The Great Hidden Supermarket Scam And Common Sense


In Britain, our villages and towns used to have High Streets with butcher’s shops, grocers, greengrocers, bakers, florists, chemists, newsagents etc etc. The High Street was the hub of the community, a place for people to meet and chat and gossip while they shopped. Now, many of our High Streets are either full of empty shops or full of takeaways and charity shops – because the businesses that once made them thrive have been destroyed by the presence of the big supermarkets that lured us away from the High Street with their convenience (EVERYTHING UNDER ONE ROOF!) and their lower prices (HA!) and now we have no option but to shop in the big supermarkets because the little shops have all but disappeared.

The big supermarkets are taking over our lives. They know too much about us. They know what we eat, what we drink, what we wear, what medicines we take, the household goods we buy, what we read and watch and listen to. And that’s not all. Off the top of my head, they do insurance, banking, even funerals and probably many other things that I’m not aware of and can’t be bothered researching. They receive a great portion of our money. Most people do their weekly/fortnightly shop in one of the big supermarkets, spending all of their allocated shopping budget there.

But that isn’t enough for the supermarkets. They have a way of extracting even more money from us, of ROBBING US BLIND, but no one has picked up on it yet because every time the supermarkets are pulled up about it it’s passed off as a ‘mistake’. But it’s happened to me too often (every single week) and in too many supermarkets (every single one of them) for it not to be a carefully executed SCAM. And by ‘scam’ I don’t mean the type of selling techniques some people call scams, such as ‘Product Placement’ or the wafting of enticing smells around the store, or the piping out of soporific music to lull us into buying stuff we don’t need. I mean a proper scam being carried out on a massive scale and raking in an immense side-profit for the supermarkets.

If you’re anything like me (poor!) you’ll be used to shopping cannily and mindfully, aware of the price of everything you put into your trolley, living on bargains, deals and Buy One Get One Frees. Some people shop differently, they can afford to buy what they want to buy without thinking too much about the cost. Some people do both, they buy more or less what they want while keeping one eye on the bargains. Whichever way you shop, however much or however little you have to spend, the supermarkets are taking more from you than you think.

This is how the supermarkets rob us —

Buy One Get One Frees that don’t deduct the price of the free item. A regular occurrence – when you complain they say it was a mistake, the offer hasn’t been added to the ‘system’ yet.

Buy One Get One Frees that aren’t actually included in the offer even though they’re displayed in a way that makes you think they are – placed directly above the offer label – but the exceedingly tiny small print on the BIG offer label doesn’t list that particular variety or flavour, for example Dolmio Pasta Sauces, Buy One Get One Free, includes (and this is the tiny print) Garlic & Mushroom, Tomato & Herby Stuff, Mediterranean Veggie Stuff – but NOT the popular Low Fat Dolmio Sauce that’s prominently displayed above the label. When challenged about it the staff say ‘ You’ve made a mistake, the offer doesn’t include that variety on the label,’ but they know full well most people presume the supermarkets have at least a modicum of honesty and wouldn’t stoop so low as to display an offer label beneath an item that isn’t on offer. WRONG.

Special Offers or Rollback items charged at full price, for instance this week I was robbed of £1.95 when two bags of apples that had been “rolled back” to £1.00 were charged at £1.35 each, and a Tikka Masala ready meal, on offer at £1.00, was charged at its full price of £2.25. That’s £1.95 extra added to the small amount of money I have to spend on shopping. By what amount is someone doing a big family shop conned out of? Again, the staff say, mistake, mistake, the ‘system’ is to blame.

Meal Deals – starter, main, dessert for £5.00 or £10.00. Not deducted, each item charged at full price. I’ve had this happen in Tesco, where, luckily for me, they give you all your money back AND the item – but how many people did they con before and after me? Enough to make the cost of my free meal more than worth it, I bet.

Reduced Items – Most supermarkets have Reduced sections for items almost past their sell-by dates. Don’t grimace, they’re not POISONED –  here’s a common sense tip – buy fresh meat, chicken, mince etc (if it’s still within date and it looks perfectly okay – use your COMMON SENSE), freeze it as soon as you get home and you’ll save a bomb. But be aware that if the reduced sticker hasn’t been put on top of the barcode the items are charged at full price.

