back to article The most bizarre online replacement items in your delivered shopping?

What’s on your lunchtime menu today? For some poor sucker it might be toilet paper that provides the wrapping for their sandwich, or perhaps a dog chew instead of that tender grilled chicken breast they’d hoped for. These were among some of the replacements that online grocery shoppers found in their deliveries rather than …

  1. thosrtanner

    Ordered: 1 PP3 9V battery

    Received: 6 x AA 1.5V battery

    Well, I got 9v worth I suppose

    1. William Towle

      I enjoyed this two size 8 bikinis in place of a 16 from 2019.

      In some cases you can see (if you squint?) that the quantity field has probably been used and the suggestion would have made sense if what's in the database had reflected the item in question appropriately; in some others the upshot is nothing short of utterly ridiculous.

      See also: number-shaped candles intended for a birthday cake...

  2. Smirnov

    ...or you could opt out of receiving substitutions altogether.

    Yes, you can. Doesn't mean your choice will be considered. Because you still may end up getting substitutions (looking at you, Tesco).

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: ...or you could opt out of receiving substitutions altogether.

      > Doesn't mean your choice will be considered

      Yes, you get a substitute choice...

    2. HereIAmJH

      Re: ...or you could opt out of receiving substitutions altogether.

      At a local grocery I selected no substitutions. So they texted me for every item that was out of stock and asked me if I wanted to sub. For sale items it seems like 1/3 are generally out of stock. I'm finding it hard to continue to blame COVID for stores inability to manage inventory. Even if you order days in advance, they do nothing to make sure they'll have items on hand when it's time to fill your order.

      Oh, and the last time they still substituted one item, even after the text. Smaller non-sale item, at a higher price. Between that and Walmart's problem with their app's check-in for pickups, I find it less stressful to just do my own shopping like I have for 30+ years. And I prefer stores with self checkout.

      1. Andy Baird

        Re: ...or you could opt out of receiving substitutions altogether.

        I've been using Walmart (USA) curbside pickup for groceries exclusively since the beginning of the pandemic, and I've found the process to be very well implemented. With regard to substitutions: when I place an order, I'm given a choice between no substitutions, allowing any necessary substitutions, and choosing item by item whether to allow substitution.

        In the latter case, I can choose not to allow substitution of that item; to let them pick the best match (which they're usually pretty good at); to choose one of several suggested similar items; or to choose something different using a search function.

        In short, I can allow or disallow substitutions globally or individually. This system has worked well for me. I'd guess that over the past three years I've gotten on average at least 90% of what I requested in each Walmart order. Their curbside pickup service has been a lifesaver (perhaps literally), as it has allowed me to completely avoid going into the store and risking illness. (I'm in a very vulnerable category.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ...or you could opt out of receiving substitutions altogether.

        This is one of the big reasons I don't do online grocery shopping. The other one is that I want to actually look at the merchandise before buying it, rather than accept the onion with the big black patch on it or the half-squished loaf of bread. ("Crushed tomatoes" does NOT mean the can should be dented!)

        I used to get almost all my groceries at Walmart, but recently switched to Aldi instead, with Walmart being the backup for stuff I can't get at Aldi. (They're across the street from each other here.) Aldi is cleaner, friendlier, cheaper, and higher quality. According to one ex-Walmart and now Aldi employee (I didn't ask, she volunteered the info) Aldi treats its employees better, too. Checkout is faster than I can do it myself - WOW, are they quick! (Bring your own bags and a quarter for the cart.)

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: ...or you could opt out of receiving substitutions altogether.

      Doesn't mean your choice will be considered

      I gave up using Asda (two reasons - they abruptly cancelled my delivery free sub - they'd given my one in lockdown because I was clinically vulnerable and terminated it early after assuring me that they wouldn't and secondly because they removed the ability to set a global 'no substitute' preference - instead every added or changed item had to be manually unticked.),

      If I order something, it's because I want *that* thing, not something similar (or not).

      Sainsbury OTOH has a global subs preference and honours it. So, even though I had to pay for the delivery ticket, I keep on using them. Probably will go back to physical shopping once the ticket expires though.

