Online shopping; why things don’t always quite add up.

MySupermarketSince I don’t drive, whether I eat or not is reliant on a supermarket delivering to my door.

As part of an advertising campaign by ASDA earlier this year, statistics from the independent grocery shopping website were used to prove that ASDA were cheaper than Tesco on hundreds of items, despite an identical television campaign by Tesco claiming the same about them compared to ASDA just a few months prior. In fact, the Tesco price checker is still online and claiming to have 2274 items cheaper than ASDA, so, with two of the major players sending conflicting messages, who actually is the cheapest supermarket to shop from?

According to mySupermarket comparisons, when shopping like for like, ASDA is the cheapest of the 4 supermarkets (Tesco, ASDA, Sainsburys & Ocado (Waitrose)). This is probably the fairest comparison to use, as when taking into likening ‘similar’ items (ie. own brands), there can be big differences, in size and weight or in quality which make the matches inequitable.


I had never considered using another supermarket, I was stuck well in there with Tesco, believing that they were the best value, plus of course their service wasn’t too bad, but then after some bad experiences (three failures to show, in fact), I made the decision to investigate alternatives, which is where mySupermarket came into the frame.

When shopping initially signing up with the website, you have the ability to import your favourite items (items you have bought before) from, you then choose from these and it will fill your trolley, all the while keeping a running comparison total from other supermarkets. If you are choosing own brand items, it will choose comparable own brand items. As you can see in the above graphic, my shop at ASDA will save me a cool £40 over my usual choice. This is a grocery shop for a single person for about three weeks, so the savings could potentially be much higher if you are shopping for a family.

Low prices aren’t the only thing to think about when making your grocery choices, because of course, if your driver regularly turns up with items missing, broken or just doesn’t turn up at all, wasted time, effort and eventually the need to go out and buy products elsewhere could completely negate the point of shopping around in the first place.

In summary, using this website could save you a small fortune, but do choose your supplier carefully, I have not used Sainsbury’s or Ocado, but I did switch to ASDA for my February shop and was quite pleased. With only a few missing items, which the difference was quickly refunded to my card, I shall be using them again this month. I don’t feel the need to rush back to any time soon. Being the biggest doesn’t necessarily make them the best.

What’s going on in Wales? (17-20 February 2008)

To cement my position in the league of Welsh bloggers, I would like to offer a quick round-up of the news coming out of Wales in the first half of this week, flanked of course by a bit of my own banter.

Traffic ban to stay in force despite appeals
Cardiff’s St Mary Street will remain closed to private cars for at least another year – despite calls for the link to Cardiff Bay to be reopened.

With work about to start to demolish the old terminal building at Cardiff Bus station it would be foolish to re-open any part of St Mary Street to private traffic. The bus network has had to be re-jigged to move buses away from Wood Street, where demolition work is to start imminently, congestion around Westgate Street and Castle Street is eased by the fact that buses have free-run of St Mary Street. If cars are allowed back on it, buses will be held up, causing more congestion on the aforementioned streets; Castle, Westgate and Wood, making it counterproductive in the long term.

Logo aims to ditch ‘sterotype’
Promoters say a new logo to market Cardiff marks a departure from the stereotype of daffodils and dragons.

New Cardiff Logo
Stereotypical daffodils and dragons? Are “Cardiff & Co” (who came up with this name?) worried that when people think of visiting Cardiff, they will picture it as one huge field with daffodils and roaming dragons? Instead, we get this new logo which is indistinguishable from that of a company or even web 2.0 site. Perhaps they should rename the city too, in line with current trends, CardiffR beta, perhaps? In fact, it’s also a complete rip-off of the Greek tourist board logo.

Call to limit anti-terror control orders
Terror suspects should only be placed on control orders for up to two years unless there are exceptional circumstances – and some should be given Asbos instead – the Welsh peer in charge of monitoring the Government’s terror legislation said last night.

Well, in a way he is right, terrorist plotting is anti-social, but surely Lord Carlile is not so imbecilic as to suggest that we hand out ASBO’s to vandals, drunks, abusive teens and suicide bombers?

Dilapidated shed on market at £150,000
It’s partially covered in plastic sheeting and even the estate agent trying to sell it admits it’s “dilapidated”.

And who said that Wales’ housing market was on the verge of crashing? Ideal student accomodation perhaps?

Cardiff club is bought for £700,000
A watering hole opposite the Millennium Stadium has netted four South Wales councils £700,000.

Exactly what Cardiff city centre needs, another faceless chain pub for the drunken masses to congregate.

Criminals rewarded with free rail tickets
Commuters have voiced their outrage after young offenders were given free rail travel by a train company.

Money saving tip: Spend your weekends causing criminal damage to get free rail travel to work in the week.

Assembly staff tell of workplace bullying
National Assembly staff have made an average of one complaint a month of bullying or harassment to their bosses in the last three years.

Just more fuel to fire the argument that the NAfW really is just ‘jobs for the boys’.
How can the Assembly Government be involved in promoting equality and bullying schemes to private companies when they have not even got their own staff under control?
Their next step should be to launch an initiative within the organisation and publicise this, to prove that they are taking steps to clear out the chauvanists, racists, bullies et al. Every large company that I know of has a policy and/or scheme to counter or take action in situations involving sexism and bullying, does the Assembly Government have these facilities to their staff? If so, they could deflect criticism by making light of this, they need to lead by example.

Mum may sue cinema after her daughter falls 14ft
A mum has said she is considering legal action against a cinema operator after her daughter fell 14ft from a balcony.

I’d love to get the inside info on this case, where she fell from etc.
The Vue Cinema complex is ultra-modern, only completed in 2002, and the barriers over the fantastic drops are chest height for me. So for a 14-year old girl, let’s assume she is average height, to be able to ‘fall’ over one of these, she would have to have been very stupidly climbing over it.
If the case does come to court, it would be interesting to see if what the cinema company says is true, that the injured girl refused treatment. Of course, they would have the upper hand in any case, assuming they’re innocent, as the building is covered with CCTV cameras.

Unfortunate ad placement

Over her dead bodyWhen robots are given the job of choosing advertisements, unfortunate placement is one of the risks.

On the right you can see one example, found on, a Trinity Mirror group website, that in the age of keyword based selection, things can sometimes go wrong and insensitive or inappropriate advertising can be displayed, something which would rarely happen in a newspaper or on television, where advertisements are placed manually by humans.

One way to counter this would be to use blacklists, as well as a keyword list. A list of words which, if found on the page, should prevent the advertisement from being served, instead, moving to the next in line. For most, this would be a very simple piece of code to implement and would do wonders for the credibility of the advertiser.

Google adwords already has this capability and would imagine that Yahoo!’s answer to the Google service, Yahoo SM (Search Marketing) would employ a similar facility.
However, it seems that Trinity Mirror control their own advertising using scripts and pulling banners from DoubleClick. Perhaps this is a feature they should look at building into their back-end?

It’s grim up North

A few of you have messaged me asking where the shots of the Northern Lights are, after-all, this was the entire purpose of my trek to Iceland.

Unfortunately, during my visit the country was experiencing its worst snow in eight years* which created sufficient cloud cover for the trip to be called off.

So, I arrive back wonderless. Am I disappointed? Mildly. But, it was made up for by a great night out in Reykjavik on Saturday night, where I found out first hand that it really is as trendy as I heard it was, think Greenwich Village but smaller and of course colder.

This of course gives steam to my plan to visit Canada, where aurora borealis is of course widely visible in the Northern territories like Yukon and Manitoba.

*According to a local taxi driver, the capital Reykjavik usually has some snow but it rarely sticks, not often do they have this much.