Which Stores Price-Match Their Own Websites - and Which Ones Won't

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Walmart stores Price matching policy
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After years of watching "showrooming" customers check out products in their stores and then leave to buy them online, Target (TGT) and Best Buy (BBY) took bold steps to stem the tide: Earlier this year they changed their price-matching policies to include online competitors like Amazon.com (AMZN).

But not every retailer is so progressive. Most major retail chains will only price-match local competitors, refusing to match online sellers. And a few retailers won't even price-match their own websites: If that blender is $30 at your local Walmart but you find it on Walmart.com for $25, don't expect to get the cheaper price in the store.

Shopping site Cheapism.com recently compiled the price-match policies of eight major retailers and visited store locations to see how well the front-line employees complied with the corporate policy. As part of their survey they also looked into which retailers price-matched their own sites.

The results were noteworthy. Of the eight retailers surveyed, Cheapism found that Target, Best Buy and Sears (SHLD) all explicitly say that they will price-match their own websites. Another two retailers, Lowe's (LOW) and Home Depot (HD), weren't explicit in their policies, but store employees told Cheapism reporters that the stores would indeed price-match lower prices online.

That leaves J.C. Penney (JCP), Walmart (WMT) and Kohl's (KSS), all of which explicitly refuse to price-match their own websites in cases where the online price is lower.

Walmart explains on its website that "our stores will not match prices with our online store (or other online stores) because we do not consider them to be in competition with our retail stores." While the idea that Walmart doesn't consider Amazon a competitor beggars belief, we suppose it's technically true that Walmart.com wouldn't be considered a Walmart competitor.

When we asked J.C. Penney about its policy, a company spokesperson said, "We strive to keep jcp.com and in-store prices similar, but if an online item does not sell as quickly as it does in store, it may reflect a clearance discount."

Kohl's did not respond to a request for comment.

A Workaround for Shoppers

If you're shopping at one of these retailers and find a price differential with a shopping app, then you're not completely out of luck. A few months ago, I found a slow cooker at Kmart for $35, but discovered with my smartphone app that it was available for just $18 on Kmart.com. Since I wasn't sure if Kmart price-matched its own site (as it turns out, it does), I just ordered it with my phone and selected the free store-pickup option; I was able to get it an hour later.

And that's exactly what Cheapism editor-in-chief Kara Reinhardt recommends people do if they find such a price differential in Walmart or J.C. Penney. Both stores allow you to order online and pick up at the store for free, though delivery may take a few days if the retailer is actually shipping the product from a warehouse instead of just taking it out of the stockroom. It's up to you to decide whether waiting a few days and then driving back to the store is worth whatever you're saving.

This isn't an option at Kohl's, as it does not offer site-to-store pickup. So if you find a better price on Kohls.com, your only option is to pay to have it shipped to you.

While it's good that J.C. Penney and Walmart provide this workaround, we're not crazy about the fact that consumers who want to get either retailer's best price have to jump through hoops.

Still, whether a retailer chooses to price-match its own site is just one small part of the equation when it comes to assessing the policy. You also need to consider how long after purchase you can bring the item back for a retroactive price adjustment; which items and competitors are excluded; what sort of proof of the competitor's price you need to furnish; and how well the front-line employees comply with the corporate policy.

Cheapism considered all that in putting together a rough ranking of the eight retailers' price-match policies. For the full rundown of when those stores will and won't price-match, see our gallery below.



Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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12 Comments

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stone_hater

I went to J C PENNEY'S the day before Christmas and bought 2 pair of BOOTS. While I was online I noticed that the same 2 pair of BOOTS were considerably less($79 boots were $29.99/$70 boots were $37.99). I went back to J C PENNEY'S the day after Christmas with my receipt and asked the Store Clerk to match their ONLINE prices. He informed me the J C PENNEY'S DO NOT do ONLINE price matching because they are 2 different inventories. THAT SUCKED!!! All together, could have saved $73.00.

December 27 2013 at 8:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Youre so cute

Purchased a BUNN coffee maker at Walmart. Saw it on their online ad for $18 less. Went in to ask for price adjustment. Clerk at CS looked at me like I was speaking in tongues - while appearing bored. Seemed like she enjoyed making customers look stupid. She said they wont price match their own website. Yes, this item was in their stock room. But she said return it. Order it online and come back and pick it up. To which I decided I will never shop at Walmart again. Insulting customer's intelligence as well as not honoring their own online price for an in stock item is a recipe to drive away business. WTG #walmart #fail

December 26 2013 at 5:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doug

Most everything you find on the Walmart website is considerably cheaper than the price in the store and you get free delivery to the store. If the item you are looking online at is available in your local store it reads on the page that the "price will vary in the store". I have seen some considerable price differences on the Walmart prices. Some of the discounts have been $10.00, $15.00 or more for the online product compared to the store. And again, free in store delivery.
Unless it is something I cant wait a week for I always use their website.

May 21 2013 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pwanless

One important thing to remember: If you ask any of these retailers to match online prices, you also lose any accompanying promotions that go with purchasing at THEIR price. So check carefully to make sure it's worth it. I once bought a cell phone from Best Buy that included "5000 bonus reward points" (the equivalent of $100), but then I saw the phone itself advertised for $50 less elsewhere. They matched the price, but when it came time to get the bonus reward (which they said took 45 days to post to the account), and I didn't get the points, they said that because they did a price match, the promotion points no longer applied. By that time, of course, it was too late to return the phone, and there was nothing they could do.

May 21 2013 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
glwillis98

Then Walmart must have just changed their policy because I purchased a television at the Walmart in Ft. Myers and they price matched their website which was $10.00. The clerk had to have the manager sign off on it but he matched it.

May 21 2013 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to glwillis98's comment
glwillis98

Sorry, which was $10.00 cheaper than the store price. Did not finish my sentence.

May 21 2013 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RMS

Another reason not to shop at Wal Mart.

May 21 2013 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
stuhurl

If you order from Kohls.com at one of their in-store kiosks, shipping is free to your home. I did this last week when they didn't have enough of an item I needed at the store. The price was the same (50% off). I received the package 5 days later.

May 21 2013 at 9:38 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dxl504

Sears which owns Kmart just started this practice because at Christmas time they refused to give me the online price to the point of being so rude I have not gone back. Walmart has slit their own throats with sales dropping rapidly, I don't shop there anyway.

May 21 2013 at 9:16 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
citykitty123

Best Buy does not even honor their own sale prices because the items are totally impossible to get. This has happened a few times to my son who wanted to get a movie or video game on sale only to find the none of the stores had it. The options for ordering on line were impossible as the items were not available for delivery to store or to your home, so how the heck are you supposed to buy the item?

May 21 2013 at 7:58 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
nnojr

Walmart are idiots! Today, the movie Last Stand with Arnold is released on DVD. The Blue Ray, Digital is for sale at Walmart for $24.95! At Best Buy it is $14.99 for the Blue Ray/Digital! It's like Walmart is trying to loose business!

May 21 2013 at 6:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply