Is Tesco’s BOGOF Later scheme a scam?

Buy-one-get-one-free deals appear to be in a Catch 22 situation, and the issue is back on the agenda this week, thanks to Tesco’s latest announcement.

Rosie Baker

Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco chief executive, revealed plans to allow customers to take advantage of BOGOF deals by picking up the second product at a later date, if they don’t need it right away.

The initiative comes as another layer in Leahy’s sustainability plans to help Tesco and its customers reduce waste and carbon emissions.

Tesco plans to issue customers a coupon at the till if they have not redeemed both items, and the opportunity to claim it at another time.

It addresses much-voiced concerns that these kinds of promotions encourage customers to buy too much and lead to wastage, and for many is the common sense solution to the problems surrounding BOGOF deals.

While it’s true everyone likes getting something for nothing and few are likely to leave behind the second product if it’s free, buy-one-get-one-free deals are problematic for a number of reasons.

One or two person households may not be able to consume the products before they perish, which can lead to waste, and while deals on non-perishables such as laundry detergent are all well and good to help you stock up, it can be logistically difficult to carry it home from the shop and store it at home.

It’s easy to lay the blame for food wastage at the feet of the large multiples and their tempting offers, but at some point, consumers must take responsibility for their own purchases and food wastage.

On the surface Leahy’s delayed approach to BOGOF deals is a beneficial idea that will be welcomed by customers, but in reality, I wonder how many people will simply never get round to claiming their second item.

Vouchers get lost, people forget, in which case, these consumers will actually lose out on price promotions, while Tesco gets the kudos of offering lots of great deals many customers don’t benefit from.

It must also pose a potential problem for Tesco in terms of stock. When a product is on promotion, stores are able to quantify how much of that product will need to be in store throughout the promotional period.

With delayed redemption, Tesco could run into all sorts of trouble keeping enough of the promotional products in stock at the right time, and warehousing high stock levels if the majority of consumers only claim one item at a time.

So, while Tesco appears to be offering a solution to contentious buy-one-get-one-free deals, by offering to delay the multi-buy, is it scamming customers out of promotional deals many will never redeem?

A better deal for consumers would see Tesco halving the price, instead of offering something additional for free, but then that would eat into Tesco’s profits.

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