Not Such a Great Offer

for demonstration purposes only

for demonstration purposes only

For those of us who burnt ourselves out, both physically and financially, in the run up to Christmas, the glut of TV ads informing us of sales and holidays is a daily annoyance. It’s as though retailers are telling us we didn’t spend enough over the festive period, and so we should open up our wallets and purses again to be in compliance.

One particular bugbear with me is the current Sainsbury’s ad, which tells us we can get a whopping 10p a litre off fuel at their filling stations. In these days of extortionate fuel prices, this looks like a good deal when it is delivered via a slick TV ad, but closer analysis shows that the savings aren’t really worth the effort, again, physically or financially. Here is a typical example of the discount in action.  

Let us assume for the purpose of this demonstration that I am the proud owner of a Mini Cooper S, the fuel tank of which has a capacity of 50 litres. I have three litres already in the tank, and so when I get to the pumps I fill up with 47 litres at today’s price of £1.31.9 per litre (which I have rounded up to £1.32). This costs me £62.04, but my fuel discount voucher earns me a deduction of 10p per litre, saving me the grand sum of £4.70. Not bad.

But in order to earn that saving, I have to drive out to my local Sainsbury’s, which for me, according to the RAC Route Planner, is exactly eight miles away. Once there, I have to comply with my side of the fuel discount bargain; I must spend £60.00 in a single transaction at their store.

The old proverb says that if we look after the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves, so I grab a cart and set about filling it with sixty quid’s worth of goods in order to trigger the fuel discount. The kitchen cupboards at home are already creaking under the weight of my over-cautious pre-Christmas spend, but I remind myself that I am buying these extra goods for a reason: a walloping £4.70 saving.

And so, after traipsing the aisles and standing in a checkout queue, I unburden my wallet of yet more padding, and load up the car with my purchases. Now it’s time to redeem my voucher for discounted fuel.

Before coming up with a final figure of what I have saved, I must deduct the cost of my round trip of sixteen miles from the total discount figure. According to the RAC, the mileage cost for a small to medium sized car is currently 18p per mile. Multiplying 16 miles by 18p tells me that my trip to Sainsbury’s has cost me £2.88, Subtracting these running costs from my total discount, I discover that I have made a net saving of £1.82, for which I have had to shell out £122.04. I’m sure you will forgive me for not bursting into a chorus of We’re in the Money.

If I took Sainsbury’s up on their offer as described above, I could go on a free gratis round trip of just over ten miles with the money I’d save – not even enough to get me to Sainsbury’s and back. I think I’ll pass on this one.

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About Joe Young

Supposed writer from the north-east coast of England.
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