How the supermarket price promises match up

Tesco is relaunching its loyalty scheme in a bid to reattract customers who have taken refuge at rivals Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. Will it work?

Tesco is taking on Sainsbury’s and Asda with a Price Promise that aims to replicate its rivals’ success in attracting cash-strapped consumers through its doors.

The scheme, launched on 11 March 2013 across the UK, guarantees that Tesco will check shoppers’ baskets against prices at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. If the comparable basket would have been cheaper shoppers will get a voucher for the difference, up to £10.

Previously, Tesco had allowed shoppers to input the details of their receipt online to check whether their shop would have been cheaper at a rival, but now it will offer instant, at-till analysis.

So how does Tesco’s service match-up to its rivals?

Tesco Price Promise

How it works Shoppers must buy at least 10 different items, including one comparable grocery product, from any Tesco Metro, superstore or Extra store (and their attached petrol stations), as well as via the Tesco website. If you could have bought the same grocery shopping cheaper at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, Tesco will issue you with a voucher for the difference, up to a maximum value of £10.

But the offer will not apply to Tesco Express stores, often more expensive than larger Tesco supermarkets, or Tesco Homeplus purchases.

Which products are included? Tesco will compare branded groceries (Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Ariel, Coca Cola etc) as well as its own-brand products (where an equivalent is sold at Asda, Sainsbury’s or Morrisons). It will also compare price reductions and promotions such as multibuy purchases (buy one get one free etc), as well as price cuts, for example a discount from 99p to 50p.

Which are excluded? For a full list of exclusions visit the Tesco website, and there are a lot. Tesco will not compare any electrical item, home and furniture items, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, DIY and car items, toys, baby and toddler accessories, gifts and jewellery, clothing, phones, opticians, beauty centre products, cafe items, fuel, photo-processing and associated services, newspapers, magazines, stamps, tobacco and cigarettes.

Tesco will also not include meal deals, combination offers such as buy-cheese-and-get-crackers-free, category-wide deals such as 5% off six bottles of wine, and multiple offers (when Tesco or a competitor has more than one offer on the same products running at the same time, such as buy two for £3 or buy five for £6).

How do I claim? You will be given a voucher at the till if your basket would have been cheaper elsewhere, or you’ll be sent an email if you do an online shop. Shoppers must use their vouchers within 28 days and are not allowed to spend them on fuel, lottery tickets, tobacco, infant formula, pharmacy products, gift cards, E–top–ups, stamps, opticians and travel money. Nor can you use them in the Tesco bank or cafe or on entertainment or clothing, in the phone shop or through Tesco Direct.

Sainsbury’s Brand Match

How it works Sainsbury’s shoppers have their basket of branded grocery goods compared with the cost of the same goods at Asda and Tesco (Morrisons isn’t included in the comparison). If the branded goods would have been cheaper at either store, including in-promotional deals, shoppers will immediately receive a coupon equal to the value of the difference. Shoppers can redeem this the next time they shop.

Customers must spend a minimum of £20 and their basket must include at least one item that is identical (same size/quantity, flavour etc) to one available in Asda or Tesco.

Online shops are excluded, as are certain stores across the country and some central London outlets.

Brand Match coupons will also not be issued at petrol stations, Sainsbury’s Local or convenience stores.

Which products are included? Most branded grocery products.

Which products are excluded? Supermarket’s own label products are excluded from Brand Match. Those aside, the list of exclusions mirrors Tesco’s. Online shopping is not eligible for Brand Match, and like at Tesco, Sainsbury’s also excludes one-off deals and combinations offers.

How do I claim? Any coupons must be redeemed within 14 days and the maximum you can get back is £10. You cannot buy fuel or spend your coupons on prescriptions, online, at cafes or restaurants, or on concessions.

Asda Price Guarantee

How it works Originally launched in 2010, the Asda Price Guarantee – “The price promise the others wish they could match” – says that if it isn’t 10% cheaper than rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose it will give you the difference. But the comparison does not happen at the till – you must visit the Asda website and enter your receipt details.

To be eligible you need to have bought at least eight different items, of which at least one should be comparable with Asda’s main competitors. The difference is paid as a voucher, which must be used in an Asda store within 28 days.

Which products are included? Any comparable grocery product.

Which products are excluded? Categories not currently covered include: home, electricals, furnishings, garden, entertainment, hardware, sports, toys, George, tobacco, newspapers, magazines, jewellery, pharmacy, optical, fuel, photo-processing, dry cleaning and all online-only products including financial services, flowers, mobile, travel and gifts.

