Target Will Not Price-Match Other Targets

Two Target locations, only a short drive apart. One line of dinnerware on clearance. Jordan and his fianc√© registered for dishes that were on clearance at the time. As stock began to disappear from local stores, they decided to just go ahead and buy all of the pieces they could before they disappeared from stores altogether. Oddly, the place settings were cheaper at one store than the other. The ways of retail pricing are mysterious, but what Jordan learned is that buying the same item at the same chain a few miles away doesn’t mean that price-matching is going to happen.

I am a long time reader and am now having an issue that I would like to bring to your attention. My fiancé and I recently registered at Target for our upcoming wedding and in the process of doing so, we found everyday china that we absolutely loved. It was listed as clearance but we added it anyway.

A couple of days later we decided to check the stock levels at the Targets nearest to us and found that there weren’t very many available, so we decided to just go ahead and purchase them ourselves, lest they became unavailable before the wedding. I went to one store, and my fianc√© went to another, and when we both got home we notice that one of the locations was selling them cheaper, which seemed strange at the time, but no big deal because i could go back to my target and have them price match it for me, right? Wrong.

Apparently Targets policy is that they won’t price match themselves be it online, or even another one of their stores, even though the original purchases happened on the same day within hours of each other. This sucks. It’s not like I am trying to screw target out of 30 bucks just for fun, but since they apparently don’t know how to do the right thing and take care of the customer, I’m left with the short end of the stick. Any suggestions you can offer?

dinnerware.jpg

Update: Target’s price-matching policy specifically excludes clearance items. So there’s that. (Thanks, mrm514!)

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  1. scoutermac says:

    Why is the sales tax 8% on one and 7% on the other?

    • milkcake says:

      Probably one is in NY and the other is in NJ.

      • scoutermac says:

        Both say IL.. I am assuming this means Illinois?

        • AustinTXProgrammer says:

          One must be in the city limits, the other not. Here in Texas a few feet can easily change the sales tax rate. This is why it is so hard for out of state online retailers to deal with sales tax.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      Different counties, most likely.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      You know that different cities and counties can levy their own taxes, right?

    • Fast Eddie Eats Bagels says:

      Must have been close to the border of two counties in IL. I do know that they didn’t shop in Cook County because the tax isn’t a whopping 10%. Damn you Cook County Crooks

    • vivalakellye says:

      The two Targets mentioned are probably located in different counties. Not inconceivable, especially in a densely populated area.

    • SmokeyBacon says:

      Heck, in Illinois they could be in the same town but different counties and have different tax rates, or they could be 2 towns next to each other. Every place in IL is different – it really makes shopping interesting.

      • bluline says:

        Thus the enormous issue involving online retailers collecting sales taxes. Can you imagine the difficulty of trying to manage the tax rates for literally thousands of different tax jurisdictions? If online retailers are going to be forced to collect sales tax, I would suggest that it be the state tax only, and forget about county, city, and other local taxes. It’s just too unwieldy.

        • NeverLetMeDown says:

          No, it’s not at all unwieldy. Target itself, for example, does it just fine. Lots of retailers with widespread footprints do. There are services that handle it for you, and give you the exact tax rate for every address in the country, if you don’t want to do it in house.

        • SmokeyBacon says:

          Well, in Illinois if you make purchases out of state for in state consumption you are supposed to pay that on you Illinois State Taxes and the rate is whatever the Use Tax rate is at the time – but it is the same for the whole state in that case. Online retailers could just charge that amount for tax in Illinois and it wouldn’t be a problem. Now it is up to the consumer to be honest and put it on their taxes each year.

        • rdclark says:

          Look: http://www.zip2tax.com/z2t_lookup.asp?inputZip=60640

          If the ability to look up sales tax by zip code is available for free on the internet, don’t you think it’s commonly available as a plug-in for online retailers’ shopping cart software?

          It’s not 1958. This stuff is easy.

    • discipleprodigy says:

      could be a tiff district

      • kc2idf says:

        For the longest time, up until the mid 80’s or so, Schenectady County in New York had a very low sales tax. The two malls in the area (Mohawk Mall, no longer there, and Rotterdam Square Mall) used this as a draw in their advertising, that they had only 4% sales tax, versus 7% in neighbouring Albany and Saratoga counties and 6% in neighbouring Montgomery county. Mohawk mall even had an animated character of a number 4 in their ads.

    • bluline says:

      Why is the identifying store information blacked out?

    • binkleyz says:

      Just a guess, but one is probably in Chicago, and the other not.

      Local sales tax isn’t annotated separately, I’d guess.

  2. DrPizza says:

    Simple solution: Purchase at store A, return to store B (with receipt.) Purchase at store B.
    At least, I assume that like most chains, Target allows returns to any of its locations.

    • DrPizza says:

      Also, once you’re done, don’t forget to mock the manager for wasting his employees time to meet the exact same ends.

    • mszabo says:

      It would be simple if the item wasn’t something being discontinued. I’m guessing the store manager at B wouldn’t just let you re-purchase the item after you return it.

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        If there is a unit available on the floor, then return what you have for a full refund (you have the receipt after all) and go get one of the units on the floor and purchase it. If all the clearance units are gone, you’re out of luck.
        I know that you will not be allowed to “rebuy” the unit you returned until the clearance sticker is put on it and a Team Member puts it out on the sales floor.
        You’d have a better argument if you purchased the item at one store and then that store marked it down the very next day.

    • longdvsn says:

      I was thinking the same – and you can definitely return purchases to any store…so this should be an easy fix. Go to the cheaper store, ask for a price match…if not, ask for return/rebuy. The employee might be slightly frustrated with it, but if it’s not really busy, it should go quickly.

  3. caradrake says:

    Target does not compete with itself, is it really a surprise that they won’t price match other Target stores?

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Price matching. Money-back guarantee.

    These things exist only on paper. No business really honors these statements anymore.

  5. The Lone Gunman says:

    Find out who the District manager is for the Target store involved, and contact them soonest.

    If that doesn’t resolve, take to Corporate, AND possibly the local news station’s consumer reporter.

    Good luck.

    • Bojay1997 says:

      I’m sorry, but why should they complain to all these people? Target has always had a policy of letting individual stores manage their own clearance pricing and has never stated that individual stores are required to match other locations. I could understand if Target had a policy of price matching itself which it wasn’t following, but it doesn’t. I really wish Consumerist would get stricter about what it’s posting. This guy is whining about something he wishes Target would do so he can save a few more dollars on stuff that was already on clearance. No Target policy was violated here and if he doesn’t like the policy, maybe he should register at some other low end store. Give me a break.

  6. tekmill says:

    One item is on clearance at one location because they weren’t selling enough product, so they placed it on clearance. Probably in the other location (with the different sales tax) it was selling well. Hence the price difference. There’s no reason for a target to price match itself to slaughter their own margin. If retailers price matched themselves or anybody else on clearance they would go out of business quick.

    • The Lone Gunman says:

      You are assuming that the individual stores are the ones making the clearance-pricing decision, rather than Corporate.

      • Don't Bother says:

        They do.

      • tekmill says:

        Most retailer managers can take additional markdowns on non continued merchandise. This helps it turn faster so that they don’t have to waste salespace on items they are being replenished. It’s good management. So yes, they can do local markdowns. Also, didn’t op say the selection was dwindling…there’s your sign…

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      “There’s no reason for a target to price match itself to slaughter their own margin.”

      Of course there’s a reason. Customer loyalty and policy consistency.

      • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

        Yes, that makes sense. Take a loss on something that they make a profit on because it helps the customer.

        Except that the customer isn’t owed anything. Store A: higher price Store B: lower price. Customer chose to purchase at both stores. If he doesn’t like it, he should return the higher priced items.

      • Bionic Data Drop says:

        Policy consistency is there. They don’t match clearance prices. No B&M chain does. Call up Wal-Mart and ask if they will match another location’s clearance prices.

        This is really a non-story. Consumerist may as well publish a story about Target not accepting Monopoly money, since Target should make every exception to their policies just to cater to people who can’t understand common sense.

