Tag Archives | special offers

Update on Grocery Offers E-mail – not much of an update

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the special offers web pages that are presented by most of the Irish grocery chains. I mentioned how I’d written to a few of them suggesting that a couple of changes would make those offers pages a little more user friendly – both for consumers and for people who run websites such as this one.

These suggestions primarily focused on publishing the offers on the same web page each week rather than on differing pages, and potentially publishing the offers on an RSS feed as well.

Well, in 3 weeks, I’ve only received responses from Tesco and Centra. Centra have still to follow up further, and Tesco have confirmed that their special offers will always be available on http://www.tesco.ie/weeklytopoffers/. Tesco also confirmed that publishing special offers via an RSS feed isn’t something they’re going to do for the moment.

If anyone out there has any contacts within the other grocery chains, maybe you could pass on this post and see if they’d like to follow up.

UPDATE: Just to add, following a couple of extra e-mails yesterday, Musgraves PR have just confirmed that they’re following up now as well.

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Grocery special offer web pages – hopefully grocers will do better

You’ll probably have seen on many consumer related websites recently the growing listing of the special offers web pages that are updated every week or month.

For the record, here are the special offer links for all the Irish based grocery chains that I can find at the moment. If I’ve missed any, please let me know.These web pages are obviously pretty useful. For me personally, I find the Eurospar and Centra special offers pretty useful as I get some of my regular shopping items from those chains in bulk depending on the offers they have at certain times.

Could Do Better

But I really think that these grocery chains could actually do a little better with their grocery special offers web pages.

The main issue I have with their web pages is that for some of them, the links could change from week to week. This means that the respective websites need to be checked each week to see where the special offers are, and subsequently any links provided one week on a website like done above could be out of date and become a broken link the next week when the link changes.

Certain other pages provide non-standard presentations of the special offers such as Flash images or PDF files. These have the problem that not all web users (and particularly those doing the shopping and potentially visiting these pages) will have the software necessary on their machines to see the actual offers.

Yet another issue is where a couple of the offers pages open up in new windows. These pop up windows aren’t ideal in getting the message across to the widest possible audience as they could be blocked by some peoples internet settings.

RSS Offers Are the Future

Finally, I think these grocers are missing a trick by only publishing static web pages with their weekly or monthly special offers.

I reckon they’d get a much larger audience if they provided their grocery special offers via an RSS feed.

This would directly benefit any consumers who want to subscribe to these special offers where the update each week or month would be pushed out rather than depending on people visiting the website each week. Even coming back each week to check out the special offers might not be so straight forward if the consumers can’t bookmark the special offers pages if their web address changes each time.

I also think that if these grocery chains were to provide their grocery special offers via an RSS feed, it would given them greater flexibility in how to broadcast their message (via anywhere such as Twitter, Facebook, and so on that can publish such a feed).

It would also make it easier for publishers of consumer websites such as this one to promote the special offers to our readers on a weekly or monthly basis and to ensure the information is as up to date and as accurate as possible all the time.

Will the Grocers follow Up?

With all this in mind, last night I contacted most of the above grocery chains providing this feedback and the RSS publication suggestion. Hopefully they’ll all follow up.

I’ll let you know how things progress.

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How to really save money on the “Sales”

Irish News of the World

Sunday June 14th, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

How to really save money on the “Sales”

Though it seems like every shop has a sale nearly all the time, we’re coming soon to the time of year when we normally see the “summer sales”.  While we hard pressed consumers are still holding on tight to our cash, the retailers are going to go all out in the next couple of weeks to get us to at least part with some of it.

But remember – times are tough for the retailers as well so they’re not just having the sales for our benefit. They’re going all out to get rid of as much old stock as they can, and to make as much money as possible, so we customers will have to keep our eyes peeled for the best offers, and to make sure we avoid the duds and ripoffs.

For most shops, the sales are still officially a couple of weeks away, so here are a few things you can do before then to make sure that you really bag a bargain.

Don’t believe everything you see

For a sale to be within the law here in Ireland, a product must have been on sale at the higher price for a “reasonable” amount of time before it’s reduced. If sales are starting in a couple of weeks, then they should still be at the higher price today.

To make sure you’re getting a bargain in the sales, if you’re thinking about buying something but you’re waiting for the sale, check the price now because in the sale, you should then see the price reduction.