Also, like its rivals, promotions that make it difficult for Asda to compare fairly are excluded from the price guarantee.

How do I claim? Claims must be made within 28 days either in-store or online.

Waitrose Brand price match

How it works Waitrose launched its Brand price match in autumn 2010. Although it does not offer any discount vouchers if it finds goods could have been bought cheaper elsewhere, the Brand price match is a long-term commitment to match Tesco prices on 1,000 everyday branded goods that customers buy most frequently.

Morrisons Easter Payday Bonus

How it works Morrisons currently operates a campaign where anyone who spends £35 or more in one transaction between 4 March and 24 March 2013 will get a coupon at the checkout. If they collect one coupon each week for three consecutive weeks they can present them all at the checkout and £10 will be automatically taken off the value of their shop – if they spend another £35 or more.

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Tax haven London targeted by activists armed with adverts (and palm trees)

Global collective The Rules launches ‘Visit the City’ mock campaign in bid to shine light on tax avoidance

Over a year after the end of the Occupy tented protests in the City of London, a new movement has sprung up to challenge the global economic consensus, in this case focusing on what protesters say is the rampant, worldwide problem of corporate tax avoidance.

The campaign, launched on Monday, features a mock corporate video and a set of posters seemingly extolling the virtues of the City as a place to do business. The slogan is: “Visit the City of London – the tax haven capital of the world”.

It has been organised by a group called The Rules, a loose global collective with links to Occupy, which aims to stage a number of campaigns based on what it sees as major issues connected to fairness and equality in each country.

The London campaign, in which the group has bought poster space on phone boxes and produced the video above, is aimed at focusing attention on tax avoidance and evasion during the UK’s presidency of the G8 group of industrialised nations and ahead of elections later this month in the Corporation of London.

While the Corporation stresses it has no special status related to tax and brings no tax advantages to companies based within its environs, the campaign argues it nonetheless gets special treatment from government – not least because of the square mile’s vehement lobbying – and says City-based firms widely use overseas tax havens.

Corporate tax avoidance has become an increasingly controversial issue, in no small part thanks to the efforts of another loosely organised campaign group, UK Uncut, which has highlighted the tax affairs of companies including Vodafone, Goldman Sachs and Starbucks.

Alnoor Ladha, from The Rules, said: “This campaign is about bringing a global voice to the UK tax debate. This affects us all. The City of London is a global hub for the tax haven spider web that extracts wealth from the developing world. We stand in solidarity with the brave citizens of the UK that are fighting the unjust practices of their government.

“To be clear, this not about a couple of bad apples, such as Starbucks or Amazon. It’s about the underlying system that allows the few to benefit at the expense of the majority.”

The campaign is also intended to promote a more traditional, Occupy-style street event in the City this Saturday, where The Rules will join with activists from Occupy and UK Uncut to – the promise goes – “transform a space in the City of London into a tropical tax haven”.

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Mobile phone charges: ‘Welcome to France’? But we’re in Kent

Residents and tourists at the foot of the white cliffs of Dover regularly get charged for using French network

Visitors to the famous white cliffs of Dover are getting a nasty surprise when they want to use their mobile phones – they are picking up a French signal at higher charges.

Residents and tourists in the seaside village of St Margaret-at-Cliffe and St Margaret’s bay at the foot of the Kent cliffs – just 18 miles from France – regularly get a “Welcome to France” message and the extra costs, including data roaming charges for smartphone users, from companies such as Orange F and SFR.

Landlord of the Coastguard pub and restaurant on the beach Nigel Wydymus, 53, said: “We are a little telecommunications enclave of France here.

“It did not cause a huge amount of trouble for a few years because you got a message saying ‘Welcome to France’, but since smartphones have come in it’s more of a problem.

“Obviously people strolling along the beach in England do not expect to be on a French network and so, unlike when they get off the plane in Spain or elsewhere, they haven’t switched off their data roaming and it causes some extra bills.

“In the village the French signal is patchy depending on the atmospherics and the weather, but here on the beach the French signal is constant because we are at the foot of the cliffs and the UK signal is blocked out.”

Costs for making a call on the French network can be up to four times the cost of using a domestic one with a cost of up to 28p to make a call and nearly 8p to receive one and nearly 9p to send a text.

The signal problem has upset locals who want something to be done to stop the extra charges and inconvenience.

A spokesman for EE said: “We always recommend our customers switch off roaming while they are in this little pocket of an area to ensure that they are connecting to the correct network because we cannot control the networks from the other side of the water.”

The issue is believed to affect all UK networks.

