Friday’s Rant from the Soap Box in My Living Room – restricted hot chocolate??

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Dear Tesco

I have a mystery, that you need to solve for me…

I shop at a local Tesco Express, near where I work, and a few weeks ago, went to buy a container of hot chocolate, a well known brand, for our parent/toddler group coffee time. I went to the self service check out, and put my basket of shopping through the machine (those machines are awful, by the way, I am sure they make more work and save less time, but that’s another rant for another day!) and when I put the tub of hot chocolate through the scanner, the machine beeped at me, and told me I had to get “authorisation” to purchase it. The shop assistant came over and cleared it, but when I asked him why hot chocolate needed to be authorised, he smiled at me, shrugged and walked away. I was a little puzzled, and must admit I did check the container to see what ingredients were in it that apparently meant I needed to be cleared to buy it, but went about my day. I figured it was probably an error with the machine. 

However, the next week, I went again to buy the same product and when I went to the shelf, I see the sign, you can make out that it says “products in this area are security protected ” Really, they aren’t. There are no security tags, and when the shop assistant came to check when I bought it, they didn’t disable any tags and it is apparently only the hot chocolate that is a concern. Like I said, I have bought that coffee and it doesn’t cause issues at the til. Is there someone shoplifting large quantities of hot chocolate where I work perhaps?? 


I would like to point out that ONLY the hot chocolate is deemed to be something that needs to be authorised, the expensive coffee products below and next to it, which I also buy, do not. I again asked the shop assistant, and he either could not, or would not explain. He just said “store policy”!

So, because I am curious, I tweeted you on Twitter and asked you and got the response back that you had no idea. I also generally asked social media, and the responses varied from “maybe people are snorting it?” to “perhaps it’s because of the cocoa shortage, and they are restricting what people buy?” to “maybe it’s hallucinogenic if drunk in large quantities?” but no real answer.

So, I went to various supermarkets, big ones and small ones, local to me, who sell more amounts of the same brand, including your own bigger stores locally and NONE of them have restricted the hot chocolate. I even asked some of the staff and they had no idea why it would be restricted. I even took photos… (I know, I need to get a life!)


So, dear Tesco, I am DYING of curiosity, and really want to know, why one small Tesco near me, won’t allow me to purchase hot chocolate without authorisation? I am sure there is a jolly good reason (or at least I hope so) and I look forward to finding out what it is….?

Yours, frequent buyer of hot chocolate that so far hasn’t made me high, happier or thinner, so I can’t figure out what makes it a restricted item…. 

If you are reading this and know the answer, please do enlighten me! πŸ˜‰ 

Ranty Friday
Posted in Friday's Rants from The Soap Box and tagged hot chocolate, shopping, Tesco.


  1. Hey lovely!

    This is really funny – I’ve never noticed hot choc in our local store being security protected but now I’m going to have to double check!

    I think it’s either some weird glitch that no-one has checked – maybe the notice belonged to an item that used to occupy that spot?

    Or the store manager is addicted to hot choc and needs to carefully monitor the stock so the last one is never sold?!

    Can’t wait to see the answer!

    Emma x

  2. i presume it might be the most stolen item in that particular store? that’s the only thing i can think of to explain it. how odd!

    • I am assuming so too, but it puzzles me, because why steal hot chocolate?? There surely are more valuable things in the shop? πŸ™‚

  3. A major issue for supermarkets with self-serve scanners is that shoplifters put items through the scanners as normal, bag it all up and then just walk out casually, without paying. It takes a while for the machine to realise activity has stopped, at which point all it does is start asking over & over again if you’d like to continue, by which time another shopper may be trying to use it (causing confusion) and/or there may be yet further delay until a staff member comes over to take a look. By this time the shoplifter has long gone. They lose a LOT of money to this technique & it is down to each individual store manager’s discretion to select which items are security tagged for authorisation. They collate data to make those decisions on from the machines lists of unresolved transactions… so in this store’s case, they have very likely had (a) shoplifter/s regularly scanning & walking out without paying and the pattern to this person’s shopping includes their penchant for hot chocolate (their regular milk thievery would obviously not be a practical thing to try and track). So, although the hot chocolate itself is not particularly valuable or actually a restricted item like alcohol, it is tagged to catch a regular shoplifter. When anyone scans it, staff are called over which deters a shoplifter from not paying & also, the more senior staff will be aware of the reason the item is tagged & keep an eye out. PS: I’m not a shop-lifter! (part of my previous career involved consumer data interpretation).

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