As you head into the holiday shopping season, some stores claim to match prices or have low price guarantees. Is it really as simple as finding a lower price somewhere else? We put four different stores to the honesty test.
Our first stop is Fry’s in Sacramento. The sign outside reads,”We match internet prices.”
Scanning the aisles, our producer finds a 70-inch Sharp 3D TV for $2,999.
Same exact TV is online for $2,385 more than $600 less.
Producer: “Do you guys price match?
Sales rep: Yes, as long as it’s authorized.”
Producer: “As long as it’s authorized, what does that mean?”
Remember that big sign outside? We found it has an asterisk. It says “see store for details.”
The salesman says they’ll only price match for “authorized competitors” and the store we found is not one of them. Then the store clerk admitted to our undercover producers, Fry’s price matching ad is misleading.
Producer: “You said it was misleading?”
Sales Rep: “It is kind of misleading because it says price match. Boom, you know and then you guys get down here.”
“That kind of advertising is very frustrating,” said Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com writer.
DeNicola says just because stores say they price match, doesn’t mean they will on everything, especially up against online retailers who don’t pay for storefronts.
“Some stores really can’t afford to match online prices,” said DeNicola.
Our next stop is Best Buy where they advertise a low price guarantee.
So we scan the aisles, finding an HP Envy 17-inch laptop for $1,029.99.
But we find one at Costco for $999.99. Will Best Buy match the price?
Sales Rep: “Costco, I don’t believe so just because they actually have to have a membership with them.”
But then a different worker told us they would.
Producer: “Initially I was told you guys don’t price match with Costco?
2nd sales rep: “No, we price match with Costco.”
Then they realize the Costco model actually has a bit more memory and because it’s not the exact same model, Best Buy refuses to price match.
“Large stores do have arrangements with manufacturers to create items specifically for that store and all those would be excluded from price matching policies,” said DeNicola.
During our search, we find Best Buy’s own web site, selling a 60-inch TV for $500 less and they agree to match that.
Producer: “So I can get this TV for $999?
Sales Rep: “hmm.. hmm.”
Producer: “Alright, cool!”
Over at Target, where they have a “low price promise,” we find this Keurig coffee maker for $199.99, but they refuse to give it to us for the $20 less we found on Bloomingdale’s web site.
Producer: “Only certain web sites?”
Sales rep: “Yeah.”
Producer: “Really? Not even a big company like Bloomingdale’s?
Sales rep: “No.”
In fact, Target only price matches Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Babies R Us and competitors with local ads.
Our final stop, Home Depot, which also has a “low price guarantee” but in small print, says it excludes “online purchases.”
We give it a try anyway.
Producer: “Do you guys price match?
Sales rep: “Yeah, we do.”
But he tells us not for everything
Sales rep: “It has to be a physical store.”
We test the policy anyway, after showing the Home Depot worker Best Buy online is selling this LG washer for $100 less.
Producer: “Would you be able to price match it to $899?
Sales rep: “Yeah.”
Home Depot price matched.
Perhaps the best advice? Be respectful and even if they can’t match the price, perhaps they’ll find another way to cut you a deal.
“At the end of the day, most stores want happy customers,” said DeNicola.
So we’ve learned each store is unique. And you always have the option of taking your business elsewhere.
Fry’s Electronics Statement
In order to effectively compete with the challenges presented by on-line-only retailers, and to help preserve jobs in our local communities, Fry’s is proud to be one of the first brick and mortar retailers to offer Internet price matching. This Internet price match promise is reflected in banners on some of our stores which state “We Match Internet Prices* See store for details”. The specific terms and conditions of our price matching policy are clearly reflected in store flyers, as well as appearing on our website at http://www.frys.com/onlineads/0001507075.
Because Fry’s is an “authorized reseller” of the products it sells, one of the qualifications for our price matching promise is that we will only match prices of “authorized competitors” which have current reseller contracts directly with the manufacturers. As you are probably aware, there are Internet retailers, both foreign and in the U.S., which are not authorized retailers, which sell products for deep discounts. This is often due to the fact that the quality or authenticity of the product being offered cannot be guaranteed, the product was not intended for sale in the US market and/or does not carry a manufacturers warranty. As such, these items are “not comparable” to the products offered by Fry’s.
Fry’s is pleased to offer our Internet price match promise to our customers in order to provide them with the best value possible. We note that some of our competitors who have also offered a form of Internet price matching do so only with respect to a limited number of specifically identified web sites. In contrast, Fry’s Internet price matching promise, which applies to all authorized competitors, is much broader and would apply to potentially thousands of online authorized resellers.
We appreciate the opportunity to share this information with you and your viewers, as we feel that our valued customers will agree that our Internet price matching promise offers them a valuable benefit.
— Manuel Valerio, Community Relations Manager, Fry’s Electronics, Inc.
If you buy a qualifying item at a Target store then find the identical item for less in the following week’s Target weekly ad or within seven days at Target.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, ToysRUs.com, BabiesRUs.com or in a competitor’s local printed ad, we’ll match the price. Price match may be requested at Guest Services prior to your purchase with proof of current lower price or by bringing in your original Target store receipt and proof of the current lower price.
— Jenna Reck, Public Relations. Target
Best Buy Statement
We do match the prices of Warehouse clubs as long as the Warehouse club is a local retail competitor, has an identical immediately available product and all other price match criteria are met. We do not match the online prices of warehouse clubs if they vary from store prices. We are pleased that our Low Price Guarantee, along with our expert Blue Shirt and Geek Squad team(s), makes us THE destination for our customers’ electronic, technology and entertainment needs.
— Jon Sandler, Spokesman, Best Buy
Home Depot Statement
(We) only match sites with stores and has to be an identical product.
— Stephen Holmes, Spokesperson, Home Depot