  3. dbgi

    Amazon 3rd Party Seller

    I ordered a box of cable clips off Amazon and received a box of Beef Jerky. No idea how they messed that up.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Amazon 3rd Party Seller

      Think of the poor guy who had to eat those cable clips...

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Amazon 3rd Party Seller

      Ordered a solar outdoor light from Amazon and what arrived was a wedding veil. They told me to keep the veil which can’t have been worth more than £1 and they’d send the light as well. Another one had a box of caged nuts and associated bolts on order what arrived was a round acrylic mirror. Again I was told to keep the mirror and they’d send on the correct item. I ordered a 1U 19inch rack shelf for home and this duly arrived. However it didn’t have a square 90 degree base at the mounting bracket it extended below the 1U size blocking the hole below. Obviously that was useless if you only had 1U of space, it wasn’t fair for the purpose for which it was sold, so I tried to return it. I initiated the returns process and found they were offering up to £15 postage to return it. Sadly the return address was an Amazon depot in Eastern Europe and £15 didn’t come any close to covering the postage. I’d actually lose money and it would be cheaper not to return it

      Spoke to a nice lady at the customer service desk who reviewed my order. She said she could see other customers had spotted it wasn’t actually 1U as well (I subsequently found those reviews that I’d somehow inexplicably missed). As I had now ordered one from a different brand through Amazon directly they wouldn’t ask me to return the existing one. I said I would donate that one to a charity and call it quits.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon 3rd Party Seller

      Many years ago, I ordered a USB PCI card (remember them?) from Amazon, and got a firewire cable. When I returned it and requested the item I had ordered, they sent me a firewire cable again. So I ended up having to get a refund.....

    4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Amazon 3rd Party Seller

      I ordered a custom printed sweatshirt from some company, and received underpants!

      Where's the gnome icon?

    5. hammarbtyp

      A phone would smell as sweet

      Ordered a new mobile phone from that famous river provider and got half a bottle of blue Stratos aftershave instead...

      although I am guessing this was not a deliberate mistake

  4. NightFox

    Dog food as they'd run out of the brand of cat food my wife had specified (despite having other brands of cat food in stock when we had to drive there later)

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Dog food as they'd run out of the brand of cat food my wife had specified

      Perhaps a dumb question but.. Is there much difference? Or is there much difference in price? I've only had dogs, but remember tins of dog food being larger that cat. Figuring on both eating pretty much the same thing*, dog food might work out cheaper.

      *Well, dogs perhaps win on that one given mine would eat anything. Bean bags, soap..

      1. Giles C Silver badge

        My mums dog will eat cat food, my cat will only eat certain specific brands and then it depends on the day of the week.

        Dogs are food vacuums with legs, cats are far harder to keep satisfied

      2. Dog11

        Cat (carnivore, same as penguin) food is much higher protein than dog (omnivore) food, which has a lot more vegetable matter in it. And because of that, more expensive.

        1. Kernel

          "Cat (carnivore, same as penguin)"

          More than just carnivores, cats are "obligate carnivores" for whom most (if not all) vegetable matter is anywhere from mildly to very toxic.

          1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

            "cats are 'obligate carnivores' "


            "for whom most (if not all) vegetable matter is anywhere from mildly to very toxic."

            I don't believe plant material as such is actively toxic to cats, just that it's of little to no nutritional value, since they're not set up to digest it.

            That said, it's been speculated that cats in the wild might ingest a certain amount of plant material -- conveniently partially pre-digested -- in the stomachs of their prey, and might in fact get nutritional value from it. (I read that some years ago, and don't know whether it's since been confirmed or refuted.)

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              cats in the wild might ingest a certain amount of plant material

              They do - stuff like grass gets eaten for roughage - they don't gain any nutrition from it but it helps the bowel function. Most of the hunt-capable [1] cats I've known almost always don't eat the stomach and guts of their prey - you usually get a small pile of entrails left (usually under whichever bit of furniture is hardest to clean under..)

              They also lack the sweet taste receptor so stuff that's attractive because of sweetness won't be attractive to them. They like milk [2] not because of the lactose but because of the fat content.

              [1] Not every cat is good at hunting - only about 50% of the cats we've had have been any good at hunting and about 20% of them have never even bothered to attempt it.