How many of you throw away your till receipts without even a glance? How many of you wait until you get home, put all your shopping away, make a cuppa to have with your iced bun, before sitting down to have a cursory look? How many of you check your till receipts BEFORE you leave the supermarket?

The supermarkets are fully aware most people don’t check their receipts before they leave the store. That’s how they get away with this scam – they rely on the fact that people don’t check, and if they do check it’s when they’re at home, where, when they notice a discrepancy on the receipt, they think, “Oh, I can’t be bothered going all the way back just for a pound, it’d cost me more in petrol,” and they throw the receipt away and forget all about it.

And if you do check before you leave the store and find you’ve been overcharged, what happens? You go back to the till to tell the cashier but odds are they’ll be in the process of serving (robbing) another customer so you’ll have to wait for them to finish. When they do finish, you explain what’s happened but the cashier can’t rectify it, s/he has to ring for a supervisor who is SOMEWHERE in the store. Five minutes later the supervisor arrives. The cashier explains, wrongly, what your quibble is. You explain. The supervisor asks for the item, you dig through your shopping bags to find it, then the supervisor goes off for a little trek round the store to find the item and prove you’re a liar. While s/he’s gone, the cashier starts to serve the next customer who has enough food in their trolley to feed the five thousand. Five minutes later the supervisor comes back and waits for the cashier to finish cashiering the big trolleyful of food before s/he tells the cashier to do a ‘return’. The cashier doesn’t know how to do a return so the supervisor decides it’s a good time to teach him/her. S/he gets it wrong. They start again. You wonder how long you’d have to serve in prison for assault and battery with a cucumber. Finally, the cashier hands you YOUR pound coin, the pound coin they tried to steal from you, with no apology, just a mumbled ‘It must have been an oversight, a mistake,’ and a look that’s probably defrosted your frozen chips.

All designed to put you off asking for your money back next time it happens.

But was your pound coin worth all the time you had to wait? Was it worth the huffing and puffing and the dirty looks you received from the staff and the customers waiting to be served? Too right it was worth it because apart from the fact that the money was yours, if you add together all the pound coins and fifty pences and twenty pences they’re stealing every single hour of every single day from every single customer that passes through EVERY SINGLE STORE IN BRITAIN, (and abroad), it tots up to a great deal of loot, a huge pot of stolen money that ends up in the pockets of thieving fat-cat supermarket bosses. Your money in their pockets.  



COMMON SENSE says check your receipt before you leave the store and when you find you’ve been overcharged make them give you your money back, even if it’s only ten pence. And if you think I’m over-reacting, humour me and keep checking the receipts, week after week, and you’ll soon see how much you’re being conned out of – multiply that by almost everyone in the country and it’ll give you an idea of how much extra they’re dishonestly raking in.

And remember, IT’S NOT A MISTAKE, IT’S A SCAM.


About Dotty Headbanger

I'm British. I love you. I'm nice like that.

Posted on September 15, 2012, in Society and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Dear Dotty,

    Well said, here here and bravo 😀

    Supermarkets have been on my mind recently actually. You know that Sainsbury’s advert that says ‘we’ll compare the prices you pay here with the prices you would have paid elsewhere and if you could have paid less elsewhere we’ll give you a voucher for the difference’?

    What they are really saying is that we will brazenly ROB YOU BLIND and then add insult to injury by giving you a voucher to encourage you to come back to get ROBBED BLIND AGAIN.

    The common sense rule? If you can buy your shopping cheaper elsewhere….. go elsewhere for your shopping.

    The end.

    Love from WeeGee

    • Dear WeeGee,

      Morrisons had a ROBBING US BLIND offer of £5.00 off when you spend £40.00 – but you had to spend £40.00 to get the £5.00 voucher, so really it was £5.00 off £80.00 because you had to do one £40.00 shop to get the voucher, then another £40.00 shop to redeem the voucher.

