I’ve been shopping for groceries online since there was just Tesco, when their virtual store came on a CD and was loaded into your PC. The software was subsequently updated every time you logged in – not an edifying experience, pre-broadband.
A lot of things have improved since then, as is to be expected, but some have taken a decided turn for the worse since the last time I looked at this a couple of years ago.
For openers, let’s be clear about one thing, no matter how popular it might be with vendors – there’s never any justification for a minimum order value – you’re paying for the bloody service whether you order £20 worth or £200. Indeed, as delivering a £200 order will use more fuel than a £20** order, there’s an argument for a surcharge on large orders. Especially as 10 £20 orders will yield far more delivery revenue than one £200 order (delivered free).
**It also takes far longer to pick.
Sainsbury’s, if you’re poor, or a singleton (or both), will rip you off by imposing a surcharge on orders under £40. Their normal delivery charges start at £2.95, but are subject to this caveat:-
Orders below £40 will be delivered for a maximum £6.95 charge.
So what’s the minimum sub-£40 charge then? The clear implication is that there is one, though in my experience it’s the same as the maximum (they do need to clarify this – presumably they do at checkout?), and is the reason I now shop at Tesco, who charge me £3 no matter how little or how much I buy (my orders are usually £35-ish – getting it over £40 often means buying stuff I neither want nor need). They don’t have a minimum order value (I checked the Help pages to be sure).
Tesco has no minimum order value, and no delivery surcharges. Plus it’s usually easy to get the lowest delivery charge during the day. I shop Friday for delivery on Tuesday afternoon, which leaves ample time to change the order if I need to.
Tesco is also the only one to allow you to specify alternatives if your chosen items aren’t available, thus you will always get something you want. The others simply allow a choice of substitutions (unpredictable – allow substitutions at Sainsbury’s and you’re liable to get all own-brand stuff, as I did once; not allowed subs there since), or no substitutions – not helpful (note – it’s a while since I used Ocado, they might have changed, but I doubt it).
Tesco will deliver your order into your kitchen if you wish (I suppose the others do too, but if that’s a service you need, do check).
A few years ago Tesco had problems with “van breakdowns”. After the third time I challenged them to deny they weren’t consolidating unpopular time slots – they didn’t. They’ve been OK this time round though.
Ocado is quite definitely the enemy of the impecunious and the single, a pity as their quality is excellent (though their pickers leave something to be desired):-
The value of the trolley needs to be over £40.00 to be able to checkout your order. The (delivery) prices above are based on a standard order size of £75.00 or more. For orders below £75.00, there is a minimum charge of £3.00 and a maximum of £6.99.
As their normal minimum delivery charge is £2.99 (over £75), £3.00 makes no sense unless it’s a surcharge – they should clarify this.
Asda, despite telling you in their TV ads how wonderfully cheap they are, impose a £25 minimum order value, thus negating the point of being cheap (with plans to increase it to £35, currently being trialled in London). The information, though, isn’t up front, but buried in the bowels of the Help applet. No delivery surcharges. Arguably the worst website of the bunch, though.
And that’s pretty much it, until Morrisons get their act together and introduce home deliveries.
Finally, you should be able to mooch around the online stores, checking prices and delivery costs, without having to create an account and log in, but you can’t.