              [2]. A lot of cats lose lactose-tolerance as they mature. Out of our 6 cats, only one of them can drink normal milk without being sick or having an upset stomach.

              1. very angry man

                Domestic cat's kill every Form of wildlife for pleasure and will still turn their nose up at anything that costs less than a pound a tin

                1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Yes, I was well chuffed when my housecat took down a bear the other day.

            2. ThatOne Silver badge

              > cats in the wild might ingest a certain amount of plant material

              All cats I've seen would often eat grass (if available), as already stated probably for digestive reasons, but a cat of mine literally loved melon (cantaloupe). It had some problems eating it (cat teeth are not really adapted to eating melon...), but it would insist and eat large (for a cat) quantities of it.

              So yes, cats eat vegetables (sometimes, some types of vegetables).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            My cat was weened on McDonald’s fries. I must stress it wasn’t my cat at the time - I ‘rescued’ it. To this day chips/fries are the thing she most likes to try and steal from me.

            1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              To this day chips/fries are the thing she most likes to try and steal from me.

              Both my cat and my in-law's cat would try to mug me for Marmite on toast.

      3. TVC

        I think cat food is optimised to have right mix of ingredients and vitamins (mice, birds, prawns, fillet steak etc) to keep them healthy and are very picky, but dogs will eat anything.

        1. Ikoth

          "...but dogs will eat anything...."

          Tell that to my soon to be 10yo Lab. Yeah, I know, I didn't think food fussy Labradors were a thing either. Fortunately, his soon to be 9yo step-sister does her part to preserve the breed's "food hoover" reputation.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            "...but dogs will eat anything...."

            Tell that to my soon to be 10yo Lab

            Or our 3 year old Romanian rescue. I've never met a more picky rescue dog - the other two (6 year old Spanish rescues) make food disappear with extreme speed (eat first, wonder what it is later).

            Fortunately, she the boss of the dogs so the other two just sit, looking pathetic, as she noses through her bowl trying to find the edible bits.

            We suspect that she'd never had kibble before she was bought to the UK at 6 months old - if you give her meat she eats it immediately but anything non-meat she eats much more slowly.

        2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          they only _seem_ to be picky

          Cats aren't picky, they're French -- constantly on strike to express their dissatisfaction with the mismanagement.

      4. doublelayer Silver badge

        Some cats will eat dog food. A cat I had as a child didn't complain when we spilled some extra dog food and she got to snack on it. However, it would not be healthy for the cat to eat only dog food because it has a lot less protein which is necessary for the feline digestive system. Even if you have a cat that isn't picky about what kind of food it eats, you should use food intended for cats to ensure it contains necessary nutrients.

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Some cats will eat dog food.

          My sister-in-law put down three dishes of food. The big dog ignored its own dish and hoovered up the smaller dog's food, shortly after doing the same with the cat's food. The cat sauntered over to the only dish with food still in it, at which point the big dog put its giant paw in the middle of the cat's back, pinning it to the floor. I only witnessed it once, but it might have been a nightly show. This is why it's wrong to de-claw a cat, a cat with claws can teach even a big dog some respect.

          1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: Some cats will eat dog food.

            a cat with claws can teach even a big dog some respect

            A neighbour's Rottweilers once made their way into my backyard, where they encountered my normally docile Burmese. They stayed on their side of the fence from then on.

        2. Sam 15

          "Some cats will eat dog food. A cat I had as a child didn't complain when we spilled some extra dog food and she got to snack on it."

          I think you're missing the point.

          A cat will eat almost anything - IF - they are stealing it.

          Offer them the same thing in their own food bowl, and watch their lips curl with disdain.

      5. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        The principle difference is cat food contains much higher levels of the amino acid taurine - which cat's can't synthesise in abundance.

        I've just been comparing the composition of tins of dog food and tins of cat food, and the dog food doesn't even list the taurine content; cat food does. Otherwise, they're broadly similar - some small tweaks that are presumably based in biology. Although dog food has much bigger chunks which might be hard for a cat to eat.

