This holiday season, we saw several major retailers pledging to match prices of online retailers in their brick and mortar stores.
Yesterday, Target announced it would match prices for identical products at top online retailers, all the time. The online list includes Amazon.com as well as the websites of Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys R Us and Babies R Us.
Part of the reason is to stop shoppers from “showrooming” — industry speak for practice of visiting stores to check out products then going online to buy them for less.
Best Buy stores also announced price matching with 20 online retailers for electronics and appliances during the holiday shopping season. The policy will continue through Jan. 31.
Toys R Us has been matching online prices for all identical items or models of baby gear from certain national competitors for several months.
Both Target and Toys R Us exclude items from Amazon’s third-party Marketplace.
Target customers can request a price match at the guest services desk prior to purchase, with proof of an online competitor’s current price or after purchase with the original Target receipt and proof of the lower online price.
Apparently the system worked well during holiday season, but online prices change all the time — so it will be interesting to see how the permanent policy is implemented.
My concern is that the policies are sometimes so complicated and the fine print so fine, that many consumers may decide it is not worth the effort. And sometimes store employees are clueless about store policies.
I had this experience recently when I requested a price match at one retailer and got into a 20-minute debate about why I couldn’t do it! It ended with the employees accepting the match, but telling me I could never do it again !? I guess he secretly took my picture and put it on the “don’t honor price match requests from this customer ever again” list!
So hopefully, Target will train their employees to execute the online price matches with as little confusion as possible. But as a consumer, the burden is on you to know the ins and outs of the store policy and make sure your request is valid.
What do you think of stores offering online price matching? Have you taken advantage of these policies? Describe your experience.
– Nedra Rhone, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog