Playing With MatchesIf you are one of those deal hunters who never pay the sticker price, you have three basic options: You could bring in a coupon or use a coupon code, you could find a sales associate or manager and do some haggling or you could convince them that a competing store has a better price, then see if they’ll match it.
That last tactic is particularly tricky, because price-match policies vary wildly from store to store. Some will refuse to honor an online price, matching only the in-store prices of local competitors; others require different levels of proof; and some will have a list of exclusions. We found the biggest retailers with a stated price-match policy and examined the ins and outs of how each one does it.
Photo Credit: Wal-Mart Stores
Wal-MartWal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT) has heavily advertised the ease of using its price-match policy, and it makes special mention of the fact that you don’t even need to bring in the competitor’s ad for proof. It will also match prices for a competitor’s store that are only available to people who use a preferred-shopper card (which many stores will refuse to do), and will even match buy one, get one free sales as long as the price is specified.
However, there are exclusions, the biggest being that the store won’t match any online prices. If a competitor is offering a fixed percentage off a range of items, Wal-Mart won’t do the same. And it won’t match pricing errors on other stores’ ads – understandable, given that stores aren’t even obligated to honor their own pricing mistakes.
Photo Credit: Walmart Stores
TargetUnlike Wal-Mart, Target (Stock Quote: TGT) does make you bring in the local competitor’s ad if you want to get a price match, and it must be an actual printed ad – no photocopies or online versions on your smartphone. Online offers, including those from the store’s own website, are not price-matched. It won’t honor a competitor’s coupon, percentage- or dollar-off deals or mail-in rebates. And worst of all, it won’t match any kind of limited-time or limited-quantity offers, which cuts down drastically on the number of prices it will match.
One positive attribute of Target’s policy is that it goes a step further than Wal-Mart’s by allowing you to get a refund on the difference if you discover a lower price within a week of your purchase.
Photo Credit: Patrick Hoesly
Home DepotNow here’s a policy we can get behind: If you find a better price on an identical item from any retailer, Home Depot (Stock Quote: HD) will match it, then beat it by 10%. The retailer has to be local, though it’s not clear what sort of proof you need to furnish. Online deals are excluded, as are special orders, bulk purchases and any kind of free offers.
Photo Credit: mroach
Lowe’sLike its biggest competitor Home Depot, Lowe’s (Stock Quote: LOW) will also beat lower prices by 10%. And if a competitor is offering a percent-off discount, Lowe’s will actually apply that same discount to its own current price. The competing retailer must be local, and special orders and clearance items are excluded. It’s not clear what sort of proof you need to furnish to get a price match, and while it doesn’t mention online prices, the fact that it’s limited to local competitors suggests that online prices won’t be matched. However, Lowe’s does distinguish itself by guaranteeing that if you buy online from Lowes.com and choose in-store pickup or Lowe’s home delivery, you’ll get the lowest of the online or store price.
Photo Credit: Jim G
Best BuyBest Buy (Stock Quote: BBY) will match a local competitor’s prices if you bring in the competitor’s ad as proof. You can price match at the time of purchase or during the return and exchange period, which lasts 14, 30 or 45 days depending on the product. The store will price-match other Best Buy stores in the area as well as BestBuy.com (you can even show the BestBuy.com price on your mobile phone), though not prices from competitors’ websites.
Offers that include financing are excluded, as are mail-in offers and free items. See the full policy on the Best Buy website.
Photo Credit: Ian Muttoo
SearsSears (Stock Quote: SHLD) offers what it calls “Price Match Plus,” which means that it will beat any local competitor’s price by 10%. Unlike Wal-Mart you have to bring in the competitor’s ad as proof, but you have the added advantage of having 14 days after your purchase to get the price match. Sears will also match prices from its website, with the exception of items designated as online-only offers.
What’s really exciting is that Sears will even beat prices on competitors’ websites. Here’s the kicker, though: It will only match the online price if the competitor has a store in the area that matches its own online prices. In other words, if there’s a Best Buy next door and you find an item cheaper on BestBuy.com, Sears will match that price; however, it won’t match prices from Target.com.
The policy excludes limited-quantity offers and offers lasting less than six hours, as well as all deals around Black Friday. Coupons, free offers and mail-in rebates are also excluded from price-matching.
Photo Credit: Julie Vazquez
Amazon.comAmazon (Stock Quote: AMZN) frequently has the lowest prices around, and as such does not feel the need to price-match its competitors. However, it makes one exception: televisions. Amazon says that if you find a lower price on a qualifying website within 14 days of your purchase, it will match the price by crediting your account once shipping costs are taken into account. It will also price-match itself within that 14-day window if it lowers the price of the item you just bought.
Mail-in rebate, gift card offers and buy one, get one sales are all excluded. More importantly, limited-time and limited-quantity sales are excluded from the offer, as are prices that you can only get by being in a loyalty program. It will only match prices found on the websites listed here.
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
Kohl’sKohl’s (Stock Quote: KSS) is a bit scant on details for its price-match program, but it says that it will match prices from competitors; it doesn’t say that they have to be local, but the requirement that you bring in an ad suggests that this might be the case. Price-matching is only good for products you’re buying in stores, not on kohls.com; however, the store guarantees that prices in its stores are the same as on the website, so you’re fine as long you have a Kohl’s in your area.
Photo Credit: hattiesburgmemory
NordstromNordstrom (Stock Quote: JWN) also offers minimal details on its price match policy, only saying that if you find an identical item from a “similar retailer” at a lower price, you should call 1-888-282-6060 to place your order. Designer goods and cosmetics are excluded, and the retailer won’t price-match to websites, outlet stores or – this last part is important – discount promotions.
Photo Credit: Hans van de Bruggen
StaplesStaples (Stock Quote: SPLS) will match a lower price that you find at another store, though not on a competitor’s website. You have 14 days after purchase to bring in proof of the lower price, and the store will also match a price you find in a Staples catalog, another Staples store or Staples.com. If a competitor has a deal that includes a mail-in rebate or free gift card, Staples will only match the price you would have paid at the cash register. Free offers are also excluded from the policy.
Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes
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