Tesco wins curry tussle with Sainsbury's

Tesco and Sainsbury's

Tesco and Sainsbury's have been locked in a duel over chicken korma and cut-price ham. The issue kicked off after Tesco included the products in its Price Promise campaign. Sainsbury's stormed straight to the Advertising Standards Authority, insisting that this was misleading, because the products were fundamentally different.

So what was Sainsbury's arguing about - and why was the fight ultimately fruitless?
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The issue

Tesco's Price Promise states that they compare 'big brands, own-label and fresh foods' with equivalent items at Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons. If the products can be bought for less at a rival supermarket, Tesco refunds the difference.

Sainsbury's complaint centred on a subtle difference in the products: it says the meat in the korma and the ham in Sainsbury's is from the UK, whereas Tesco uses meat from 'somewhere in the EU'.

In its response to the complaint, Tesco explained how the price match worked. It said it that when it came to the brands, comparisons were simple. However, for own-brand products, they started with brand hierarchy (matching the Basics range with the Value range for example). Where an exact match was impossible they matched with a product which 'met the same need' - so two fruit roulades were matched, despite the fact that one contained 4% raspberries and 4% blackcurrants and the other contained 7% raspberries.

This is all made clear in the terms and conditions of the scheme.

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Tesco wins curry tussle with Sainsbury's

One of the most popular glitches, was a wine deal at Tesco back in November 2012, where a series of offers clashed, leaving a bottle of £9.99 wine selling for £1.50.

The 'three wines for £10' deal apparently clashed with a '25% off when you buy six or more bottles' deal. The 25% was accidentally taken off the original price rather than the reduced one, leaving the wine at rock bottom prices. Deal-hunters cleared the shelves around the country.

Perhaps the most popular glitch from Tesco came in June 2011, when instead of taking £4 off the cost of a £20 case of beer, the supermarket accidentally started selling the cases for £4. The ensuring rush was nicknamed the 'beer stampede'.

Sadly not every supermarket pricing glitch comes with such a happy ending for consumers. In March last year the bargain-hunters thought their luck was in, when Tesco accidentally priced the new iPad at just £44.99 instead of around £650. Sadly it spotted the mistake before shipping the goods. The small print on its website meant it could refuse to sell at this price, and refund their customers instead.

In September 2012, Asda was responsible for one of the most expensive glitches. The Asda Price Guarantee offered vouchers to customers who could have got their shopping cheaper elsewhere.

However, when certain trigger products were in the basket, the supermarket massively under-priced the shopping at other supermarkets, and offered huge vouchers to shoppers. In many instances the vouchers came to roughly the same as the cost of the shopping.

In April, a mistake on their website resulted in Tesco selling 8 packs of Bulmers cider 568ml bottles for £5 - rather than a six pack for £8.

Deal-hunters snapped up the deal online, and had varying degrees of success. Some had their order delivered in full, others had six delivered for £5 - and were able to negotiate their way to another two, while others were offered six for £5 or their money back.

October last year saw one of the most famous glitches, when Tesco Terry's Chocolate Oranges were subject to two deals at the same time, and the price dropped from £2.75 to 29p. There were plenty of people getting chocolate oranges last Christmas.

A buy-one-get-one-free deal went awry at Tesco in March. People putting four tubs of I can't Believe It's Not Butter or Oykos yogurt packs into the trolley were only being charged for one.

Soon the online deal-hunting community was in action, with one person bagging 50 tubs of butter and 22 pots of yogurt for £8.79 - a saving of £133.89.

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We don't care where our meat comes from

They said where there were small differences, they were still matched "provided that difference was not key in a customer's decision making process." Therefore Melton Mowbray pies were only matched with other pies from the same town, because people would care. However, more broadly it said that "for the majority of customers, the product's country of origin would only be a minor factor in a customer's decision-making." It said that this belief was backed up by independent research.

The ASA eventually sided with Tesco . It said: "We agreed with Tesco that provenance was unlikely to be a key factor for these two products, a ready meal (chicken korma curry) and a budget choice food (ham)." It ruled that the advert had clearly explained the basis of the comparison, so it wasn't misleading.

Tesco seems to have won this particular battle. But what do you think? Are Tesco and the ASA right about you? Do you not care where your meat comes from - even after the horsemeat scandal?

Let us know in the comments.

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This takes time, but once you know the cost of a phone call, putting the dryer on, or a bag of potatoes, it enables you to judge far better how much you can afford to consume.

Once you know the base price, you are in a position to keep your eyes open for a better offer. If you see a discount you can judge for yourself whether it actually constitutes a bargain. For bigger things like utilities it enables you to do a proper price comparison and see if you can cut your bills.

Don't just assume that the premium range is better, try the every-day brand, or even the basic version and see if you spot the difference. Likewise, consider trading down your supermarket from one of the big players to local markets or discounters like Aldi.

If you plan what you buy to match what you actually cook and eat then not only will you be able to budget far more effectively, but you'll also waste much less and find your money goes further without you having to try.

If you can't think of a way to get your meat for less, consider a vegetarian day once a week. If you can't find petrol any cheaper, then work on making your driving as efficient as possible. The more you can think of clever alternatives the less you will have to make painful cuts to make ends meet.

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