        So while it won't do a cat much harm to occasionally eat some dog food, if they regularly get a lot of their calories from it, they will go blind and have other health problems. If you get stuck in that situation mix them or alternate between dog food and cat food.

        1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

          "If you get stuck in that situation mix them or alternate between dog food and cat food."

          I agree with all of your post *except* for the quoted sentence. I don't know -- never kept cats -- but I'd want professional advice before feeding a cat even a partial dog-food diet.

          Once in a while, if you run out of cat food? Sure. But as even a semi-regular occurrence? That seems unwise.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Once in a while, if you run out of cat food?

            Get them fresh meat. That still has taurine in it..

            1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

              Fair point

        2. NightFox

          "The principle difference is cat food contains much higher levels of the amino acid taurine - which cat's can't synthesise in abundance."

          That's why ours have a can of Red Bull a day. They've scratched the ceiling to sh*t, but damn they're healthy.

      6. Andy Baird

        Yes, there are differences. Dogs are primarily meat eaters, but can use other food sources. Cats are obligate carnivores; their digestive systems are more specialized and require nutrients such as taurine that dogs can make on their own.

        When I was a child, we had a cat that we fed on dog food. (My parents didn't know any better.) It died at age six, probably from malnutrition. Cats normally live 15-20 years.

      7. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

        "Perhaps a dumb question but.. Is there much difference?"

        There is. Cats can't survive long-term on dog food.

        They need taurine (an amino acid) in their diet, while dogs can synthesize the stuff, given the necessary precursors. Thus, cat food is supplemented with taurine, but dog food typically isn't.

        Cats are obligate carnivores -- in the wild, they *must* eat meat. Dogs are more omnivores than true carnivores. And taurine is something that you get in meat and fish.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Cats are obligate carnivores -- in the wild, they *must* eat meat. Dogs are more omnivores than true carnivores. And taurine is something that you get in meat and fish.

          Interesting, and thanks to the folks who pointed out taurine. I've never been a cat person other than the occasional cat-sitting duties, where food was provided. Hopefully cat owners are aware, especially any vegetarian/vegan ones who might try to impose the same diet on their pet.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            any vegetarian/vegan ones who might try to impose the same diet on their pet.

            I knew a vegan who did that to their cat. I thought it would run away, but no, it didn't. The owner even claimed it had put on weight on the vegan diet. A little discreet conversation with the neighbours discovered that it was eating in at least four houses that weren't its own.

      8. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Perhaps a dumb question but.. Is there much difference?

        Yes - cats are pure carnivores and have to have more meat in their diet. They also require taurine added (in the wild they get it from eating fresh meat but most processed meat is low in it. Cats require it since they don't make it themselves and dog food doesn't have it added).

        Dogs are more omnivorous than cats (somewhere between cats and us) and dog food also contains higher cereal levels and cats digestion really, really isn't set up to process it. Much squirtage ensues.. But the main reason is the lack of taurine in dogfood.

        (Our senior cat likes dog food so we have to make sure that she doesn't get access to it. She an... odd cat.)

  5. UCAP Silver badge

    A couple of weeks ago my wife ordered some cooked chicken breasts (for lunches while at work) and we ended up with a whole cooked chicken. Well I guess that it did include two chicken breasts!

    Several years ago we sent the entire delivery back since none of it related to our order. Seems like someone slapped the wrong labels on to our crates; goodness knows who got our order.

    In case you are interested - this is Tesco.

  6. AndrueC Silver badge

    Worst I've had from Tesco: Ordered 1 cauliflower, 1 broccoli. Got 2 broccoli (bit lacking in imagination there). Driver took the additional one away without a complaint and I got a refund within an hour.

    Best I've had from Tesco; Ordered 75cl of whisky for my birthday. Got 1 litre replacement for the same price. Driver was not asked to take it back :)

    I've been using Tesco delivery for many years and they don't sub. very often. At the moment eggs are a bit random but they've not let me down so far. I suspect it's down the store doing the delivery. In my case I suppose I have to thank Banbury Tesco for what frankly has been good service.

    1. Tom 38

      If the worst you've had is ordered two brassica oleracea, got two brassica oleracea I think you're doing pretty well.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One banana

    I sometimes ordered one banana from Tesco and got one kilogram of bananas (and was charged for it). Thankfully they have a notes field, so next time I wrote "yes I really do want just one banana". And then forgot that note was still in the system when I confusingly ordered more than one. Poor Tesco picker....

    1. hammarbtyp

      Re: One banana

      Ordered sprouts - got 1 sprout

  9. P.Nutt


    During lockdown we were doing online shopping and the wifes grandmother wanted some rum and raisin ice cream. When the order arrived it was stated it was going to be substituted at no extra cost.......A bottle of captains morgan rum, some dried fruit and some single cream. I guess they wanted us to make it ourselves.

    1. Andy Non

      Re: ASDA

      I had a free 1 litre bottle of Tesco's brand dark rum thrown in with an order. It didn't appear as a substitution, just a mistake. I never drink rum, but It went down rather nicely with some ice and I've since bought the same on several occasions now, so they've recouped some of their loss.

  10. Caver_Dave Silver badge


    Ordered "Orange Squash"

    Received "1 small Pumpkin"

    I suppose it is orange and part of the Squash family!

    I think some picker was taking the Mikey!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ingenious

      Actually that's a perfectly reasonable substitution for a picker who doesn't have English as their native language and doesn't know what orange squash is. I wouldn't blame the picker. If the software team had designed a better system, like one that told the picker exactly which aisle they should be in, which shelf they should be looking at and what the product looks like, mistakes like that wouldn't happen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ingenious

        The PDA picks an optimum route through the store and gives the aisle, shelf and the position on the shelf - no doubling back - and six peoples shopping is picked simultaneously. They have a target pick rate. I wonder these subs, the picker would risk dropping pick rate to to traipse many aisles away to get something inappropriate when the obvious subs would be immediately in front of them, funny though the examples are.

        1. Sam 15

          Re: Ingenious

          Supermarket pickers can always find the shelves empty when they reach for an item, because a customer took the last one off of the shelf just a moment earlier.

          What I cannot understand is why Ocado - where there are no customers taking things from the shelves - can suddenly find they are out of stock?

    2. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Re: Ingenious

      Ordered: chili powder. Got: paprika

      Well, I guess they're both reddish powders ... and to be fair, it was the first month of the pandemic, when everything was crazy.

  11. Chloe Cresswell

    While I don't have deliveries, I do sometimes use click and collect.

    The most annoying was when I was away for the weekend last week, so ordered stuff to pick up on the Monday so I had some food in the house.

    At 1200 I had an email telling me I had 5 substitutes.

    When I collected the order I walked into the store first, and picked up 4 of the substitute items off the shelf

  12. Fred Dibnah

    This is just the online version of going to Aldi to buy some milk, and returning with a socket set and a wetsuit (and no milk).

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      A bit like this then...

    2. TVC

      Yep that's me. Then I go to put the socket set away in the shed and find I already have one, or two.

    3. David 132 Silver badge

      Wasn’t that a recurring Viz strip at one time?

  13. chivo243 Silver badge

    Sellotape instead of loo paper

    That's a sticky situation... Keyboard please!!

    Just wondering if it was desktop sized tape, or standard package shipping tape?

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Sellotape instead of loo paper

      Good for the old Chalfonts!

    2. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Sellotape instead of loo paper

      You mean: was the tape brown before it was unpacked?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They don't make it easy.

    Asda used to have a single tick box to globally ask for no substitutions. They deemed that too user friendly and changed it so you now have to tell them on a per item basis that yes you really do actually want it.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: They don't make it easy.

      User friendly would be individual tick boxes and a tick-all / untick-all toggle. I guess the change request was for individual tick boxes so that's exactly what they got. If substitutions were allowed in software development, who knows how the UI would turn out?

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: They don't make it easy.

        > If substitutions were allowed in software development, who knows how the UI would turn out?

        We already know: ribbons in place of menus!

    2. Peter X

      Re: They don't make it easy.

      With Tesco, most items I don't want substituted whilst there's just a couple of things that they can substitute.

      However, I have to globally enable subs for this, and then at the end of ordering, uncheck every ****ing item except the few I am happy to have substituted. I'm sure it used to be simpler... but they've updated the app... so... :(

  15. Dabooka

    Terry Woagn (RIP)

    One morning read out a message when asking this very question on his breakfast show.

