The high street chain are selling the sandwiches that are produced and packaged in the same way as M&S produces.
Image: Reach Commissioned)
Costa customers are being charged a premium for takeaway sandwiches when they can buy exactly the same product cheaper in M&S.
Under a tie-up deal the coffee chain and high street giant are selling sarnies that are produced and packaged in the same way and taste identical.
But in a move shoppers may find hard to swallow, they fork out 36% extra in Costa – including when not eating in.
And we discovered the cheeky price hike even applies when the two outlets are next-door to each other.
Consumer expert Martyn James said: “Rules need to be tightened up. It’s ludicrous.”
The issue arose after Marks & Spencer gave Costa permission to sell M&S-branded sandwiches in its 2,467 UK cafes in March.
Many venues often charge a little more for dine-in food, to cover the cost of facilities.
But in this case, customers are still having to fork out more even if they simply take the sandwich away, like they would if they purchased it from an M&S store.
In St Albans, Herts, our reporter spent £2.75 on a prawn mayonnaise sandwich from M&S. But he had to shell out £3.10 to buy the same takeaway buttie from neighboring Costa – a markup of 13%.
An identical Porridge and Berry Compote also cost £2 in M&S and £2.55 in the Costa 30 yards down the street. This equates to a mark-up of 28%.
A £2.25 ham and mustard sandwich costs an extra 50p when bought to take away from Costa – and a hefty £1.05 extra if you opt to eat in.
In West Derby, Liverpool, punters pay a pound more for a tuna sweetcorn sandwich in Costa, a massive markup of 36% on the £2.75 at M&S next door.
Analysts say Costa Coffee, bought by Coca-Cola for £3.9billion in 2018, is trying to recover revenues after the pandemic.
Industry expert Mr James, from consumer rights website Resolver, said the Consumer Rights Act needs to be improved.
“Discrepancies like this remind us that the rules need to be tightened up,” he said. “It’s ludicrous in this day and age that consumers don’t have a choice.
“A shopper choosing between two high street shops or between the high street and online should be told when it is cheaper to buy the same product elsewhere.
“Otherwise it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth if you later find out you’ve been overcharged.
“Consumers appreciate honesty. It wouldn’t be hard to put an asterisk saying, ‘It’s cheaper to buy in M&S’.”
M&S shopper and former caterer Pam Kimber, 74, from St Albans, almost choked on her lunch when we told her about the price difference in the stores.
She told us: “If the sandwich is the same and they are both taken away, I’d expect them to be the same price. They shouldn’t charge more.
“It isn’t fair for the same sandwich to be available for a different price a few yards down the road.”
Kevin Hutchinson, 61, a volunteer who often visits both outlets, added: “It’s hard to tell where to go these days with prices changing all the time. Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw.”
A Costa spokesman said: “We are really proud of our collaboration with M&S Food, bringing more choice and great quality food to our customers.
“As with any product bought in a café as opposed to a supermarket, there will be a cost difference, but this is to be expected in a retail environment with team members serving and areas to sit and enjoy purchases.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.