  7. mrm514 says:
    • longfeltwant says:

      There it is, clear as day: “Competitor prices”.

      Target followed policy. There is neither an ethical nor a policy objection to Target’s actions.

      Blame the OP.

      • apple420 says:

        The policy also states the price match must be from a printed advertisement. Do they have a printed ad that shows the lower price, or just a receipt?

    • Tigerantilles says:

      How dare you bring logic, reason, and research into this. We’re trying to be outraged!!

  8. u1itn0w2day says:

    I thought most of these stores registers were programed at the national level. I can see a different price in the Carolinas as compared to California but if it’s in the same state or region of the country why the difference?

    • belsonc says:

      Not necessarily – the retail can be set by the buying office, but at the Big, Big, Big homegoods retailer I used to work at, the stores were allowed to take discretionary markdowns as necessary. Everyone started selling it at 29.99, yeah, but if (insert condition here) meant it wasn’t selling well at your store at that price, you had a budget you could use which would allow you to sell the item for 24.99 instead.

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        I noticed the locat TargetS around here have a price break on the same automotive accessories right now same price. I can see individual store clearance but would the national company be trying to clearout certain inventory nationally?

    • BfloAnonChick says:

      Reductions for Clearance are done at the individual store level, based upon that store’s sales, and inventory on hand. Different items sell better or worse at different store locations, and stores adjust their prices in response.

      (I worked for Target for 9 years.)

  9. milty45654 says:

    Lots of comments on this:
    1. Perhaps it was selling poorly at one and better at the other; this would be a good reason for the difference. Corporate isn’t going to pay to ship everything not selling well at one store to another; they’ll mark it down in the slow store
    2. Obviously you were willing to pay the higher price as you didn’t realize the difference until you got it home…if you liked it at the higher price, its a bonus you got another set you loved a little cheaper. Get over it
    3. If Target followed every policy “consumers” wanted, they’d go out of business; then, they’d be listed here as a poor business model and “why did they fail?” etc. Their policy is dictated by their bottom line and what is best for shareholders….not consumers. The same people that cry free markets are the first to complain when the free market does something that crosses them.

  10. SmokeyBacon says:

    I have seen that at other stores here in IL – not just at Target. I was looking for specific Christmas lights – at one Menards they were one price and at another Menards they were a higher price (and of course the tax rates were different – this is Illinois after all).

    • pararescuejmper says:

      IL is horrible with different sales tax per city. Plus in some cases it’s hard to tell which city your in unless your familiar with the area. It was a big plus when I lived closer to the WI border. Just hike across the border and gets things for a steal. Now I live further south its back to being about 10 dollars or more for things.

      • SmokeyBacon says:

        Oh, believe me I know because we deal with tax issues where I work all the time – our sales order system is supposed to get it right but doesn’t. And being in the same town you could still have 2 different rates (our office used to be in Burr Ridge which has 2 rates depending on which side of the county line you were on 7.25 on the DuPage side, 8.5 on the Cook side). I found a site online where you can look the info up by location, but even with that you still need to know which area you are in to be right because it can be a big difference.

  11. Don't Bother says:

    One reason for this variability between stores is because the general manager’s (senior team leads) of the store have more say about what goes on clearance and when. In one way, that’s really nice because they can tailor their goods and pricing towards the surrounding area. On the other hand, crap like this happens.

  12. asten77 says:

    They both have a $x.98 price (vs. a $x.99), which indicates that both stores have them on clearance. Perhaps the lower store wasn’t moving them as quickly as they’d liked, and discounted them further. I don’t think Target’s ever price matched clearance merchandise.

    When something’s on clearance, there’s likely a fair amount of leeway in pricing left to the store level.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Oh snap really? .98 means clearance? Is that only at Target or is it more widespread? I’ve never noticed that.

      • FatLynn says:

        That’s at Target, but you can look for similar patterns elsewhere. I think Walmart’s clearance prices end in a 4.

        • caradrake says:

          Most of the Walmart clearance prices I see end in .00, versus their standard pricing of .97.