And if you don’t report the shop to the National Consumer Agency.

It’s worth remembering that just because a shop has SALE stickers all over the place, don’t always assume that everything is cheaper than it was before.

A neat trick by shops is to try to make us think that everything is cheaper but then to only have old stock, or less popular stuff, on sale. What some shops are really hoping for is that we get carried away and end up buying normal price products (or even items that are made more expensive) during the sale.

So, the key to getting the best out a sale is to only buy things that you need and that you know the price of, and to only buy them if the prices have actually come down.

How much to spend

I’ve written here before about the dangers of using your credit cards, or dipping into your overdraft, and during a sale definitely isn’t the time to do that.

You’re not really getting a bargain if you end up paying for everything in the sales on your credit card.

By the time you’ve paid off your debts and interest, your purchases could very well have cost you more than before the sales.

Check for alternatives

IF you see something on sale in one shop, it’s quite possible that its on sale somewhere else down the street. Make the effort to check out the alternatives – you can check out a few shops, or even just make a few calls.

It’s always worth making sure during the sale season that the price you’re thinking of paying is actually the cheapest available.

And don’t forget the internet. In many cases, the bargains are so good on internet sites that they’ll still be cheaper than in sales in the local shops. Do a quick check – and don’t forget the extra postage costs – just to make sure.

Ask for more

Don’t forget that the recession has put Irish shoppers in a stronger position now with retailers than any time in the last ten years. Retailers are crying out for us to buy their goods and services, and if they know we’re very close to make a purchase many will cut an extra 10% to 20% off sale items just to clinch the deal.

This is more likely to happen for higher value purchases such as electrical items or furniture, or if you’re purchasing a large number of items in the same store.

So when you’re at the till, it costs you nothing to ask if there’s anything better that they can do. If you’ve done your research and you know that the same items are the same price down the street, you’re in an even better bargaining position if they think you can just walk away without buying anything.

Remember your rights

Just because something is cheaper in a sale doesn’t mean that you have any less rights as consumers. Unless you’re told clearly otherwise, if you buy something in a sale, but you find it’s broken, you’re still entitled to your full rights – a repair, a refund or a replacement.

Many readers of ValueIreland.com have told me stories of shops trying to fob off customers who bought sale items with bogus stories that because something was in a sale that there’s no refunds allowed.

Not true. And remember, you don’t have to accept a credit note either.

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McDonalds and Burger King – show me the special offers

This e-mail came through from a ValueIreland.com reader who was frustrated with the activities of McDonalds and Burger King when it came to some of their special offers. I’m afraid that I couldn’t provide the kind of answer I guess the reader was looking for. Here’s the original e-mail:

Every single morning I get on the dart and I see the same ad for Burger King’s €3.50 meal deal. I go home that evening and as soon as I turn on the tv I see an ad for McDonald’s Eurosaver. These advertisments have the desired effects, when I walk by one of these fast food outlets I think to myself that in these recessionary times they provide good value.

However when I enter the premises I can never remember exactly what the billboard and television advertisements had been offering, and the corporations do not provide any reminder to their good offers within their menus. McDonalds litter their tills and walls with posters with the newest salad but there is no mention of the €1 hamburger or €2 twisty fries I went in to order in the first place!!

One my way home one night I remembered the giant posters saying “Hey Mr Cowen, how’s this for a recession buster?!”. The offer was for a double cheeseburger, soft drink and small fries for the low price of €3.50. However when I approached the counter and asked for the “Recession Buster Meal” I was told it was not available after 10pm. I was taken aback, does the recession end after 10pm every night?

I have since checked the posters advertising the “Recession Buster Meal” and there is no small print to inform me that our economy suddenly takes a sharp rise after 10pm.

Am I not within my rights to get my meal deal whatever time of day it is?

And my response:

With regards to your first point regarding the McDonalds shops not reflecting their billboard and TV advertising, I can only say that there’s nothing wrong or illegal about what they’re doing. In fact, many would say that it’s actually good marketing practice by McDonalds. They’re successfully advertising to customers such as yourself and then hoping to extract as much money from you as they can when you’re actually in the outlet.

