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Weirdest supermarket substitutions include mushrooms swapped for tampons

Shoppers have revealed the strangest items supermarkets have sent them as a substitute for their unavailable orders, including mushrooms for tampons, and cream crackers in the place of the decorative items you pull apart with a bang at Christmas dinner.

An annual survey of more than 3,000 people by consumer rights outlet Which? delved into the common practice of item substitutions when online shopping, which ranges from amusing to potentially serious.

Just over a third of respondents reported receiving a substitution in their most recent grocery order from at least one of the eight online supermarkets they were asked about.

Among the strangest substitutions were Ocado sending mushrooms instead of tampons, Tesco delivering Jacob’s cream crackers instead of Christmas crackers, and Morrisons sending onions in place of cheese and onion crisps.

Aldi is claimed to have sent fruit sweets instead of fruit, while Asda gave customers fruit-scented shower gel instead of fruit.

Iceland opted for frozen pizza when it ran out of tinned peaches, Waitrose baked beans instead of soup, and Sainsbury’s decided to send out allergy tablets instead of an anti-allergy duvet.

Which? said it had also been heard from shoppers who received a potato instead of crisps, cheese instead of milk, toilet roll instead of kitchen roll, and all-butter pastry instead of a block of butter.

In other instances, the substitutions were potentially more serious, with Tesco claiming to have sent one customer regular cheese instead of lactose-free cheese, Asda sending a normal item as opposed to its gluten-free counterpart, and Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s sending food that was either not vegan or vegetarian.

One shopper was sent cream crackers in place of Christmas crackers


The website also reported that one shopper who ordered size 6+ nappies for toddlers over 16kg was instead sent size 3 (for babies up to 10kg) instead by Asda, which it noted was a potentially messy mistake.

The survey also found that Asda was the supermarket from which customers were most likely to receive a substitution, with 56 per cent of shoppers having received one in their most recent shop. This was followed by Sainsbury’s (41 per cent), Morrisons (33 per cent) and Tesco (32 per cent).

Just 17 per cent of Ocado customers and 23 per cent of Iceland customers had received a substitution in their most recent shop, with shoppers rating their choices of replacements as three out of five stars. Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons were all rated two stars.