There has been a flurry of Tesco wine sales, after deal-hunters spotted a clash of offers, which left a £9.99 bottle of wine priced at just £1.50. A deal site publicised the deal, and savvy shoppers cleared the shelves at their local branches.
So what happened? Can you still take advantage, and what are the rules surrounding pricing glitches like this?%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The clash in question was when two particular offers affected two types of wine - OGIO Chardonnay and Merlot. The first was a 3 wines for £12 offer, which brought the £9.99 wine down to £4. The second was a 25% off wine deal (when you buy 6 bottles or more), which was taken off the full price - removing £2.50 - leaving the wine priced at £1.50.
The deal was spotted by HotUKDeals.com Member, lorrainep70 who found it just before lunchtime yesterday, and posted details, along with her receipts and and images of her wine purchased.
The deal immediately became the hottest of the day, and received almost 900 comments. Users were impressed that they were getting six bottles of wine for the price of one.
One user, trackaccessgirl, commented: "Just popped to my local Tesco (Gillingham) and cleared the shelves!! I have a wedding party early next year and they'll be drinking this whether they like it or not. Got 36 bottles for £59 instead of £359!!!! cheers."
Can you cash in?
As the day wore on, some people commented that their local store had amended the original price of the Chardonnay to £6.79, so the 25% off was lower. Others, however, said the offer was still live locally at the time of writing - so it may be worth popping down to check.
Even at the new price, it's a good deal. It will also appeal to those who wonder whether the 'original' price of the wines quoted on these kinds of offers is always a fair refection of what the wine is usually on sale for (rather than the price they sold it for in some stores, for a specific period in order to meet retail regulations). By putting the original price at £9.99, they have effectively ripped themselves off.
It's always fun when a supermarket glitch showers us in free food and drink, and this will come as a useful Christmas bonus for many. However, the rules surrounding glitches means that retailers don't necessarily have to honour them.
It comes down to whether you picking up and paying for something qualifies as a contract. In the real worlds it usually does.
However, in the virtual world, most retailers have a caveat to protect them from this sort of thing. If you order something, and pay for it, this still isn't a contract until the item is actually shipped. Up until that point, the terms and conditions specify that the retailers can simply refund and refuse to sell that that price.
In March this year Tesco garnered some terrible publicity after advertising an iPad for £49.99 (instead of around £650). Shoppers snapped them up, and some felt that the fact their payment had been accepted constituted a contract - and that it should therefore be honoured. However, the supermarket highlighted that their terms made it clear that there was no contract until the item was shipped, and simply refunded the money.
False economies in a recession
Tesco glitch leaves wines at £1.50
Consumers are often tempted to use appliances such as washing machines and dryers late at night when energy tariffs are typically lower. However a Fire Service representative said it was not advisable to leave a washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher running overnight since they are a fire risk because of their high wattage, friction and motors.
"The practice of leaving these appliances on after you have gone to bed, means if anything goes wrong, you are not in a position to do anything about it. Electrical faults have frequently caused fires that have proved fatal to those sleeping upstairs," the source said.
But it is not just fire hazards a burst hose could mean the whole downstairs of your house is flooded resulting in a hefty insurance claim and undoubtedly increased premiums as a consequence.
There is nothing wrong in itself in switching utility suppliers as if you do it properly you can reduce your bills. However if you are not careful you might actually increase your outgoings.
If you don't establish the type of tariff that best suits your needs you could be throwing money down the drain. With some suppliers, for instance, you pay less for the energy you use during the night than the energy used during the day. However, you'll need to use about 20% of your energy consumption at night to really make a saving (cheaper tariff starts at 1a.m. and finishes at 8a.m.). For those on shift work this might be very useful but for others there may be little benefit and we have already talked of the dangers of running appliances when you have gone to bed.
Fixed or capped price plans offer a set price for a period of time (usually 18 months to 2 years) but sometimes this includes a premium on the supplier's standard unit rate.
Finally, be wary of sales people who call at the door and try to talk you into switching to their company. It is just as easy to switch online yourself when you have time to make a considered and non-pressurised decision.
When stock markets go into freefall – and we have seen plenty of that over the last 12 months – there is always a tendency to try and save money by selling shares quickly or just trying to move investments to another provider. But some times all you are doing is incurring extra trading costs or charges on fund switches. Unless you are totally convinced that the only way is down, it is usually best not to sell shares when they have hit rock bottom – all you are doing then is crystallizing a loss. It makes sense to plan a less knee-jerk exit strategy.
And as far as funds go, investors have a habit of chasing the latest theme and piling in at the height of the market only to see their investments fall as sanity returns to proceedings
Glasgow-based IFA Alan Dick believes investors are getting severely short changed by active fund managers and he insists investors are far better off in low-cost Index tracker funds.
"This idea that fund managers can beat the market and pick out the winners just doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. Constantly switching fund providers only piles up extra charges and costs and offers no added value."
