Is Sainsbury Brand Match a con?

a swizz?

We don’t have a particular loyalty when it comes to supermarket shopping. The staff in our local Waitrose have been hugely rude to wifey on a number of occasions, when we order online from Sainsbury, all the meat has an expiry date of the next day, our nearest Tesco is miles away and I can never find anything in Morrisons. People in Asda never seem to cover their mouths when they cough either (not the supermarkets fault I know but still…)

Sometimes we do venture in-store to Sainsbury when we’re close to one and this happened the other day when we we’d just bought some DIY products from a nearby Homebase. It was the week their brand match scheme had started, something I was already deeply suspicious about, and my tweets from the time reflected this; it seemed to me like one of these schemes to ensure Sainsbury wasn’t cheaper than anyone else, more like an unofficial price fixing scheme than anything. I also had my suspicions on whether they could actually manage the whole thing in a way that was beneficial to me as a consumer. When we’re out shopping, like a lot of people, we tend to stock up on things that are on special offer, be it tinned tomatoes, breakfast cereals or whatever. We do that by looking on shelves; unfortunately I haven’t developed a remote viewing capability to allow me to check what’s on distant shelves in other supermarkets.

We bought our trolley full of things and paid for it at the checkout. As per, we had a lot of frozen stuff, so we were keen to get home before it defrosted and before the kids kicked off more massively than they already had done. Taking the two of them round a supermarket is soul destroying at the best of times. As we walked back to the car, wifey did a brief audit on the till receipt.

We’d saved six pounds something on brand match the receipt cheerfully told us. Great, the problem however wasn’t a new one sadly, it’s fairly common in most supermarkets. A lot of the actual in-store special offers we’d picked up hadn’t scanned. Enough to actually eclipse the savings on brand match. I don’t think we’d have bought the dips if they hadn’t been on three for £2, they didn’t go through though. The cheese was apparently on special offer too, not that the tills seemed to recognise this, as well as a myriad of other non branded items.

The Dairylea I’m confused on. This was in a two for one offer so we picked up two. The two for one didn’t scan though. Could this be a brand match issue? Did the Dairlylea not go through because as part of my “basket” of branded goods, the basket overall was a few pence cheaper as Tesco or Asda? That’s how brand match works you see, rather than price matching individual items, the clever computer matches the price of all your branded goods against the same branded goods in other supermarkets. Whichever has the overall biggest saving (presuming there is one) gets given to you as a coupon. Or did it simply fail to go through as the deal was showing on the shelves but not registered on the till set up. Either way, we wouldn’t have bought the Dairylea if it hadn’t been on special offer. I’ve tweeted SainsburyPR and asked for clarification. As yet no reply.

Beforehand, my big issue with brand match wasn’t so much the idea behind it, although as I’ve said above, I had my suspicions, my big problem was whether Sainsbury could technically manage it. Unfortunately the in-store deals not going through at the till is a very common problem, and not one isolated just to Sainsbury. I imagine a lot of people like us are in a hurry with kids and don’t spot it when the offer doesn’t ring up at the till. Supermarkets also put very similar products not included in the offers right next to them, so people can pick them up “by mistake”. Before we had kids in tow, it was easy to query, even if the frozen food was often half defrosted by that point, but with kids we haven’t got a chance unless one of us is glaring at the till whilst everything is scanned and the other is bag packing/kid wrangling.

And if Sainsbury can’t even get their own in-store offers right, how can we be sure any of the other supermarkets offers are input correctly?