Coles customer catches supermarket in 'dead dodgy' practice

Shopper Rowan Element flagged the issue with staff and said the supermarket has a 'disregard for morality'.

There has been speculation for a while now that Coles is adopting a "deceptive" tactic with their specials price tags and this week a customer caught the supermarket red-handed.

Shopper Rowan Element got into the habit of checking if the price of an item was the same on the specials tag and its original tag after others online found they were mismatched — with the initial price often exaggerated on the specials tag to make the promotion appear more appealing.

Left, a Coles store front with fresh produce. Right, packs of mushroom slices on a shelf with the two tags showing the price discrepancy.
Coles were called out after a customer flagged the original price of a pack of mushrooms was different on the specials tag and original tag. Source: Getty and Rowan Element

On Thursday she found her own example while shopping in Canberra's Tuggeranong store, with the original tag conveniently hidden behind the promotion.

"I bought this humble pack of sliced mushrooms, they were on special 'two for $6.50' or $4 for one. When I moved the specials tag the price was $3.50... It is the first time that I’ve noticed something like this," she told Yahoo News Australia "Clearly Coles put the price up to make the 'special' look better but forgot to take off the original price ticket."

Shopper called out misleading tag to Coles staff

After taking the mushrooms to the checkout and being charged $4 for the one pack, Element asked to speak to a manager and called out the "deceptive advertising". Staff provided a refund and allowed the shopper to keep the produce before "literally running" to remove the offending tag from the shelf.

Despite the small price discrepancy, the shopper believes the issue is about much more than 50 cents and a simple pack of mushrooms. "Sadly I think it's what we've come to expect from large corporations determined to make massive profits at the expense of their customers. There's total disregard for morality of their behaviour... It's dead dodgy" she said.

Aussies praise shopper for flagging price issue

Aussies were delighted to hear the shopper called Coles out for the mismatch of prices and many had their own similar experiences to share online, calling this form of price discrepancy between tags a "common occurrence" nowadays.

Social media has been full of shoppers showing examples of Coles using this strategy — with even bigger price discrepancies flagged. In one video, the initial price of a six-pack of mini tarts was marked at $15 on the specials tag, only for the original tag to reveal its true original price was before it was $9.50.

Coles and Woolworths' prices are currently under investigation after months of accusations the supermarkets have been price gouging during the cost of living crisis.

Coles respond price discrepancy on price tags

Coles confirmed to Yahoo News the price tag in question at the Tuggeranong store has been "corrected", however, it did not respond to questions regarding accusations that the supermarket was doing it on purpose.

"Coles takes clear and accurate pricing information on tickets very seriously," a spokesperson said. "We always aim to ensure that our specials represent value for our customers and have confirmed that the special tickets were indeed correct in these instances."

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