The holiday shopping season is when retailers get the most competitive, offering all sorts of incentives to lure customers away from competitors. One such strategy is price matching, in which a retailer will honor the advertised prices from other retailers. However, consumers need to be cautious and read the “fine print.”
Saving with price matching
Many retailers offer price matching all year long, such as Best Buy, Target, Sears and Walmart. The difference this years is that some, such as Best Buy and Target, are now also offering to match prices from online retailers. Online retailers routinely undersell brick-and-mortar stores.
Others are just extending price matching policies for the season. Consumers can make considerable savings by taking advantage of these policies, but not all of them are made the same.
Rick Brinkley, COO of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Oklahoma, told Tulsa World: “The Better Business Bureau’s past experience tells us that not all deals are created equal. Being an informed consumer provides the best shopping experience for the money.”
That advice is sound across the nation, not just in Oklahoma, okay?
Brinkley advises finding out the specific policy from a store before showing a competitor’s ads at Customer Service. Some retailers will only honor offers from specific retailers, for instance. Other stores will offer price matching only until a specific date in December, or may exclude the offer from “special” items or from big shopping days, such as Black Friday.
Some retailers, he said, will honor the policy even after a purchase is made and refund the difference. But that usually only applies for a short window of time. Knowing a store’s specific policies is essential.
Price matching heroes and villains
WGRZ NBC News offered some picks for price matching heroes and villains.
Sears, it says, has a straightforward price matching policy that is hard to argue with. It will match the advertised prices of any other retailer, whether from a brick-and-mortar store or an online seller. And it will even refund the difference if you can present a competitor’s ad for a lower price — if done within 14 days after purchase.
Staples will also refund the difference in price within two weeks. It will not match the price of every retailer, but since they sell a specific kind of merchandise, its list is fairly exhaustive. It will match the prices advertised by Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Office Depot, Office Max, Quill, Medical Arts Press, Reliable, Sam’s Club, Walmart, WB Mason and Xerox.
On the slippery side, says WGRZ, is Walmart, which does not match items discounted by percentages or online deals.
Best Buy, says the news outlet, requires you call an 800 number to get a price matching deal. They will not honor prices on websites, or from other stores more than 25 miles away. It is betting you probably won’t drive that far for the savings.
So, armed with this knowledge, go forth and happy shopping — but don’t forget to save your receipts!