Essentially in this particular situation, it’s a case of buyer beware. To be fair to McDonalds, I have seen their menu in outlets that includes the items that you’re referring to. If you’re in the outlet and don’t see the items that you saw in the advertising, then it’s really down to yourself to ask if the items are available. McDonalds would obviously hope that you’d buy something else if you don’t see these items on the menu – but it’s your choice to ask for the other items, buy something else, or just walk out without ordering anything.

As far as the Burger King meal offers, its down the them as to when they make those offers available. There’s no obligation on Burger King to provide special offers at any time. Special offers are normally offered at times when people would not normally be in the outlet in order to boost business – it wouldn’t make business sense to provide a special offer at a time when people are likely to be in the outlet spending money anyway.

The only thing that you could possibly have grounds to complain about here is that the advertising that you saw isn’t sufficiently clear about when the special offer is available. Much as I have no time for self-regulating authorities, the people to make a complaint to would be the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI). If you’re lucky, you might get a free voucher from Burger King just to shut you up and make the complaint go away – a standard ASAI tactic to placate complainants.

I appreciate that these responses are not really what you might want to have heard, but given the scenarios described, the businesses are doing nothing wrong in trying to boost their income and it’s really down to us consumers to look after ourselves.

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Coffee Shops – where’s the money being made

I guess that most people know this, but I heard about an interesting talk given by Bobby Kerr of the Insomnia Coffee chain recently that gave great insight into how much coffee chains actually make on selling a cup of coffee.

We all (should) know that we can buy a jar of coffee in the supermarket for the same price as we’d pay for one coffee in a coffee shop. Yet we’ll still sometimes (maybe frequently) spend that money.

Mr. Kerr was talking about the success and failure of the special offers they’ve been offering recently. I’ve mentioned them here in the past.

The first offer was their “coffee and a sandwich” for €5 which at the time was pretty successful. Insomnia then moved on to offer “3 for the price of 2” in all their stores, and according to Mr. Kerr they got hammered.

When you think about it, it makes sense. So much so, that you’d wonder why they actually went ahead with that offer.

If most people go into coffee shops on their own, offering a 3 for 2 deal means that they’ll most likely get an extra piece of food or snack rather than a second coffee.

When your profit margin is mostly on the coffee rather than the foods and snacks, you’d rather that they take the coffee where the loss can be more easily absorbed. But to their cost, Insomnia hadn’t considered the reality, and the offer didn’t last very long.

Hence you’re seeing the 3 new offers offering a “coffee plus….” deal instead where the large markup on the coffee can absorb some of the losses more comfortably, but also increasing appeal to customers. According to Mr. Kerr, these offers are likely to go on for some time given their success.

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Le Tire Bouchon – offers for eating out in Wexford

I received this e-mail last week from Kevin Carley who is behind Le Tire Bouchon, a French restaurant based in Wexford. I’m going to be calling in in the next couple of weeks, but for the moment, I only have Paolo Tullio to go on, who says of the restaurant:

Le Tire Bouchon is an excellent restaurant run by two young men with passion and energy. I expect it to continue to improve, but make no mistake, it really is very good now. One to try as soon as you can, and almost certainly a star of the future.

Le Tire Bouchon are currently offering some special deals, as told by Kevin in his e-mail:

Hello, my name is Kevin Carley, and along with my business partner Arnaud Clement, we own Le Tire Bouchon restaurant in Wexford town. The restaurant is situated above the Sky and The Ground Pub. It’s not, just, another restaurant, it’s a high class French style fine dining experience not to be matched anywhere else in Wexford. Taste of Ireland with Paolo Tulio says we are one of the best in the country, never mind just Wexford.

Briefly, Arnaud who is the maitre’ d, is from Brittany in France, where he trained for years in 1 and 3 michellin star restaurants. He’s been in Ireland for over 10 years and before moving to Wexford, he was the restaurant manager in The Merrion Hotel in Dublin. Arnauds brother, Laurent has his own Michelin star restaurant in France. I have been working in kitchens since I was 15 and I have almost 18 years experience.

I’ve worked in to many places to mention, but before Arnaud and I opened Le Tire Bouchon, I was celebrity chef Kevin Dundons sous chef in Dunbrody Country House for almost 2 years. It was at Dunbrody where I met Arnaud as he was the restaurant manager there.

The purpose of this e-mail is to let you know about the amazing value to be had at our restaurant that we believe wont be beat anywhere in Wexford and it would probably be hard to find many restaurants in Ireland that could match us. Our deal is a traditional 5 course French meal, Plus a glass of wine for an amazing price of just  23.95.