      And there is no elsewhere left where I live. We used to have a Netto (very good, not like most people think of Netto), but Asda bought them all out. 😦

      Love Dotty xxx

  2. Dear Dotty,
    I hate shopping ‘with someone’ more than I hate shopping to begin with (excluding my husband, who justifies my sweet-tooth). And yet, after reading your post, I would gladly push your cart (sorry) TROLLY through every isle of any store, just to watch you! 🙂
    When I first moved from Montana (US) to Canada, I nearly fell over for sticker shock. I went from feeding my then smaller family on no more than $450. a month, to no less than $1200-$1500 a month. Granted my boys have grown into teenagers now and we added a toddler who doesn’t eat a thing, and a husband who eats less than I, but still, it didn’t just double, it tripled! The fact that from Montana to here, rent doubled, gas / petrol doubled, “free” schooling doesn’t even have a comparison as I drop more money on their “free” schooling in one month, than I have dropped on my clothing budget in the last five years, tells this country knows how to drain a family!
    So I think, ‘Kreta, (I don’t call myself “Alphabet,” in my head, that’s strictly for you) go back, go back to Montana! Montana where it’s pretty and they have a state surplus, and people don’t hate you for being a Montanan…’ But my family lives in the center of the State (one deterrent) and in their small town, one grocery store bought out the other grocery store, so that they have this big monopoly, and the prices of their whole store doubled overnight. The only choice people have now is drive the 120 miles (what is that, 200 kms?) to a bigger town with more options! Only to face the same scam, you have perfectly described!
    Now our family LIVES on Costco… They actually check the receipt with you before you are allowed to leave the store. Any mistakes and they book it to correct the problem, however I’ve only ever had a problem once in the past three years, and it was just the milk that their supplier brought in… to which they refunded me cash in full with no questions asked. However, nothing about Costco is anything like a nice market place. We call them “farmer’s markets,” now, and they are popping up everywhere, to great success, however for what they charge at these markets for their fresh produce, you might as well ask to buy a stake in their farm, instead.
    Well, that’s my book of a reply. Sorry, you need not publish it, but I stand with you! …only with some thousands of miles between us.
    Love Always,

    • Dear Alphabet,

      It seems the whole western world is at it, scam, scam, scam whatever they can.

      We have farmer’s markets too but they’re in nice middle class areas where people can afford the prices – like you say, they charge a bomb for their fresh stuff. Also, you couldn’t buy a week’s worth of their fruit or veg because it rots too quickly and even though that’s seen as a good thing because the food isn’t full of preservatives, it’s not good when you’ve a family to feed and you need the food to stay fresh – especially if you’ve just broke the budget to buy it. So people go to the supermarkets who know the less well off can’t afford principles when it comes to shopping for a family – I haven’t seen the volume of expensive organic fruit and veg in the supermarket for a while, (we’ve got two small supermarkets in our village but occasionally a friend takes me for a night-run to one of the huge ones) – I think the organic stuff has gone. An indication that even the middle classes are tightening their belts.

      Love Dotty xxx

  3. Dear Dotty,

    You are absolutely right. It was discovered a few decades back that the micro-mugging of EVERY customer nets the company millions a year. Banks do it. In The U.S., even Hospitals do it. It is a tiny little evil that these people justify because is soooo small. (Look how cute. It’s a teeny tiny little thief) But it adds up to a major robbery. Assault with a cucumber is too good for ’em. However in defense of the retail employee. They hire the under-motivated on purpose. So there will be loads & loads of mistakes in every store. And the placement of each & every item in the store is decided by marketing suits in an office somewhere. (Guys that don’t shop at those places) Those are the guys to blame. Those are the guys that figure out new and creative ways to rob people and those are the ones who will burn in hell for their crimes.

    “But I just stole a penny. Surely I don’t deserve to go to hell for that.”
    “You took a penny from 300 million people a year, every year for the last 40 years… now burn in hell.”

    Sincerely Yours,

    The Devil

    – Mel

    • Dear Mel,

      I’ve never noticed it happening in the supermarkets to the extent that it has been in the last couple of years or so. I shop at the two small supermarkets in my village and now and again at a big one but every week there’s a ‘mistake’ on BOTH my receipts, guaranteed.

      Hospitals — good god. We’re lucky to still have the NHS – it’s slowly being taken away, people have to pay for more and more things, but for now we still have it. I dread to think what it’ll be like when it’s gone – like America, probably. Our government seems to be aiming to turn Britain into a mini-America… but that’s a topic for another post.

      Love Dotty xxx

  4. Dotty, I am so with you. I check receipts. I complain. I take items back if they’re not right. I ask for refunds & the item free if the pricing is wrong but most of the stores have forgone that now). I asked for refunds when my home delivery shopping was late but I think everyone caught on to that so they don’t charge delivery any more. I also only big supermarket shop when I have to. You can also take comfort in that I am clumsy and a supermarket or department store’s nightmare… I can accidently, of course, destroy a display with a touch as light as a butterfly kiss… Seriously though, week to week we spread our $$$ over the various local shops and farmer’s markets as much as we can. When they’re gone, they won’t be back.

