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:
Make a list of 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. Make sure you list any model or manufacturer’s identifiers. Keep those fliers, and take them with you to prove any prices or item identifiers.
Research 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. 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.
Go to the service counter 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. You will save time and frustration at the checkout counter by researching first.
Find out if you can use coupons. 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. Again, check with customer service or with a store manager before lining up to check out – the checkout clerk may not know the store policy when it comes to coupon use.
Bring in the proof. 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.
Ask for a price match – even if it isn’t advertised. If you find a bargain, ask your local store if they can match it, whether or not they have a price match guarantee. One of my local hardware stores will match or beat the price of a local competitor if you can show proof of the lower price.
Stores that offer price matching:
Bass Pro Shops : This chain will honor price matching, but there are several exceptions. Read the price match guarantee carefully before going to customer service.
Bed Bath & Beyond: Follow the instructions at the company’s price guarantee web page to receive a price match. You must have proff of the lower price. If you are not sure how to receive a price match, call 1-800-GO-BEYOND for help.
Crate and Barrel : Find a lower price on an identical name-brand item, and Crate and Barrel will match the price at the time of purchase. The item must be in stock and available at Crate and Barrel at the time of your request and purchase, and prices are valid only in the USA. This price match offer is good only on the day of your original purchase.
FishUSA : This tackle store will match the total online or in-store price of any major domestic competitor on an identical new item. If you find the same item at a lower price on our site or on a competitor’s site within 30 days of your purchase, they will issue a store credit for the price difference. Check the policy page for terms and conditions.
The Home Depot: Home Depot offers a price match plus an additional 10% off for in-store purchases. According to the website, this offer is good if you find a lower price on an identical item at another retailer, and Home Depot has it in stock. Bring the ad, printout or photo with you to the register for validation (but better yet, go to the customer service desk). The store associate may have to call the competitor to double-check the prices.
Hotels.com : “We’re convinced you won’t find your hotel cheaper but if you do, we’ll offer you the difference,” says the website. Price match up to the day of your check-in. You can request a coupon for the difference if your original booking is non-refundable.
JC Penney: Find a current advertised price on an identical item within 14 days of your JC Penney purchase, bring the ad to the store, and they will beat that price by 5%. There are exceptions to this guarantee – check the price match policy page for specifics. Their lowest price guarantee includes items sold by Amazon.com, but not by a third party on Amazon.com. You cannot use the price match to compare JC Penney online items with in-store items. The page also notes that JC Penney coupons may be used with a price match.
Joann Fabric and Crafts: If you find an identical, in-stock item advertised at a competitor within the past 7 days and bring the ad with proof of lower price, they will honor the lower price. Check the policy page for exclusions.
Lowe’s Home Improvement: Lowes and Home Depot are competitors, but Lowe’s does not offer an additional discount. According to the website’s policy page, “If you find a lower price on an identical item at a local or online retail competitor (including shipping and delivery fees), just bring us the competitor’s current ad or show a printout, photo, smartphone display or app, and we’ll match their price.” The price match policy excludes certain brands; labor; closeout items; discontinued or clearance items; refurbished, used or damaged items. Go to the service desk with your ad for speedier attention.
Nordstrom: This department store will price-match an item that the store offers in the same color and size, that is in stock at a designated national competitor. They will not match prices from outlet sites or other sites that offers discounts or auction sales.
PetSmart : If you find a PetSmart in-stock item for a lower price at a competitor’s store, PetSmart will match the price. Bring proof of the lower price (receipt, advertisement or other confirmation). Clearance, liquidation or other special events are excluded from the price match guarantee, as are “free with purchase” items, BOGO, and rebate offers.
Staples: The retailer offers a 110 percent price match guarantee on identical, new items. You must purchase the item at Staples, show proof of the lower price at a competitor store, and Staples will match that price plus 10% of the difference between the two prices.
Target: This retailer states they compare their prices of more than 35,000 items. They offer price matching up to 14 days from purchase.
Walmart: Walmart states on its policy page that if you find a lower price on an identical, in-store item from an online retail shop, they will match the price. “If you recently bought something from Walmart.com and it is now listed at a lower price, let us know.”
For more shopping articles: