Consumers and retail commentators have lashed out at Coles, which has restarted its home delivery services with higher delivery fees and a bumped-out free delivery threshold.
Woolworths also restarted its delivery teams this week, but without the 25 per cent fee increase its rival has introduced – a Coles’ delivery fee has leapt from $8 to $12, and the free delivery threshold stretched from $150 to $200.
Woolworths has an incremental delivery fee that begins at $15, and the free delivery kicks in on orders above $300, the same as before home deliveries were suspended due to the pandemic. Woolies also has a minimum order spend of $50.
Coles has tried to justify the increase by saying it is reflective of the extra staff and processes it’s had to employ to deliver groceries during the coronavirus pandemic, but marketing and management expert Michael Callaghan said it was just pure profit exploitation tactics.
“I think it’s very disappointing when on one hand an organisation claims to be socially responsible … when an informed look at what’s really going on shows they’re using the current circumstances to maximise profits,” Dr Callaghan, of Deakin University, told The New Daily.
“Real heroes don’t put out press releases.”
– Coles recently increased the free delivery threshold for orders from $150 or more to $200 and raised its delivery fee from $8 to $12. –
— Riff Jet (@TheRiffJet) April 24, 2020
Queensland University of Technology retail marketing expert Gary Mortimer told AAP he was surprised by the price move.
“It’s disappointing to see an Australian supermarket increase the cost of delivery and its threshold for free delivery at this particular time when there is a significant need for online delivery,” Associate Professor Mortimer told the newswire.
“Both Coles and Woolworths, have indicated, in their previous annual reports significant increase for the demand for this service…traditionally that increase in volume would mean lower costs.”
Dr Callaghan agreed, and said the supermarkets – economically and morally – should have lowered their delivery prices.
— Woolworths (@woolworths) April 21, 2020
Shoppers are far from pleased, too – a quick glance on social media reveals widespread distaste.
One Twitter user said: “My elderly parents who can’t spend $200 and can’t get to the shops because they are vulnerable are being charged a $12 delivery fee for what used to be free, pre pandemic.”
Another customer felt the “minimum order was excessive as a lot of people like me only shop for themselves and $200 is a lot of food”.
Both supermarkets have advised, on their home delivery websites, that they’re still experiencing shortages on some items, and customers might find replacements in their order upon delivery.
According to the online feedback, some of those replacements have been less than ideal.
Dear @Coles firstly I really appreciate that I can online order again, but, (there’s always a but) where can I provide feedback about substitution of products? Honestly ham is not the same as bacon.
— 💧STU ✌💧 (@Crui5erFJ) April 23, 2020
@woolworths I just had an order delivered with only half the items in it, nothing on the invoice seems to indicate things were unavailable, so why? I've put this through the form online (re: missing items) but maybe the yello drivers need to check things before leaving the store.
— David Wheeler (@poke__egg) April 23, 2020