True money stories from smart people: Sneaky supermarkets

25 April 2016

Should we feel sorry for supermarkets? For a start, they’re fighting a war on prices and we’re all waiting to see which weakling will hit the dirt first. Morrisons? The Co-op, perhaps?

And now they’re being criticised for displaying suspect special offers. The Money Advice Service has pointed out that consumers are spending more than £1,000 a year more than they mean to because of underhand supermarket tricks.

Well, there’s a big shock. Supermarkets being tricksy with prices and displays? Who’d have thought it?

But these naughty doings have not got past some savvy shoppers who know exactly what’s happening.

They know about pumping out the delicious smell of baking bread, of putting the expensive branded products at eye level with the cheaper stuff at the bottom or just out of reach, and of putting special offers by the entrance. In fact, they often say bog off to a BOGOF (buy one, get one free) because they know it’s not the bargain it seems.

You can’t be too careful nowadays, as Eddie from Canterbury, United Kingdom, points out. In reply to a comment from ‘Weep’: “They’ve been conning us for years with offers like a loaf at £1.30 or two for £2.60”, he says: “Yes, because the Tories set the prices in supermarkets.... idiot.”

Sure, they do – and the Bilderberg Group of Europe and North America’s political elite runs Marks & Spencer’s. Hmm. But shoppers report a few new tricks, too.

‘Skint in the City’ says: “Another tactic adopted by supermarkets is playing slow music, which apparently makes you linger longer in store than fast music. Sneaky, eh? Take your own headphones and save more.” Yes, but ‘Skint’ should watch herself. She should check it’s some relaxing Mozart rather than something dangerously subliminal like ZZ Top’s TV Dinners, Jack Johnson’s Banana Pancakes or Birthday Cake by Rihanna.

But perhaps some shoppers deserve to have psychological marketing tricks played on them?

Matthew Owen has observed a worrying trend among our youth in supermarkets. He says: “I get very annoyed by people who eat stuff as they go around, handing over half-empty sandwich containers or half-finished bottles of drink as they go through the checkout. It’s shoplifting until the very point they put their hands in their pockets, actually deigning to pay for it.

“I often see people turning a blind eye to their screaming children doing this. Are we raising a nation of shoplifters? This blatant disregard for supermarket protocol says so much about society.”

It’s not all about price for everyone, though. ‘Cardiff Mum’ is clearly disgusted that her clever method for ensuring other shoppers give her a wide berth has been scotched by her local Tesco. She says: “I think it’s stupid not being allowed in the supermarket with pyjamas on. It’s not as if you’re making a show. If anything, they should be happy because you’re spending your money in their shop, but obviously they’re not because you’re not allowed in with pyjamas. So they’ll lose custom, with people going to other shops to buy stuff where they’re allowed in with their pyjamas on.”

Quite. Who wouldn’t want to be standing next to someone in their Betty Boo nightie and fluffy slippers, fresh from a warm bed? Really, supermarkets... what shockers!


Money stories from not so smart firms

One Turkish supermarket in Istanbul was ripped off in January by an opportunistic shopper who had overheard the store manager mentioning a shortage of staff.

The woman, known only as Tugce, claimed to have been transferred from another branch. The branch manager thought Lidl of it, and eventually asked her to work on the till.

There she sat for a few hours, before pocketing 1,800 Lira (£435) and walking out for a coffee break, from which she never returned.