FOR years Aldi has attracted headlines - and queues - thanks to its legendary Special Buys.
But the German supermarket chain is facing growing backlash from shoppers who have been repeatedly left empty-handed, and are now threatening to boycott the company altogether.
According to its website, Special Buys "can include anything from electronics, like LCD TVs and DVD players, to clothing and furniture", and they are released twice a week.
Very limited numbers of items are stocked in each store, which means shoppers frequently queue outside shops before opening hours on the day a coveted item is released.
Last Saturday, there were chaotic scenes at Aldi stores across the country thanks to its Dyson vacuum cleaner offer, with several customers reportedly grabbing items out of fellow shoppers' hands.
It's obvious that Aldi's Special Buys have a cult following - however, it seems our love affair with the strategy might finally be waning.
Angry shoppers have taken to social media to vent their frustration at the entire Special Buys system, with many threatening to boycott the chain in future.
Some shoppers have even warned that Aldi's Special Buys could lead to violence, while others have suggested ways the supermarket giant can manage disappointment, such as by introducing a ticketing system or introducing a limit of one item per customer.
On the Aldi Australia Facebook page, Maria Guresse posted: "I went to the Bondi Junction store and there was no crowd control or ticket system, people were running and pushing each other ... They only had 20 and the crowd was about 200. Never shopping at Aldi again."
Brenda Schneider Coall posted: "Could have given them numbered tickets. Would have been much fairer".
Another disgruntled customer, Amanda Clarke, wrote: "Very disappointed today to visit the Rosebud Aldi store and to find Dyson vacuum cleaners had sold within 15 miss noting that two people in front of me purchased 4 each. Should have been a limit per person this is why I don't do Aldi always dissapoints!"
However, an Aldi Australia spokeswoman said some stores had already introduced measures to handle Special Buys chaos.
"On days we anticipate a high volume of customers, many of our store managers implement
additional measures, such as ticketing systems. In regards to rolling out a ticketing system nationally, we are always looking for ways to improve our process and will take all considerations on board," the spokeswoman said.
"If customers miss out on a Special Buy we recommend they contact our customer service team on 13 25 34 to assist with stock availability at other stores in your area.
"It is never our intention to cause disappointment to our customers, or miss out on sales, and we will always strive to allocate optimal stock for our stores to meet forecast demand. With big items, we are also restricted by physical space to stock, store and transport the items."
But retail expert Brian Walker from the Retail Doctor Group said Aldi's Special Buys strategy was "calculated" to create "surprise and theatre" and attract more shoppers - and their money - into stores.
"As a general adage the more special the buy and the more effective it is in terms of advertising, the less likely there will be lots of stock," he said.
"The plan to distribute to stores would be known weeks and months in advance … the reality of it is when a product is very popular there is very limited supply, and that's going to create difficulties for some consumers.
"You've only got to go on social media to see some of the comments and I think any damage to reputation is not good. It would be practical if shoppers who saw a Special Buy could ring a store and ask how many units they would be stocking in advance, but of course they won't do that as it defeats the purpose.
"It's a very calculated gamble that some consumers will miss out, but it's working for them."
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