Too Good To Go scheme

Nov 7, 2021 | Business & Trade


There is a scheme called Too Good To Go aimed at reducing food waste. A business (such as a cafe) sells a “goodie bag” which the consumer buys through the app. This goodie bag contains food items left over at the end of the day being sold at a cheaper price. However the exact contents of this bag are unknown to both the seller and buyer as they would not know in advance which items would be left over. Is this permissable?
Further details can be found on their website



In order for a transaction to be valid, all necessary requirements of a valid transaction must be fulfilled. One of the requirements is for the item of sale to be specified and known so that the seller is aware of what they are selling and the buyer is aware of what they are purchasing. If there is ambiguity in this regard, then depending on the level of ambiguity the sale may become invalid.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) forbade the sale of pebbles and the sale which involves gharar (loosely translated as ambiguity or deception).

‘The sale of pebbles’ refers to a method of sale that some people were accustom to in the time of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace). The method would be as such: a seller would lay out some items he wishes to sell. An agreement would then take place between a buyer and this seller that the buyer would throw a stone and whichever item the stone fall on the seller will be obliged to sell that item and the buyer will be obliged to buy that item for a pre-agreed price and neither party will have the option to cancel or renegotiate. This type of trade was prohibited as the item of sale was not specified before hand and neither the buyer or seller knew which item they were transacting in.

Another example of ambiguity presented by the jurists is when the seller presents two items of clothing and says to the buyer I have sold one of these two to you and fixes a price. In such a case the sale will be invalid as the item of sale is not fixed. If however, the seller says you may choose one of the two for a fixed price then the sale will be valid as the seller has been given an option to specify the item of sale.

Ambiguity in a transaction will be an invalidating factor if the ambiguity is major, such that it has the potential to lead to dispute. If on the other hand the ambiguity is minor and tolerable, then it will not render the transaction invalid. This is where the minor ambiguity does not lead to dispute such as where a certain amount of ambiguity is customarily accepted. An example presented by the jurists is making a fixed payment to go to a traditional hammam (public bath). This transaction should be invalid as the amount of water to be used and duration of stay is not pre-determined despite the price being fixed. Hence, due to the ambiguity in the usufruct the transaction should be invalid. However, as this became common practice and the ambiguity did not lead to dispute, the transaction was deemed valid. A more contemporary example would be of a buffet restaurant. The customer pays a fixed price in exchange for consuming an unknown amount of food. This too should have resulted in an invalid transaction, however, as the ambiguity is tolerated by the seller and as these types of arrangements have become common, this amount of ambiguity would not render the transaction invalid.

After understanding these preliminary points we can have a look at the arrangement mentioned in the question.

Too good to go (TGTG) acts as an intermediary between the customer and the business owner. If a business has left over food at the end of the day, they can make a pack of the left over food, known as a ‘Magic Bag’, and sell it via TGTG. TGTG advertises these ‘magic bags’ on their website on behalf of the business. The advert will show the sale price of the ‘magic bag’ and a rough guideline of what could be found in the bag. Below are some examples;

An M&S kiosk at a BP petrol station advertising a magic bag for £4 states: … – collect items from M&S Food, Wild Bean Cafe and other BP in-store ranges may be included – this could mean fruits, vegetables, ready meals, sandwiches. Remember the contents of your Magic Bad depend on which items the store has too many of, so it’s a surprise until you pick it up. Items cannot be individually selected or returned.

A Waitrose advertisement states: What you could get. A selection of grocery and fresh food items that could include sandwiches, salads, fruit, bread, cakes and pastries. 

A customer can select a ‘Magic Bag’ that is being advertised on the app. They click on the one they want, which TGTG term to be a reservation order, and make the necessary payment. They consider this the customer’s offer to buy (ijab). Once a customer places an order they are given a collection time. The customer is only allowed to cancel the reservation if there are still more than two hours remaining until the collection time. When they arrive to collect the bag from the store, the acceptance (qabul) will take place and the transaction will now be binding on both the customer and business.

At the time of making the offer, the customer does not know what is going to be placed into the bag. Also, when they arrive to collect the bag they do not have the right to reject the bag or request for a change of product. Hence, they are purchasing products which are not yet known or specified. The products could be anything in that store. The larger the range of products in the store the larger the possibility and increase in ambiguity. This type of arrangement clearly contains ambiguity, which under normal circumstances would render a transaction invalid.

The question however is whether or not such ambiguity is tolerated in our society and whether it can be argued that there is a customary practice of engaging in such transactions.

As people have started to become more conscious about food waste, this has resulted in various apps coming into the market such as TGTG, though they have slight differences between them. For example. Karma is a food app which functions similar to TGTG, however, it shows the customer exactly which item they are purchasing before hand. Olio is an app which allows food to be given away for free and similar to Karma states what the food is. As Karma and Olio specify exactly which item is being sold or given away there remains no ambiguity; therefore, they cannot be used to prove acceptance of ambiguity.

