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Coles slammed for hiking ‘locked’ prices for thousands of customers

Coles says it will refund customers who overpaid for items meant to be on sale.

Coles has apologised to thousands of customers after being caught hiking the prices on ‘locked’ grocery items.

The supermarket giant confirmed it incorrectly raised the price on 20 popular items during a recent promotion - both in-store and online. It said it would refund thousands of customers who paid too much for the items which were meant to be on sale.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE said it made a complaint in October to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after noticing the supermarket had increased the prices on a ‘locked’ product.

Coles price tags
CHOICE has called out Coles for failing to keep its pricing promises, sharing these images from February 2023 and October 2023. (Source: CHOICE)

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“This kind of behaviour from Coles is exactly why we gave them a Shonky Award earlier this year,” Choice deputy director of campaigns Andrew Kelly said.

“Coles has been touting how they’re supposedly helping with the cost-of-living crisis, all while banking huge profits and not following through on pricing promises made to their customers.

“A retailer as big as Coles failing to keep its pricing promises is simply unacceptable, particularly during a cost-of-living crisis where so many people are already worried about the price of food and groceries.”

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A Coles spokesperson said they knew the cost of living was a big focus for many customers.

“We sincerely apologise to our customers for this mistake and we are working quickly to make it right,” the spokesperson said.

“As a result of this error, we are refunding the full cost of the items to customers. Coles has processed refunds for customers who used their Flybuys card or purchased through Coles Online.

“We ask any customer who purchased these items in-store to visit our service desk with receipt for a full refund.”

The spokesperson said they were also making arrangements to put the impacted products back on promotion, with eight items currently at a reduced price.

Which products were priced incorrectly?

For those wondering if they are entitled to a refund, here is the full list of products and the affected dates:

  • Bulla Thickened Cream 300ml, 600mL - March 3, 2023 - July 4, 2023

  • Bulla Thickened Cream Lite 300ml - March 3, 2023 - July 4, 2023

  • Somat Excellence Dishwashing Tablets 30pk, 45 pk - April 11, 2023

  • Somat Gold Dishwashing Tablets 25pk, 51pk - April 11, 2023

  • Somat Rinser & Drying Booster Dishwasher Rinse Aid 500ml - April 11, 2023

  • Coles Bbq Briquettes - August 30, 2023 - October 31, 2023

  • Napolina Chopped Tomatoes 4pk - June 7, 2023 - July, 4 2023

  • Napolina Plum Tomatoes 4 Pk - June 7, 2023 - July 4, 2023

  • Bran Flakes With Sultanas 580g - September 14, 2023 - December 1, 2023

  • Kelloggs Cereal Corn Flakes - August 30, 2023 - December, 1 2023

  • Coles Ankle Support Premium - September 20, 2023 - December 1, 2023

  • Coles Heat Pack Silicone Bead - September 20, 2023 - December 1, 2023

  • Coles Medistrips Fabric Pk 50 - May 24, 2023 - July 25, 2023

  • Coles Pregnancy Midstream Test 1 Pack, 3 Pack - September 20, 2023 - December 1, 2023

  • Coles Wrist Support Premium - September 20, 2023 - December 1, 2023

  • Fehlbergs Jalapenos Sliced 470g - December 4, 2023 - October 17, 2023

Coles and Woolworths CEOs to face grilling

Coles and Woolworths CEOs have confirmed they will front a senate inquiry into supermarket price hikes, after being accused of price gouging while everyday Aussies are struggling with cost-of-living pressures.

The inquiry is set to go ahead in early 2024 after the Greens gained support from Labor earlier in the week.

Greens economic justice spokesperson Senator Nick McKim said it was “time to smash the duopoly”.

“For too long, the big supermarkets have had too much market power. This allows them to dictate prices and terms that are hitting people hard,” McKim said.

Coles and Woolworths both posted more than $1 billion in profits last financial year.

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