'Tis the season to be merry, thought Net-savvy experienced e-shopper Gavin Jackson. Being a convivial type, every Christmas Mr Jackson buys a crate of champagne and this year was to be no exception.
Spotting an advertisement offering a 25 percent discount on a crate of Tesco.com champagne he leapt at the chance of a good online bargain. Motivated by the promotion on Tesco's homepage, Jackson ordered a crate of Tesco label bubbly containing six 75cl bottles and paid £58.48 plus £5.00 delivery charge.
Bon vivant Mr Jackson, 39, of West London was confident that the Tesco Champagne Brut Premier Cru he selected would not disgrace his festive libations.
However, in a rare offline visit to retail land Mr Jackson was surprised to see in the wine section of his local Tesco in Notting Hill the same bottles of Champagne Brut Premier Cru at £10.99 each.
The "25 percent-off Champagne" online offer was now in effect only £2.49 cheaper than if he had walked into a Tesco store and bought a crate there. Naturally he called Tesco.com to demand an explanation.
Tesco.com customer helpline told him that the 25 percent discount was from the Online price and that Tesco.com was a separate company from the retail stores. Result: One disgruntled e-commerce user appalled at paying an online premium and a loss of goodwill towards one particular supermarket.
Tesco.com did not return requests for comment.
John Enser, a Partner in Media, Communications and Technology at law firm Olswang commented on the potential for confusion between online promotions and instore prices. "It is a fair misunderstanding. If I was shopping online I would assume that the price being quoted was the same as for in the stores. If the promotion said it was the cheapest by any means, then it would be misleading if you found the item to be cheaper elsewhere."
Paul Mathews a spokesman for the Office of Fair Trading points out that you have greater rights online than in the store. "You are covered under the Distance Selling Regulations. With the majority of goods you have a seven day cooling off period in which to cancel. There are some exceptions, mainly perishable goods. You can also contact your local trading standards officer. The best thing to do is to shop around and compare prices."