The Biggest Supermarket Rip-Off For Smaller Quantities I've Ever Seen

Supermarket shopping 101 dictates that if you buy items in smaller quantities, you'll usually pay a premium. But I've rarely seen an example as extreme as this. 250 grams of Home Brand reduced-fat cheese? $3.69. 500 grams of the same cheese? $3.79.

Woolworths' online shopping site lists the 500 gram block for $4.82, so this may have been an odd in-store pricing error. Either way, it's a reminder to carefully check the unit pricing before buying an item available in different sizes. And if you want a small quantity of cheese, buy it from the deli.

Spotted other extreme examples of this problem? Tell us about them in the comments.


    I remember a while ago at Coles they had a great special on 500 gram pasta. So much so, it was cheaper to purchase 2 x 500g packets, than to buy a single 1kg pack. Utterly bemusing.

    Unfortunately, they know they can get away with it.! There are very few if any laws, rules or standards governing what they can or can't do. This is because they are in the pockets of people who make so much money that they could care less what food costs. Common sense and decency mean nothing, the only thing that does, is what they can do for the shareholders. But according to the ads, they are doing it because they care..?

    Try the Kosher cheese... starts at $19/kilo at Coles (of the Coles that sell Kosher products).

    You do always have to check the prices of all sizes. Just recently Woolies had a special on the smallest size of Kellogs cereals. It worked out a great deal cheaper to buy 6 boxes of the small size, than a large box.

    Coke is the best example of this, particularly at convenience stores. It is not unusual to see the 600ml bottles at $4.20, while in the next fridge the 1.25l bottles are 2 for $6. ($7/l vs $2.40/l). Though it is hard to fit the 1.25l bottles in the cup holder of the car, so you are paying a premium for convenience.

      And why shouldn't you pay for convenience? You've identified a quantifiable benefit which differentiates the 600ml product from the 1.25L product so why shouldn't Coke try and charge a premium for that? You clearly think that size is important or else you buy the larger bottles. The only thing that should prevent them doing it is market demand (something Coke knows well with New Coke ;) )

      EDIT - Nothing personal since everyone is wired this way and marketing departments and price setters around the world know this.

      Last edited 01/11/12 10:40 am

      I find even in supermarkets it's often the case. 2 litre on special below the 1.25 litre (or 1.5 litre) price.

      What we should really be objecting to is that Coke and Water are both more expensive to buy at the supermarket than petrol is. It's like a cruel joke...

      most of the time you'll find that certain sizes are higher because they are made to be refrigerated in store (so part of the price hike is for electricity used)
      with coke products, the 1.5L share bottles and 600mL bottles are meant to be kept in fridges, so their prices are higher compared to non refrigerated bottles.
      most of the time at a supermarket, if a certain size/type of drink is kept in a fridge, it will be the only place you find it in store, and it will be marked up.

    Get this, another step towards a cheese powered economy.

      Australia will need to import some better cheeses first. Cheese in this country sucks!
      Except for maybe in Melbourne.

        I've been told that there are some great cheeses for sale in Australia, though I'm starting to think that this comes under the same category as stories about drop bears and hoop snakes.

        All the good cheese come from down south where it's cooler. That is a known a fact. King Island being one that comes to mind.

          All the good cheeses? Do you know any cheeses from up north? Or did you just make that up?

        Regular Mersey Valley is the only non Tasty/Cheddar cheese i eat. Though my favorite is the Kraft Cheddar that comes in a blueish box, and sealed wrapped in foil (and its not refrigerated so its not found with the rest of the cheese).

        Try King Island cheese. If that isn't good enough then nothing Australian will be.

    Biggest culprits: (also in Delis btw)

    Boursin: This stuff tastes so awesome, only the smallest size is available at $8 and you can
    spread maybe close to 2 sandwiches with it.

    Maasdam Cheese: This is like Swiss cheese but way yummier! Also rare in Oz.
    You can get a very small ounce of it compared to what you get for the same price in Holland.
    $5.67 at Coles. Sandwiches that can be made with amount: Maybe 3.

    Stilton: Why is this stuff so expensive? Small corner is always around $7 mark and they
    are actually not even imported. They just slap stickers on them to make them look imported.
    Amount of Stilton Lasagna's made: 1.

      Congratulations. You have officially missed the point.

    This wasn't so much the scenario you're talking about, but I was buying cocoa for a cake a while ago, I really only needed like a tablespoon or something. My options? 200g brand A box, $4. 200g brand B box, $4. 500g brand C box, $4. I obviously chose the largest one... but it felt a bit silly and now I've got a large jar of cocoa I won't use for ages.