    A listener had order a 'Value' Kettle to take with them to their caravan but found it substituted with a Value iron instead

  16. drand

    This is why I now go to the shops.

    Stupid substitutions. Packing the cat litter on top of the bread and the bananas in with the raw fish. Arriving early for a delivery slot and being shitty that I'm not in. Not delivering part of the order and refusing to come back and deliver it. Quibbling about refunds for damaged or out of date items. Making a fuss about me checking everything against the delivery note to ensure that the previous two things have not reoccurred. I know not everyone has the option or will to go round supermarkets, and it isn't without its own issues, but for me it's a lot less stress.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: This is why I now go to the shops.

      I'm the kind of person who takes things from the back of the shelf, not the front. For perishables, this can be a difference of two weeks. Just went shopping this morning. Organic semi skimmed milk. At the front, expiry date 29th March. At the back? 6th April. Ditto yogurt. Ditto eggs. Ditto bread.

      I know which ones the shelf pickers would take, I've seen them do it.

      Also, I had planned to make a stew. Found some nice beef, but the potatoes were horrible and looked like they were going green. So the beef went back and I got chicken burgers instead.

      So as much as I dislike interacting with (ewww!) people (ugh!), I'll put on my noise cancelling headphones and head out to the supermarket in person because a low wage employee isn't going to care about my choices and preferences, I would just be one of a dozen orders to fulfill.

      1. gotes

        Re: This is why I now go to the shops.

        As a former supermarket shelf filler, I hate you.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is why I now go to the shops.

          Why the hate? You pays your money and you takes your choice, as they say.

          I can understand if the shopper screwed up the stock rotation but if one gets a fresh item from the back without doing so, then what is the harm.

          If you are paying full price and are not going to be eating that item until later in the week it is perfectly sensible.

          If I am after something for tonight, then a trip to the reduced aisle it is first.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is why I now go to the shops.

            We call the reduced aisle the pot luck aisle - sometimes there is good stuff that we wouldn't try, but if its reduced price....

            Apart from Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages. Not touching them again... reading the previous threads, I was like a cat on dog food

          2. gotes

            Re: This is why I now go to the shops.

            I was being a bit sarky. I love the reduced to clear section; It genuinely makes my day when I find 4 pints of milk for 30p.

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: This is why I now go to the shops.

          Some of us who hate shopping try and do a big weekly shop to avoid too many visits (in my case the shops are not close, my shopping day covers a mix of small specialist shops (e.g. butchers, greengrocers) & supermarkets for the remainder). When some things that will be eaten later in the week have to last many days then for some perishable foods it matters what the use by date is & reasonable for customers to forage around the shelves.

          If you shop on a more daily basis then not an issue in the same way.

          Before vaccination was available we had some deliveries as we have a couple of vulnerable elderly relatives we look after & so tried to reduce shop visits, substitutions were not too bad, the far too short use by dates was worst aspect of the deliveries so ended up redesigning meal plans to have fewer "extremely perishable" foods.

        3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: This is why I now go to the shops.

          We have a problem now that we have to check the dates on the items we buy.

          There's no point in buying on Monday something that is intended for a meal on Thursday which goes out of date on Tuesday. This is what happens all too frequently in our Tesco. and heaven forbid you want to actually try to do just one shop per week!

          I know that delivery chains are tough now, but I often think that this particular mainstream Tesco (not an Express or a Metro) gets deliveries that are much closer to their use by dates than other Tescos that I visit.

          What point is there in buying bread, various dairy products, fresh meat and fish that goes out of date the following day? It used to be that they would move the items to a short-date section of the store, but no more, it just gets left on the shelf, and cleared when it expires (or not if the shelf fillers can't be bothered to check - I've frequently seen expired items still on the shelf, and I normally call this to the attention of the manager).

          We end up doing two supermarket shops a week now, just to be able to cook with still in-date items.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is why I now go to the shops.

            The dates are just a guesstimate food can be good long after the date.


    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: This is why I now go to the shops.

