Published: 06:00, 12 August 2020
A disabled man who relies heavily upon online grocery shopping has criticised Tesco for almost trebling delivery charges "without warning".
The 58-year-old suffers from a serious lung condition as well as other disabilities which make walking "very difficult", and has been shielding in his Birchwood Walk flat since March.
After finding the government's free food parcels were not right for his medical needs, he took to online food shopping, with a budget of about £50 a week for groceries and personal items.
"When supermarkets started prioritising home deliveries for people like me, I was overjoyed," said Mr Arden, an author who formerly worked as a publisher in London.
"I couldn’t get on the online registration list for my go-to supermarkets Asda and Morrisons, but I could for Tesco.
"Until last week, all was fine and their service was excellent."
"The difference of £3.50 is the price of a large chicken and four meals to me..."
But he was shocked to find the supermarket giant had "flattened" all delivery costs - meaning its lowest delivery fees had risen dramatically.
"I discovered as I reached the online checkout that the delivery charge of £2 I had been paying each week, for a low demand slot, had been hiked up to £5.50 with no warning on the website and no direct advance warning from Tesco to me," he said.
Mr Arden says that while the increase may seem nominal, it has a notable impact on his weekly budget.
"The difference of £3.50 is the price of a large chicken and four meals to me," he said.
"Tesco makes massive profits and their sales have gone up during lockdown. All I can see is profiteering at the expense of a vulnerable customer segment."
Mr Arden is particularly reliant upon grocery deliveries, since he was forced to let his carer go.
"She would do my shopping for me but I can no longer afford to pay her," he explained.
"I applied for the government's personal independence payment (PIP) which I hoped would help me afford a carer, but was rejected, and I'm still awaiting for an appeal hearing which has been delayed by Covid-19.
"I find walking so difficult, I've basically become a hermit," he added.
"I've only been here in Canterbury year, and a lot of that time has been in lockdown, so I don't really know any of my neighbours well enough to ask them for help."
Tesco has seen a huge increase in demand for online grocery shopping during the pandemic, and has more than doubled its online capacity since the start of the outbreak - now offering more than 1.4 million delivery slots each week.
A spokesman said: "Demand for slots remains extremely high at all times of the week, so we have moved to a simpler pricing structure with a flat rate that better reflects the cost of picking, packing and delivering orders. This structure is fairer for everyone and means no customers will have to pay the highest slot price - which was previously £7 - as a result of demand.
“Customers who have signed up for our Delivery Saver subscription service continue to benefit from free deliveries and collections as part of their plan."