Experts: Price-matching policies can save you big


Getting the best deal is important to Maria Smith, busy mother of four.

"Just this week I bought a toy, saved three bucks -- bought my coffee that day," she said.

We went shopping undercover to show you what happens on the price-matching front lines.

We found a $99 electric screwdriver at one major chain and scanned its barcode with a price-matching app. Turns out, an online retailer was offering it for $94.99. At checkout, we waited and waited and waited, but neither the clerk nor the supervisor knew what to do.

Smith knows this frustration.

"There are times when the store employee does not know their own policy," she said.

We asked at the customer service desk, and though the store's policy says it doesn't price match online retailers, we got the $5 off.

"Some employees will stick exactly to the script as corporate policy writes when it comes to price matching; others will go out of their way to help shoppers," said Louis Denicola with deal website

That's what happened in another instance. A clerk helped us save big on a Blu-Ray player. We found a lower price at the very same chain store only two miles away, but were told they only match prices with online competitors, and not their own stores. So, the clerk checked online and found a retailer offering an even better deal: $50 off.

"Having an employee that knows the rules can make all the difference," Denicola said. warns that sometimes stores do play hardball.

"Although you might see a television that's 42 inches, it has the exact same specifications between two different stores, you'll find out that Store A has a very specific model number because they've moved the power button to the left side -- you won't be able to price match it in Store B," Denicola said.

The only time we didn't save was when we tried to get a lower price on a computer monitor; the clerk pulled up an internal list of shops they'll price match with, and the store we found wasn't one of them.

Experts say businesses try to strategize their pricing policies, but the marketplace is constantly changing.

"Retailers must be able to react in the moment to a particular customer's situation and on the fly figure out how to become competitive to either somebody next door or somebody around the world. And that requires their front line, people who are working in the store, working with customers, need to be empowered like never before," consultant Allen Adamson said.

Smith says if she can't get the deal, she looks for the exit.

"If the store doesn't match the other retailer's price there times when I have walked out and not bought the item," Smith said.

Some stores will also match prices a week or two after you bought an item if you find a lower price elsewhere.

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