Woolworths Price Check website not enough

Posted by Josette Dunn on 12th February 2010

 Woolworths supermarkets yesterday posted the price of more than 5,000 packaged grocery products oline, with the launch of their Woolworths Price Check website.

The company has commenced listing product prices online following calls from consumer advocate groups for the major supermarkets to deliver greater price transparency to customers.

Woman Supermarket Shopping

According to some commentators however, the website leaves a lot to be desired.  Associate Professor Frank Zumbo, Competition and Consumer Law Expert at the University of New South Wales says “From the outset, consumers are confronted with a legal minefield with Woolworths requiring consumers to accept the so-called “Price Check Terms & Conditions” before accessing the website.”

Mr Zumbo feels that the price check terms and conditions are exceedingly difficult to understand without a law degree, citing one example: “the ‘price check terms and conditions’ state that the information on the price check website cannot be “printed.” Does that mean that consumers are not allowed to print off any of the pages on the website?”

He gos on to say “Once past the legal fine print, consumers are given pricing information on only 5,000 out of the upwards of 30,000 or more grocery items typically sold in a Woolworths supermarket… Until the Woolworths price check website includes the prices of all products in each of its supermarkets, consumers will not be getting the full picture.”

Mr Zumbo believes that the website has a long way to go before it reaches its potential, and really does provide price transparency to customers.  He wants to see the website listing all the 3500 grocery items that the website states have had their priced reduced in the past year, as well as any price increases to other grocery items.

Full pricing transparency from Woolworths, however, is only part of the picture.  The pressure is now on Coles to also publish its grocery prices online; hopefully with an even better website than that of Woolworths.