    Cheese is the biggest rip off. Even if you do get a larger block of cheese cheaper - it is rarely a longer block of cheese, just wider (or higher depending on which way you hold it) but it is never the same size as a slice of bread. You still slice is across the same axis, you still get the same number of slices and it still takes two slices to cover a piece of bread (you just get more overlap).

    I don't see the big deal with this particularly now that unit pricing is very clear on all the price tags, though as you say this is definitely an extreme example. All products have fixed and variable costs so you can expect smaller portions to cost more per unit than larger portions. Add to that problems with buying too much (ie if you only need 250g of cheese why should you spend 10c more to get another 250g of cheese you don't need just because it is better value?) and the benefits of better "value" bigger portions are dubious if you only end up throwing the excess out when it goes off.

    I saw the reverse in Franklins once. The 10 pack of Yakult was on sale, so I saw people buying it. However, it was cheaper to get 2 x 5 packs. People see the sale sign and automatically assume it is a better deal.

    How is this a "rip-off"? You pay a few cents more and you get twice as much. That's a bargain!

    Yes the pricing is a bit strange but this is why consumers should check the price before they buy something. Either way, some people are willing to pay for the smaller quantity simply because they don't need the larger quantity.

    I've walked into shops where they were doing buy one and get the second one half price. A lot of times they seem confused when I don't take the offer but i simply don't need two of the same item! Why would I waste money on something I don't need just because it's cheaper?!

      Umm, I believe the "rip-off" is referring to the price for the smaller block of cheese...

    How about this. Where you know the bigger value pack IS in fact cheaper, however
    your supermarket refuses to put the stock out, making you buy the normal packs at a more expensive price. CoughCOLES-ToiletpaperCough!

      I'm sure practices like that are strictly forbidden. If only they got in trouble for this shit more often.

    I bought a 24 pack of cans of Coke on sale for $15 at Coles, the 30 pack of Coke was $30. An extra 6 cans for $15...i don't think so.

    Definitely the inner-city supermarketsin Sydney seem to have realized they can inflate their margins by stocking only small-sized items that carry bigger profit margins. :-( My main annoyances are olives, sun-dried tomatoes and nuts. It's interesting how sometimes breakfast cereal is cheaper per kg in smaller boxes than in larger, though.

    Coles: The smaller packet of Pods were cheaper than the larger packets.

      Maybe I'm still half-asleep from my nap, but I don't see the problem with this.

        There's no problem, but sometimes, buying the larger quantity items are just as much as a rip off.

    Which is why you should always look at the price per Kg which (I think) they have to list by law

    Last edited 01/11/12 11:51 am

    Suddenly, I am craving cheese.

      Same here. >_< If I was at home it wouldn't be a problem, but I'm at work and there's no supermarket, etc, around here where I can go and buy some. :( Damn you, Life Hacker! I'll be craving cheese all day now until I can get home and finally have some.

      Anyway, people do have to be careful and check prices and sizes when shopping. I've seen similar things in the supermarket, where it works out to be better value if I buy the larger size than the smaller size. Of course, it only works out to be better value if whatever it is is something I actually want in larger quantities of. Doesn't make any sense to buy a big packet of something simply because it's cheaer if I only want to use a small amount. Got to weigh up value against possible wastage as well.

        " Got to weigh up value against possible wastage as well."

        There's no such thing as wastage when it comes to cheese, any furry coating just adds to the flavour! :)

    Wall primer. 2 litres cost $49, 4 litres of the exact same stuff is $55.

    The price in the online store doesn't mean anything -- the prices there are different to the prices in store because the delivery charge is built into the prices.

    (Then they whack another delivery charge on top)

    The real question: why are people still drinking coke?

    Double cheeseburger at maccas cheaper than the single.

    I honestly can't believe how stupid some of you are. A supermarket has a promotional deal on a product, bringing the price right down, and you feel like you're getting ripped off? WTF?!
    The pricing in OP probably reflects overstock in that particular store. Therefore, they have marked it down to try and clear it out before the use by comes up.
    Another example of stupidity is @cartias comment. 24 pk coke with a promo price of $15. 30 pk for $30. They don't want you to buy the 30 pk.
    What do you people want here? Would you like to see the prices of all items within a category reduced at the same time to avoid your confusion?

    I hate it when the per wash spray with a spray nozzle is $2.99 and without a nozzle is $3.29

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now