14th Feb 2017
Tesco customers are often paying more for their shopping than they expect to, because of promotions that have expired but are still advertised on the shelves, a BBC investigation has found.
A reporter for BBC's Inside Out programme visited stores over a three-month period and found that customers were overcharged at two-thirds of the stores visited. In 33 of 50 stores, multi-buy promotions were marked on the shelf, but the time-limited discounts were not applied at tills.
Mistakes only applied to in-store offers, and not those online.
Martin Fisher from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute told the BBC that it's hard to gauge whether such over-pricing is happening across the wider UK supermarket industry because it's not recorded in enough detail to be searchable.
But he added that the underlying problem is that people don't complain because they don't realise they've paid more than the promotion price.
Systems and staffing
He emphasised, however, that stores should have the appropriate systems in place to check whether this is happening and, if it is, learn from the data as well as customer complaints.
A failure to remove promotional offer displays and labels after they've expired also suggests that store staff are not doing their jobs properly, whether it's due to a shortage of employees, not enough staff training or a combination of the two. At one store the BBC reporter visited, a member of staff blamed the expired offers on the shop being “short-staffed”.
In every case where customers complained that they had been charged more than the promotional price at the till, Tesco staff honoured the offer.
Avoiding such errors in the first place is vital if retailers are to retain customers, though. In The Institute of Customer Service’s latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index, two of the phrases customers most frequently used to describe their experience with the top 50 organisations were “transactional efficiency” and “value, quality and reliability”.
Tesco is already taking action to remedy the problem in its stores, saying it would be double-checking the accuracy of the price labels at all its stores as a result of the BBC's investigation.
The supermarket chain added that it would be working with the stores involved “to reinforce our responsibilities to our customers”.
Avoiding over-pricing is not only vital to retaining customer trust – failure to do so could see retailers fall foul of The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute warned.