Sometimes, Rarely, Walmart Will Price-Match Itself

Retailers that have an online presence generally don’t price-match their own websites. As illogical as this seems (especially for big-box stores that have in-store pickup options) the policy is the policy. Except sometimes there is a way around it. That’s how John saved $8 at Walmart–by making the store price-match its own website.

I was in Lowe’s and remembered to look for a ladder since I didn’t have one at home, and my wife and I are looking to do some painting. At Lowe’s they had a 6 foot aluminum ladder for $56. I pulled out my phone and looked on walmart.com to find that they had a 6 foot aluminum ladder for $35. It was out of stock online, but the store finder told me that they had some in stock at my local store, so my wife and I drove across town.

When I got there, I found the price to be $43 – still cheaper than Lowe’s, but $8 more than the price listed online. I found an associate in the Do It Yourself department, and she explained that prices online were sometimes different than prices in the store, and that it said so on the website. I pulled my phone out and scrolled to the bottom of the page, and sure enough, that’s what it says. Even so, it upset me that I drove all the way across town to save money, but I wasn’t saving as much as I thought. Sure it’s only $8, and that’s $13 cheaper than Lowe’s, but I have now spent gas and time to go across town to Walmart only to be stiffed for $8.

I asked to speak to a manager. After ten minutes, the associate finally showed back up and called the manager, who told the associate to give me the same “the online price can be cheaper than the store price” speech. I said, “look, I’m not asking you to price-match Target or Lowe’s, I’m asking you to price-match YOURSELF. Walmart.com is run by Walmart, so I’m asking you to give me the price YOU say you can sell it for. Besides, it’s out of stock online, so I can’t get it there.”

I guess the manager heard me, because he told the associate over the phone to give it to me for $35. Again, I only saved $8, and it took me fifteen or twenty minutes, but it’s the principle.

Had the ladder been in stock online, John could have ordered it, had it delivered to the store for free, and only had a few days’ wait for his ladder. Instead, he gets the lower price on the ladder that the store already has in stock.

(Warning: this example is not applicable in all big-box shopping situations.)

Comments

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  1. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I would never shop at that EVIL Walmart. We all know Walmart sucks and… oh wait, this is a story about Walmart doing something good.

    Never mind.

  2. Limewater says:

    I don’t really see what principle John thinks he’s standing up for, but good for him in saving $8.

  3. blinky says:

    So you’re saying that being obnoxious can save you money? It’s got all sorts of other uses as well: In traffic, it will get you to your destination faster. In a restaurant, it will save you money on tips. In arguments you can often get the other guy to concede. When Apple comes out with a new i*, you can get ahead of the other people in line. Thanks for the info.

  4. Jacquilynne says:

    I honestly don’t think stores should be expected to price match their own websites, unless they’re price matching it with shipping included. I’m assuming shipping a 6 foot ladder would cost more than $8. Part of the cost that’s included in the store price is the cost of transporting it to your local store, a cost that isn’t included in the online price.

    I’d make an exception for cases like BestBuy, where you can order online and pickup in-store without a shipping fee, because then the prices really should be the same.

    • lotussix says:

      best buy will price match its own website.

      • CaughtLooking says:

        So will Staples.

      • CaughtLooking says:

        Best Buy does match Best Buy .com:

        “If you find a lower price on BestBuy.com or in a Best Buy Retail Store for the same brand and model during the exchange and return period, we will match that price. For purchases made on BestBuy.com, we will not match our competitors’ store or website prices.

        What if I find a lower price at another Best Buy store or on BestBuy.com?

        If an item you purchased at Best Buy is advertised at a lower price at another Best Buy store in your local area or on BestBuy.com, we’ll refund you the price difference from our own sale price during the exchange and return period on your product. Simply bring in your original Best Buy receipt to the customer service counter while that lower price is still in effect.”

    • lotussix says:

      best buy will price match its own website.

    • sendmoney2me says:

      you can ship site to store for free from walmart.com but if you notice walmart pricing is different in every store

    • common_sense84 says:

      Shipping is free on walmart.com. They have site to store.

      The only difference between site to store and buying in the store is that the site to store basically makes you wait a week before you can pick it up.

      Site to store is a huge failure and it is bullshit you can’t just buy it online and pick it up in an hour at the store.

    • jesusofcool says:

      I sort of agree. I don’t see any problem with a store offering a different price at its online store – if they offer free shipping. After all, after you consider staffing, lighting, heating etc. it most likely actually does cost the company less to sell an item online vs in-store because online has way less overhead. So as long as they have some sort of free shipping like Walmart, order online, wait a couple days if you want the cheaper price.