    • Dear Ella,

      When I used to be able to talk to people (my friend who takes me shopping does most of the complaining now), I’d put on my poshest accent – I’m good at accents – and if I got a snotty assistant I’d ask to speak to the manager, and if the manager was snotty and refused to give me my money back I’d lie through my teeth and say I was an off duty Trading Standards Officer who’d be starting a new investigation into their shop when I returned to work. I never failed to get my money back, and sometimes a little present of some vouchers too. Play them at their own game. 🙂

      Love Dotty xxx

  5. One of the franchise places around the corner really drives me to despair, they often have major specials which haven’t been changed on the system. They also have a policy of putting the broken packets and dented tins in front to get rid of them. Fine if it’s cat food, but not good Italian coffee. I don’t get suckered, but I wonder how many people end up with soiled goods. They also have a horrible habit of taking something off the shelves to force you buy an equivalent which will give them more profit; this is especially true in their booze department.

    Side note: I’m working on a very limited internet dongle and meting out the allowance for MM and email, so forgive me if I don’t read your posts for a while, but I will get back as soon as I’m back in my old place.

    • Dear misfit,

      Taking stuff off the shelves – yes, that’s been happening lately in the little Asda in my village. In the last few weeks they’ve taken a few popular items off, limiting the choice, ie for some reason they’ve stopped selling Double Gloucester and Cheshire cheese so now if you want cheese you can have Mild or Strong Cheddar or Red Leicester. Oven bottom muffins have gone too, Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream and Toffee cheesecakes and more – all popular items. I can’t see how they’ll make more profit though because they aren’t introducing alternatives. Hmmm. Strange.

      Love Dotty xxx

      P. S. Aah, that must be frustrating. Did something happen to make you have to move out of your old place? Flood? Actually, don’t answer that, it’ll waste your dongle (what a stupid name for a thing).

      • Something did happen. I haven’t moved out, I’m temporarily relocated. It’s all chaos…

        I can’t think why they’d offer no alternative, must be a more insidious plan to force you to return…

  6. Very well said!

    I’m as guilty as the next person though, for not checking my receipt before I’ve sat down at home…

    I’ve also found that (with Tesco, at least) you need to check the small print on the Clubcard vouchers they send you.

    • Dear Brandon,

      Keep a tally of the amount they steal from you for a few weeks – I reckon you’ll be surprised.

      I know. There’s a list of things you can’t use them for, and the dates you have to redeem them by aren’t long at all. I don’t like them.

      Love Dotty xxx

  7. Dear Dotty,

    The thing I really hate is how they encourage you to have those points cards so you can “earn money back” and of course they send you vouchers to encourage you to buy things, but the main reason they’re doing it isn’t to help you the customer, but to help them line their pockets by learning what you buy and how often you buy it and then selling your personal information to credit card companies and other marketing agencies who will phone you and pester you at all odd times of day and night.

    Makes me quite cross really, and quite glad that I don’t do much shopping like that anymore (and the Order don’t do much supermarket shopping either, it’s generally bulk-buy which is delivered to the door).

    Love F.C.H.

    • Dear fhc,

      I don’t go to Tesco often and I hadn’t been this year since just after Christmas, to buy a few bits which included a book and a DVD. A few weeks ago they sent me some vouchers to be redeemed on books, DVDs, fresh fruit and veg, bread and other items – all stuff that I’d bought on my last visit. I won’t be using the clubcard again.

      Those phonecalls – I HATE them. Natwest is the main one, some weeks I get up to four calls from them in one day and I don’t even bank with them. And Claims solicitors who tell me I can claim for my accident – that I haven’t had. And ‘Important messages’ from a machine. They make my blood boil, I hate answering the phone as it is.

      Love Dotty xxx

  8. The virtue of using self-checkouts is that I see the price of every single item pop up when I scan it. If it’s more than I thought it was, I’ll tell someone, and they’ll fix it. But one time I was in a hurry and thought just forget it. The other day, I was in a store, and I bought this thing because there was a buy one get one half off. That was the only reason I was buying it. It had one of those advertisements by it, and the advertisement said that it applied to all items of x brand. What I chose was something owned by a subsidiary of x brand. (It said so on the back.) It didn’t come up right, and I noticed when the lady scanned. When I complained, she pointed at the subsidiary brand name to say it wasn’t the same. I turned it over and showed her the back. She gave it to me but said that it was probably a mistake and it shouldn’t apply to that deal.

