Woolworths vs Coles for Online Shopping

Here’s why I am going to switch entirely to woolies for my online shopping, even though they do have a few annoyances.

  1. They have a way to tell a shopper how you want your food chosen. Eg long expiry date, bananas preferred to be a bit green
  2. The website has more accurate estimates of stock levels
  3. You can get a delivery in a short time even on weekends (though some have found this unreliable, depend where you are, I suppose)
  4. Refunds on food which was overestimated for price are quick and easy (I use paypal)

Here’s why I am abandoning Coles except if I need something quickly and can go, myself, to the shop (its closer than Woolies by many km). Even though I can get my deliveries much cheaper, the premium I pay for Woolies is worth it, IMO.

  1. There are never refunds. They will always give you food which is heavier and costing more. Woolworths errs on the side of caution, hence the refunds.
  2. You have no way to let them know that giving you a massive pack of chicken thighs expiring the next day, is unacceptable. In fact any expiries in the next 1-3 days are unacceptable.
  3. Stock levels are inaccurate much of the time
  4. Basically, I get what I ordered.

YMMV of course, but this is the case with my local stores.


I have a similar experience, and found that complaining to Coles is pointless.

Both Coles and Woolies have issues which is not surprising given what a difficult process online shopping is with so many items, perishables, and just in time logistics, but both need to provide better communication, stocking info and complaints methods.

My last Coles order was a disaster regarding out of stock items - more than 12 items were out of stock from a fairly small order (30 items total) and I know that some of the items actually were in stock. See extract from my complaint at the bottom.

Other issues have included:

  • substitution of frozen strawberries for raspberries (not a substitute at all)
  • tried to order 1 avocado, website said out of stock so I ordered next cheapest which was a pack of “I’m perfect” avos, listed as in-stock. When my order arrived it contained two packs of five normal avocados because “I’m perfect” were out of stock, so I ended up with 10 avos when I wanted one. Irony is that binloads of single avos were available the whole time, the website was wrong.
  • complaints system doesn’t allow the retailer to learn from mistakes. I ordered a pack of 1kg of pears, but received instead one single pear (Woolies). When I complained, their system only allowed me to request a refund, but did not provide any means of saying what went wrong, so I suppose this stock picker will continue to make the same mistake, or be criticised for forgetting the pears when in fact s/he correctly included them but mistook what “1” applied to.

After 16 days and two emails I still haven’t received responses to my complaint to Coles beyond a standard pro-forma response. Until I do I’ll continue to use Woolies because their stocking situation seems to be better.

----part of my complaint re out of stock items----------------------------

I logged in to the ‘new’ website and started ordering. Five or six items were listed as out of stock, so not available. See summary below, items 1 to 4. (There were more than I have listed, but I can’t remember them all).

To complete my order I clicked on Checkout. This brought up a list of another three items that were not available, items 5 to 7. QUESTION: why were these not identified earlier while customer is selecting items, like items 1 to 4?

When I received the post-packing email, it told me that another five items were out of stock. So by this time more than 12 items were not available out of my remaining order of 21 stock items. This is completely unacceptable, worse because many of those items were actually in stock the whole day.


I completely agree. I have been a Coles customer online for over 10 years. The issues seem to be getting worse especially since I moved to the Gold Coast. So many times I’m told something is not in stock but it arrives in the order. One of the most frustrating and common issues is the use by dates. My order yesterday had 2l milk which expires tomorrow. There’s supposed to be at least a 7 day period after delivery. I’ve tried contacting them as well and all I get is they will try to do better and give me a refund. This is not good enough.


For what it’s worth, the Coles manager I spoke to two weeks ago said they have a five-day policy - packers are supposed to ensure there is at least 5 days before use-by date.

I was impressed by this “online manager” at my store (who is also the “online packer”) who seemed to have a good approach and understanding of the issues, but whose life was made harder by inaccurate stock information at all levels, and poor stock levels in general. He pointed out that my situation was made worse by the fact that online deliveries came from different stores depending on how they were delivered, which means that stock information at the time of ordering is pointless since it is unknown which store should be queried for stock. He was very apologetic about the impossibility of getting proper customer support.


Don’t get me started on Coles Versus Woollies. Ever since Coles changed its website last year there are massive errors in the processing of large stored shopping lists.
The function only works with short lists but I don’t know what the item limit is, but my lists are full of bugs.
Items are reported as unavailable in the List, but when you look at the product in other parts of the website it is available. There are dozens of these errors not just one or two.
The second type of error, is when the List tells you it is a ‘special’ when it isn’t and it is showing an old price rather than the latest. This is misleading in their favour.
The third type of error is when the item is NOT showing as a special, when it is. The price is higher than it should be, again in their favour.
I have a longer shopping list which will not load at all, Even my shorter list takes minutes to load.
I have logged numerous calls, and complaint forms… Nothing has changed. I have even provided screen prints demonstrating the errors, more than once.
Woolworths has a very badlly designed user interface, but online shopping lists work, so I too, prefer Woolworths to Coles.


