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New research reveals dodgy supermarket deals

Which? has identified yet more dubious offers

Muller corner yoghurts

This product cost more on ‘special offer’ at Asda

Which? has uncovered yet more dodgy special offers – some of which don’t save you any money – from supermarkets including Asda and Ocado.

A new Which? investigation into supermarkets has found products ‘on offer’ for much longer than they were sold at the higher price. Some of these could potentially be breaking government rules.

We also uncovered multibuys that didn’t save you money.

Examples we found included:

  • Asda increased the price of a single Muller yoghurt variety pack from £2 to £3.88 as it went onto multibuy – but even at two for £5, it was still more expensive than the original price of £2. It went back to £2 as the ‘offer’ ended.
  • Ocado sold Chicago Town Four Cheese Pizza Two-Pack at the higher price of £2.19 for only eight days, and then on offer for 27 days at ‘was £2.19 now £1.64’.

You can read the full special offers news story in the August issue of Which? magazine. If you’re not already a Which? member, sign up for a £1 one month trial to Which? magazine.

To uncover these dodgy deals, we used data from the independent shopping website mysupermarket.

Which? – special offer campaigns

There is government guidance about special offers. This states that special offers shouldn’t be misleading and that products shouldn’t be on offer for longer than they are at the higher price. 

But these rules are caveated: they say that what’s reasonable depends on the circumstances. In other cases, putting up a sign that explains how the offer differs from these rules could be enough.

We’ve shown the dodgy special offers we’ve uncovered over the past years to the Trading Standards Institute. It’s announced that new guidance is needed. We’ll be working to make these rules better as it develops them and as we continue our campaign to make special offers special.

You can read more about it on our special offers campaign page.

Asda and Ocado respond

We challenged the supermarkets we’ve named in this news story to respond to our findings – there are more examples of dodgy deals from other supermarkets in the full story in Which? magazine.

Asda said: We would never deliberately mislead our customers. Our aim is to simply have the lowest prices for the longest.’

Ocado said: ‘We run thousands of offers each week and regrettably errors are sometimes made. This offer was available in October 2013 and we have since changed our processes to improve price monitoring and ensure we follow the government guidelines.’

For more about the supermarkets, including how their customers rate them in our annual customer satisfaction survey, details of own-brand Best Buys and for the results of our previous investigations, click supermarkets compared.

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