Big box electronics retailers will do just about anything to keep your business, including matching a competitor’s price. Some warehouse discount clubs, like Costco and Sam’s Club, don’t participate in price matching. But most of the other big guys do, and knowing how they work is integral to ensuring you get the absolute best price available. Although most price matching policies work the same way, there are slight differences to be found in the fine print. We took a close look at the price matching policies of four of the biggest retail electronics outfits. Here’s what we found.
The Best Buy Price Match Guarantee boldly declares: “We won’t be beat on price.” This sounds like a challenge, and all the more reason to try to take them up on it.
The policy extends to matching prices on local retail competitors (within a 25-mile radius) and a handful of major online retailers (Amazon, B&H Photo Video, Crutchfield, Dell, HP, Newegg, and TigerDirect). The main caveat is that price matching has to take place at the time you make the purchase, not after. For example, if you buy a flat screen HDTV and find it at a cheaper price somewhere else the next week, you’re not getting any money back. The other stipulation states that price matches are limited to one item per customer – so if you swagger in to Best Buy with the idea of snatching up a dozen of the same item, you’re going to have to pay regular price for the other 11.
There are also a number of things the Best Buy Price Match Guarantee doesn’t cover, but they make logical sense: contract smartphones sold online, products you find on third-party online marketplaces (including the BestBuy.com marketplace), products in limited stock with the competitor, and clearance or coupon items. Best Buy will also not price match during the Thanksgiving weekend rush. Best Buy matches their online prices with their in-store prices, and vice versa.
The first thing to know about Walmart’s Price Matching Policy is that they put a brief moratorium on the practice from Thanksgiving through the following Monday. So doorbuster deals do not qualify. Walmart will match prices on local competitors and select online retailers, given that the competition has it in stock and it’s not a backordered item. Their list of select online retailers is substantial, but not all-encompassing. It includes major online stores like Amazon, Best Buy, JC Penney, K-Mart, New Egg, and Tiger Direct (check out the Walmart fine details for the full list). They also honor lower prices found on Walmart.com, except in stores located in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Walmart also allows you to cash in on items that later go on sale on their website. So if you dropped a pretty penny on an HDTV and see it go on sale soon after at Walmart.com, you can call for a price adjustment. This offer is only good if the product you bought is still within its return time frame. Price match quantities are limited to one per day, per customer. BOGOs and deals on third-party online marketplace sellers also don’t qualify.
The Target Price Match Guarantee is especially useful for shoppers who forget to comparison shop before they buy. One of the chief selling points of the guarantee states that if you buy something – either online or at a retail location – and find it at a lower price somewhere else, you have 14 days (formerly 7) to get a price adjustment. Of course, if you’re an eagle-eyed shopper you don’t have to wait until later – you can ask for a price adjustment before you purchase, both online and on site.
The recent doubling of Target’s price match time frame also comes with a greatly expanded list of online retailers they’ll will price match, which now covers a total of 24 online stores including Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Game Stop, JC Penney, K-Mart, New Egg, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart. Target stores will also match prices found on Target.com, with the exception of stores in Alaska and Hawaii.
As free and easy as it all sounds, Target does impose a few limitations that you should pay attention to. For one, the item has to be identical down to the weight and color. No substitutions accepted. Also, price differences between physical Target retail stores don’t qualify – and cheaper items found on competitor sites that require you to log in to see the price don’t count, either. Neither do contract mobile phones or plans. You also can’t get a price match from Thanksgiving through the following Monday. As with most other stores that price match, you’re limited to one price match per identical item.
The Office Depot Price Match Guarantee covers OfficeDepot.com and all of its retail store locations, including its subsidiary OfficeMax. Price matching for online competitors is limited to just Amazon and Reliable.com, but despite this significant limitation there are some places Office Depot goes that others don’t. For example, the price match guarantee covers mobile devices sold with attached service plans – like smartphones – as long as the provider, plan and terms are identical. They do not, however, match prices on standalone service plans.
Similar to Target, Office Depot gives you 14 days to have your purchase price adjusted if you find an identical product somewhere else at a lower price. According to the language of its price match policy, Office Depot imposes no limitations on the distance of local retail competitors. Some limitations of the policy are a bit confusing, and deserve a close look – like the stipulation that states physical stores won’t match prices found in Office Depot catalogs or online specials. Also, the online store won’t match prices for in-store only specials or prices offered to Office Depot contract customers. Like all other retailers who price match, quantities are limited to only one identical product per customer, and products sold by third-party sellers don’t qualify. Special deals offered on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also excluded, but there’s no lingo in the policy about the three days in-between.