20th Aug 2013
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Supermarkets’ online cash grab
Supermarkets’ online cash grab

In addition to your normal bill at the checkout, shopping online for groceries may be costing you more than just the delivery fee, so are supermarkets being sneaky about these extra costs?

An investigation by Fairfax media has found that consumers are paying up to 60c more per item when shopping for groceries online compared to when they make a trip to the store. And there is a discrepancy between the two major grocery retailers. Coles has been found to charge an average of 47c more per item online than for the same product in store. At Woolworths, the same product is 27c more expensive when bought online compared to purchasing in store.

These extra charges are in addition to the delivery fee, which can be between $3 and $13. Both retailers attributed the higher costs to the additional service of hand picking and packing the goods. A spokeswoman for Woolworths said it is stated on its website that, "The purchase price of a product on the site may not be the same or correspond to the prices in any of our supermarkets for the same product." Coles did not respond to Fairfax media when asked if customers were advised of the extra cost when shopping online.

Consumer group Choice has called for clearer information concerning online pricing. Tom Godfrey, head of media said, "I think consumers are largely not aware that there is a price discrepancy between in-store and online prices. Don't presume you're getting the best price online because the chances are you're not . . . Coles and Woolworths are two of the most profitable retailers in the world and they don't get that way by giving consumers a free run."

Find out more about the findings of the Fairfax investigation at TheAge.com.au.

Opinion: It’s the service you pay for

Most consumers expect goods to be cheaper online, however, when it comes to groceries, it seems you pay more for the personal service, but why is this surprising?

Having read the findings of the recent Fairfax ‘investigation’ into online grocery pricing, I couldn’t help but think I was missing the point. I personally hate the chore of shopping for groceries and would happily pay someone to do it for me. So why, when this can be organised online, should we expect the cost to be the same? Supermarkets have to pay a member of staff to trawl the shelves, pick out your requested items, choose a substitute when not available and pack them ready for delivery. These costs have to be covered and the supermarkets can’t be expected to not pass them on.

It would appear that many consumers think that the delivery charge also covers the cost of putting together the items on your shopping list, but it doesn’t. It covers exactly what it says it does, delivery.

Perhaps supermarkets should be more upfront on their websites about their pricing policies, but surely consumers must take some responsibility to ensure they know what they are paying for?

Are supermarkets justified in charging more for products online? Would you pay the extra for the convenience of having someone shop for you?





    COMMENTS

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    unicorn
    20th Aug 2013
    11:58am
    As we live too far from the nearest store I have never bothered and I suspect will never bother.
    muckey
    20th Aug 2013
    12:12pm
    Being "stuck" at home due to health issues, online grocery shopping has been a fantastic help!
    Only a few items are more expensive, and when I queried the price of a block of cheese, the difference was refunded and the price changed on their site.
    Also, I quite often receive free samples, the meat and veggies are better quality than our local store, and the friendly people that deliver the goods would even bring my goods into my kitchen for me if I wished so.
    The only issue I've had is with asking for substitutions on anything but basic goods. Some order pickers have been rather strange. A phone call has usually given me a credit to my account for the items. Sometimes goods have been out of stock, but my local store always seemed to be out of the advertised specials more often than online.
    Colesonline doesn't give the same Discounts and Flybuys points though, as shopping in person. That's a little disappointing from the point of view of a regular customer.
    iamnotold
    20th Aug 2013
    12:21pm
    Since my partner died three years ago I have done all my shopping online, I don't mind paying more for the convenience of it. We don't have Coles or Safeway online shopping here as there are not enough people to make it worthwhile but there are plenty of places online to get groceries from and it's so easy, five minutes on the computer then the postie delivers to the door within a few days.
    KSS
    20th Aug 2013
    1:08pm
    Just a thought..... if we have to pay more on-line because someone has to physically pick the goods and someone else delivers the order, why don't we pay less in store when we pick it ourselves, go through the cash registers ourselves, pay by plastic so no-one handles any money and then take it home ourselves? Just asking;)
    Wstaton
    20th Aug 2013
    1:52pm
    KSS, It is picking the goods that takes the time and by going to the store just to pick it up and pay I assume you do not have to pay the delivery fee. But remember you have had the addition cost yourself of having to go there whether by bus or car.
    Nightshade
    20th Aug 2013
    8:19pm
    The Supermarkets have to pay the exorbitant ELECTRICITY & ONLINE BILL'S some how.

    If the store is open from 7 AM - 10 PM, that is how long the place is pulling electricity off the grid for.
    And the being online / internet is on 24 /7 . & the software & the software upgrades & the maintenance & repairs all cost big bucks.
    All the fridges & freezers stay on all the time - 24 / 7.
    They now have those new self serve checkout machines - only one of these machines pulls massive power & they have several.
    WEATHER THEY ARE BEING USED OR NOT.
    These machines need to be serviced & maintained everyday by REAL & TECHNICAL PERSONS.
    All this costs big bucks.

    It is possible that these supermarkets could employ several human staff personal who could multi task as they are capable of performing multi skills for the PRICE of one of these self serve check out machines -

    IS THAT WHY WE ARE BEING TOLD THAT AUSTRALIANS ARE LAZY & NOT WILLING TO WORK, BECAUSE THEY WANT THE MACHINES, BECAUSE IT IS CERTAINLY NOT TRUE THAT WE ARE LAZY & NOT WILLING TO WORK.

    I DO HOPE THAT THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THESE MACHINES
    &
    ALL THE WORK THAT GOES INTO KEEPING THEM GOING IS NOT TOTALLY TAX DEDUCTIBLE
    YOU SEE IF NO ONE IS WORKING
    NO ONE IS PAYING TAXES
    SO WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM .../?
    There are no solar panels on the roof as far as I can see.
    THANK GOD THERE IS NO CARBON TAX OR THE SUPERMARKETS WOULD BE PAYING A BIG CHUNK OF IT - hey !
    Otherwise I love technology.
    talofa
    20th Aug 2013
    1:30pm
    i don't mind paying a bit more for the convenience as i always hated to go
    to those brightly lit stores plus i don't have a car & i also have some mobility
    problems...plus i just love to go online talofa
    Wstaton
    20th Aug 2013
    1:47pm
    I think shopping online when it requires someone to do the work for you it is reasonable to pay a service fee. Whether it is a standard fee or a percentage of each item. A percentage of each item is probably fairer rather than a fixed fee. Why should someone pay the same for half a trolly full as someone for a full trolly which takes longer to fill. Also someone filling a trolly full of small items the same applies. It takes longer to fill half a trolly whith 20 small items compared to half a trolly with 10 items.

    The only thing that should be done is that the supermarkets should say upfront that there is a picking fee applied to each item.



    People have also fallen into the trap that things bought online are cheaper. Yes that is true for certain items, generally singular items like electronics and such. This is true as these are generally imported by retailers who put a huge percentage on top. I have bought many things online and have found in the main that I can go to a local online retailer and buy lots cheaper than physically going to a shop. I tend to try not to go to a overseas online retailer if I can buy from a local online retailer even if it is a bit more expensive.

