Everywhere you look these days there are special offers and incentives to buy more, through BOGOF and 3 for 2 offers. On the face of it, customers are getting good discount offers. But not always.

Two factors are working to shift the balance of power away from the one with the money (aka the customer) towards the one who needs the money (aka the trader).

Both factors are contained within the same retailing practice – pre-packaging. It actually reduces or removes customer choice.

For example, I wanted to buy a packet of cream crackers the other day. The only cream crackers available in the supermarket that day were in twin packets. I had to buy TWO packets, like it or not. It is the same story with a wide range of products. Retailers are seeking to increase the average order value.

Some offer genuine reductions if you buy multiple units, such as 4 six-packs of dog food for £10, but still allow you to buy single units.

Where I take issue with some supermarkets is when a pre-pack includes rubbish. Take large oranges. They are pretty expensive, and come pre-packed 4 in a net.

In my experience, a significantly high percentage of these nets will contain one orange that is past its best, and may even be uneatable. I then end up getting 3 for the price of 4, which is the very opposite of a discount offer.

It has happened so often that I believe the suppliers set aside the ‘bad’ or ‘old’ oranges and arrange for the packers to include one in every net. It gets rid of produce that would otherwise be wasted, and relies on some customers not complaining.

It’s the same principle as production line manufacture, such as cars. By setting a standard that is short of perfect, the manufacturer speeds up output and accepts that a calculated percentage of cars will be returned for repairs under warranty.

But when applied to fresh produce, it is cynical and similar to the sharp practice that got some street traders a bad name. And it removes from customers the right to pick and choose the fruit they want to buy.