Coles customers stunned by obscure 'freebie' rule in every store

A Coles shopper has caused a heated debate online after questioning the store’s "specials" pricing and the rules around it.

Posting in the Facebook group Retail Reductions Australia, the customer posted a picture of an eye fillet roast that displayed the price of $46.50 per kilo, however, the specials ticket price read $44 per kilo.

Alongside her photo she wrote: “Freebie Coles Kirrawee”. The shopper’s post soon attracted more than 100 comments with many debating why she thought the item should be free.

“Because the sticker doesn't have the sale price on it?” one person asked.

“I’m so confused. I don't get how this is a freebie... the price is on it... what am i missing?” said another.

“I don't understand what the freebies are. Please explain,” questioned another.

A customer's photo of meat with two different prices. Source: Facebook
With two different price details displayed, customers were confused over when an advertised item is deemed free. Source: Facebook

Some customers said the price was displayed correctly and that the specials price should be applied at the checkout.

However, others said they had indeed scored themselves a free item over the price ticket confusion when the item scanned at the higher price.

“I had this at my Coles. I paid then went to the service desk, they took the roast to price check,” the shopper said.

“It came back with the new price sticker and they said the butcher was running behind and hadn’t changed the prices yet.

“Not my problem, that’s yours. How many people will be paying the higher price?”

The customer went on to say that she refused to pay the new price and requested a refund, which she says she was given because she “stood her ground”.

Coles customers had no idea

A Coles employee confirmed that this is how the process should work.

“I work for Coles and this is hung up for our team members all over out tea room,” the employee said alongside a image of the store’s "service promise".

The promise states: “If an item scans higher than its advertised price, it’s free".

Coles sign outside a store in Melbourne.
While some customers said they'd scored free products, others had no idea the policy existed. Source: Reuters

"When multiple identical items scan at a higher price, the customer gets the first item incorrectly scanned for free and the remaining identical items at the displayed lower price," the promise says.

The rule came as a shock to most customers who commented saying they had "no idea" the item could be free if an item is scanned at the incorrect price.

“I didn’t know this,” one person said.

“I’ve never had this. They always just correct the price and either pay back the difference or change it on checkout. This is good to know,” another said.

Coles clears up confusion

The Coles Promise on Price Scanning policy confirms that if a scanning error occurs, the item is given to the customer for free.

“A scanning error occurs when an item has been scanned, or the correct PLU (Price Look Up) number entered, and a price higher than the advertised or ticketed price displays at the checkout or on the receipt,” the Coles policy states.

“If a single item scans at a higher price than the advertised or ticketed shelf price for that item, we will give you that item FREE.”

If multiple identical items scan at the incorrect price, the customer receives the first item for free and the other items at the correct advertised price.

Notably, Coles’ policy goes above and beyond what the Australian Consumer Law requirements state.

“All Coles Supermarkets apply ‘Our Promise on Price Scanning’ to ensure confidence in the pricing accuracy at our registers,” a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

People walk by Coles store. Source: AAP
People have been left confused by a mislabelled roast in Coles. Source: AAP

“If a single item scans at a higher price than the advertised or ticketed shelf price for that item, we will give the customer that item free.

“Our Promise on Price Scanning goes above and beyond the requirements of the Australian Consumer Law, which requires businesses to refund the difference between any overcharged amount and the correct price of the item.”

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