If we look at the number of users of TGTG we can get an idea of how common this type of transaction may be. The TGTG website states that there are 47.9 million users which is a significant amount of people willing to purchase items that are ambiguous as they do not know for sure exactly what they are going to get but have a rough guideline. The huge number of users indicates to us that the ambiguity is not of such a level that would lead to dispute and is something people are willing to overlook.

In addition to this, if we look at the reviews from customers on various websites the vast majority of reviews are positive. Out of the negative reviews, many are in relation to customer service or are complaints about a particular store not necessarily about the ambiguity in general.

Based on the above points, it seems that consumers are happy to purchase these types of magic boxes where there is a guideline of what will be provided even though they do not know exactly what will be in the box, especially when the items are being sold at a discounted price. The consumer knows that they are getting the items cheaper than what they would have had to pay if they purchased it directly from the shop.

For these reasons, we consider the use of the Too Good To Go app as permissible and consider the ambiguity tolerable. One must ensure that they change the setting to vegetarian options only to avoid the purchase of unlawful products.

One additional objection that could be raised is that the contract stipulates that if the customer cancels the contract within a certain time from collection, they will be charged. This could fall within the scope of a vitiating condition as these types of deposit arrangements are not permissible within the Hanafi school. They are however permitted within the Hanbali school.

Mufti Taqi argues that there is scope to utilise the difference of opinions on this issue especially when there is a need. We would argue that many contemporary contracts will include deposit related conditions within them or some other impermissible condition, and to consider all such contracts vitiated just due to this one condition will create a level of difficulty. For this reason, we would argue that if an entire contract conforms to all the shar’i regulations but has this one stipulation of deposits within it, rather than considering the entire contract vitiated, we could use the flexibility provided by the Hanbali school to at least consider the contract valid.

This is especially the case when it is extremely unlikely that an individual would go ahead with cancelling the contract when they know that they are not going to get their money back. One should ensure that after entering the contract they do not withdraw so that the payments made towards the deposit will go towards the payment for the product and thus it would therefore be valid according to the Hanafi school also.

A similar discussion arises in relation to credit cards. The likes of Mufti Taqi have permitted entering into credit card contracts despite there being an impermissible stipulation of interest for late payments. This is of course provided that the individual is sure to make payments on time and will not actually pay any interest. As for our case in question the matter is not even as severe as credit cards as in the latter case the stipulation is regarding interest payments which is by agreement impermissible, whereas in our case the stipulation is permissible according to some jurists. Hence, we would not consider the To Good To Go Scheme impermissible just due to this one stipulation.

And Allah knows best

الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (5/ 65)
والملامسة) للسلعة (والمنابذة) أي نبذها للمشتري (وإلقاء الحجر) عليها، وهي من بيوع الجاهلية فنهي عنها كلها عيني لوجود القمار، فكانت فاسدة إن سبق ذكر الثمن بحر

والمنابذة: أن ينبذ كل واحد منهما ثوبه إلى الآخر ولا ينظر كل واحد منهما إلى ثوب صاحبه على جعل النبذ بيعا، وهذه كانت بيوعا يتعارفونها في الجاهلية؛ وكذا إلقاء الحجر أن يلقي حصاة وثمة أثواب فأي ثوب وقع عليه كان المبيع بلا تأمل ورؤية، ولا خيار بعد ذلك، ولا بد أن يسبق تراوضهما على الثمن، ولا فرق بين كون المبيع معينا أو غير معين. ومعنى النهي ما في كل من الجهالة وتعليق التمليك بالخطر فإنه في معنى إذا وقع حجري على ثوب فقد بعته منك أو بعتنيه بكذا أو إذا نبذته أو لمسته كذا في الفتح. وذكر في الدرر أن النهي عن إلقاء الحجر ألحق بالأولين دلالة

الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (5/ 63)
ولؤلؤ في صدف) للغرر
قوله للغرر) ؛ لأنه لا يعلم وجوده، وينبغي أن يكون باطلا للعلة المذكورة، فهو مثل اللبن رملي.
قلت: ويؤيده ما في التجنيس: رجل اشترى لؤلؤة في صدف قال أبو يوسف البيع جائز، وله الخيار إذا رآه وقال محمد البيع باطل وعليه الفتوى. اهـ قال الزيلعي بخلاف ما إذا باع تراب الذهب والحبوب في غلافها حيث يجوز لكونها معلومة ويمكن تجربتها بالبعض أيضا. اهـ قال في النهر وينبغي أن يكون من ذلك الجوز الهندي

الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (5/ 66)
و) بيع (ثوب من ثوبين) أو عبد من عبدين لجهالة المبيع، فلو قبضهما وهلكا معا ضمن نصف قيمة كل
إذ الفاسد معتبر بالصحيح ولو مرتبين، فقيمة الأول لتعذر رده والقول للضامن، وهذا إذا لم يشترط خيار التعيين، فلو شرط أخذ أيهما شاء جاز لما مر

