Are extra charges for shopping online fair?
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.
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?
Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free
- Receive our daily enewsletter
- Enter competitions
- Comment on articles