Tesco price jumps between online order and delivery

I ordered two bottles of whisky online from Tesco that were on special promotion. The total price was £50, with a £4.50 delivery charge. The order was delivered five days later in the first available delivery slot Tesco offered me.

Three days later, £83.40 had been debited from my bank account to Tesco. That is £28.90 more than the Tesco invoice stated – equivalent to a 53% increase. I then noticed the invoice said “total (estimated)”, as well as “saved”, and then, below: “Your total may differ due to missed promotions, products sold by weight and substituted items.” The items I bought were not sold by weight and were not substituted. I had not “missed” the promotion as I made the purchase the day the promotion was offered.

I called Tesco as I was sure it had made a billing error. But it told me this was because the deal had “lapsed” between me buying it and it being delivered.

This is outrageous – never before have I heard of any online retailer advertising a price, selling an item at that price, and then changing the amount charged after the sale, on dispatch or delivery.
PH, London

Sadly, this pricing policy – while shocking for those like you on the receiving end – now appears to be standard practice for online shopping. We thought it might be helpful to alert readers in the run-up to the slew of Christmas promotions. It’s fair to say there tends to be more flexibility with “rolling promotions” – for example, three items for £10 – where the end date is often many weeks or months in the future.

Tesco says: “Our prices are determined by the day they will be delivered, rather than the day the order is placed, and this is clearly marked next to each product on our website. In this case, the items had previously been on offer, but the promotion ended prior to delivery.”

For that reason, Tesco would not refund you the difference. If the same thing had happened in a store – and the shelf tag was still advertising the promotion beyond its expiry date – you would legally have the right to pay the discounted price. This seems to be far from a level playing field.