Woolworths accused of 'shonky' tactic with 'deceptive' signage

Customers have accused the supermarket of using an underhand tactic to encourage buying a more expensive product after the sign was incorrectly placed.

Woolworths has been accused of using a “shonky tactic” to mislead customers into buying a more expensive product after an unrelated ‘price drop’ sign was spotted over a huge display of potatoes.

A photo, taken at a Woolies in Ipswich, Queensland, showed a vegetable aisle stacked with 4kg bags of brushed potatoes with an eye-catching sign directly above stating, “Prices Dropped for Autumn”, coupled with the words, “Was $7, now $4.50”.

However, the advert carried an image of a different product, which was partially obscured by sacks of spuds, and instead referred to a smaller 1.5kg pack of mashing potatoes located 1.5m further down the aisle. These potatoes were on sale for $4.50, while the ones in front of the sign were still $7.

“Legit complaint,” a female customer shared online this week. “Have people noticed that Woolworths has a practice of displaying a price for an item that is irrelevant to the item it sits above?

“Another way Woolworths takes advantage of customers. I see this advertising all the time. Poor form Woolworths," she added.

Two images of a pile of potatoes with an obscured sign behind them relating to a different product.
On closer inspection, the $4.50 'price drop' sign refers to a different product, while the 4kg bags of brushed potatoes were $7. Source: Facebook

When contacted by Yahoo News Australia, Woolies declined to comment.

Aussie supermarkets accused of 'price gouging'

Sales tactics, marketing strategies and the escalating price of groceries have been hot topics in recent times, as Aussies struggle to absorb increased costs at the checkout.

Woolworths and Coles have both been accused of price gouging – claims they strongly deny – while Australia’s consumer watchdog, the ACCC, has announced it will undertake a year-long inquiry into the alleged practice.

Next week, outgoing Woolies boss Brad Banducci and Coles CEO Leah Weckert will face a Senate inquiry over claims the supermarket giants benefited from billion-dollar profits during a cost of living crisis.

On social media, reaction to the post was mixed with several customers taking aim at the retailer.

Clear signage of the $4.50 'price drop' on 1.5kg bags of Mashing Potatoes
This Woolies in Brisbane shows clear signage of the $4.50 'price drop' on 1.5kg bags of mashing potatoes. Source: Supplied

“If it’s intentional then it’s clearly deceptive,” one said of the Woolies display, while another added, "I think they bank on people being in a rush and not reading the sales ticket properly, another shonky tactic.” A third described the $7 price tag as a "rip off".

Phillip Portman, from Compare the Market, told Yahoo it had undertaken research that found the average household was spending $193 on their weekly grocery shop, while higher prices were due to several issues including recent weather events and different transportation and labour costs.

The comparison website advises shoppers to avoid aisle deals which are often aimed at getting them to buy things they don’t need, while cheaper items can be found by looking at the top and bottom shelves.

Top tips to reduce your grocery bill

Use the smaller trolleys: You’ll be less tempted to dump extra things in there.

Go straight to the essentials: Buy the milk, bread, eggs, fruit and veg before anything else.

Shop alone: You’re less likely to be pressured into buying stuff, especially if shopping with kids.

Don’t get meal ideas at the supermarket: Ideally, know what your meals are beforehand, as supermarkets tend to place items that can go together near each other.

Be disloyal to loyalty programs: They can be more rewarding if you don’t use them for a while, as you’re more likely to get big bonus points deal for coming back.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.