As the five major online retailers geared up for the pre-Easter rush, we put them to the test and discovered that their operations were much like the chocolates that they were busy delivering. Some were crisp and smooth, and others were just a little sticky to say the least.
The majority of our mystery web shoppers found their online systems easy to navigate, and had no problems getting delivery slots for the all-important Easter weekend.
There was also an abundance of slots available in the run-up period and Sainsbury and Asda were both offering next-day delivery.
In addition, all the deliveries were made within their designated time slots, which is an improvement on our Christmas report.
We had asked our shoppers to order the same list as appears in The Grocer 33 this week, and while none of them were able to order all 33 products in the required formats and sizes, the results prove that the retailers appear to be getting to grips with how they pick their substitutions.
The issue of substitutions has caused consternation in the past, and getting it right is all the more pertinent at this time of year.
However this time none of our shoppers had any complaints with the quality or logic of their substituted items, although our Sainsbury shopper was rather disappointed with the sheer number that she received.
The delivery arrived on time but the driver left one of her bags in the back of his truck.
However, he called her as soon as he became aware of the error and returned to deliver the remaining bag within the hour.
Six of the products that she had ordered were substituted and there were further problems with the quantities of products that were delivered.
She received double the ordered amounts of garlic, Australian red wine and fresh turkey steaks, but was not charged for them on the receipt. Meanwhile, the own label fish fingers were never delivered.
Our Asda shopper fared much better. Her delivery arrived with just two substitutions, and was within her selected time slot.
However, she was a little baffled by the fact that 19 plastic bags were used to deliver just 31 items, and thought this a bit excessive.
The £4.95 delivery charge has also increased to £5.95 since our last report.
Waitrose put up a sterling performance in terms of ordering and delivery. Our shopper shops online a lot, but this was the first time that she had ever used Waitrose and she said it would definitely not be the last.
She found that the ordering process was quick and simple to use, and was impressed with the way that own label products are listed separately from branded ones in their categories. All 32 items were delivered with only one substitution.
She was further impressed with the way that products had been grouped in their respective categories in sturdy marked bags. For example frozen products were packed in bags labelled 'frozen'.
Her one gripe was with the fact that Waitrose will only deliver if the total value of the order is more than £50.
As a result she had to order some extra items in order to make it up, which she found rather annoying.
Tesco and Ocado were the only retailers to deliver the list exactly as ordered without any substitutions. Both of our mystery shoppers said that they found the sites easy to use and their deliveries arrived on-time and in a well-packed state.

Star order: Ocado
The Grocer 33 Online: Availability and promotion
The latest The Grocer 33 Online survey put the services through their paces in the run up to Easter, with orders to be delivered on the Saturday of the holiday. Ocado and Tesco delivered the shopping exactly as ordered, while Sainsbury turned generous and Asda had a thing about plastic bags. Gaelle Walker reports
>>excellent customer service
Ordered: 05.04.06Delivered: 15.04.06Time taken: 25 minsLocation: BrightonNumber of items delivered: 32Out of stocks: 0Substitutions: 0Delivery charge: £5Total paid: £51.02Deciding which online retailer should be crowned with our Star Order prize proved to be another close-run contest and this time it was between Ocado and Tesco.Both retailers provided our mystery shoppers with an excellent experience from log on to drop off and showered them with impressive levels of customer service.However, in the end the award goes to Ocado, which with a few little extra touches helped made our shopper's day.Ocado was a close contender for the award in our last report back in December, when it had also delivered all the products our shopper had asked for without any hassle.Our shopper had used the site before and found it so easy to navigate that she was able to complete her entire order in just 25 minutes, the quickest time in the latest survey.Her delivery slot was booked between 8am and 10am, so she was doubly chuffed when her doorbell promptly rang at 8.01am, leaving her free to get on and enjoy the sunny Bank Holiday weekend.She was further impressed when the driver made the effort to carry all her bags to her upstairs flat instead of leaving them at the front door. She added that he was extremely polite and friendly.Ocado delivered each and every one of the 32 items that she had ordered, with no substitutions.All products were packed in their respective categories, which she said helped to make her job of unpacking them all the easier.However, what really made her day was when she spotted the Cadbury's chocolate egg which had been included in her shopping as a complimentary Easter gift.
>>how our shoppers fared in our easter 2006 surveyNo items delivered 31
Ordered: 10.11 on 05.04.06Time taken: 44minsOur shopper was only able to order 31 items, as Anchor Spreadable and Kleenex for Men Tissues are not sold in the size required by our list.However, Asda was once again spot-on with its substitutions. It was unable to deliver the four-pack of fresh turkey steaks ordered and swapped it for two packs of thin cut turkey steaks. The McVitie's biscuits were also substituted with a different variant but our shopper was happy with the alternatives.In both cases she was also only charged the price of the original items ordered. She failed to spot any promotional activity.No items delivered 32
Ordered: 23.05 on 05.04.06Time taken: 25minsOur shopper only ordered 32 products as Ocado does not sell tuna chunks in the size specified on our list.Her order arrived on time and without a single substitute.She was further impressed with a deal on Australian red wine that she had not noticed when placing her order, and when she discovered that a small Easter gift had been included in the delivery.There were further offers on Kleenex for Men Tissues, red seedless grapes and own label turkey breast steaks.No items delivered 32
Ordered: 16.45 on 05.04.06Time taken: 50minsSainsbury substituted six items on our shopper's list. The own label croissants and sausages were replaced with pricier varieties, while McCain hash browns were replaced with Sainsbury's potato croquettes. The old El Paso fajita kit was swapped for a different variant, and white grapes appeared in the place of red ones. Her five-pack of oranges was also replaced with a six-pack. The fish fingers never arrived, despite being on the receipt, and a mistake was also made with the turkey steaks. She received four 500g packs instead of the one ordered.No items delivered 32
Ordered: 20.08 on 05.04.06Time taken: 50minsTesco did not sell Anchor spreadable in the 250g size required, which meant that our shopper was not able to order a full list of items. He also had to substitute the Warburtons white sliced loaf for Kingsmill Gold. However, all 32 products arrived on his doorstep at the appointed hour and without any substitutions.He spotted a large amount of promotional activity and deals on Old El Paso fajita Dinner kits, McCain hash browns and strawberry Müller Fruit Corners.No items delivered 32
Ordered: 13.15 on 05.04.06Time taken: 65minsOur shopper was unable to order McCain hash browns. However, only one substitution was made to her 32-item delivery. The delivered pack of fresh turkey steaks was larger than ordered, however, the substituted item was clearly marked in a separate bag, and she was only charged the original lower price. She spotted a large amount of promotional activity, including deals on Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, own label red kidney bea ter, Walkers Crisps ready-salted six packs and McVitie's milk chocolate digestives.