Champagne Offer Ended Too Soon

In December 2010 M&S had a promotion for Louis Chaurey champagne until, it stated, May 2. It was an excellent offer with a bottle price of just over £10 if you purchased more than two cases. For someone getting married in August it was ideal.

A reader writes:
On Friday, April 29, I went online to buy some bottles but the stock had run out. I then went to my local branch on May 2. It had some in stock but the promotion had changed to only 25 per cent off. When I asked customer services they said that the offer “had been withdrawn early”.

When I got home that evening I saw that M&S was still promoting the deal online! Should I have stayed loyal to my clubcard and shopped from the selection of champagne at Tesco?

Cheeky! In December the Office of Fair Trading published a study of “price practices” that supermarkets wheel out to convince shoppers to buy more than they need. The study highlighted time-limited offers and “bait-pricing” — where retailers continue to advertise a promotion even when they do not have enough stock to meet demand, as appears to be the case with M&S’s champers sale.

The OFT says: “Academic research shows that the most common response when a consumer finds a product is not available is to buy a substitute from the same trader.” Indeed M&S’s head office told Nick that it pulled the deal immediately after the royal wedding — just after everyone had been enticed into the store to buy coronation chicken, presumably. A spokesman said that there had been some confusion and that it was the 25 per cent off deal that expired on May 2, not the £10 a bottle deal, but agreed that it obviously had not made this clear enough in store.