So if you want to include the wine as a course, it’s actually a 6 course meal for 23.95. This deal is available all evening from Sun to Thurs.

I’ll let you know my thoughts on Le Tire Bouchon once I’ve had a chance to sample their delights.

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“Eason Childrens 20% off Book Bonanza” in all Easons stores now

This e-mail came through last Friday and might be of interest to some of you out there.

I thought you might be interested in a children’s book promotion that is running in Easons this summer which is offering 20% of ALL children’s books at Eason stores nationwide from tomorrow.

This is the first time that such a price reduction has been offered across the entire range of childrens books covering all age groups and book types. The only exceptions are audio books and academic texts.

The range of children’s books available today is so vast and summer is the perfect time for children to explore and experiment with their reading choices.  While providing a perfect summer pastime, reading is also a brilliant way to develop children’s literary skills.

In the children’s book departments at Eason stores this summer it is all about value for money and ensuring that every child’s taste and age group is catered for.

The “Eason Childrens 20% off Book Bonanza” begins in all Eason stores nationwide from tomorrow, June 6th.

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Centra Special Offers

From yesterday, Centra will be renewing their recent Smart Savings Meal Deals that have already been running throughout their 480 stores nationwide for the past two weeks.

The offers, Breakfast for €2, Lunch for €3 and Dinner for €5 seem like great value if you just want to nip out to top up at any time during the day. From yesterday, a whole new set of offers are being provided to customers. Details from the Centra press release are as follows:

Following on from the recent wrap/pasta salad/water lunch offer, Centra is offering a lunch deal of Centra Good to Go Lasagne + Centra Good to Go Wedges + Can of Coke for just €4 across its stores.

For consumers in search of an evening meal which is both quick and tasty but don’t want to spend more than €5, Centra is offering Centra Steakhouse Chips + Centra Cheese Pizza/Pepperoni Pizza + Centra Garlic Toasties for just €5 for the lot.

There’s also a little treat on offer in Centra stores over the next three weeks. For just €2 Centra customers will be able to pick up a freshly brewed Centra Good To Go tea or coffee and a pack of Maltesers.

I’m not a big fan of the “cut out the coffee and latte” brigade. While you can save money if you normally buy them every day, or a couple of times a day, but as a special treat or filling a space if you’re caught short, there’s nothing wrong with looking after yourself every now and then.

What I like more about this campaign than the prices is the fact that businesses are trying things to keep their customers happy. Some businesses just expect their customers to keep coming not matter what. But today, when everyone is watching their cash a bit more, it’s a great sign that businesses can, and more should, do in order to keep their customers happy and to try to attract new ones.

David McWilliams tells us that the “Breakfast Roll” man is no more, but I guess we could have the “Scone and Coffee” man taking over soon if he’s going to be able to stock up every morning for €2.

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Right of Reply: Independent Irish Coffee Shops

This e-mail came through last week in response to my comment about the specials being offered by a particular coffee shop in Dublin 2.

I notice your recent reference to insomnia and the great value they offer.
Well, we offer much better value but never get any recognition and it really pisses me off. I only use ORGANIC coffee and offer a free ” chez emily” irish handmade chocolate with each coffee – all coffees now only 2.50!!!!!!!!!! that’s 12oz by the way.
We have same deals as insomnia – sandwich + coffee 4.95 and coffee and pastry/scone 2.95, coffee+pannini 5.95 but we also have a sandwich + 500ml water 2.99!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Two water for one euro!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Also you can choose your fillings on the sandwich, pannini + coffee deals. [two fillings and two salads] and the bread.
ALSO we use really good ingredients- gm free -free-range eggs and real ham and a small family run bakery.
We also offer a free banana when you buy a sandwich [most days] we also offer student discount on sandwiches and panninis.
I am sick of hearing about multiples offering good value – what about the small independents that offer real choice, real value and REAL SERVICE -that seems to be something that’s  never mentioned these days.
Any chance of a little publicity to help us or are we doomed to having boring impersonal coffee shop chains as well as supermarkets everywhere?

The above is from the owner of the RunnerBean Cafe on Nassau Street. I’m familiar with the place so I’m only too happy to publish this.

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