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Four jobseekers per vacancy

Unison said its study showed the scale of the jobs ‘crisis’ and follows loss of 500,000 public-sector jobs since 2010

Almost four people are chasing every job vacancy in Britain, rising to more than 20 in some parts of the country, new research has revealed.

A study by Unison found that the worst area was the Isle of Wight, with almost 24 jobseekers per vacancy, followed by Hackney in London, with more than 20.

There are at least five people for every vacancy in 113 local authorities, and over 10 in 26 of those, said the union.

London was found to be one of the worst regions, with more than 10 jobseekers per vacancy in a third of the capital’s 32 boroughs.

Unison said its study showed the scale of the jobs “crisis” and follows the loss of 500,000 public-sector jobs since the coalition came to power.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “The scale of the ongoing jobs crisis is deeply worrying.

“Three long years of cuts – with more to come – and still there are not enough jobs to go around.

“The government has got it wrong on the recession and it has sacrificed our recovery. As well as laying waste to our public services, cuts have a stranglehold on the private sector.

“The government does have a choice. Use the budget to outline a bold strategy for jobs and growth. Make people feel secure in their jobs and they are more likely to spend.

“Give public-sector workers a decent pay rise and more money will flow through tills in local shops and businesses, helping our beleaguered high streets.

“The most damaging thing the government could do is to plough on regardless with its reckless anti-growth, no hope, cuts strategy.”

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Sheryl Sandberg’s new book is causing uproar

Facebook’s chief operating officer has written about how women can achieve career success. It has resulted in an almighty row

Age: 43

Appearance: The Corrs’ older half-sister.

I know her – she’s the CEO of Yahoo!. No, that’s Marissa Mayer. Sandberg is Facebook’s chief operating officer and the first woman on its board.

So I was close! They’re both alliterative-named women in charge of modern stuff. Yes. So close.

Why is SS in the news, then? Added an “If you don’t know what you’ve done, I’m not going to tell you” button for status updates? Turned the two ‘o’s in the Facebook logo into little ovaries? Had a child and named it “Like/Dislike”? None of those. She has written a book called Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, about how women can best “lean into” (rather than turn away from) career success, and set up a foundation to help them do so.

Let me guess – it is a feminist tract that has caused outrage among commentators who question her ability to talk from a position of privilege about the lives of the majority of women? Yes, with the added twist that they have been frequently doing so without reading the book.

Impossible! No one in the media would ever dream of saying, printing or rendering in pixels anything that hadn’t been thoroughly researched, considered and investigated from all sides! Alas, some would and some have. The biggest row began with an article by Jodi Kantor (who did appear to have read the book) in the New York Times, which was sceptical about Sandberg and her thesis and included an out-of-context quote from an interview elsewhere that gave a negative impression of her, which the original piece didn’t.

Then what happened? Our own Daily Mail ran a piece that further distorted everything, Maureen Dowd followed up in the New York Times with another sceptical piece, alleging Sandberg’s book and foundation were just moneymaking ventures.

And then? The NYT printed corrections to her article and Kantor’s, but by then everyone was off and running – especially in the blogosphere – and barely even pretending to have read the book, or anything, before laying into Sandberg, and hard.

Life’s a bag of utter balls sometimes, isn’t it? You got that right, my friend. Still a backlash against the backlash now seems to be starting, so maybe we’ll see a considered result in the end.

Do say: “I’m going to get that book out of the library to see what I think.”

Don’t say: “A thousand online commentators can’t be wrong.”

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Hidden extras that drive up car hire costs

The additional driver, satnav and excess … all these can add up to more than your original car hire quote

Are you planning to hire a car over the Easter holidays? Beware hidden extras, which can add as much as £350 on top of the original quoted cost.

According to research for The Observer, adding an extra driver, particularly one under 25, a car seat, a satnav and excess car hire insurance at the rental desk all bring extra cost – in some cases more than the price of the actual hire. The most expensive optional extra is adding a young driver, but choosing to hire a satnav can also make a sizeable difference to how much you pay.

Website icarhireinsurance.com compared the hire car prices of four rental companies at five popular destinations (Malaga, Faro, Nice, Milan and Barcelona) for the Easter week of 29 March to 5 April 2013. It found that hiring a standard family car in Malaga with Hertz, for example, would cost £280 for the car – but an extra £352 if you wanted two extra drivers added (one under 25), a car seat, a satnav and paid for excess insurance to take your waiver down to zero.

Don’t assume, either, that you will pay the same price for identical extras with the same car hire company in different destinations. Hertz, for example, charges £57 for a car seat in Faro but £38 in Nice. A satnav with Avis in Nice will cost £97; but £50 in Faro.

The cost of fuel can be another hidden nasty if you use a car hire company that employs a “fuel empty” policy, where consumers are charged for a full tank of petrol when they pick up the car and told to return it empty – with no refund for unused fuel.

In 2012, Which? sent undercover researchers to Spain to investigate car hire companies after receiving complaints from its members about large charges for fuel that were not made clear at the time of booking. Its researcher in Malaga was told that the cheapest initial car hire price, including basic insurance, was from Goldcar at €30.25. But when the cost of fuel was added on arrival, the price rose to a whopping €94.25.

“Our research has shown that these unavoidable fuel charges can triple the price of a rental, turning what seemed like a good deal to potentially a very expensive one,” said Which? Travel expert Rochelle Turner. “All charges should be shown up front at the time the booking is made so consumers can make the right choice and compare prices easily.”

In both cases, it is relatively easy to avoid car seat and satnav charges by taking your own. Airlines’ policies on car seats differ, but most will allow you to take one on board (but often only if it is pre-approved and/or is a rigid-framed five-point harness type), or will allow you to check it in with your hold luggage. You sometimes pay a fee, but this is typically cheaper than hiring a seat from the car company. If you already have a portable satnav, you can usually buy a card compatible with the country you are visiting to put in it. Alternatively, you can buy a new satnav that covers both the UK and Europe for around £50-£60.

Some of the extras you simply won’t want. However, excess waiver insurance is one that many drivers who have had their fingers burnt will be wary of dropping. This can add on as much as £35 a day, but if you don’t take it you could be liable to pay a typical £1,600 if the car gets damaged or stolen. It can even cost more — Avis’s starting excess in Faro is £2,567.

“Take out excess waiver insurance here in the UK rather than with your car supplier,” says Bob Atkinson of travelsupermarket.com. “A standalone policy is significantly cheaper and gives you greater levels of cover and protection in case of accident or damage to your vehicle.”

Companies including Insurance4carhire.com and icarhireinsurance.com have annual and daily policies that you buy before you go, and can cost as little as £3 a day.

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Why can’t we use Google images on our website?

I set up my sister’s website and used two Google images. It said nothing about copyright – but now Getty has billed us £950

In August 2010 my sister asked me to design a website for her hair and beauty salon.

We found two striking images on Google and used them. We rejected those which had “copyright” or similar words, or where the identity of the model was obvious.

Three months later, Getty Images wrote claiming the photos were subject to its copyright. She was asked to remove them immediately and to cease and desist from further use. She was also billed £950 for “unpaid licence fees”, an enormous sum for a local business.

As I reckoned the images were worth about £50 at most, and were only on the site for three months, I ignored this demand. Getty sent a heavier letter in January 2011. In June, she received a “notice of case escalation” and the fee demanded was now £1,149.50, an impossible amount to pay.

We heard nothing more – I thought Getty had realised there was little point in chasing this – until December 2012 when debt collectors sent a threatening letter. Is this a big organisation trying to beat up a small business? BF, Shrewsbury

Getty Images collects fees for photographers whose work is used.

They have to earn their crust – and pay models, make-up artists, lighting technicians and others involved in a shoot. Using their images for free is copyright theft. But Getty Images acknowledges that when non-professional web designers try to find artwork through a search engine, it can be unclear what – if any – fee there is to pay, and even more unclear how to pay.

Phrases such as “These images may be in copyright” could apply to all, or none, of the images viewed. In your case, you selected two pricey images at £475 each to use for six months.

Getty accepts that you would not have taken these had you known the cost. These images were “digital rights managed” and their use is easily detectable.

You could, however, have chosen “royalty-free” images which would have given you a lifetime’s use for £10 to £20.

There are a number of websites to consult before using images, including Stockphotorights.com and picscout.com/imageexchange.

Getty accepts “that there are many small businesses and image users that are new to licensing content” and says “it is not our core business to chase hairdressers”.

And while it called in debt collectors, it has not sold them the debt – it remains a matter between Getty and you.

Following our call, it has reassessed the situation. It says it is unfair for those involved in the shoot to be unpaid, but it is willing to cut the bill to £500 as a compromise solution.

We feel that this is reasonable.

This week Bachelor and Brignall is guest-written by Tony Levene.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@guardian.co.uk or write to Bachelor & Brignall, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number

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Should I accept a promotion without a payrise?

