GroceryWatch

So the ACCC has launched the new "GroceryWatch" site, GroceryChoice, which gives comparisons of a basket of goods between supermarkets. I wonder how hard it would be to game this system, if you could work out what was in each basket? Dropping the price of a single item could have a big impact.

UK retailers do this with what they call "known value items", such as milk, bread, eggs and bananas. Customers know how much these normally cost, so by dropping the prices on just those items, customers get the illusion of cheap prices and get stung on the prices of goods they can't so easily compare.

The best news from the supermarket inquiry is that the government will bring in mandatory unit pricing reporting. I wrote to the NSW fair trading minister about this a few years ago, with the response that there wasn't demand or need. Unit pricing means the supermarket shelves will tell you the price per standard unit, for example price per 100ml or 100g. Next time you're in a supermarket, compare the prices of 400g and 800g cans of tomatoes. The 800g cans cost more than double the price of a 400g can.

The site itself seems fairly well designed, though the colour scheme isn't ideal. Yellow-on-green isn't really ideal. There's a "latest news" and "subscribe" option but no RSS feeds?

The papers managed to find someone prepared to moan about the site, because he has vision and mobility problems. Sorry Mr Kerr, it's not the web designer's job to show you how to turn on the disability options of your software. They've done everything that they should (though the colour choice isn't helpful) to make it easy for you. Learn where the options for a user-defined stylesheet and minimum font-size are, and use them. Better yet, I bet you're using Internet Exploder. Try Firefox and see the zoom option -- it rocks! (Ctrl + and Ctrl - or Ctrl and the mouse wheel). If you still need more help, there are other tools that will help.