Anyone who has ever bought electrical goods at a major retailer will have been subjected to the hard sell of 'have you considered taking out an extended warranty?' Then follows the spiel about how you will have piece of mind if anything goes wrong blah, blah, blah….
In theory it sounds like a way of saving you hefty repair bills in the futuer but in the vast majority of cases extended warranties are overly expensive and not necessary. With most electrical goods you have a legal right under guarantee for the retailer to repair or replace faulty goods within a specified amount of time – typically 12 months. The only conceivable reason for buying an extended warranty would be for something like accidental damage cover - but in most instances that would be covered under a typical home contents insurance anyway.
Extended warranties are of course designed to cover goods for a longer period than the 12-month guarantee the product is sold with. They normally cover the three or five years, after the guarantee has run out. But you are not obliged to take out this insurance when you buy the goods nor do you have to buy the policy from the retailer selling you the item. You can pretty much bank on the fact that the in-store policy will be more expensive than any stand-alone policy as the retailer will take a commission charge. If you really feel you need an extended warranty at least shop around for it.
You might be paying lower premiums on your health insurance but that's not much good if the policy exclusions mean you are denied the treatment you suddenly find you need. Going for a policy based on budget alone rather than specific levels of cover could prove a false economy. One of the most common exclusions is home care or private nursing – you may think you are covered but the small print says otherwise. If you have to economise on personal health plans, make sure you understand exactly what you are giving up under the terms of your policy.
If you are unhappy with the response or would just like to explain a missed payment on your file you can send a Notice of Correction. This is a statement of up to 200 words that will be added to your file. Although lenders don't have to take this information into account, it at least gives you the chance to tell your side of the story.
Experian states that agencies will also help you escalate the dispute to a third party arbitrator if necessary, such as the Information Commissioner's Office.
With interest rates at record lows, it seems like a no brainer to move your savings to the best rates currently offered on the market. But moving money in this way will often only have short term benefits unless you are prepared to continue this process on a regular basis.
For instance the ING Direct Savings account is currently one of the best instant access deals on the market offering a variable rate of 2.75% for new customers including a 2.22% gross pa bonus fixed for 12 months. But after the 12 month period customers go onto the standard variable rate currently 0.5%. If you don't then move on to another provider returns on savings will come down pretty sharply.
One obvious plus with this account is that you can move your money when you like with no penalties or restrictions.
However the trade off for the decent introductory headline rate is that you have to bank entirely online or by phone there is no branch or post facility available.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this account but the restrictions on access (no branch or post) may mean you don't use the account efficiently. And apathy to switch to another account provider after the introductory period has ended might mean your money gets little in the way of improved returns going forward. The onus is on you the saver to keep moving your money around to get the best rates.
It might seem like a way of dealing with an immediate cash flow problem but loading up on your credit card to pay your way out of recession-related problems could prove a very bad call in the longer term.
Debt counselors frequently hear cases of people paying for their mortgage on their credit card – possibly because they have lost their jobs so there is briefly no income coming into the house. It might seem like a simple solution to a short-term cash flow problem but what if the cash flow problem is not quite as short term as you imagine?
Using credit cards in this way is one sure way to rack up debts fast and accumulate interest on what you owe. If you have problems paying a mortgage or any other regular outgoings, contact your mortgage lender immediately and talk through the problem with them.
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Not the first
However, the good news is that there are still plenty of glitches that make it through the net. Last June saw what the press at the time called a 'beer stampede' when a glitch meant a beer offer on cans was supposed to take £4 off two £10 cases of Carling, Fosters, Budweiser, Becks, Boddingtons, Kronenberg, Strongbow and Stella Artois - so they cost £16 instead of £20. Instead, however, the tills were charging £4 for two crates - which worked out as 17p a can.
Recently Tesco was at it again, when last month it applied two separate deals to Terry's Chocolate Oranges, which meant they sold for 29p instead of £2.75.
And Tesco isn't alone. Asda also fell foul of a glitch recently, when one of the pumps at one service station was configured to charge 12.9p a litre because of a misplaced decimal point.
What do you think?
There will be those who argue that this isn't something-for-nothing, and that if you're getting an incredible bargain, then someone else somewhere else is missing out. However, there will also be those who argue that the supermarkets in particular can afford for you to take advantage every once in a while.
The rule seems to be that if you want to take advantage of a glitch you need to be quick, and you need to be prepared for possible disappointment. There are lots of forums to help you keep on top of deals like this, so it's worth keeping your eye on them if you're really keen.
However, the basic rule of thumb remains the same for all of these glitches: if you didn't want it at the original price, you're not saving any money by buying it at the reduced one.
10 of the biggest consumer rip-offs
Tesco glitch leaves wines at £1.50
Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.
To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.
Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.
At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.
It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.
With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.
No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.
Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.
Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.
While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.
Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.
However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.
However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.
Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.
Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.