I don’t know whether to refuse more work while remaining on my current pay, or embrace the opportunity to beef up my CV while being underpaid

Each Friday and Monday we publish the problems that will feature in a forthcoming Dear Jeremy advice column in the Guardian Money supplement so that readers can offer their own advice and suggestions. We then print the best of your comments alongside Jeremy’s own insights. Here is the latest dilemma – what are your thoughts?

I’ve been employed in a secretarial/support position for the past two years. There have been many changes to my role within that time, and I have taken on and lost various responsibilities.

My line manager, who previously did my job, has struggled in her position and taken the decision to leave the company. I am very worried it will be assumed that I will take on her responsibilities.

While I relish the opportunity to learn and move forward in my career, I know for a fact the company will refuse to pay me more for it. I have pushed several times for a pay rise but got nowhere.

My dilemma is, do I dig my heels in and refuse to take on this work while remaining on a secretarial pay grade, or should I embrace the opportunity to learn more things and beef up my CV while knowing I am underpaid?

• For Jeremy’s and readers’ advice on a work issue, send a brief email to dear.jeremy@guardian.co.uk. Please note that he is unable to answer questions of a legal nature or reply personally.

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Putting the knife into Jean-Patrique Professional Cookware

Mail order knife firm sent gift worth far less than advertised

In December, I ordered items from Jean-Patrique Professional Cookware. The catalogue said anyone spending over £30 would receive a three-piece stainless steel peeler set “worth £49.95”. When the order (with some items missing) arrived, information in the package said I could buy the same peeler set again at £9.95 plus £2.95 postage (£12.90). I complained immediately, assuming I had the wrong gift. I have had no reply. CL, Hove

Jean-Patrique Cookware Ltd changed its company name to Direct Response Marketing in August 2012. But you have had no response – direct or otherwise. And as well as ignoring Guardian Money’s call, the knife firm has also treated the Advertising Standards Authority with disdain, not replying to many of the nine complaints against it over the past four years.

Besides the firm’s lack of response, the problem here is “worth”. It is difficult to define – all you can do is to compare it with a similar product elsewhere, otherwise something could be “worth” whatever the seller says it is.

It is probably best to put this down to experience. It’s a classic case of where if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The Advertising Standards Authority says: “The Advertising Codes do not prohibit advertisers from claiming that a product or service is ‘worth’ a certain amount. We would likely see ‘worth’ as synonymous with ‘generally sold for’. Marketers therefore should remember that prices, whether recommended retail prices or not, should be genuine and not misleading.”

This week Bachelor and Brignall is guest-written by Tony Levene.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@guardian.co.uk or write to Bachelor & Brignall, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number

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Petplan is my pet hate

Insurer won’t pay out for Doris the cat’s dental treatment – despite my 18 years of claim-free contributions

Doris, our cat, has been insured with Petplan for the last 18 years. Recently she required dental-related treatment. We believed this was covered by the policy as we have paid the insurance every month and kept up with all her yearly health and dental checks, and booster inoculations.

However, when we called to check the dental work was covered, Petplan said the policy terms insisted on yearly health checks within 12 months of each other. And as the last health check was 13 months ago (not 12), it would not pay. I feel outraged as nowhere on the policy documents does it mention that checkups must be held within 12 months of each other for a claim to succeed.

Surely, it is the responsibility of Petplan to make this clear and to remind us? If this is the rule, the wording should be: “Health checks and boosters must be within 12 months, to the day, of each other.” Had I known about this clause, I would have taken Doris to the vet a month earlier.

We pay £21.55 per month to Petplan for Doris, and this is our first claim. The cost of the current treatment is around £600 to £700. Is this fair? AB, Plymouth

This nit-picking through terms and conditions gets insurance a bad name – and has policyholders running to the Ombudsman. Petplan’s initial response was that it could not comment as you had yet to submit a claim, so it cannot be rejected. This is hair-splitting.

Whether it is an animal with a pet policy or a human with private health cover, insured parties routinely phone to see if a treatment is included. If they are told it is excluded – in this case by the Petplan service team – they will most likely then fail to have treatment, or pay for it themselves.

Petplan did not make clear the need for each check to be within 12 months of the previous one. And it has failed to factor in owner illness, holidays or family problems. You religiously kept up the policy for 18 years without a single claim, so you have been an excellent customer.

But the good news is that, following our intervention, Petplan has agreed to meet the bill. But it has refused to offer you compensation for the worry you have suffered. At 18, Doris deserves better treatment.

This week Bachelor and Brignall is guest-written by Tony Levene.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@guardian.co.uk or write to Bachelor & Brignall, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number

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