Moral high ground?

I like to do things right, and I do like to do the "right thing", and so it will be no surprise that after the last post I had concluded before we started that I needed to let the supplier know. Interestingly, many of my friends said I was mad to, and I should just exploit them as much as I could.

The supplier is Tesco, and buying 3 bottles of 1l Southern Comfort from Tesco was being charged at silly prices. Normally £28.50, discount to £20.00 and actually charged at...

Initially to my surprise, 50p a bottle.

Then 12p a bottle

And today, they only had 2 left, 10p a bottle.

Seriously, this is silly.

Contractually I am happy to accept the price they have chosen and take the goods. But morally, this is a mistake, surely, should I continue. Well I have to wait for them to get more in stock, clearly. But why not keep buying?

I wanted to do the right thing so I asked them...

To my surprise they said no!

OK well I know it clearly is not a promotion so I followed up.

No reply, so some more... minor typo...

Two days later, no reply, so more...

And still no reply.

If they really do not care, should I not order more? Surely if they are happy to sell at that price, I should just keep ordering.


I did nag them again, still no reply, but looks like it is fixed now and charging £20 a bottle!


  1. I think you've gone to more than reasonable lengths to inform them.

    If you don't clean them out, I will, and I don't even drink the stuff...

  2. It reminds me of a problem with the reduced items in some supermarkets which also had some special offer on. It could do 10p + 10p - £1 for some of the offers e.g. 2 for £1.50 on a loaf of bread, where the original price would be £1.25 each.

    It meant that we could buy a lot of stuff at a discount. Sometimes the checkout staff would call over a supervisor, and they'd just say if that's what the computer says, then that's what it is, just try and buy something to make the final price positive.

    Many supermarkets grew wise to this, and stopped applying the offers at all on the reduced items, which means you can get occasions where an item is on special offer, and you are cheaper buying 2 or more at full price, with a longer date, than the reduced price, as that's what the computer says the reduction should be at that time. Sometimes staff will reduce further, to make it cheaper than the offer price if asked, though sometimes they won't as the computer says that's the reduced price it should be.

    1. The co-op near my old office used to apply the discounts in an odd order which meant you would end up with a negative total for some combinations of goods... And they would blindly obey the till and give you money in exchange for taking stuff out of the shop!

  3. I wonder if this works in Scotland... That would be a breach of minimum pricing rules I think

    1. That legislation hasn't been implemented yet as its been appealed by Diageo (aka the "Scotch Whisky Association") all the way to the CJEU and when they didn't like that result back to the UK "Supreme Court" where it'll be referred back to CJEU on appeal. Expect a decision around 2018 which will be overturned once the govt has control of the courts again in 2021-whatever.

      Trebles all round for the lawyers! 5 years of holding tactics with only 18 months or so until they can ignore CJEU & give the Tories a bung to make it all stop.

  4. I think you're quite a long way from the moral high ground here tbh. It's not as though your approach to them was designed to clearly explain that there is something going wrong which is quite clearly an error. In fact to those who don't know the backstory it would merely look like an innocent inquiry about price mis-match, and to me, knowing the back story, it looks like a deliberate and disingenuous attempt to have them reconfirm their position on the contract rather than to actually let them know of the error.

    My first contact might have been more on the lines of:

    "There is a product on your website advertised at £25 but it's coming through on my bill at only 50p. How do I let someone know that this probably needs to be fixed?"

    1. I agree on the first message but I went on to be specific about the product and the pricing.

  5. A thought...

    If one becomes aware of an obvious error in POS pricing and one lots to exploit that, is that legally fraud?

    What if one has asked about it in general terms and they've said it's ok, but one (and any reasonable person) still would believe it to be an error?

    I'm not intending to accuse here, I'm genuinely interested in the legal position. Is this merely a contract law matter, or is it criminal? I suspect it could be considered fraud, but is unlikely to be considered in the public interest to prosecute unless happening on a grand scale. I also don't see many judges having sympathy with a retailer that brushed off a customer enquiry on the matter.

    1. For fraud you have to either make a false representation (which I am not), or failure to disclose (which I have not, and only applies if legally required to disclose, which I think I am not), or abuse of position where I am expected to safeguard the financial position of another (which I do not think actually applies to me regarding Tesco). So I do not think legally it would be Fraud. But I am not a lawyer.

    2. The product being sold is a perishable good.

      The discount may be being applied due to a need to sell the items or bin them.

      Its unlikely, but selling the bottles for 50p in that case is likely to be marginally more cost-effective than dumping both the bottle AND the contents.

      Therefore its not an unreasonable position to believe that to be the cause of the discount even though its not specified. I've seen cases of beer discounted and its only on inspection of the cans you find the date code expires in a few weeks.

      If it was TVs (for example) then it wouldn't be accepted that the purchaser didn't strongly suspect a pricing error. That still wouldn't make it fraud but the retailer could bring a civil case for the recovery of goods sold in error. There is precedent for that I believe but (IIRC) it had a lot to do with the person reselling the items (TVs?).

      tl;dr enjoy the booze, you pointed it out to them & I doubt it'll bother the shareholders...

  6. Oh and in terms of "moral high ground" then bear in mind who you're buying from. Rather hard not to have the "high ground" on a company who (AFAICT) has been/is being/will be prosecuted for "financial irregularities" in every single country its ever operated in. Every little helps ;)


Comments are moderated purely to filter out obvious spam, but it means they may not show immediately.

NOTSCO (Not TOTSCO) One Touch Switching test platform (now launched)

I posted about how inept TOTSCO seem to be, and the call today with them was no improvement. It seems they have test stages... A "simul...