    • Dear Angel,

      I hate the self-service checkouts! I’m scared of them.

      So the mistake excuse is used everywhere. Why am I not surprised?

      We don’t tend to have offers on all items of one brand, it’s usually a particular item with a few of its varieties or flavours. But some of our brands have been taken over by huge medicine companies – and the idea of eating food that’s been made by the same people who make drugs isn’t appealing.

      Love Dotty xxx

  9. Dear Dotty,
    I used to do the shopping when I lived in my own place before caring for my parents. I checked the sales, used coupons, and checked my receipt for errors. Now my brother does the shopping because he does not like the fact that I use a list and only buy what I need. Remember, my brother is a hoarder and he shops the same way. He buys what’s not needed, doesn’t care about sales, doesn’t use coupons, and collects receipts for his piles of trash. Food becomes one more thing that I have too much of. The scams which effect everyone and hit the poor and the elderly the most are uncalled for. They should all be ashamed of themselves.
    Love Dorothy

    • Dear Dorothy,

      I have to be in control of what I buy. The weekly shop (very, very early in the morning) is my outing for the week, horrendous to do because of the mentals but my friend takes me in the car so it’s not as horrible as it could be. If something doesn’t go to plan though I end up buying anything and everything, none of which I need or want, or going home with nothing at all. Every week it’s a lottery as to whether I’ll go home with what I set out to buy. Ah, the joys of being mental, eh?

      Love Dotty xxx

  10. Dearest Dotty

    What a useful article this is; both informative and motivating. I shall certainly heed your warnings in my future dealings with the bloodsucking vampires known as supermarket chains. As we discussed previously, I’m one of those unusual people that likes arithmetic and literature, so can usually keep a running total of the value of items chosen as I wend my way around the store- if alone. However, if with my partner I nearly always lose track through talking and laughing.
    Supermarkets are laid out and lit to make it easier to spend and, as you say, there are many tricks designed to catch out the unwary. I once worked for a small supermarket and the owner told me never to buy goods away from their normal aisle as it was easy to think one had a bargain that actually wasn’t.
    I’ve been caught out several times in the way you describe and I suggest we needs to keep our wits fully about us. The owners try to lull us into a trance-like state, all the better to rob and pilfer – like shoplifting backwards.
    My main remedy is to eat as much as I can while shopping thus balancing things up a little.

    I remain, madam, your now even more impressed servant.

    D xx

    PS I’ve clicked for the email thingy x

    • Dear Dave,

      I can’t keep a running total but I know which offers I’ve bought. It happens all the time now though – it didn’t used to.

      One scam that was done to me was a few years back when I was still going out. I went to a new local shop for some milk, took it from the back of the fridge where the newer stuff is and checked the date on it like I always do. I left it on the counter and went to get something I’d forgotten on my way round. The next day when I opened the milk it STANK – when I looked at the label, it was dated for the day before. The shopkeeper obviously switched it when I went off up the aisle. I never went back again.

      I’m rambling now, this post is about the supermarket scams, not small shops. Oh well.

      Love Dotty xxx

      • Dear dear dear Dotty

        Hiking or rambling, you’re okay with me. As long as you don’t start singing that awful song, “I love to go a’rambling…” in a fake German accent.
        Everybody knows knapsacks are for shoplifting. Oops, perhaps I’ve said too much – and that’s a REM line…

        I remain, madam, your non-shoplifting servant.

        D xx

        PS Just because a shop is small doesn’t mean they’re not dishonest.
        PPS When I last got drunk (20-odd years ago) I was in a terrible state. My present partner gave me about half a pint of gin hidden in something and I wasn’t much of a drinker to start with. I was a single parent and working cash-in-hand at the local supermarket. I had to polish the floor with one of those big dangerous machines. Because I was awfully hungover I forgot to put the soft pad on and ripped up much of the floor 🙂

  11. Very true. I am from a developing country. Those things have happened to me too many times and they made me feel that I was the guilty party. Thank u fro your encouraging words .

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