Thank you for the reply. However, if what the person has said is true then they should advise customers of this type of information. I only shop online so I wouldn’t know who to speak to at my local Coles store and I’m sure if everything is accessed from different locations then they really won’t be able to help the problems I listed.


It seems that every online participating Coles store has someone they call the “online manager”. You can easily speak to them by phoning the shop and asking for the online manager. As mentioned, I believe they are actually the ones who pack all or some online orders. My experience in talking to them has been good (for example getting a small chicken instead of the turkey-size monsters that have become normal).

But these people are powerless to do anything about lack of stock or incorrect stock info on the website. They can’t even choose what substitutes to use for out of stock items (they are given a list of up to three acceptable substitutes).

I don’t know if you are aware, but both Coles and Woolies offer a simple means of getting refunds for anything you dispute. This is fast and easy but doesn’t solve any problems other than giving you your money back. Either text the number they give and ask for refund or, shudder, deal with the chat bot. You can also ring Coles, not sure about Woolies, which can be easier, but waits are long. You should definitely claim your short-dated products, but of course this doesn’t solve the problem hat you still don’t have the goods you wanted.

As for the different stores problem, this may be a special problem where I live, in between two stores. Or it might be system wide. And yes, until they fix this anyone affected will have no hope of successful on-line shopping.

I still have no reply to my complaint about this to Coles.

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Can you tell us how to do this please? I haven’t found a way with Woolies.

When you are checking your order and get to checkout time, you’ll get a screen with options for substitutes (or not) and “edit shopper note”. Thats what you want. Also the system remembers your notes. Screenie attached, these two notes have been part of my Woolies order for 2 years. Please excuse shaky work. Of course whether it has any effect depends on who’s doing the picking and packing. some don’t even bother reading the notes but more often, they do.


Thank you Sue, much appreciated!

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Woolworths is certainly my choice plus i like the meats selection a lot better everything is always nice and fresh with long expiry dates

Coles consistently puts items in my order that are about to expire and I’m sick of it. I live a 220k round trip away from the nearest Coles so taking the product back is not an option. What was once an excellent service is now atrocious, items missing or like others, listed as unavailable only to find them instore.

That unfortunately is no different to the perishables and packaged goods in-store, at least at our local.

Wow, that really isn’t good enough. I would demand that they supply, to your door a replacement for the out of date products. That would qualify as customer service not the pathetic responses I get via email.

I’ve now changed my mind about woolies, because I can no longer get the 10% off once a month for online shopping. (Well, from 1st July) Stuck between a rock and a hard place so I’m going back to coles and in-store shopping at Aldi. woolies is a couple of suburbs from where I live and I just never go to the centre where they are so won’t ever use the 10% off in-store

I guess its not always about price for some but for me it does come down to that in a climate of inflation and rising costs.


After a brief foray into Coles online during lockdown I now buy weekly online from Woolworths. To be honest, I’ve forgotten how to shop in store in a large supermarket (eventhough we have 2 Woolies and a Coles in our suburb).

I suspect the online shopping experience varies from suburb to suburb. My experience is excellent - it is rare for me to have wrong items or anything close to expiry. Anything that’s missing or wrongly substituted is refunded quickly by Olive the chatbot. Recently I had some items that I felt were not properly refrigerated - had online chat with a human who refunded half my order as I said those items were either not safe to eat or had shorter shelf life due to refrigeration issue. Also said they would file incident report to check trucks refrigeration (though of course no way for me to follow this up).

I pay $13.50 monthly for Delivery unlimited including as many orders as I like to any address. Very useful to send grocery orders to family/friends who are sick or having a financial crisis and don’t live nearby - for no extra delivery fee.

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And now you need to spend $75 or more to meet the free delivery requirements. Woolies is gradually removing all the advantages we once had. I’m going to shop with them this week for the last time before losing the online 10% off deal. The 10% cancels the delivery fee, usually.


I have always found they seem to read them. I am the same as you. I have notes that have been there for a couple of years too!

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Got my last delivery from them and not one item had had its note read. Local Coles is doing better lately.

To up the min. spend to $75 is just devastating to me, I am 80, live alone, and on the age pension, I no longer drive, have no public transport, I have been happily chugging along with the $50 min spend as I need fresh dairy etc each week. Woolies need to get that one size does not fit all. I changed from Coles 1 and 1/2 years ago after an order was left on the doorstep without any notification (in Qld) with dairy, fish etc slowly melting, when I state ring the bell. No one was interested at all. What can one do??