Shoppers name the weirdest substitutes sent in online grocery orders


One Aldi customer received Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream instead of the breaded fish fillets he ordered, while another received cooking oil instead of milk.

The odd substitutions appeared in a Which? survey of the weirdest substitutes shoppers have received when delivering online or ordering click and collect. Others included sausage rolls instead of toilet paper rolls and duck paste instead of duct tape.

The consumer champion asked more than 1,300 online supermarket shoppers if they received a substitution with their last grocery order.

Which? found that overall, two in five shoppers (39%) had received a replacement item at their most recent store. Customers were also asked what was the strangest substitution they had received in the past 12 months.

Aldi, which offers a click and collect online shopping service, was by far the most likely of the nine online supermarkets to replace customer orders. Almost half (49%) of Aldi customers said which? they had received a replacement item at their most recent store.

Half (48%) of Sainsbury’s shoppers said which? they had received substitutions in their most recent online store. A shopper said they ordered Sainsbury’s scouring sponges but received a Victoria sponge cake instead. Another said he received beef broth instead of brandy butter.

Almost half (45%) of Asda shoppers received replacement items when they last ordered online. Which? heard of a customer who received sausage rolls instead of toilet paper rolls. Another said he replaced a packet of Cadbury Creme eggs with a box of chicken eggs.

Around four in 10 (43%) Morrisons buyers said they had gotten substitutions in their most recent purchase order, with one customer complaining to Which? that they had received dog food instead of breadsticks.

A similar proportion of shoppers (41%) from online supermarket Ocado said they got substitutions. In one case, a buyer said which one? they had received a pot of mayonnaise instead of a bar of soap.

Two in five Tesco shoppers (39%) said they had received replacement items in their most recent store, while a third of Waitrose customers (36%) had received replacement items in their last food order .

Amazon Fresh customers were among the least likely to receive a questionable substitution, with only a quarter (26%) of shoppers affected. Those who shopped online in Iceland were the least likely to get a replacement, with just one in five customers (18%) affected on their most recent store.

Customers with special dietary needs performed poorly when it came to obtaining substitutions, in all the supermarkets included in the study. Shoppers have complained about getting meat or dairy instead of vegetarian or vegan alternatives.

The same was true for customers with food intolerances, with one shopper having had their regular gluten-free flour replaced with regular self-rising flour.

Ele Clark, which one? retail editor, said: “While sometimes product substitutions in your online shopping can be genuinely helpful, our research has shown that they can also be downright ridiculous.

“You have the right to refuse substitutions at the point of delivery, or you can refuse to receive substitutions – although this can cause a real headache if the key ingredient in your dinner that night is missing. If you end up with a substitution you don’t want, always contact the supermarket and ask for a refund.


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