Biggest supermarket ‘substitution fails’ revealed

From ordering a salad online and receiving a bar of Dairy Milk, to ordering a bottle of white wine and getting a sack of onions, new Which? research reveals the supermarkets substituting the items we want for bizarre alternatives.

In a recent survey, Which? asked more than 7,000 online shoppers to share their strangest online supermarket order substitutions. The results revealed that some of the products ordered were replaced with some very surprising alternatives. Examples included:

  • A shopper ordered salad, but got a bar of Dairy Milk
  • A shopper ordered gluten free bread, but was sent dog food
  • A shopper ordered apple juice, but instead got a bottle of Chardonnay
  • A shopper ordered toilet paper, but was sent nappies

Vegetarians in particular seemed to get a rather raw deal – many claimed they ordered Quorn mince but received beef mince instead, while others who ordered vegetarian sausages were given pork ones. To see the full list of surprising supermarket substitutions, visit:

According to the survey of shoppers, Asda is the worst supermarket for substituting groceries, with around half (48%) of the supermarket’s customers saying they received something unexpected in their online shopping in the space of six months. Amazon Fresh (37%) was next worst for substitutions, while Waitrose Deliver (33%) and Tesco Online (30%) followed closely behind.

Iceland, which was named as the best online supermarket by Which? last month, topped the list with only 12% of online shoppers claiming to have had a substitution in the previous six months.

Richard Headland, Which? magazine editor said:

“Substitutions can have a big impact on how satisfied customers are with online grocery services, so supermarkets should make every effort to get orders right first time.

“If necessary, supermarkets need to make intelligent substitutions – rather than some of the bizarre swaps we found – to avoid disappointing shoppers.”

Notes to Editors

  1. In Nov/Dec 2016, we surveyed 7,004 members of the UK general public about their supermarket shopping over the last six months:
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  2. To see the full list of odd supermarket substitutions, visit:
  3. To see the full results from the Which? Best and Worst Supermarket Survey, visit:

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