    Unfortunately you have to be careful even with local online dealers. I was looking for an item and locally found a price of $29. I then found the exact same item from a UK online store for $3.50 plus postage of $1.50 (the item could be put in a small envelope) I bought it and received in in 5 days. In this case locally online I was being ripped off and I do not like being ripped off.
    bundy
    20th Aug 2013
    2:17pm
    I am elderly have medical and occasionally mobility problems and sometimes cannot get to shops.
    Having tried both Coles and Woolworth's online shopping. I am extremely disappointed with Coles online
    They take money from you do not deliver goods and No Refund!,
    I had a problem with missing items I think the first time was only 1 item and didn't bother.
    Several months later I was ill and unable to go shopping by myself plus would need a taxi,- so tried it a 2nd time. This time a bag which included my meals for the weekend (delivered Friday pm) was missing from the order, I rang within 5mins of the truck leaving and although i explained I was ill and not able to get to local shops they were unable to help with delivery of missing goods. After several days and lots of emails the answer I received- was "they only deliver up to $50.00 value and as 1 bag did not come to that amount we are unable to deliver the items, but will give a credit"(very small amount but needed to be replaced plus cost of Taxi) I refused this offer as I will not be using them again. Finally was told over the phone they would refund the money plus cost of delivery - To date this has not been done and no further answer to my complaints. What a rip off Jackie
    Foxy
    20th Aug 2013
    3:01pm
    ...I have found shopping online with Woolworths/Safeway to be great! I noticed myself that some items were a little more expensive and queried this with one of the delivery men - his answer was (as stated already in these posts) = it is hand picked by staff plus also it pays towards the wages of the drivers (contract) 3% on some items I was told - not a lot! - also I have found Woolworth's to be quite generous when it comes to picking the goods (especially meat items) - often on the website it states the price for the meat and 9 times out of 10 they have doubled the quantity in my delivery because the smaller packs were unavailable - bonus! Also if they deliver goods (by mistake - usually the drivers fault....) - you call them and they just say "keep them" too hard for driver to go back etc. etc. i.e. the other day I was delivered a bag of "frozen" items - Blueberries - Peas - party pies - sausage rolls and dim sims - NONE of these were ordered by me - I called them immediately so as they could track the driver (or whatever they do?) and the call-centre just said "keep them" !! Another bonus! They don't seem to care probably because they make more than enough profit from us anyway's! If you don't receive something you ordered - the money goes back into your account usually within 48 hours - I have never had a problem with Woolworth's/Safeway and have been shopping online now all this year - also their call-centre staff are great to deal with! Beats parking - queuing - petrol - lugging shopping in the rain etc. the list goes on....... :-)
    heyyybob
    20th Aug 2013
    6:32pm
    Holey Bluddi Moley !! These (Coles & Woolworths) are the people who have (as we guessed, surely) have monolopised/manipulated the petrol prices in major cities with their bluddi discount coupons and we let them get away with it because we (the majority of us) knew this would be the result. Why ? Because we are so damn lazy/time poor/whatever that we only shop in large shopping centres because it is easier for us to park (under cover) our SUVs, 4WDs, HSVs etc and just do our shopping in one place instead of shopping around. Next step for Coles/Woolies ? Introduce online shopping for the lazy/time poor/whatevers and rip them off also. C'mon Aussies, stop blaming others and take responsibility for your own actions. ....... I know that online shopping for people who have no other choice (physically etc) is a boon and they shouldn't suffer also through no fault of their own. For those (couples/families etc) on combined incomes of $150,000.00 plus, P.A., I guess it isn't such an imposition ;) Welcome to Australia 2013. *thinks .... wonder why those pesky 'boat people' keep coming :D
    Londoner
    20th Aug 2013
    8:48pm
    What is being implied here by some is that your supermarkets employ people specifically to pick online customers orders and that the customer should pay their wages through increased prices. Are you for real?
    Supermarkets employ people to work doing whatever is necessary within the store and picking customers orders is part of that.
    They are not doing you a favour by providing a picking service, they're selling goods at the greatly inflated (rip off would be a better way of putting it) prices that you have down there and providing an alternative product is just increasing their profits. Can't you see that?
    To the person who comments in the 'Opinion' above that they would willingly pay someone to do their shopping for them I'd say, well pay someone to do it for you until you eventually you come to your senses. People will accept that they will have to pay a NOMINAL charge for delivery but why should they accept the product price being increased!
    catsahoy
    20th Aug 2013
    10:22pm
    FOXY, i have never had my grocery shopping delivered, but do shop at both SAFEWAY AND COLES, i have noticed that if you have any query over ANYTHING ,safeway will give you an exchange or refund, NO QUESTIONS ASKED, nd YOU DONT HAVE TO PRODUCE THE RECIEPT, COLES WILL NOT EXCHANGE OR REFUND ANYTHING UNLESS THE RECIEPT IS SHOWN. SOME MONTHS AGO I WAS RUNNING FOR TIME, AND WENT INTO SAFEWAY TO GET A B.B.Q. CHICKEN, AT DINNERTIME WHEN I CUT INTO IT, IT WAS ALMOST RAW, I HAD TO PUT IT INTO THE OVEN AND FINISH COOKING IT, NEXT TIME I WENT TO THE STORE I TOLD THE GIRL BEHIND THE MAIN COUNTER, SHE JUST SAID TO GET ANOTHER, I HAD THROW THE RECIEPT OUT AND HAD NO PROOF THAT I HAD EVEN BOUGHT A CHICKEN, SO WAS PLEASED WITH THAT, MIND YOU, THE CHICKEN SHOULD HAVE BEEN COOKED IN THE FIRST PLACE, COLES WOULD NOT DO THAT,.
    Foxy
    21st Aug 2013
    9:39am
    Catsahoy - I'm glad they looked after you - unfortunately there is no Coles anywhere near where I live - only IGA and Safeway - one of the girls at Safeway told me you do NOT need a receipt for anything under $15.00 (they will refund or replace - no questions asked!) - you can also check out their Customer Service Policies on their Website - if you get the time it is interesting to read as to what they will and won't do..... I personally have never had a problem with them....
    catsahoy
    21st Aug 2013
    10:05pm
    HI FOXY, i am lucky that i have safeway, coles, audi, and i.g.a. i dont go to i,g,a, as i find they are very expensive, i must say i prefer coles for meat, the quality is supirior to safeway, and i find audi is very good for fruit and veg, i have a big market ,open4 days a week, but i find audi is better and cheaper than the market. but lets face it, food shopping is expensive, i will go into that site and read it, thank you, yes i was very pleased with there service with the chicken, i am lucky that i have them all around me and choose the different specials, its a bit of a bore, but its the only way, CHEERS,
    catsahoy
    23rd Aug 2013
    8:18pm
    another thing i found with safeway, when you go to the cigarette counter there is never any staff, you had to vertually go and grab someone to get service, i sent an email to safeways adress and not only did i get an email reply, someone actually rang me and said they would rectify the situation, and they have, AND BEFORE YOU ALL SCREAM I SHOULDNT BE BUYING CIGARETTES, i WASNT, i go there to get the recharge for my computer and mobile. that was 12 months ago and they still have someone come serve you within a couple of minuets, i did the same with coles, there service improved for awhile then slacked off, but is better than it was,
    catsahoy
    23rd Aug 2013
    8:18pm
    another thing i found with safeway, when you go to the cigarette counter there is never any staff, you had to vertually go and grab someone to get service, i sent an email to safeways adress and not only did i get an email reply, someone actually rang me and said they would rectify the situation, and they have, AND BEFORE YOU ALL SCREAM I SHOULDNT BE BUYING CIGARETTES, i WASNT, i go there to get the recharge for my computer and mobile. that was 12 months ago and they still have someone come serve you within a couple of minuets, i did the same with coles, there service improved for awhile then slacked off, but is better than it was,


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