      Quibbling about refunds for damaged or out of date items

      Both Asda and Sainsburys have a no-quibble guarentee (and one of the Sainsbury drivers noted to me that one of the fresh food items was near the use-by date and so they gave us a refund and we got to keep the food.. in general, I've not had problems with either of them)

      I refuse to use Tesco unless I have to for long and boring reasons.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > I'm the kind of person who takes things from the back of the shelf, not the front.

    Ah, so you're someone who makes supermarkets throw away out of date food away. Gotcha.

    Don't you wonder why they do it that way? Well, as long as you're OK.

    If it's fruit and it's rotten, I'll skip it, but otherwise I'll take it from the front with a date that fits with when I'll eat it.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      I'll take it from the front with a date that fits with when I'll eat it.

      If I want something for tomorrow's dinner, and the front item is within date, I'll take it. If I'm shopping for the week and need something for next Sunday then of course I'll look back through the shelf for something still within date by then. Why would you not?

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Why would you not?

        Because for the consumer the date doesn't matter, it's just a suggestion and the food will be fine after the date[*]. But for the shop, they can't sell it past the date.

        [*] Usually. If that's not the case then use your best judgment. But we are discussing here the consumer taking from the back by _policy_, when there is no demonstrated need.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Why would you not?

          "when there is no demonstrated need"

          Once a week shop. Milk at the front expiring in two days. Number of days in a week, slightly more than two.

          If you live near a shop, don't mind other people, and pop in daily then yes I don't see there's a problem grabbing the first item on a shelf. But if you try to shop for a week (or sometimes longer), then no, it's unacceptable to buy something that's been sitting there a while when there's something fresher at the back.

          As for the shop throwing out stuff, their stock control is not my problem, and to be honest I'd have rather more concern about the vast quantities of Easter things that pretty much aren't selling (because the economy is shit), and thanks to a Nutella riot a few years ago, the shop can't even offer anything over a third off in order to shift stock. Earlier in the year, a lot of packs of Christmas chocolate remained because the mid-January offer of €2 a pack was now more like €7 a pack because of the discount rules. What do you think happens to all of that stuff? Do you imagine it gets sent back to Kinder to be melted down and recycled into other products? Or the more likely, a massive pile of landfill because even sorting out the wrappers and boxes is too time consuming.

          "Because for the consumer the date doesn't matter"

          You do realise, I trust, that there's a difference between "Use by" and "Best before"? Or in French, "DLUO" (best before) and "A consommer blah blah" the DLC (use by).

          Did you notice that all the things I mentioned picking from the back were perishables? I don't do that if I'm buying a tin of ravioli. A date of October 2024 (front of shelf) or March 2025 (back of shelf) isn't going to make that much difference if I'm going to eat it within the next month or two, now, is it?

          1. Potty Professor

            Re: Why would you not?

            I have a lot of trouble with Sainsbury's milk. Only a couple of weeks ago, I went on Thursday and picked a four pint bottle with the longest date as I live alone and only go shopping once a week. By Sunday morning, the milk had white bits floating in it, and on Monday morning, a full five days before its expiry date, it had set like yoghourt, so had to be thrown away. I complained to Sainsbury's, and they apologised, saying that they had no control over how the crates were stored before delivery to their stores, and that they had had several other complaints about that particular batch. They did, however, offer me a refund.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Why would you not?

          the food will be fine after the date

          We use the cat test - as a pure carnivore cats *won't* eat carrion as their digestion isn't set up for it (unlike dogs) and they are very good at detecting if its going off. So, if a bit of meat is near its use-by date and you are worried - offer it to a nearby (or preferrably two) cat.

          If the cat(s) eat it, it's safe for you to eat (in general anyway. Some of our cats are remarkably fussy and won't eat it when you offer it. However, if you drop it in their food bowl they'll quite happily eat it if they think you are not looking..)

          (This in no way constitutes legal advice. If your cat has particularly bad taste buds and eats some rotten meat, it's not my fault..)

        3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Why would you not? @yetanotheraoc

          Not true!