          I wonder if it changes based on location.

  13. longfeltwant says:

    Truthfully, I’m getting a little sick of all these stories where people whine about price matching policies.

    Look, you bought the item, right? Okay, so you felt that the price was fair when you bought it, right? You were willing to pay that price, right? The item was worth that much money, to you, right?

    So, seriously, stop it already with whining about wanting a lower price. If you can get a price match, that’s bonus for you, but if you can’t, YOU AREN’T OUT ANYTHING, because you still have what you bought, for the price you paid, which obviously you felt was a fair price.

    • Darkneuro says:

      +1 internetz

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      So, then, how about these companies stop trying to dupe customers into thinking they price match? No matching ourselves, no matching our web site, no matching other stores during promotions, no matching here, no matching there.

    • Bojay1997 says:

      I agree. This is in no way a legitimate complaint and it shouldn’t have been posted. No Target policy was violated here and nobody ever promised this guy that Target clearance pricing would be identical at every store. As an aside, Target won’t price match further clearance price drops in the same store either, so I’m sure this would be the guy’s next complaint if he does actually get the manager to adjust the price and then it drops further. As a customer, I prefer the policy because it means clearance stuff might actually be available for a while so I can buy it rather than resellers rolling in on day one, scooping everything up and then continually getting price adjustments as prices fall at other stores while ordinary customers get nothing.

    • Happy13178 says:

      If stores are allowed to set individual policies that treat consumers differently based on where the consumers are shopping and or what they are buying, consumers can go about shopping at said stores differently as well. That means if one store is playing the policy card at you, you play that same card back by returning and rebuying. Why people feel the need to allow businesses to arbitrarily set the rules and just sit back and take it is beyond me.

      • Bojay1997 says:

        Target has that covered as well. They do not offer an immediate return and rebuy. All returns get piled behind the customer service desk and take 2-3 days to be checked and returned to the floor with whatever the current clearance price is. So, maybe you’ll get lucky and the item will be out there when you come back at the lower price, but there is no way to know for sure. Like I said, I think this is a very fair policy for consumers. The only people who get hurt are those who abuse the system like those who hoard and resell.

    • Carlee says:

      I’ve never really understood price matching. What’s the purpose? If I ran a store and a customer said “Store ABC is selling this for 10 cents less”, I would say “then you should buy it at that store”. I know stores want repeat customers and all that, but that’s probably why I would not be good at running a store.

  14. Eyeheartpie says:

    It’s obvious. One store had them on clearance, one didn’t. Target clearances are notoriously YMMV, and they will NOT price match another Target’s clearance price. I’ve had no trouble pricematching regular prices from one Target store to another.

    • Bionic Data Drop says:

      Whew, I was starting to think by the comments that I was the only one who knew this. Just because something is on clearance at one location doesn’t mean it’s on clearance at all locations. Every B&M chain I know of does the same thing and always has, so I don’t know why Target is being singled out for this.

  15. Kuchen says:

    I live basically equidistant from two SuperTarget stores, both are in the suburbs, but one is in a slightly “nicer” area. The one in the nicer area doesn’t discount things as quickly, and their clearance prices don’t usually get as low. I went to both stores the day after Halloween to look for deals on costumes. They were 50% off at one store, and still full price at the other.

  16. foodfeed says:

    Mess with their heads, return the ones you bought with the lower price tags using the higher priced receipt. Then change your mind and ask to buy them back.

  17. sahovaman says:

    Walmart does the same thing. They see it as ‘competing’ with other stores, even though they’re not really competing, just matching the price of an item from one other location. I only ended up paying about 5-6 dollars more for the item as I didn’t want to spend $10.00 in gas to get it, but when you advertise “we price match” like crazy, you’d think the least they could do is price match the item.

  18. mischlep says:

    I saw price differences on the same product in the same week at two different target stores just seven miles apart.

