Supermarket scams to watch out for at Xmas

Christmas Hats StatuesGuest article from Love Money

If you’re planning to hit the supermarkets soon to stock up for Christmas, here are five scams you need to make sure you don’t fall for…

Watch out for these supermarket scams!

Christmas is a stressful time for food shoppers: packed supermarkets, annoying Christmas music and long queues…enough to put anyone in a festive frenzy!

But this Christmas could be made even more stressful if you fall for a supermarket scam – here’s five you should watch out for next time you’re on the hunt for groceries…

The cashback scam

This scam works by adding cashback to your shopping bill when you pay by debit card. The cashier is basically betting on the fact that you’re in such a rush or that you’re shop is so large and expensive that you don’t notice the extra £20 or £40 they’ve added on.

The scammer obviously then pockets the money or slips it to a friend nearby so the supermarket security can’t trace it.

It’s certainly a cunning scam, as it would be very hard to prove that you didn’t actually want and take the cashback.

But many forums and sites across the net have been quick to dismiss this scam as a hoax that was actually created by fraudsters over in the states back in 2004. Sites like Snopes are stating there’s no way for a cashier to add cashback to a bill without the customer agreeing to it via the pin entry pad.

From personal experience I’ve found many supermarkets will insist that you sign the receipt to prove that the cashier has handed over the money – but this may not be a universal policy and the signature could be faked anyway!

In any case it’s always good practice to check the exact amount being debited to your card before pressing enter on the key pad.

For cashback schemes you can trust, read You’re ignoring free money.

Don’t be scammed! Emma Roberts reveals some dangerous scams that are circulating the web

Dodgy BOGOFs

The old buy one (but don’t actually) get one free trick – it’s been infuriating shoppers for years and shows no sign of abating!

The classic buy one get one free (BOGOF) trick is probably the most obvious one – just make sure the offer doesn’t come off at the tills and hope the customer doesn’t notice! Now, having worked on a check-out throughout sixth-form college I can confirm that occasionally the till is genuinely not programmed correctly – or so I was told!

You should also keep your eyes peeled for mis-shelved products as many people have reported picking up goods placed directly above a BOGOF sign that aren’t actually on the offer. Of course the supermarket will usually blame this on a lazy shelf stacker or product-moving customer – whether they’re telling porkies or not is for you to decide!

The obvious way around this scam is to keep a mental note of any BOGOF items you pick up and check your receipt at the checkout. If the offer hasn’t come off, let the cashier know! Kick up a fuss at the customer service counter and you may even get the items for free – it’s worked for my mum before!

Rachel Robson reveals five of the worst scams around…

Volume offers

This again concerns BOGOF offers as well as other discounts such as 3 for 2’s or 2 for £10. Obviously special offers like these can sometimes help to slash your food bills – but they don’t always offer value for money.

A recent report into price advertising by the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) found that ‘volume offers’ can sometimes distort the true value of the product, causing you to needlessly over-spend.

This is because supermarkets may temporarily inflate the price of an item before putting it on offer so the discount looks more worthwhile than it actually is. The effect is that you become focused on getting a ‘good deal’ rather than just buying what you need.

You’ll also find the best volume offers will be on perishable items like fruit and vegetables. So unless you’re confident you can eat everything you’ve purchased before it goes off, don’t be taken in by the offer!

Baiting sales

The OFT report also highlights the scam of baiting sales. This is where a retailer will tempt you into the store with a bargain offer but only hold a very small amount of stock at the discounted price.

It works because if you traipse down to the supermarket to pick up an offer, but it’s sold out – you’ll probably buy a similar product at a higher price from the same retailer.

Last month Marks & Spencer were accused of baiting sales with their £10 Champagne deal. Many people turned up at stores across the country on the first day of the offer, only to be told all the champers had already gone. Some stores had even sold out by 9am in the morning! But to find out where you can pick up some cheap Christmas booze read Bargain booze for Xmas money-savers.

Baiting sales is banned by consumer protection rules and the OFT have vowed to crack down on any retailers found to be practicing it.


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