          There's two dates used, either of which may be shown. "Best Before" is a suggestion. "Use By" is a directive. If you were to eat something that was beyond it's "Use By" date and got food poisoning, and then tried to sue the supermarket, you wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

          I've bought bread which has remained unopened until the date on it's "Use By", and found that there was already mould on it. And some of the vegetables that are being sold at the moment, I would not use on the day that I bought it!

          I am prepared to check food that is just past it's "Use By" date, but very often I chose to discard it because the packet is bloated, or looks or smells unpleasant. As a result, I would not plan a meal where I would be using perishable ingredients beyond their "Use By" date. It's too much of a lottery.

  18. Tim 11

    only used online delivery once (when both me and the missus had COVID and had to isolate). about £75 worth of stuff from morrisons and not a single substitution (though it was mostly basic groceries). my only complaint would be the number of carrier bags used (and charged 10p each) - it was about 12 when I probably would have crammed it into 4

    1. Screepy

      Tesco and Morrisons both offer 'no bags' option now - in fact I think it's the default option.

      Food shop comes in plastic crates, which you empty and hand back to the delivery driver.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Years ago....

    Ordered 5 aerosol cans of PCB lacquer from RS. Got delivered 5 boxes of 24 cans. And they invoiced for just 5 cans.... Left that employer 2 years later and the cupboard was still full of lacquer cans.

    And I know someone who ordered one 8 pin DIL timer chip but ended up with 555 of them! At least they were small and cheap - just think if he has ordered an 80486.....

    1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Re: Years ago....

      Somebody read 555 for the quantity *and* the part number, did they?

      "Just think if he has ordered an 80486"

      And got 80,486 of them? Yeah, that'd be a problem.

    2. irrelevant

      Re: Years ago....

      I'm still working my way through a part-roll of rainbow ribbon cable I was given when I was an apprentice at Ferranti, 40 years ago, after somebody wanted something like 100mm, ordered it from RS, and ended up with 100 many-meter-long rolls!

    3. NightFox

      Re: Years ago....

      Not an online thing, but I bought a power saw from Argos a few year back - came in a brown box which I though was rather large. Got it home, opened the box to find two-individually boxed power saws.

      Normally I'm the kind of person who'd have returned the spare, but given I'd had an argument with the Store Manager just the week before because he refused to accept my return of an un-opened item (in line with their returns policy) because he knew I was just going to re-buy it at the new reduced price - well, karma.

    4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Years ago....

      When memory was expensive, I ordered 2x2MB memory upgrade kits for IBM X Stations. I got delivered 2 memory carrier boxes each containing 20 DIMMs, each of which were 2MB in size. We worked out that it was something like £5000 of memory at IBM prices.

      Took the correct number I'd ordered out, and stuck the rest in a cupboard. Unfortunately, they traced the over delivery and asked for them back. As this was an IBM to IBM delivery, I was told by my manager to return them, and not claim ignorance. Not sure what I would have done if it was an external supplier.

  20. Blackjack Silver badge

    [ 47 percent of instances customers were sent alternative goods.]

    That is a good reason to only order online food from pizza places. I don't think they sell dog food.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Havent you been to Pizza Hut???

      1. UCAP Silver badge

        Sadly, yes.

  21. Jess--

    Substitute items have been fairly decent for our orders with most being things like AAA batteries instead of AA.

    Our most annoying one was an order shortly before christmas that included several bottles of spirits (presents + own consumption) that were all delivered with the security covers in place, needless to say I now know the exact layout and strength of magnets required to release the catches. I did however pass one on as a present with the cover still in place as a joke with the gift recipient.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      all delivered with the security covers in place, needless to say I now know the exact layout and strength of magnets required to release the catches

      A screwdriver and a pair of pin-nose pliers works as well. The next driver was much amused when I handed him the mangled remains of the covers and suggested that they ensure that the pickers remove them..

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. mlvj

    I have a family member that works for Tesco as a personal shopper - i.e. collecting the items requested.

    On one of her first shops, they were in the drinks aisle, and the final item was "swimming pool", at the other end of the store. family member could not be bothered with that extra walking, so the pool was substituted for a bottle of Tesco sugar free orange juice...!


    I am assured that was a one-off.

  24. YakkingUdon

    Ordered fork handles and got...



    (ChatGPT won't play this game)

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