Online versus IRL: how supermarkets have duped us

Woolworths online shopping

A recent ad for Woolworths online shopping

Recently we saw Woolworths advertising how good it is they don’t charge you more online than you pay instore. Well, Woollies… why would we pay more online? Shouldn’t online be cheaper if anything, because you don’t have the same distribution model and operational expenses as instore? So you can pass the savings on to the customer?

A 2016 survey of Australia’s big retailers showed that even though we expect online shopping to be cheaper, in 74% of cases, online and store prices in Australia were identical. And when there was a difference between the two prices, the retailers tend to charge MORE online!

The survey’s author believed this might be because they think online shoppers will pay more, which is just rude. Or it’s to compensate for delivery costs – but Coles and Woollies charge some customers delivery costs anyway, anywhere from $4 – $14.

In the case of Woollies, they had been stealthily charging online shoppers 7.4 – 7.7% more online – until one night in March 2015 when they changed their prices overnight so they matched.

At the time, Coles were charging mark-ups of up to 10 percent online compared with the store, “to help cover the cost of our convenient service, including the dedicated team members who select our customers’ groceries,” they said. A basket of online groceries ended up being 8.6% more, which means if we’re spending an average of $163 a week in Sydney stores say, that would be an extra $728 a year to buy them online.

It seems Coles still charge more online for some categories. See their explanation in this 2017 Ozbarbain forum where a customer paid $2 more for a Coke 24-pack online: We certainly understand value for money is very important, however, hand picking, hand packing and hand delivering means there are additional costs incurred when shopping with Coles Online and as a result our pricing needs to reflect this.”

OzBargainers mine the good oil

While we’re talking groceries, those web-scouring savvy shoppers on OzBargain have found half-price Décor refillable oil sprayers ($6 off) at Woollies, as well as Coles 50%-off specials on La Espanola Olive Oil ($7 off) and Gold Choice canola vegetable or sunflower oil ($9 off) – till 29 May.

$200 million in parking fines: makes the blood boil

We’re always being told how expensive it is to live in Sydney and Melbourne especially, but this is a real shocker: last week reported that Sydney councils will soon have collected more than $200 million in yearly parking fines.

(Add to that what we pay for parking meters and ticket machines.)

Choice has some good advice about appealing your fine, the most important being – gather your evidence. They say that in Melbourne, about 44,000 parking fines were waived over a three-year period. With fines ranging up to $159 per ticket in City of Melbourne, it’s worth a try.

Property update: get outta town!

Don’t want to over-extend yourself, mortgage-wise? So you’ve set your purchase budget at $500,000 max? As a Brisbane dweller, the closest suburb into town that you can afford to buy in is Rocklea, at 8.8km from the CBD, with a median value of $419,922, according to an article in

In Melbourne you’ll need to go 16.1km out of the CBD to Dallas where the median value is $447,221. And in Sydney, take a packed lunch cos you need to travel at least 39.5 km to Bar Point where the median value is $379,776.

The upside is you’ll have less debt and pay less home loan interest long-term, and maybe have cheaper groceries and childcare etc. But consider the added costs of transport and tolls. And those desperate taxis you take when the buses stop on a Saturday night… which, from Sydney’s CBD to Bar Beach would be a cool $100+.

Feel the re-financing fear and do it anyway

For those already in the property market, you probably have an inkling of how much you could save if you re-financed. But you’re still not talking to anyone about it – are we right?

A CoreData mortgage holder survey confirms about 50 percent of people know they’re not getting a good deal, but they’re too lazy, or loyal to their lender or fearful of talking about their finances to do anything about it.

Note also: the myth of exit fees turns nearly two-thirds off switching, when in fact lenders aren’t allowed to charge exit fees on variable loans taken out after 30 June 2011.

It’s costing the average home borrower who doesn’t switch more than $14,000.
Talk to your broker.

What airfares to buy this week?

Three quarters of Aussies miss out on cheap international flights by booking at the wrong time, says Skyscanner. And 9 out of 10 Aussies miss out on interstate travel bargains, spending up to 30% more than the average airfare!

Skyscanner’s app helps you work out when you should be buying to save. Sydneysiders – you should be booking NOW to save 10% on September flights to Tokyo, to save 18% on late October flight to Melbourne, and 12% on late October flights to Hong Kong.

Using the Hong Kong example, you could save $80 on an average-priced one-way fare.

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