Is Gap's Policy Of Not Price-Matching Its Own Website Ridiculous?

Some retailers have the practical policy that if the price advertised on their website for a product, that price will be matched in a physical store. Not so with Gap, apparently, as Consumerist reader Cara says she tried to get a price adjustment recently and was denied.

She says she purchased a men’s shirt not two days ago for the full price of $59.99 online at Gap.com. When she checked the site this morning for another item, she noticed that very same shirt had dropped $30 in price, down to $29.99. Big difference, she thought, so why not get a price adjustment?

She writes:

So during my lunch break, I headed back to the mall to get a price adjustment. I briefly told the woman at the cash register the scenario, and she hurriedly said, “Your difference is $16,” while handing me my receipt.

Confused, I asked why she didn’t give me the full refund of approximately $30 and she said, “At least you got $16 back.” Again I asked, “Why am I not getting the shirt for $29.99?”
She responded, “We just don’t do that.”
Me: “Why not?”
Gap CSR: “We don’t honor online prices, and they don’t honor ours.”
Me: “Why not?”
Gap CSR: “It’s a different inventory.”

At which point I just walked away, disgusted.

Besides this being the most ridiculous excuse for a “policy,” the woman was unbelievably condescending and I can’t believe she was hired to interact with customers. I’m appalled with the way this was handled, and demanded a full price adjustment via their customer service email (which I’m sure I’ll never hear back from). I never would have driven all the way to the mall for a measly $16, but the enticement of half price got me behind the wheel.

So the question is this: Should retailers have the exact same prices online as they do in stores? On the one hand, it would be incredibly convenient for customers who want to buy in a bricks and mortar store to be able to price compare before leaving their house. It would also seem to make returns and exchanges of online purchases much easier.

On the other hand, retailers’ web sites are not only competing with other bricks and mortar stores; they are also going head-to-head with online-only sellers who don’t have the staff, real estate, distribution and other costs of a retail location.

Here’s where you weigh in: