To get the best-of-the-best deals and consolidate your shopping, take advantage of stores’ price-matching policies.
The sales circulars are full of great buys on groceries, electronics and more just about every week, but running around to all of those stores to snag the bargains can be a drain on time and gas. To avoid that inconvenience, go to your local store, point out that it is charging more than its competition, and ask it to match the lower price. Most chain stores have a policy in place that allows them to make that adjustment. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting the most out of these incentives:
- Identify the items you want. Organized shopping will help you save the most money. Leaf through the Sunday sale fliers (or Wednesday fliers, if you’re grocery shopping) and take note of the things you would like to buy. Write down the size, quantity, flavor, color and any other identifying characteristics of the sale item, as well as any purchase limits.
- Find price-match policy details. You can get price-matching details at the websites of most retailers (search for “XYZ Store price matching policy”). Most stores that match prices will honor sale prices only on identical items – so if you see an ad for Scott Extra Soft Toilet Tissue, you probably won’t be able to get Scott regular tissue at the ad price. (This actually happened to me.) If you’re trying to match the price of an item found online, make sure that the store will honor prices from an Internet competitor. And be aware that certain types of sales may not be honored. At Walmart, for example, you cannot match a “buy one, get one free” offer unless the price of the first item is specified; likewise, sales that state only a percentage off aren’t valid either.
- Take note of where you must go to get the sale price. For instance, Target and Best Buy require you to go to the customer service desk for a price match, while Walmart allows you to match right at the register.
- Know how coupons and rebates work with ad-matching. If you’re really serious about saving, you may want to use coupons along with your ad-match price. But when coupons are used in conjunction with a price-match guarantee, the rules may change a bit. For example, Target deducts the value of its store coupons on items before matching prices. If you have a manufacturer’s coupon, those usually will be deducted after the price match is made.
- Bring in the ad. Be prepared to have hard-copy proof of the price when you visit the store. Ideally, the ad should note the sale dates, so store personnel know you’re not bringing in an expired promotion. You won’t always be asked for the ad – at my local Walmart, I’m rarely required to produce it – but it’s better to be prepared. If you really want to cover your bases, print a copy of the price-matching policy, too. (It’s amazing how many cashiers are unaware of their own store’s rules.)
- Seek out stores with price-beating policies. Some retailers will actually lower their prices below competitors’ on specific items. Home Depot, for example, will beat the price of their competitors by 10%, while Sears will match the price, plus give you 10% of the difference.
- Don’t forget about price protection. If you don’t feel like gathering ads and calculating price differences, you can also save money with retailers that honor sale prices on items purchased before the sale begins. At Kohls, Gap and Old Navy, for example, you can receive a price adjustment if an item is marked down within 14 days of your purchase. Pottery Barn honors sales up to 30 days after your purchase.