Modell's Beats Any Price, As Long As It's Not On Sale

Modell’s own peculiar definition of “low price guarantee, we will beat any ad” surprised reader Randy when he tried to get them to honor it on a baseball glove he bought, as it would even the most casual student of Logic or Semantics. He writes:

I bought a baseball glove at Modell’s a couple of weeks ago (in Manhattan.) I was in a hurry and so didn’t have a lot of time to shop around or wait for delivery. I found one I liked at paid $49.99 for it. On the back of the receipt, it says the following: “MO’S LOW PRICE GUARANTEE” WE WILL BEAT ANY AD… ANY DAY AND REFUND 25% OF THE DIFFERENCE See stores for details.” A little while later, I noticed that Dick’s Sporting Goods and the Sports Authority were both selling the glove for $29.99. So, I went back to the store with a copy of one of their ads and asked about the guarantee, hoping to get either the difference, 25% of the difference, or, most logically, 125% of the difference – that would be “beating” the price, right? The response I got was surprising, to say the least.

According to the clerk, they would only match their own prices. That is, if the price drops later, they’ll match it… I think. This seemed wholly inconsistent with the idea of “beating any ad.” After all, wouldn’t their policy be more like, “We’ll match our own subsequent lower price!” ??

My gut instinct told me that this couldn’t be right, or perhaps it was just an NYC thing. After all, we get screwed on specials all the time. So, I called their corporate number to find out what the official policy was. I spoke with a very nice lady named “Melanie” who said that the clerk was in fact slightly misinformed. Here’s the actual policy:

Modell’s will beat a competitor’s REGULAR price. However, since I was looking at a sale price, they couldn’t match it.

I politely asked her how often competitor’s advertise their regular prices – isn’t the whole point of the advertisement, typically, to show what’s on sale? She said that yes, in fact, that did seem odd, but that that was the policy. No price match for me – it was on sale.

Essentially, Modell’s will guarantee that their products are being sold at MSRP. Hooray!

Ah, we get it now. See store for details means “see store for the details of our non-participatory caveats and disclaimers.” If that’s the way they’re going to play, I definitely don’t “Gotta Go To Mo’s.

Comments

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  1. ianmac47 says:

    So buy the identical glove at the competitor and return the new one to Medells.

  2. There are always limits to such offers. I wish stores were a little CLEARER with the limits, but neverless I expect a gotcha catch whenever I see a competing vendor price matching offer.

    What I wish stores would have is a simple “price guarantee” that if they lower their price any time in the next 30 days or so you could receive a refund of the difference. I hate buying something and the item goes on sale the very next day.

    This entire price matching the competition is bullstuff. IF the competition is cheaper, let the customers buy from the competition OR lower your prices for ALL of your customers, not the select few that find the competitions offer.

  3. BlondeGrlz says:

    @Corporate-Shill: Target will do that. If something you bought at Target goes on sale at Target within thirty days they will refund you the difference. I’m sure “restrictions apply” but I worked at three different stores over 6 years and never saw anyone turned down. It’s not something they advertise though.

  4. evilcharity says:

    Actually, a lot of stores have a grace period for items purchased at regular price that later go on sale. I’ve had priced adjustments at both Macy’s and Nordstrom’s. It never hurts to ask!

  5. ksi11 says:

    @BlondeGrlz: As a Target employee who works behind the Guest Service desk and therefore primarily deals with returns and the like, I just wanted to clarify that Target’s policy on price adjustments is:
    -The price of any item can be adjusted only within 14 days of the original purchase date.
    -The price adjustment policy can be viewed on the back of any Target receipt.
    -Guests can only get price adjustments on items that go on sale, not items that go on clearance within the 14 days following the date of the original purchase.

  6. Modell’s is like one of those oldtime places where some guy smoking a cigar says “get outta here kid!!!” and then chases you with a baseball bat.

    I can barely imagine Modell’s honoring even the narrow description they claim – and I would be sincerely afraid to ask.

    In fact, I am always amazed Modell’s is still around. Shouldn’t it be in store heaven with Crazy Eddie’s and Alexander’s?

  7. octajohnny says:

    I’ve had the same issues with Office Depot. I recentally called in (hadn’t bought the item yet) to see if they would match Officemax’s price on a printer (I have a worklife rewards card I need to use up) and the operator told me that they “don’t match prices if the item is on sale.”

    What the hell is the point of pricematching if they only go by full retail pricing anyway?

    Even worse, in May, to show their inconsistency, I bought an Acer monitor from Office Depot. Staples put it on sale for a few bucks less within the week, and had $25 off $200 (I think that’s what it was) coupons right on the main page of their site. I called Office Depot, the rep said she would match the price, and I asked again about the coupon (their policies state they take competitor’s coupons in-store). She said “Well, you can just keep the coupon for next time” so I asked “Well, I guess that means no for the coupon?”, she replied “yes sir, you can save the coupon for your next order” So I said “Well, what’s the point if I could use it at Staples right now?” and she didn’t have much to say so I said I would like an RMA to return the monitor (still unopened) so she sent me a UPS label shortly after via email.

    I ship the item back immediately, but no credit shows up on my card, though I kept the tracking # and see the item was received 6 days later. 2 months later and a half a dozen phone calls which told me that “Yes sir, I see you’ve contacted us before on this issue and I’m going to escalate your issue and someone will contact you within 4 hours”. Nothing.

    Now I’ve finally filed a dispute with my CC company about this since I can’t get a single reply.

    Goodbye Office Depot. Our office use to order supplies about neck and neck with Staples & OD, but this past quarter we ordered nearly $5k from Staples, and exactly $0 from OD.

  8. damitaimee says:

    @ianmac47: that’s what i would’ve done.

    but i would have to agree with op if the receipt actually states that. it supposedly says “ANY AD” which should mean literally ANY ad. if they wanted to be more specific then they should’ve said ANY MODELL’S AD.

    and really, who makes advertisements that advertise non-sale prices?

  9. pigbearpug says:

    @octajohnny: You should try Dunder Mifflin. They have competitive prices and great customer service.

    Seriously though, that’s BS. Chargeback?

    Regarding the OP, the devil’s in the details and I feel for you. Your logic is spot-on and their phrasing is misleading at best; fraudulant is probably a better word. Thanks for saving us from shopping there. I for one won’t take a store’s promise at face value after reading your story.

  10. bravo369 says:

    honestly i’m getting tired of all these ‘match advertised price’ gimmicks stores are doing. no one ever wants to match it because the other store was on sale or it was sold out or the other store isn’t within a mile radius, or any other reason stores give to get out of matching a price. how about this for a concept…advertise a low price and if it’s lower than the other guy, i’ll shop with you. no gimmicks, no need for a manager, no need to involve corporate because the manager is an idiot.

    maybe i’m just saying that because i live within 5 minutes of 2 malls and 20 minutes of 2 more and within driving distance of what seems like 2 or 3 different locations of each major store so i have a plethora of options available to me. I just look for the lowest price and go get it. case closed

  11. RandomHookup says:

    State attorney general’s office…that would be what we call deceptive advertising. Let them fight your fight.

  12. @bravo369:

    I like your attitude.

    I am on the other side of the economy coin…. I am the merchant selling to you. I feel exactly like you do. Here is my price. Like my price? Then buy it. Don’t like my price? Then move on to somebody else. Hey, I price shop my competition. I know who is pricing leading something. I know who is making an overly generous profit. And I know my overhead etc costs. Here is my price. Simple business practices. I also give you a period of time the price is going to be valid, good until September 1, end of 2008 etc. You can pretty much expect that either the price will go down (not likely) at the end of the pricing period or it will go up (most likely). Stuff that is market driven (think fresh Lobster, Roses in or out of season etc) have relatively shorter pricing periods.

    There would be a lot less consumer whining if businesses just kept things simple. Instead, somebody is got to play the bait and switch, hide the salami, carrot and stick, take advantage of the customer/merchant games. Yuk.

  13. LittleEnosBurdette says:

    “Bravo Sierra!” If the wording on the receipt in fact said “any ad” I would be the loudest SOB in the place until they honored it and refunded my money as advertised.

  14. SilentDoug says:

    The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs enforces the city’s Consumer Protection Law, and mediates and resolves complaints about fraudulent actions. Since the store is in Manhattan, you should contact them. You can even file a complaint on the NYC DCA web site, so it’s probably worth it for $20+.

  15. lemur says:

    @bravo369: Agreed. The way I see it stores should do the following:

    1. Stores are free to have whichever price matching policy they feel like. Or they can have no price matching policy at all. Fair enough. However, if they have a price matching policy, they should give us the entirety of the policy so that we know ahead of purchase what the conditions are. Getting our price match request declined at the last minute makes us think we are dealing with capricious rejections or just plain incompetent employees.

    2. Don’t advertise “price match guarantee” if there is a whole set of conditions which must be met for the price match to occur. If I have a 10% chance of getting you to match a price then that’s not a guarantee. In fact, truth in advertising should compel you to say “we may match a competitor’s price if you ask; here are the conditions…” (I’m talking about the spirit of truth in advertising rather than the law itself. I guess the law does not compel retailers to do much.)

  16. ElizabethD says:

    Time to call your state attorney general’s consumer division. This is clearly deceptive advertising.

  17. ekthesy says:

    @twophrasebark:

    Remember Herman’s Sporting Goods? or Gimbels? A&S?

    (Ten points if you remember what A&S stood for…)

  18. toddvm says:

    I bought an excersize bike at Sports Authority for what their web price said it should cost. It was about $150 cheaper than the in store advertisement(which was also a sale price). They said “because I have the printout of their website price” they would honor the website price.

  19. pete7919 says:

    @ksi11:

    The beauty of the Target price adjustment policy is its inconsistency with the return policy. The return period is 90 days, so you just go buy the item at the new lower price and return the newly purchased item using the old reciept. You are well within their own policy.

    For example, if I bought a table set 15 days ago and the price dropped $50 today. They would refuse to adjust my purchase. I go buy another table set and return it under their return policy using the reciept with the higher price. Done.

    You can do this anywhere. As another commenter pointed out just go buy the item at the store with the lower price and return it to the store with the higher price as long as it’s an identical product there’s no problem.

  20. ksi11 says:

    @pete7919: Yep, you are correct. That is what I usually tell people to do when their receipt is past the 14 day period that makes it eligible for a price adjustment. The only problem is if the store is out of the item (as often happens with items that are on sale) you are out of luck due to ANOTHER policy that forbids team members from selling items that have been returned and are still behind the service desk from being sold to customers until the item has been “reshopped” or put back out onto the salesfloor.

  21. Black Bellamy says:

    abraham and strauss too easy

  22. Anonymous21345 says:

    As an friend of an employee of one of the competitor’s I know a little about the comp’s policy. Any price ending in .99 is a regular price and not a sale price per se. It simply is being advertised in that week’s flyer so really the guy should get his money back for his purchase.