A sneaky way to get money off your groceries

Donna Ferguson
by Lovemoney Staff Donna Ferguson on 15 July 2010  |  Comments 15 comments

How I managed to shop at Ocado for less than the exact same shop at Tesco...

In my household, my long-suffering boyfriend (soon-to-be husband) does most of the cooking.

This is partly because he’s a great cook, and partly because I’m a terrible cook. We are a perfect match!

To try to make up for my distinct lack of domestic goddess capabilities, I take responsibility for doing the supermarket shop every week. Which, being a sometimes busy and sometimes lazy person, I like to do online, via a site called mysupermarket.com.

I like this site because you can easily compare the price of, say, a bag of white seedless grapes with a box of white seedless grapes, and see which one is cheaper that week per kilogram. It also adds up the cost of your trolley in different supermarkets, so you can see whether it would be cheaper to shop that week at Asda instead of Tesco, due to the special offers that particular supermarket is hosting that day.

Now, I’ve been using this site for years and when I first started, supermarket discount codes were plentiful. A quick search on hotukdeals.com would reveal a dozen valid codes, each offering either free delivery or £5 off, shared on the forum by kind frugal tipsters like you and me.

Sadly, it seemed the supermarkets have wised up to this practice, and nowadays it’s rare to find a valid voucher code for anything other than your first online shop.

So what?

It always irritates me when firms treat their new customers better than old ones (and vice versa).

The supermarkets are being very clever here because it’s a lot of hassle to start afresh on a new account. You have to do individual searches for each item you want to buy, and can easily miss things off the list. I find it can take as much as 40 minutes to do a comprehensive online shop if you start from scratch.

By contrast, if you log in to an account you have used previously to do an online shop, all the items you have bought are saved as ‘favourites’ and on mysupermarket, you can literally start from your last trolley, no matter which supermarket you bought from.

So it takes seconds and just a few clicks to stock up on regular purchases.

Rachel Robson rounds up five ways to cut your food bills.

This means that, apart from switching brands here and there wherever there’s special offers or cheeky price cuts, I can generally whizz through my entire weekly shop in about 10 minutes.

Unfortunately, because I am a loyal customer using an account I have used before, that means I don’t qualify for any vouchers. Boo hiss!

The good news

The good news is, last week I discovered a way to get around this.

In fact it had been staring me in the face for years. I’m sure some of you already know about this, but for those of you who don’t, here’s how to use a ‘first online shop’ discount voucher without going through all the hassle of setting up a new account and filling your trolley from scratch for the first time:

Use the favourites stored in mysupermarket.

Remember, mysupermarket stores all your favourites, regardless of which supermarket you have used previously. So if you change your account details with Ocado, your favourites with Tesco will still be there, and you can instantly switch your trolley into Ocado with the click of a button.

I tried this at the weekend when a £15 off Ocado voucher fell out of a newspaper. (There is also a permanent £15 off your first shop voucher  on the Ocado website.) I love shopping at Ocado, which offers the same groceries as Waitrose – I just hate paying for the crazy prices they charge. And I felt it was wrong that new customers should benefit when I could not. So I made up my mind to use that voucher one way or the other!

Related blog post

  • Serena Cowdy writes:

    Frugal Food - 9 July 2010

    This week we bring you new and extended restaurant deals from Brasserie Gerard, All Bar One, Prezzo, Loch Fyne, Pizza Express and Ego. We also have an M&S wine sale, a Kit Kat Chunky bumper pack for £1, 2 4 1 on Muller Fruit Corner six-packs, a jar of Nescafe for £1.50, half price Pringles, a free breakfast at Giraffe, an ongoing Morrisons voucher deal, a new Sainsbury’s discount code, and the chance to bag a free food guide!

In the end, all I had to do was set up a new account with Ocado using a different email address to the one I’d already registered. That took approximately one minute. Here's how I did it:

Registering as a new customer

Amazingly, Ocado allow new customers to register with an existing delivery address and name. The only thing the supermarket doesn't allow you to do is to register with an existing email address.

But you don't even have to go through the hassle of setting up a new email account if you have a gmail account, because Ocado fails to recognise gmail.com's plus addressing system.

This means you can simply use your existing email address at gmail.com (which can already be registered with Ocado), but add, for example, '+ocado1' to the bit before gmail.com. So if your existing address was lovemoneyreader@gmail.com, you'd change it to lovemoneyreader+ocado1@gmail.com. This will be interpreted by Ocado as a new email address of a new customer - even though all the emails it sends you will go to the inbox of your existing address (lovemoneyreader@gmail.com).

After using this feature of my gmail account to complete the registration process at Ocado, I went back to mysupermarket.com and took another minute to change the log-in details for Ocado on there – and hey presto! I was a new Ocado customer and could use the voucher code.

This meant that including delivery, my trolley at Ocado actually cost me 10% less than the exact same shop would have cost me at Tesco – and the quality of the fruit and vegetables was far higher.

Not bad for two minutes’ work...

Voucher codes for first shop online

Every week in Frugal Food blog, we round up the best supermarket voucher codes out there, and where to find them. So check it out: www.lovemoney.com/frugalfood.

More: Don't buy your groceries from Amazon | Get the cheapest food bill guaranteed!

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Comments (15)

  • eLJay
    Love rating 78
    eLJay said

    cowshill - but are you commiting fraud? Its the same user account and they are allowing you to get a discount when changing your email address.

    The example you give is completely different as its not a discount its their money. Quite simply they have left their system open to the issue and I'm sure if it becomes widespread then they will soon close it again.

    I was barged past in Asda the other week after someone left £5 in one of those DIY Fast Lane machines. Now as far as I'm aware the shop does not have the right to even touch the money left by customers, but they are doing that.

    Report on 19 July 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • redcurrant
    Love rating 0
    redcurrant said

    I absolutely agree with TRAFool and I am just sorry that the writer has decided to "get sneaky" precisely with Ocado as in my experience they are the best around.

    I used to shop with Tesco when there were lots of vouchers around but that's not the case anymore and frankly they were rubbish anyway, always late and loads of missing and wrong items all the time.

    I now receive 15% off vouchers almost every week from Ocado, sometimes even more than once a week, so it is not true that they value new customers more than regular shoppers and their service is far better than the others!

    Report on 24 August 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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