Supermarket - customer service - rainchecks

I mostly supermarket shop at Coles and Aldi. To a lesser extent, Woolies.
In the last few weeks, whilst doing the big shop for the week, I wanted to buy one item at Coles (a particular bag of chips), in fact several bags of it and a nut spread at Woolies (again several units).
Both items were on sale when I was shopping.
In both stores the items were heavily discounted.
But in both stores - and I was in very large stores, not a Coles “express” or a Woolies “metro” - the stock was sold out.
Naturally I asked staff for help. “Is there any stock out back” or "“is there any stock in a nearby store”?
Staff at both supermarkets replied “no” and “no”.

I then did what I have not done before in Australia, but have done overseas: I asked for a raincheck.
At Coles I was told “please come this way”. A young man took me to a nearby desk, filled in a form with the details of what I was after and listed the sale price. He asked how many units do I want and I replied “4”.
He said that stock will arrive in 2 days and will be selling for the usual price, but you can get 3 bags at the lower price, so long as you buy them within 14 days and give the slip to either a cashier or an attendant at the self serve. “And no problem you cannot come back here. This slip of paper is good for all Coles supermarkets”.
I thanked him very much.

At Woolies, no such luck. When I approached a staff member I was asked “where is the shelf location”. I took her to where the item should be located, but the shelf was bare. This particular (fancy) cashew spread was sold out.
“Sorry, we’re clearly out. We’ll have more in a day or two”.
Further discussion revealed I will be charged the full non sale price if I want to buy it when it arrives at the store.

In my experience, Coles has always had better customer service than Woolies. This is just more evidence of that.

Out of interest, prior to posting this I Googled “rainchecks” at both stores and guess what I found? In black and white: Woolies does not offer rainckecks.


My recent raincheck experience with the muppets at Woolies.



I always prefer to shop at Coles…never had a problem getting a rain check…the staff are friendlier PLUS they are an Australia own company not USA as with Woolworths or German as with Aldi

And at Aldi & Woolworth if they smiled their face would crack !

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Woolworths supermarkets in Australia are not a USA owned company. It is an Australian company listed on the Australian Share market. Like any listed Australian Company, including Coles Group, shareholders can be both Australian or foreign. These two companies are predominately Australian owned by Australian investors, investment funds, superannuation funds etc.


It appears that Woolworths has stopped all rainchecks as a result of Covid-19 panic buying. The Woolworth website also states:


From Wednesday 11 March 2020, rainchecks will not be available on any advertised stock purchased until further notice. ‘Advertised stock’ includes any product advertised for sale, or which is on promotion in store at a Woolworths Supermarket or Woolworths Metro store.

The information indicates that the raincheck policy may change, if a new notice comes out in the future (when things or consumer return to normal).

That I know…But who is the majority shareholder of Woolworths ? ?

There isn’t a majority shareholder. The largest shareholder in Woolworths is HSBC Custody Nominees Australia Ltd (A subsidiary of Hong Kong based Investment Bank - The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.). Who HSBC holds the shares for, I don’t know but could be anyone with superannuation or investment funds in Australia, or anywhere in the world.

And no surprise, it is also the largest shareholder in Coles. They have a slightly larger percentage ownership in Coles (25.18%) compared to Woolworths (24.71%).

Annual reports for both companies list the top 20 shareholders. The list is similar for both companies.

Of the 350 000 shareholders, the majority are Australian retail investors.


OK I stand corrected…But that don’t make their staff smile at customers LOL

And just to confuse the situation more, in Australia David Jones and Country Road are owned by; Woolworths, a South African company.

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Q: Who owns Woolworths supermarkets in Australia?
Woolworths has about 445,000 shareholders/[owners], the vast majority of whom are Australian mum and dad investors.
Woolworths Group Limited is a major Australian company with extensive retail interest throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is the second largest company in Australia by revenue.
Woolworths Ltd in Australia has no connection with the F.W. Woolworth Company in the United States, nor the Woolworths Group of UK, nor the Woolworths Group in South Africa.


It is NOT an American company!! Where does this misinformation come from?
Shop where you choose. They all have their good parts and bad parts.
Sure no rain checks but in MY experience, woollies has a much better delivery service and you can use discount d gift cards and the monthly 10% off which is not offered by Coles. Each consumer should choose what is important to them personally


Woolworths is an Australian Company because it is listed on the ASX and registered in Australia. It is not listed or registered in the USA or GB.

The Conversation previously looked at share ownership of Australia’s 20 biggest companies (public listed). Voting rights at shareholder meetings are based on the number and type of shares held. Australian shareholders invested in the top 20 typically hold less than 50% of the shares and hence less than 50% of the voting rights.

The value of Woolworths share holdings were approx 17% Australian registered, 66% USA registered, and 17% other nations.

Apologies if The Conversation has not made your day with their assessment. Australia has a history of foreign investment and sharing the profits OS. It’s a very different discussion to that of rain checks at the local supermarket. It’s most likely to have been made by management who ever they are.

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Good point. Thanks. Makes sense. (I am also a happy shareholder in both Woolies and Wesfarmers.)

Rain checks stopped over a year ago at Woolies with the reason being given, Covid causing stock problems. To hear that it is now permanent is REALLY bad! Getting you into the store when you’re expecting to get some advertised specials, then finding them unavailable, is fraud.

Many companies are having difficulties sourcing stock inventory at the moment. The supermarkets aren’t immune to these issues. I suspect that Woolworths has continued it’s raincheck policy so it doesn’t give an expectation that they can supply a product using a raincheck, only to disappoint a customer by later advising it isn’t possible.