Money magic

The illusion starts with my daughter-in-law explaining how she got £300 worth of wine for “free”.

Julia and I do not normally shop at Tesco, primarily since if time is worth spent physically shopping as distinct from on-line, then one might as well spend plenty of money. Therefore we go to Waitrose.

Nevertheless, having bought a new TV set on-line from Tesco due to the offer of a free installation of Sky (a deal pointed out to me by my son), we received “points” that themselves turned into vouchers with a value. We also got a little colourful booklet entitled “How to double up your vouchers on all this and more”. Page 2 of the booklet explained a 4-stage process:-

* Choose the department you want to spend your rewards tokens in
* Decide where you want to use your tokens (in-store, wine by the case, Tesco direct or grocery delivery charge)
* Decide how many Clubcard vouchers you want to exchange
* Take your Clubcard vouchers to the Clubcard desk at your local store, where a customer service assistant will exchange them for double up rewards tokens.

“Make sure you don’t go straight to the checkout as your vouchers cannot be doubled up there.”

Seems simple enough if unduly complicated. The customer service assistant has a face glowing with rouge and bonhomie and explains that my £10 voucher can be doubled up – no problem there. My £5 voucher can be doubled up – no problem there. But, my £4 voucher cannot be because it is less than £5. Therefore she can turn £15 into £30’s worth of rewards tokens and I can use the £4 just as a straight voucher discount, understand? Yes I think I have it and please proceed.

Clutching my 3 times £10 rewards tokens tightly in a sweaty hand (still thinking about what the customer service assistant will be doing after her shift ends) and putting the £4 voucher in a safe pocket, I proceed post haste to the wine section. What my daughter-in-law had explained is really true. There are shelves of wine at half price (that is how £300 worth was obtained with just £75 in vouchers – get it?). However, my eye is caught by a 3 bottles for £10 offer. Seems too good to miss and so I choose two separate white wines and grab 3 of each.

To insure against the 3 for £10 stuff not being up to quality standard, I then spot a marvellous New Zealand Marlborough that will have previously been priced “at some Tesco stores” at £9.99. It is now half-price at £4.99 (we can forgive the odd half-pence error). I go for 2 bottles thinking that I have more or less spent the £30 rewards tokens (6 bottles from 3 for £10 and 2 bottles at a fiver each).

About to leave the wine counter, I suddenly remember the £4 voucher. Nearly made a mistake. I grab thankfully a lovely Isla Negra Chilean Chardonnay at £3.99, half price. That should just about do it. On the way to the checkout I collect 4 large potatoes for tonight’s steak dinner and a large jar of Nescafe coffee priced at £3.

I enquire of the checkout assistant if she wants the rewards vouchers and the token before of after the checkout routine (must not make a mistake at this stage as I recall the threat note below the 4 options outlined in the booklet). She confirms “at the end” and wants my Tesco clubcard to award more points for this purchase basket. Amazing really.

The net cost to me, and I have studied the till roll now for over half an hour and am still no wiser on how it happened, is £2.08. What I forgot to mention was that the jar of coffee is for our local village hall of which I am chairman. The £3 mentioned on the till roll will be reimbursed to me by the treasurer.

In conclusion, I bought from our local Tesco 9 bottles of good wine, 4 large potatoes and a large jar of coffee for -92p. Can anyone beat that? First thing Monday morning I intend to dump my Tesco shares on the basis that the purchase of a TV was a one-off, my wife will still shop at Waitrose and the world has gone completely and utterly mad.

jgs- 2009

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