Great news! The savings you’ve just made mean we aren’t going to give you any free money.
The checkout operatives in Sainsbury’s always seem quite delighted for me that my shopping is 16p cheaper than if I’d chosen the same things in Tesco.
This delight is echoed in a Brand Match “great news!” ticket whose fundamental message is that, because of the vast savings I’ve made, they aren’t going to give me any free cash.
This doesn’t feel like the ‘great news!’ I was hoping for. I’d rather have some money. Although a voucher for £0.01 is unlikely to see me rushing back in gratitude.
Even if the news is less ‘great’, and they’re grumpily shelling out a couple of quid, there’s further bad news in that they’re not just going to knock it off the price, they’re going to make me come back again and try my luck on a future occasion. As long as I (i) remember the bit of paper and (ii) remember to come back before the expiry date has passed.
Brand match gives the illusion of low prices by conveniently forgetting the fact that I wouldn’t have chosen most of the items in my basket if they hadn’t all been suspiciously reduced from somewhere north of implausible to within a couple of pence of what the price was last time I wasn’t scandalised by them.
My six quid “saving” on an otherwise ludicrously (and temporarily) overpriced litre of washing liquid would be offset by the fact that in Tesco I’d have gone for the half price sausages instead.
Supermarkets are now falling over themselves to pretend that they’re cheaper than other places, matching brands and totally incomparable own-brands and offering a 10% discount if they fail to be any cheaper, when the only honest thing to do would be to match the price of every individual item rather than the basket as a whole.
So Brand Match isn’t a thing. It should be called ‘aggregated non-comparable trolley cost match’ and they should stop pretending that no news is good news. It’d be much more convenient all round if they’d just knock the money off there and then, or make use of Nectar rather than forcing me to carry around scraps of paper. Or maybe they could just operate as if in a competitive market, reducing prices in response to their competitors rather than using price lists to draw up ever more untrustworthy claims about how much cheaper everything is.