    • psm321 says:

      Well then they should also post their in-store price on their website. I hate stores that assume that you’re only coming to their website to shop online, making it hard to even find store locators, etc. (toysrus.com and bn.com used to be that way, they look better now)

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    OP seemed to feel entitled to that $8 price difference just because he decided to drive across town for the ladder, which probably isn’t even the same ladder that was at Lowe’s, hence the price difference. After it was brought to his attention that the website price might be different from the in-store price, he still threw a fit! The manager probably agreed just to get him out of the store.

    • Beeker26 says:

      +1.

    • Twonkey says:

      You know, fact-based OP blaming is one thing, but if you have to assume things in order to support doing it, chances are good that you probably shouldn’t. :P

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        It said on the website that the store price may be different than the online price. How is that assuming anything? The OP acknowledged that the prices could be different, per the site.

        As to your assertion that I made an “assumption” that it was probably a different kind of ladder…well, it isn’t an assumption as it is an educated guess.

        A brief look at both websites (which the OP himself used) shows that one store does not carry the same brands of aluminum ladders as the other store. If you narrow down by price range, you get two likely matches that seem to fit the OP’s description of a 6′ aluminum ladder, and they are not the same brand. Therefore, it’s very likely that the OP was only comparing the two products by their features (6′, aluminum ladder) and they were not the same brand of ladder.

  6. MikeF74 says:

    Why didn’t he just price match while at Lowes?

  7. sirwired says:

    He gave you the $8 to get you out of his hair… he had better things to do than argue over $8. And woe to the poor manager with a spine the next time you try and get a price match and you tell him/her “well, they did it last time.”

    It’s a reasonable policy (even if it’s one I don’t like very much), and the manager really should not have made an exception, since it creates a false future expectation.

  8. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    What is really sad is that Lowe’s price matches, and beats the competitor cost by 10%. So, he wasted gas money by driving to Walmart, AND lost a few bucks at the same time.

    http://www.lowes.com/cd_Everyday+Low+Prices_787241445_

    • ovalseven says:

      I’m sure it would have to be the same model of ladder. It’s not enough that they were both the same length.

    • MSUHitman says:

      And they probably wouldn’t have done it since it was out of stock online. The OP could have gone BACK to Lowe’s with proof the physical Walmart location sold the ladder for $43 and got the PM plus 10% off.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      Stores are getting crafty about that. Some of the big retailers (shoppers clubs, etc) may get items with unique model numbers that are essentially the same, but packaged differently.

      By doing this they sidestep completely the whole price match thing.

  9. PupJet says:

    If you shop online and ship to store, if it’s a brand they have there, you don’t have to ‘wait a few days’. You can usually go there in about 30-45 minutes and pick it up for that price.

    I think it’s good that he did it because it goes to show that companies SHOULD price match themselves, especially if a product they have online is out of stock and the store has it in stock.

    • Limewater says:

      The same item NOT being available online should only encourage a store to NOT price-match its online price.

  10. SonarTech52 says:

    This actually happend to me the week after Christmas. Walmart.com showed a 37” Vizio for $399 or so, but it was out of stock online. The site showed to have 2 in the local store, so we went up there and the price was about $449 or so. We talked about how the site showed a lower price, and asked if we could get that price, they said no they will price match any other store, but not it’s own website… After a little bit, we said, ok fine it’s still a good price let’s get one… Come to find out, 2 of the ones in the store were stolen on Christamas Eve, but they hadn’t updated te inventory… blahh what a waste of time..

  11. jetsaredim says:

    Went through something similar with Best Buy the other day. Normally, they price match their own website, but not anyone else’s. I noticed an item that was available on both walmart.com and in Wal-Mart stores that was about $20 cheaper and I had BB rewards to burn. They said if the price was valid in an actual Wal-Mart store they’d match it. I argued that since Wal-Mart stores price match their own website, I would eventually be able to get it in a store that they match for the price in question. Not only that, but since walmart.com offers free site to store shipping, it’s essentially like buying it in the store anyway. They completely agreed and did the match.

  12. RokMartian says:

    With the abundance of wal-marts, you really have to be living out in east bumblephuc to have to drive “across town” to get to one.

    • theduckay says:

      I don’t live in “east bumblephuc” and I would have to drive quite a ways across town to get to the closest Walmart. While popular, Walmarts aren’t everywhere. That being said, I have three different Targets each within 5-10 minutes or so from me. While I love Target, it would be nice if one of them could have been a Walmart.

    • aloria says:

      New York City is hardly “east bumblephuc” and the nearest Walmart is in an entirely different state.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      I beg your pardon, but I have been to East Bumblephuc. They have a Walmart. I know this because it’s in the middle of a fracking freeway.

      Here I am flying down the highway (75 MPH limit) and lo and behold, wtfomg a stop light. In the middle of the highway. In East Bumblephuc (Okay, it was WhereThePhuqaweh, WV). You wanna know what that stop light was for?

      A Walmart. I sweartogad there was nothing else there, no other stores, but a ginormous Walmart in a spot carved out of the damn mountain. The parking lot exited onto the highway. Hence the stop light.

      But in NYC? Not a one.

  13. sendmoney2me says:

    Best Buy wouldn’t for me. they said “best buy online” was a different company entirely so i asked why they share the same sale ads

    • damnisuck says:

      Best Buy has priced matched their own website for me several times. If they wouldn’t have, I would have just ordered on my phone anyway.

    • blipsman says:

      When did Best Buy stop price matching their online price? I’ve had them do it a number of times. Is this a new Best Buy policy? Circuit City, too, used to do it when they were still around…

    • psm321 says:

      I’ve had no problem with having best buy match their online price. Granted, I’ve only tried once or twice

  14. Red Cat Linux says:

    PetSmart has always price-matched itself. I print out the web page of the item and take it to the store and ask for a manager and… Voila! Thirty dollar savings on an aquarium filter.

  15. shinseiromeo says:

    This is amusing since I had this argument at a walmart yesterday. I refuse to go to a walmart store unless I have no other option (time of day), although there is a new one built about 15mi from me which is actually a decent store.

    I saw a Wii game online marked for $39.96. I went to the store to get it (and a few other items while I was there) yet the store had it for $69.99. The rep gave me the runaround BS line of “the website is a different company.” I replied this exact line back and every time, it leaves the rep speechless.

    “That’s fine, I’ll buy it now at the higher price, order site to store, then come back in a week. I’ll head to the ‘site to store’ pick up area, then walk up to customer service with the shipped item and my old receipt. “

    They cannot refuse a refund on a sealed item. I then asked the rep if this makes any sense as it just makes more work for a customer and for the employees. Of course he had no idea what to so except “well it’s policy”.

    • esp13 has a pony named Steve says:

      …I’ll setup the headline for a future article, “Walmart wouldn’t accept a return on a sealed item just because my receipt showed in store purchase, but it had a Site-to-Store sticker on it.” The nerve of some companies.

  16. dourdan says:

    i hope he was loud enough for all surronding shoppers to hear

  17. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Aw, yes, but did he show his receipt to the greeter? I don’t understand the harsh attitudes towards the OP. Sometimes a manager is in a good mood, sometimes not. You takes yer chances.

  18. JadeNamek says:

    In some states its literally illegal to price match a website because of the Minimum Markup Law. That is the main reason our store wont match online pricing.

  19. jjcraftery says:

    I fought SEVERAL Walmarts this summer, because my son saved up his hard earned money all summer (he’s 11, but he worked with my husband for several days in the summer)
    for an iPod Nano.
    Since we looked it up online, and it was $130 there, that’s what he saved. The SECOND his Dad paid him for the week, he begged me to run to Walmart real quick.
    He was excited, and thrilled that he worked hard for something, and it was finally gonna happen. (this was a good lesson…work hard, get what you want!)

    We got to Walmart, with his money practically hanging out of his wallet, with drool all over it, and the price IN the store was $145!
    That’s a $15 difference!!! And it’s a TEENY item!!!
    Had the difference been up to $5, I would have bitten the bullet and paid the extra for him.
    But FIFTEEN DOLLARS????
    That’s a LOT!!!!!!!!

    So with my son in tears after asking to speak to the manager, giving her my son’s hard work story, and with her rudely, uncaringly denying us the online price, we left.
    He cried for an hour.
    But $15 is $15. I’m sorry. I didn’t have that to spend, and we weren’t giving him a loan to spend it either. It’s a waste, when you can get it delivered to the store free in a few days, withOUT the extra $15. (this was ANOTHER good lesson…sometimes things don’t work out like you planned!)

    We called several Walmarts, and they wouldn’t budge. I even told them I work in Walmart! (I work for one of their vendors.) They didn’t care. Policy is policy.

    So we ordered it online that night, and a week later, my son went to Boy Scout camp for a week. He had planned all summer, to have his iPod, complete with videos of his family to look at if he got homesick at night. (it was his first time away that long)
    He had NO iPod, and NO family messages.

    It should have been delivered before camp. But I got an email saying the item would be “delayed”.
    ????????

