If you've gone shopping to buy an item that’s supposedly on special offer only to find that it’s not there, or that it’s not on offer, let us know on Which? Conversation.

Prices compared

Which? also compared prices from four online supermarkets – Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Ocado - on a selection of 260 popular products. Which? members can find out who was cheapest by reading the full article here. If you're not a member, you can join for £1 a month for the first three months.

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