Can you cash in on the 'Price Promise' at Tesco?

With it's 'Price Promise', Tesco is trying to claw back some of the ground the supermaket lost to rival Sainsburys. The deal offers shoppers vouchers for the difference if their Tesco trolley comes to a higher total than at one of their rivals. Look closely and it's not quite the attractive offer it appears.

Instant voucher refunds

The 'Price Promise' at Tesco is an expansion of an existing scheme at Britain's most popular supermarket. Previously customers would have to type in details at the website to qualify for a refund. Now Tesco makes the calculations at the checkout and issues instant refund vouchers that must be redeemed within 28 days.

On the surface it seems like a generous deal, especially at a time when shoppers are looking for savings on regular items. With the 'Price Promise', Tesco has grabbed plenty of publicity, but shoppers are unlikely to be claiming huge refunds from the supermarket. The promotion is limited to branded and own-label products, with numerous exceptions that include electrical items, CDs, DVDs, toys, clothing, beauty products and tobacco.

Shoppers will also have to buy a minimum of ten itens to qualify for the price comparisons at the checkout. This compares with a minimum spend of £20 at Sainsburys before they offer vouchers for price differences.

Asda, the British supermarket chain with the most aggressive price-cutting policy, responded to Tesco's initiative by tweaking its own Price Guarantee promotion. This guaranteed refunds if the Asda shopping bill was not 10% cheaper than rivals. An app for mobiles makes it simple for shoppers to calculate the difference, Asda claimed.

Buyers beware

The 'Price Promise' from Tesco is the latest weapon in an escalating war between supermarkets. Apart from the challenge of negotiating various price guarantees, shoppers must also be aware of the psychological marketing tricks involved in many promotions. It's increasingly common to find that larger packs are not more economical, that buying in bulk is not cheaper. Supermarket shopping has become a minefield for the unwary.

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