Watch out for these ‘legal’ supermarket scams


supermarket-scamsSupermarket’s love to slag each other off.

“During a recent price check we found that 1,978 of our products were cheaper than our competitors” shouts one… “We won’t be beaten on brands…” screams another.

How very thoughtful.

For all their holier than thou ‘we’re desperately trying to save you money’ advertising campaigns, supermarkets are some of THE worst offenders when it comes to confusing, flustering and tricking us into parting with our hard earned cash.

But there is something you can do about it to give yourself the edge as a buyer. Once you’re aware of these common supermarket scams you’ll know exactly what to look for – and how to fight back.

1. Always look up for the best deals

Ever find it hard to locate the low price offers that are so furiously advertised on TV? Supermarkets are always looking for the biggest markup and will often place their most profitable items at eye level in the hope that you’ll grab the first one you see without scanning the shelves.

Look up! You can often find the best deals higher up on the shelves where you wouldn’t normally think to look. It’s also worth checking at ground level for bargains.

2. Don’t be fooled by this ‘size saving’ trick

Most of us would (quite reasonably) assume that the greater the volume or weight, the greater the saving. For example a 2 litre bottle of cola should be cheaper than 2 one litre bottles. This is often the case but not always…

Supermarkets play on our assumption that a bigger size bottle, carton or box means a bigger saving per gram. And even if we’re not sure, most of us are unlikely to whip out a calculator in store and start multiplying and dividing all the different prices to check we’re getting the best deal.

Here’s a great tip if you’re shopping online. There’s a site called mySupermarket which automatically does the calculation for you. If there is a cheaper alternative, for example buying two smaller boxes of washing detergent instead of one larger one, they notify you onscreen and give you the option to swap. No faffing or maths needed. It also compares the cost against 4 other major supermarkets in the UK so that you can see where your shopping would be cheapest. You can shop as normal and in most cases still pick up all your loyalty points.

3. Try to use tunnel vision when you enter the store

There’s a reason that flat screen teles and electrical goods frequently pop up near the front of the store. It’s a cunning trick to tempt you into picking up a desirable high priced items as you walk the 500 yard gauntlet to everyday items like milk and eggs.

Supermarkets will often put essential items at the back of the shop so that you’re exposed to as many products as possible enroute.

4. It’s the sale price that never stops!

Just because an item’s on sale right now it doesn’t mean it’s not going to be the same price next week… or even the week after that. Supermarkets have been known to keep items on sale for months to panic buyers into grabbing a so-called bargain.

5. Watch out for the multi buy deal… that isn’t a deal

Supermarkets have been known to put enticing ‘multi buy’ deal signs on items (such as “buy 3 for £2”) where in reality the individual price of the items amounts to exactly the same thing.

Over the years we’ve been trained to think that multi-buy deals amount to a saving. A quick sum in the head can prevent you from falling for this sneaky trick.

6. You’re not losing your mind, they have swapped everything around

One tactic supermarkets LOVE using is the layout swap. They switch around the order of items – and sometimes even whole isles. It can be infuriating, so why do they do it?

It’s so that you’re exposed to products you might not otherwise have seen while you wander around looking for the correct aisle.

7. Hold your nose

Supermarkets will often use fans to waft or pump out the smell of fresh bread to tempt you over to the baked goods isles. They know that smells can be powerfully evocative and can provoke shoppers into making impulse buys.

You’ll find this tactic is less frequently used at the fish counter – funny that.

8. Watch out for these ‘artificial’ sales

Supermarkets (and electrical stores for that matter) know that we love a discount – even if it’s not a discount. They’ll sometimes artificially raise the price of a product for a month just so that they can drop it again and claim that you’re making a great saving. Keep in mind the price you’d normally pay for items to avoid falling for this supermarket scam.

These tips should keep you one step ahead of the supermarkets and their dirty tricks. Arm yourself against impulse buys buy writing a list before you hit the supermarket and stick to it. Also try not to shop on an empty stomach – that way you’ll only buy what you need, rather than what you fancy eating right now!


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