The Price Drop Con

We got a letter through our letter box yesterday from Tesco Club Card. It trumpeted their new price initiative Price Drop where they claim they are dropping their prices on up to 3000 items in order to make our lives a little better in these tough economic times. On the whole it seems like a very good thing for them to do until you read on…..

At the bottom of the letter they go on to explain that in order to do this they are reverting their clubcard points back to one point per pound spent as opposed to their double club card points scheme they’ve been running for a few years now. Incidentally they did this on petrol a few months ago reducing the points to one point for every £2 spent but they kept that very quiet at the time.

As it is we needed to go to Tesco last night so we got the chance to check out some of their claims

The first thing we noticed was that they had dropped the price of a 4 pint bottle of milk from £1.49 to £1.25. At first glance that would seem good but I know that until 2 weeks ago they were running a promotion of 3 for £3 on that line. So if we had bought 3 bottles last night we would have paid £3.75 an increase of 75p. Now that’s hardly a good start. We only bought 1 as we can get a 2 litre bottle of milk at out local corner shop for only 95p and while this bottle is slightly smaller it still works out cheaper. If our local shop can sell it for this price why can’t Tesco with all it’s buying power.

Then there were other things that didn’t seem right. A tray of cat food where the “old” price was advertised as being higher than what we remembered paying for it the week before (I had remarked that it had only been 1p more than a rival brand and now the Price drop tag claimed it had been more than 50p dearer). Other things had been reduced from prices that we felt were higher than we had been paying. About the only thing we found that did seem cheaper was a loaf of their baked in store bread that seems to have been reduced by 5p to £1.

Obviously we didn’t check everything but the overwhelming feeling was that maybe the Price Drops had been exaggerated somewhat.

So in order to take off a few pence here and there Tesco have dropped back their rewards program. My understanding is that market analysts have been predicting this for sometime as they felt it was unsustainable to keep it at 2p in the pound. Tesco’s are obviously claiming that we will benefit from the Price Drop reductions but we will only do that if two things happen. Firstly we will have to buy the things that they have reduced the price on. Personally I would prefer to get 2p in the pound back on my shopping rather than 1p and a few dubious price reductions which, and this is the second thing, could be slowly forgotten about in the coming weeks and months once the shock of the points reduction has subsided – classic smoke and mirrors.

Tesco must be working on the principle that all their customers are stupid – not a great way to treat the people who come into your stores and spend the money you need to keep your empire in the profits to which you have become accustomed!

While we are on the subject of Tesco I must have a bit of a moan about their new Gillingham store. The store was expanded last year to become a Tesco Extra and since then it has seriously gone to the dogs. As customers we put up with months of works to end up with a store that has become overcrowded and so badly stocked it makes me wonder how they keep going. The first thing you notice as you enter the store is the lack of space. There is hardly any room inside the door and once you’re inside the aisles are narrower than before and most of them are piled with displays of booze, clothes and other non essential stuff. We were really looking forward to the new store opening but in order to add space for LCD TV’s DVD’s and the like the store has been completely ruined.

Week after week we are faced with half empty shelves, sometimes of really basic things – they had a real problem with constantly running out of milk and this got so bad that they had to put a sign on the milk shelves pointing out to their staff that it was a priority fill item! Last night they had no bags of sugar and there were items where the shelf had been empty when we last went on Saturday and still hadn’t been filled up! If you go in the evening the staff are filling the shelves and really don’t give a toss about the customers leaving trolleys all over the place, blocking aisles throwing rubbish around, and stacking food in front of the shelves so that it’s difficult to reach anything.Outside isn’t any better with a few safety issues. One of the doors to the store is such that as soon as you exit it you are virtually in the road and it’s so blind it would be easy to step in front of a car! The carpark itself slopes so badly that in certain areas it is impossible to let go of your trolley without it rolling down the hill and into other cars. (Incidentally it will be interesting to see if a really heavy rain storm will have the same effect as there is nothing to stop the water flowing into the store!). The entrance to the petrol station regularly becomes a bottle neck and the new trolleys they got are designed so badly that they jam everytime they are stacked inside each other.

A few years ago we shopped almost exclusively at Tesco but now we find ourselves making the longer trip to Asda on more and more occasions. Their store is much more spacious that the Tesco one but they too still have things that annoy me. It’s sad for Tesco that the only saving grace they have is that the opposition are that much better than them!

We buy any car dot con?

So I needed to get rid of my old Seat Alhambra as it was no longer worth repairing it. It couldn’t be driven due to a scary brake failure as I was driving back down the street last time I took it out. It had been parked up gathering dust and the MOT was about to expire so it had to go.

I had gone onto the we buy any car website and it had valued the car at £150 but said that I would need to get it to Strood as they didn’t collect. It also said that the price was subject to a £49.99 admin fee and included a contribution from the Road tax so after I had paid to get it towed to the garage and paid the admin fee it would have meant I would have come away with virtually nothing.

The another disaster happened, the big end went on the car my friend had given me in January. After being towed back to the garage in Gillingham by a very nice AA man the man who owns the garage gave me a card of someone who would buy the car off me. I phoned around and eventually got £300 for the two cars plus they came and collected them and I should get about £45 back from the road

So the moral of the story is avoid those who have snappy jingles – they have to pay for them somehow!