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Strangest supermarket online shopping substitutions


Mar 25, 2023

From Sellotape instead of toilet paper to strawberries in place of binbags, some of the strangest supermarket substitutions have been revealed in a new online poll. 

Almost half of supermarket deliveries have included a substitute item in the last 23 months, according to consumer champion Which?.

Six in 10 Asda customers reported receiving a substitution in their most recent shop, with one receiving dog chews instead of chicken breasts.

Another bewildered shopper received a pack of toilet rolls instead of bread rolls.

Some 59% of Aldi shoppers received unexpected items – one including a bag of onions instead of a loaf of bread.

Half of customers who had ordered online at Sainsbury’s told Which? they had received a substitution, including shoe polish instead of fruit, and bacon rather than BBQ-flavoured crisps.

Tesco had one of the lower rates of substitutions, at four in ten (44%), but one did complain they received an Easter egg despite ordering hot dog rolls. Another ordered a roll of tinfoil which was swapped out for a chocolate Santa.

A similar proportion of Amazon Fresh shoppers reported last-minute changes, including one shopper who received Sellotape instead of toilet roll.

More than a third of Iceland shoppers had their products swapped out, with one saying they were sent strawberries instead of binbags.

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Waitrose customers were the least likely to receive a substitution – with a quarter of those surveyed stating they had, although shopper received an alcohol-free bottle of wine in place of a standard bottle.

Special diets fare particularly badly

Customers will special dietary requirements fare particularly badly across many of the supermarkets, with vegan and vegetarian products often swapped out in place of meat or dairy.

The same was true for customers with food intolerances. One shopper, whose partner has coeliac disease, had their gluten-free product substituted with a product containing wheat.

In the survey, each supermarket was scored based on their choice of substitution items. Waitrose fared best, receiving four stars. Aldi, Amazon Fresh, Sainsbury’s and Tesco scored three stars, while Asda, Iceland and Morrisons scored just two.

Which? Retail editor Reena Sewraz said: “Product substitutions can be incredibly frustrating, especially if the key ingredient for your dinner is missing. Our research has shown that some replacements can also be downright ridiculous.

“You have the right to reject substitutions at the point of delivery, or you could opt out of receiving substitutions altogether. If you do end up with a substitution that you don’t want, always contact the supermarket and ask for a refund.”

Deltapoll surveyed 3,007 UK adults online in October, gathering information on 1,260 online supermarket shopping experiences.


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