back to article Tesco pricing cock-up provokes beer stampede

Scots with an eye for a bargain and a healthy thirst mobilised en masse yesterday to storm several Tesco stores after a pricing error offered boxes of beer at irresistable prices. The deal was supposed to be "buy three boxes of beer and save £11", but punters soon realised that instead of charging 20 quid for the triple whammy …


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  1. ravenviz Silver badge

    Good grief!

    I bet Oscar Wilde is turning in his grave!

  2. hugh

    See you jimmy!

    Way to re-enforce a stereotype lads.

    1. Eponymous Cowherd

      Could be worse......

      Buy Mars bars and get free deep fat fryer......

    2. proto-robbie


      Just take yer effing stereotype and bogof. Ah might be a wee bit pished, but ah've still got ninety quids worth left for the weekend. Stitch that Jimmy.

      1. serviceWithASmile

        och aye

        jings, hoots, etcetera.

        ah do like ma beer though, it has tae be said.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    And Weegies wonder

    Why they get such a reputation

  4. neek


    Wouldn't like to have been the poor sods on the tills "manually adjusting prices" and telling the stampeding horde, who have by that time grabbed as much beer as they can and hoofed it to the till, that the deal doesn't stand.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No

      As I read it the published deal was save 11GBP when buying three crates and only when they arrived at the tills was a different price charged. Hence no explaining to do, the deal does stand.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        The price on the shelf only constitutes an 'invitation to treat'. When you take the beer mountain to the till you are making an offer to complete the contract at that price. A contract only comes into being when Tesco accepts your offer and you pay (so called 'consideration'). Up until that point the seller or the buyer can pull out of the negotiations, or change the conditions without prejudice, so Tesco are fully within their rights to say there has been a pricing error and the customer has no legal protection.

        Although I hope they issued the check-out staff with cattle prods when they tried to explain this.

        Mind you, I wonder if anyone got the lower price on the self-service tills?

        1. CatNinja

          Self Service tills

          Self service tills require authorisation to sell the alcohol so they could adjust it when they do that.

          1. Christopher W

            Not really

            Several moons ago, when I worked at Tesco, I sometimes had the job of oversight on the self checkouts. (they're all manufactured by NCR and the manual inside the top lid makes for some amusing reading - also some have keyboards in the cabinet underneath the main controller's station, they all run Windows XP!)

            There's no way to manually adjust prices of things already scanned (deliberately!), you can only void off items if the customer doesn't want to buy them.

            I'm sure they will have cottoned on though if every single customer just had three multipacks of Stella... However the tills could just as easily have been closed, forcing customers to go the manual route.

        2. Hud Dunlap
          Thumb Up

          not in the U.S.

          the price on the shelf is the price that has to be charged if it is lower. Otherwise it is false advertising, bait and switch and few other interestingly named laws.

          I have had managers get mad if there is a mistake on the shelf price but I have never had one dare to not honor it.

          1. Old Handle

            re: not in the U.S.

            Sometimes I've been tempted to take advantage of that when I see a sign bearing the price ".99¢" (i.e. 99/100 of one cent), but so far I've never seen it on anything tempting enough to go to the trouble.

        3. Mr Larrington


          A couple of years ago I snapped up a bottle of Bruichladdich from Tossco in Harlow. The tilldroid ran it past the scanner a Several of times, but The System refused to recognise it. A The Supervisor was called. She returned five minutes later.

          "Computer says no" she informed me. "This whisky is not on the system".

          I concluded that my removing the offending bottle from the store would not constitute theft, since they weren't selling it in the first place. Sadly the horriblemarket operatives didn't see it that way and in the end I had to fork out lots of money for a bottle of the Balvenie Doublewood instead.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Makes you proud to be Scottish ;)

    We do enjoy the occasional tipple you know

  6. bcollie

    Trading Standards

    Think trading standards will want to look into this. AFAIK not charging the shelf price or not displaying a price is illegal.

    All they could legally do is refuse to sell the items until they had corrected the price on the shelf.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      The advertised price *was* correct, the till price was far less than the displayed price.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "RTFA" on its own would suffice as a reply.

        What is this, the Twitter article summarizing service??

      2. neek

        Ring the Fing A

        Sorry, perhaps I misunderstood.


        The deal was supposed to be "buy three boxes of beer and save £11", but punters soon realised that instead of charging 20 quid for the triple whammy, Tesco was asking just 11.


        I didn't glean from this the difference between shelf price and till price. I'm not quite sure how you did, but then, I am half way through a crate of cheap beer.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge



          DISCOUNT = 11


    2. Ralthor

      Reading vs Comprehension

      Reading 1 - 0 Comprehension

      That is all.

    3. FocalLength

      Re: Trading Standards

      Numpty. The SHELF price wasn't causing the stampede, the TILL price was. Trading standards could well go after all the lucky few who got the lower price and demand that they pay the advertised price? No. Thought not. Tesco's mistake, but nothing illegal, just a bit of a bargain for a few.

    4. Nigel 11


      Trading standards will be quite happy if it's a genuine error corrected as soon as reasonably possible. What's illegal is deliberately displaying misleading prices.

  7. Lamont Cranston

    I feel bad,

    but I'm really upset by the lack of punctuation in Rebecca Macdougall's tweet.

    1. Anonymous John

      140 character limit.

      We don't need no steenking punctuation.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    trading standards

    Trading standards would only intervene if the customer was disadvantaged. ie: the price on the shelf was less than what was charged at the till.

  9. S Larti

    Special Tesco deal at El Reg

    Get TWO Scottish stereotypes for the price of one!

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Special Tesco deal at El Reg

      Yes, but only while stocks last...

  10. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Are youse telling us

    that Sassenachs wouldnae ha done the verra same thing in sich a curcumstance? Even for that Stella Artwah. There wad be retail premises fownd razed to the grownd in Newcastle whan the hordes dispursed.

    1. Marky W

      I see you took advantage of the pricing error

      Being in that state at this of the morning is not impressive though.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        That is the Scots language (more or quite a lot less)

        I wake up in that state - of being Scottish. Jimmy.

        I am sober, but of course if everybody else around one is in the tired and emotional state, one slips into the argot oneself, just to fit in.

        It really would be just the same in Tonbridge. I assume that separate alcohol sale rules in Scotland are part of the reason why it didn't happen.

        Remember when that ship spilled its cargo on Branscombe beach, and hordes of British looters turned up to walk off with it?

        Or , see

    2. CD001

      Be fair

      To be fair, Newcastle practically IS Scotland - so far north of the Watford gap as to be practically Iceland as far as I can see... ;)

  11. Andy Scott
    Thumb Up

    Ah Ha

    So that explains why I've never seen Tesco round the corner so busy and everyone was buying booze.

  12. oddie

    To those complaining about those Scots fulfilling stereotypes...

    You mean there's a country in the world where 36 cans of beer for 11 quid would lead to people actually staying away from the supermarkets in disgust? (apart from countries where beer is even cheaper than that obv.. if such a place exists)

    In other news, disgraced bear fulfills stereotype by actually pooping in woods.

    1. Eponymous Cowherd



      Well, not so much in disgust as in fear of their lives....

  13. Rovindi


    ...if it was Tescos in Reading, would attract the ballyhoo?

    Beer, cos I'm sipping as we speak. Weegie and proud. Bar in Spain, not bench in Cambuslang, ya

    1. CmdrX3

      Oh dear....

      It would appear one of your fellow Weegies has taken the wrong turn and ended up at El Reg instead of Tesco's and had it away with your beer icon.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tescos in Reading...

      The plural is correct, we have 12 of them at last count...

      I suspect that we'd have the same sort of stampeed down here too, I gave up Tesco when I got a car that could take me to Waitrose - The regular chav fights to try to get sholifted booze out of the shop we getting boring...

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Legally

    I was there last night standing in a queue at a self service checkout for about 25mins wondering what was going on. I asked a staff member and she told me there was a pricing glitch and that the 3 for £20 deal was being charged at £11 and that when the stock was gone that would be it. Some of the Tesco staff were filling trolleys as well.

    Everyone was only paying £11. Not sure if the store manager took the view that it was easier to let the price stand rather than face the possibility of a riot.

    Makes a change that they get taken for a ride, normally they overcharge. I have had to complain at least once per week so far this year about being overcharged compared to the shelf price.

  15. DPWDC

    Front page of the BBC website

    Probably the cheapest marketing campaign Tesco have ever done... Rivals ASDAs £0.141 petrol "accident".

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheers Teshco!

    Yer me besht fkin mate! Every little helpsh <hic>!

  17. The BigYin

    Great marketing campaign

    Tesco is all over the press, on the front page of the Beeb. A cheap way to get your name plastered all over.

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Pun intended?

      See title

  18. The Infamous Grouse

    Human nature

    These sorts of stories are not really new, it's just the speed of modern communication that helps them achieve critical mass in such short order.

    I remember a story in the early 1980s on That's Life! (yes, I really am that old and sad) about a BT phone box, somewhere out in the sticks in Northumberland if memory serves, that was incorrectly configured and was letting people call international numbers at local rates. As word slowly spread, nearby residents were more and more mystified at the ever-increasing numbers of people, many clearly not local, turning up to use this otherwise nondescript phone.

    The story finally hit the media when a hundred or so Asians turned up in the early hours, armed with bagfuls of 10 pence pieces, and formed an orderly queue outside the box. News had reached Asian communities in the Midlands and spread very quickly, and they had hired two coaches to drive them north for the day so they could talk to their families on the cheap.

  19. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Poetic justice

    Makes a change from getting home and finding Tescos (and others) have charged you more at the till than the price on the shelf or even marked on the packaging.

    Most will however cough-up at least the shortfall, if you can prove it, which isn't always easy though. I'm 4p better off this morning having been 4p down yesterday ! Every little helps.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Damn It!!!!

    i was in tescos at 730 last night, damn you Elreg for not reporting this earlier! =)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trading standards

    Actually, this is a huge misconception, as a couple of others have mentioned, it is not the law to sell anything at the advertised price, im not going to go on about that as its already mentioned in detail above, however, on top of that law, you have the right not to buy something and they have the right not to sell it.

    Most retailers will have a customer service measure that will say, "sell it at the price advertised" which wouldnt apply in this case but also its store manager descretion, ie they dont need to sell it.

    all they have to do is remove the product for 24 hours

    The "i know my rights brigade" as they are called in many retail outlets actually know very little of their rights, infact if you harp on about trading standards you will find the retailer will more than likely hand you your coat and show you the door. Be nice and you might just get lucky, becoming an arse about things usually results in you getting nothing at all.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Input error

    The cause of this pricing was an input error by the Tesco promotions data entry staff in India. It should have been "£11 off 3 cases of beer" but instead was entered as "£11 for 3 cases of beer". It's an easy and quite understandable mistake to have made, and not a foul up that would have been impossible had such data entry work not been outsourced.

    In case anybody's wondering, even with the "£11 off 3 cases of beer" Tesco would still have made a loss. These promotions are loss leaders to get punters into a store where there's a good chance of them buying something else - or possibly returning when the promotion isn't on.

    Tesco are now scrambling to get beer up to Scotland to replace the rather unexpected rush on current stock...

    Anon - for what should damn obvious reasons :)

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