    It was RIGHT THERE IN THE STORE. They could’nt just call the store and get one for me from the shelf, since it was late?
    Sigh.

    I raised hell, and they ended up taking $20 off my order for my trouble. It finally came a day before camp was over. (he had mailed me a post card from camp and asked about it, and drew a picture of it. Heart wrenching, isn’t it?)
    When we picked him up, I handed it to him before I even hugged him.
    FINALLY his hard work paid off.

    But not without Walmart f***ing it up for him first, and ruining our money handling lesson for our child!

    I don’t know how YOU got them to give you the online price, not even being a heartbroken 11 year old boy with tears in your eyes. But more power to you!!!

    • FlashFlashCarCrash says:

      You know. You could have saved yourself and your son a ton of drama and heartache and just loaned him the 15 dollars. This is a little ridiculous. Sorry.

    • RubberKeyhole says:

      what should it matter if the customer is 11 or 35? customers who think sharing their sob story will make businesses change their policies disgust me. your 11 year old had to save up his money just like the 35 year old. congratulations, you just shared a lesson with your son about entitlement issues.

    • Cetan says:

      A hardworking 11-year-old boy reduced to tears in the middle of the store? My parents would have been way less than sympathetic for making a scene and embarassing them.

      I mean, if you were really worried about his “well-being” on that “week-long” trip without him having movies and pictures of his family, why not spot him the $15? I can’t honestly believe you couldn’t have taken the cash, and swiped a card of some sort. Or hit an ATM for $20. Or charged it. Would have saved plenty of drama.

      Or hell, have him wait and earn that extra $15. Would have taught him a lesson about price fluctuations.

  20. gman863 says:

    The issue of matching the store’s website sometimes boils down to the Acts Of God required to override a price.

    As a former sales associate at a Famous store eveRybodY knowS, a price change of less than 20% required the department supervisor to key in an override – if they were in a meeting or helping a customer, this could be up to a 10 minute wait. An adjustment of 20-30% required the “person in charge” at the service desk to do the override. If over 30%, only the store manager or assistant store manager could override it. For all adjustments, the salesperson had to print a copy of the online page showing the lower price and place it (stapled to a copy of the sales ticket) in the loss prevention audit bin at the front of the store.

    I ran into several cases where the web site had a hard drive, memory or other tidbit on sale at a markdown of over 30% (for example, $39.99 in-store, $24.99 online). If the mgr. or asst. mgr wasn’t in the store (mostly evenings), the only option was for the customer to buy it at the store price, walk out and walk back in with their receipt and printed copy of the web page for a price adjustment – a process that could easily take upwards of 30 minutes.

    Confused yet? I sure was. Although I was honest with customers and took the time go go through this insane process, many of my co-workers blew it off by telling customers the store did not price match the webiste.

  21. 0chilly says:

    Best Buy has price matched their own website, and even Amazon.com (any seller on Amazon too!) for me on numerous occasions. It never hurts to ask!

  22. pot_roast says:

    “Walmart.com is run by Walmart,”

    No, it’s not. It is actually a separate business entity. I have had no problems getting them to price match from the website, though.

    Fry’s will do the same thing.

  23. Whizzer says:

    There’s nothing particularly “illogical’ about a store not price-matching its online doppelganger. Costs for the online store are considerably lower, hence lower prices (it can be shipped free site-to-store because that’s a lot cheaper than sending it via mail/UPS/FedEx). In the same vein, costs for a store in, say, midtown Manhattan are considerably higher than or its counterpart in Podunk, Mississippi, hence a price difference. (Walmart also does not price-match its other brick-and-mortar stores.)

  24. coren says:

    They try to explain the difference by saying that Walmart and Walmart.com are different stores.

    By definition, Walmart.com is a competitor (for my business) to Walmart at that point. Walmart will price match a competitor. By that logic, skewed as it is (but to be fair, differing prices offered by the same company under the “well they’re different” is pretty skewed in itself) they should price match themselves. Too bad they don’t have a pricematch + ten percent…

  25. Crutnacker says:

    This has happened to me at both Wal Mart and Best Buy, and in both instances, involving items out of stock online that the website said were available in store. In both instances, I got the manager to give me the online price, but only with great hassle. I certainly understand reluctance to price match store prices with online prices from other retailers, but matching StoreX.com to Store X should be a no brainer.

    I’m sure there are complicated retailer/accounting/bonus/whatever reasons that retailers do this, but is it truly worth explaining to the customer the illogic that Wal Mart can’t compete with Wal Mart’s prices? Especially when I could walk in with any print ad from a competing retailer and they’d mark the item down without batting an eye?