الهداية في شرح بداية المبتدي (3/ 45)
قال: “ولا يجوز بيع ثوب من ثوبين” لجهالة المبيع؛ ولو قال: على أنه بالخيار في أن يأخذ أيهما شاء جاز البيع استحسانا، وقد ذكرناه بفروعه

تبيين الحقائق شرح كنز الدقائق وحاشية الشلبي (4/ 48)
قَوْلُهُ فِي الْمَتْنِ: وَثَوْبٌ مِنْ ثَوْبَيْنِ) لِجَهَالَةِ الْمَبِيعِ أَيْ وَجَهَالَةُ الْمَبِيعِ مَانِعَةٌ مِنْ صِحَّةِ الْعَقْدِ إذَا كَانَتْ تُفْضِي إلَى الْمُنَازَعَةِ وَهَذِهِ تُفْضِي إلَيْهَا؛ لِأَنَّ الْبَائِعَ لَا يَدْرِي مَا يُسَلِّمُ وَالْمُشْتَرِي لَا يَدْرِي مَا يَتَسَلَّمُ فَتَقَعُ الْمُنَازَعَةُ بِخِلَافِ جَهَالَةِ الْقِيمَةِ وَجَهَالَةِ الصُّبْرَةِ الْمَبِيعَةِ فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَمْنَعُ مِنْ التَّسْلِيمِ وَالتَّسَلُّمِ، وَلَوْ قَالَ بِعْت أَحَدَ الثَّوْبَيْنِ عَلَى أَنْ يَأْخُذَ الْمُشْتَرِي أَيَّهُمَا شَاءَ بِعَشَرَةٍ فَقَبِلَ جَازَ اسْتِحْسَانًا وَالْقِيَاسُ أَنْ لَا يَجُوزَ وَهُوَ قَوْلُ زُفَرَ وَالشَّافِعِيِّ رَحِمَهُمَا اللَّهُ وَقَدْ مَضَى بَيَانُ الْمَسْأَلَةِ مُسْتَوْفًى فِي أَوَاخِرِ خِيَارِ الشَّرْطِ. اهـ. أَتْقَانِيٌّ

قَوْلُهُ: وَإِنْ اشْتَرَطَ فِيهِ بِأَنْ اشْتَرَى أَحَدَهُمَا عَلَى أَنْ يَأْخُذَ أَيَّهُمَا شَاءَ جَازَ) أَيْ لِأَنَّهُ إذَا شَرَطَ الْخِيَارَ ارْتَفَعَتْ الْجَهَالَةُ فِي الثَّانِي بِفِعْلِ أَحَدِ الْمُتَعَاقِدَيْنِ فَصَارَ كَبَيْعِ قَفِيزٍ مِنْ صُبْرَةٍ وَإِذَا لَمْ يَشْرِطْ الْخِيَارَ ثَبَتَتْ الْجَهَالَةُ وَكَثُرَتْ، أَلَا تَرَى أَنَّهُ لَيْسَ لِلْمُشْتَرِي اخْتِيَارُ أَحَدِ الثَّوْبَيْنِ إلَّا وَلِلْبَائِعِ أَنْ يُعَيِّنَ الْآخَرَ فَإِذَا شَرَطَ الْخِيَارَ تَعَيَّنَ الْمَبِيعُ بِفِعْلِ أَحَدِهِمَا فَقَلَّتْ الْجَهَالَةُ فَلَمْ تُؤَثِّرْ. اهـ. أَقْطَعُ

الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (6/ 51)
وجاز إجارة الحمام «؛ لأنه – عليه الصلاة والسلام – دخل حمام الجحفة» وللعرف. وقال – عليه الصلاة والسلام – «ما رآه المسلمون حسنا فهو عند الله حسن» قلت: والمعروف وقفه على ابن مسعود كما ذكره ابن حجر
قوله وللعرف) ؛ لأن الناس في سائر الأمصار يدفعون أجرة الحمام وإن لم يعلم مقدار ما يستعمل من الماء ولا مقدار القعود، فدل إجماعهم على جواز ذلك وإن كان القياس يأباه لوروده على إتلاف العين مع الجهالة إتقاني

A reservation order made by the Customer via the Platform (“Reservation Order”) is considered an offer by the Customer to the Store to purchase a Product.

The Reservation Order shall be accepted by the Store upon Pick-up and, hence, the reservation shall be final and binding upon the Store and Customer upon Pick-up of the Product (as defined below), subject, however, to the limitations in the cancellation rights due to the nature of the Concept, as described in clause 7 below.

Fiqh al-Buyu’ 118, 463

Answered by:
Ifta Research Fellow

Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel