Special – Misleading psuedo specials from Woolworths?

Posted: April 7, 2014 in Dummy Spits, Random Stuff, Shame File

I don’t normally shop at Woolworths if I can possibly help it.

Call me stubborn or perhaps principled, but I have avoided them like the plague ever since the infamous dinner function where one of their executives Simon Berger was Master Of Ceremonies. That infamous dinner function was where Alan Jones made the derogatory and highly offensive comment about the death of Julia Gillard’s father, and Berger himself offered up a jacket made of chaff bags for auction in reference to Alan Jones’s public comments suggesting our first female Prime Minister should be killed by letting her drown at sea in a chaff bag.

The auction items list from the function

The auction items list from the function

Woolworths claimed Berger was there in a private capacity, although given that his job was as Woolworths State Government Relations Manager, you could probably be excused for thinking otherwise.

Woolworths statement to distance themselves

Woolworths statement to distance themselves

Despite this I was in a rush the other day and quickly raced into my local Woolworths as I needed washing powder and some cereal.

I grabbed a packet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (a weakness I admit) and seeing that Cold Power was seemingly on special for $7 I grabbed a box and headed for the checkout.

With one item being $6.99 and the other on an “Extra Saver” special for $7 I was rather surprised when I was charged more than $14.

What I was charged in fact was $16.48.

I queried this with the checkout operator who took me back down the aisle and showed me the fine print on the “Extra Saver” shelf-talker that I had not noticed. This fine print explaining that without an Everyday Rewards card I would be paying $9.49 rather than $7 advertised in big bold print.


Beware the fine print...

Beware the fine print…

She offered to refund the item, an offer I accepted and grabbed another brand that was on a regular style special.

I explained to the lady serving me that I thought that the shelf-talker was inappropriate and unclear, although she didn’t give an opinion, she made mention that there had been a significant number of complaints about the campaign from customers.

I have since spoken to many customers and the consensus is that the campaign appears to be deceptive and misleading.

Most people do not read the fine print on a shelf-talker, and if they see a special advertised there then they assume that is what they will be getting when they reach the checkout.

Those who have a hectic schedule, are in a hurry, have children with them, need reading glasses, or don’t wish to bend over to a lower shelf to read fine print on an advertisement are the ones that will be taken for a ride with this campaign.

The only reason I noticed that I had not received the advertised discount is because I only purchased two items and it was clear to me what I perceived to be an overcharge. If I had been purchasing numerous items, I would probably have been blissfully unaware that I had been overcharged anddeceived.

The average person doing their weekly grocery run would be unlikely to notice at all unless they really combed through their receipt and remembered the products they assumed were purchased on special.

The amount we are talking about is not an insignificant amount either. The item I purchased had a perceived discount of approximately 26%. For someone on a weekly grocery shop spending between $200 and $300 it is not hard to imagine how these perceived discounts could add up.

Some of you will probably think “What’s the big deal? Just get an Everyday Rewards Card”

For starters I have enough junk in my wallet without adding to it.

There are however many who don’t like the idea of passing on their personal details to a company like Woolworths and then allowing that company to analyse their purchasing habits.

Although I’m unaware of Woolworths doing this, companies can often sell or pass your details on to other companies that on-sell databases to charities and telemarketing companies, giving you the pleasure of a barrage of unsolicited phone calls. Even if you are on the Do Not Call Register your number may be provided to registered charities to call you given that they are exempt for the Do Not Call Register restrictions and are free to call you up until 8pm.

All my details and all my purchasing history in one card...

All my details and all my purchasing history in one card…

For those who think this may be paranoid behaviour, bear this in mind. In the US the Target chain of stores were able to detect a teenager’s pregnancy before her father was aware of it, this was done via her buying patterns, and Target then aimed advertising at the teenage girl based on her pregnancy.

I should point out here that the US Target is in no way related to the Australian Target.

Nobody should be expected to have to explain their wishes for privacy, although it would appear that Woolworths are comfortable in punishing those of you who wish for privacy by charging you more.

I approached Woolworths for comment and was assured that someone would get back to me. Despite speaking with two people, at the time of publication I am yet to receive an official response.

I also contacted the NSW Department Of Fair Trading for comment.

A Fair Trading spokesperson responded and stated that Woolworths were not breaking any laws as the price for those who didn’t have an Everyday Rewards card was displayed.

However they also added a section of the consumer law which in part states;

“The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) prohibits businesses from making false or misleading representations in regard to:”

• “the price of goods or services”

I would have thought that having a large discounted price displayed, and in italic fine print a vastly more expensive price displayed for those who don’t meet a particular criteria would fall under the category of a “misleading representation”

As we await what is expected to be a painful budget to be handed down by the Coalition, one thing we all know is that things are likely to become tighter as the cost of living and unemployment rises.

The best advice I can give is, spend your dollar wisely.

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here


  1. sebe (@sebe) says:

    Same happen to me the other day, the guy at the checkout pointed me the EDWC pamphlet, which had a temporary card. So maybe an option is to just grab one on the way in and never sign up.

    • wixxy says:

      How odd, why would anyone sign up if you can get a temporary card?
      Cheers for pointing that out.

      • ladyangua says:

        The advantage to being signed up is that you will get extra discounts in your email of course these are based on your buying habits so you have to weigh up the “costs”. If you haven’t shopped there for a while you will get extra deals sent to you. HOWEVER having just learnt about their executives disgraceful display of disrespect towards the them Prime Minister it could well be a long time before they see me again.

  2. silkworm says:

    Deceit comes naturally to Liberals. The L in LNP stands for Liars.

  3. dafid1 says:

    Ditto me Wixxy and to add insult to injury it was 2 loaves of Ábbott brand bread which I never buy on principal but the rye variety was on special at 3-95 t’óther day so picked up two with couple of other items went to checkout, extra $4 total. Same deal small print, without rewards card 5-99 each. Left the bread at checkout, no thanks.
    Unfortunately Woolies is major supermarket in town, however plenty of IGA’s usually shop there, rather pay them bit extra than that Tory supporting outfit.
    Coles arriving soon, hopefully not tarred with same brush.

  4. Paul says:

    Wixxy, this is exactly the same tactic that they used with fuel and got busted. I think you should raise that with Fair Trading and the ACCC.

  5. It’s become worse as they recently changed the talkers. It used to be all one colour (yellow for weekly specials, orange for the card-only, red for “everyday low price” whatever the hell that is) but now it’s all white and a the colour on the ends so it is not as obvious which one is which. Make of that change what you will.

  6. clarittee says:

    Isn’t this a company that is BIG into Pokies? When the money goes that way doesn’t it affect what is left to spend on what should be essentials.?

  7. Mike Hunt says:

    Dude, everybody knows you don’t have to give up any privacy to have a Woolworths card. Mine is in the name of a certain South American anarchist, who despite being quite dead, seems to be living in Humpty Doo at the moment.

  8. Dave Bradley says:

    Hi Pete we swim troubled waters surrounded by pirates and sharks, Yep seen this it is truly evil, and supermarkets are designed to confuse you anyway, and all the trickery to get peoples private details, hey why don’t we just give them our pin numbers and front door keys and be done with it, the taking and distributing of personal details among people who are hardly your friends would have had us rioting on the streets fifty years ago and in fact some of us did. Privacy was a right in those days now I think privacy is a crime! the other thing I find evil is the ‘discount’ on paying your energy bills on time. this is a trick to punish the poor who may be only one day late and they get penalised by 20% or 30%, how can this be legal? The power obviously only costs the amount on the bill and the banks were finally forced to justify their illegal penalties for late payments and I wonder how long before they catch on to this trick. Where do you start looking for truth and justice, Fiona Nash, Arthur $inodnos, Christopher Pyne, George Brandis, Scott Morrison, we’re in good hands all right their fingers are so far up our arses no wonder the population are all turning into glove puppets

  9. Clair says:

    I avoid Woolworths completely these days, especially since they’ve simply stopped selling certain products in place of their Select brand. Everything about this post had me nodding furiously & yes I’ve been caught by the ‘special’ before & I refuse to have a data card for Woolies. I also don’t see the value in ‘saving’ $2 on a tank of fuel when the independent owners are being pushed out of business.

  10. Dana says:

    A couple years ago i purchased some diary free/nut free Easter egg for my anaphylactic son. Turns out it wasn’t diary free. Had I not scanned the everyday rewards card I wouldn’t have known. They sent me an email based on my purchase history.

  11. Mel says:

    Totally paranoid. The marketing towards these savings is well known by those who pay attention. What has it got to do with the Libs, jeez we all know that the lies come from Labor and they will be hanging their heads in shame when the RC and batts enquiry have finished.

    • wixxy says:

      Like the Libs are hanging their heads in shame daily in ICAC at the moment!

      • BillK says:

        Except their heads are not hanging as low as Michael Williamson’s, ex- National ALP President, already jailed for 5+ years. Shorten up to his neck in AWU matters still to be investigated. IMHO Labor has a lot more to fear from a RC than the Libs. What’s the bet Comrade Shorten will be dumped before the end of the year?

      • wixxy says:

        I was referring to ICAC not royal commission
        3 State Liberal members so far, one a minister one Federal assistant treasurer, and yesterday questions raised over an LNP Premier
        And you wanna carry on over one ex ALP president from last century?

      • Mel says:

        One so far and many many more to come.

  12. Rob says:

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me 😉 I think everyone has been stung by the orange stickers at least once. The real story is the elaborate schemes in which the same low-cost high production items are regularly cycled through 1/2 price “sales”, it goes to show how much they actually fleece from you and the manufacturers

    • dafid1 says:

      We find best to check the payments slip before leaving the supermarket, been caught with specials not being charged as specials, eg 11 tins of cat food for $11 but on checking the tape was charged 11 x $1-29 a tin, that was last Friday. Not big amount but run it across the network, its plenty
      Feel sorry for the checkout operator, they take the embarrassment for their employers stuff up.
      Trust the Supermarket to the Torys Woolies? not likely!!

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