    On the other hand, Fatwallet previously discussed how clearance prices are left up to the discretion of the individual stores.

    http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/deal-discussion/186112/

    12. With a Copy of Someone Else’s Receipt, Can I try to Price Match with the Target Store in my Neighborhood?
    Yes of course you can TRY
    The success of this tactic is very rare. Almost all Target Store Associates/Managers will not price match with other Target Stores.

  19. loueloui says:

    Even better idea, purchase at lower priced store, return to higher priced store- without a receipt. Target can eat the extra $14 for being a bunch of schmucks.

    Before anyone starts throwing rocks, let me remind you that Target’s return policy has been scrutinized by probably no less than a thousand people in their company. This technicality would not be allowed to exist if it didn’t produce revenue by having more of the opposite (buying high and returning low).

    • Bojay1997 says:

      Target won’t accept a return without receipt except in very rare cases. You’re thinking of Walmart and even they have limits on it nowadays.

  20. Kavatar says:

    Facepalm at the number of people who don’t understand the concept of clearance pricing.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      How is the customer supposed to know it’s clearance if it’s not designated as a sale or clearance item. Doesn’t Target use a ‘price break’ sign on certain sale items.

      Most stores try to make their clearance items standout so they do sell and get rid of them. Went to my local Kmart this week and they had all the clearance at the front of the store on shelves marked with tiny white & yellow stickers.

      • Kitamura says:

        Yeah, but according to the OP the item was already on clearance. Does target have signs to indicate a product is on clearance more than what corporate has instructed?

      • RogerX says:

        Target always – ALWAYS – tags clearance items with bright red stickers, and covers them as the clearance price goes down. I have never, not ever, not once in years of shopping Target clearance found a single item that was on clearance missing that sticker.

      • Dyscord says:

        The OP knew it was on clearance. I don’t know of many stores that price match clearance items

  21. bhr says:

    From my own retail management experience MANY MANY years ago, clearance prices usually get marked down at a local level, depending on stock/timeline. So a store with more of an item will often price down more aggressively.

  22. Actionable Mango says:

    I had the same problem at Best Buy. They would not match a nearby Best Buy. They specifically said it was because the item was on clearance and they do not match clearance prices.

  23. Jules Noctambule says:

    All the Target stores in my area clearance the same items at different times and with varying prices. There’s one store in particular that seems to end up with the whole area’s remaining clearance goods at the lowest prices, so I know that if I see something I want on clearance at one store, if I go back and the item isn’t there anymore I’ll be able to find it at the other Target for less in a week or two.

  24. Not Given says:

    I thought all the price matching going on was advertised prices.

  25. in-Albany says:

    No one should expect price matching on clearance prices. Price matching is for advertised merchandise. Clearance merchandise does not have to be honored. It is first come, first sell. What a rediculous request!

  26. libwitch says:

    Yes, well neither will wal*mart. – even if you are in a town that the only stores for 20 or so miles that carry the product is wal*mart, they are not (even the words of their own managers) competitors, and their stores will sell products at different prices anyway.

  27. Benny says:

    This has been the policy, I don’t know what is the OP crying about. Target’s clearance price is a big YMMV at their stores. The clearance price won’t always be the same at every stores, and they won’t match it with other Target stores.

  28. INDBRD says:

    This isn’t anything new… Walmart, Meijers, Sears, Target… all have the same policy… they will NOT compete with their own stores… This isn’t the first time this type of ‘story’ has been posted to Consumerists…. pretty sad the number of repeat stories being posted recently…

  29. Cream Of Meat says:

    Why don’t you get the fuck over it!?

    The more expensive target probably pays $100,000 a month rent and the cheaper one pays $75,000 a month.

    kthxbai

  30. RogerX says:

    I’m sorry – I power-shop Target clearance at up to 5 local stores a week, and I’ve never asked or would expect them to honor a lower clearance price. In my mind, once stuff goes on clearance, especially at the 30%+ off level, it is first come, first served. You’re buying it up at far below list, they are almost certainly taking a loss, and you want them to go lower because another store hasn’t marked it down far enough yet? That’s greedy and selfish behavior. I stalk clearance endcaps all the time– it’s part of “the game” to try to ride out items you may be willing to pay for at 50% off, but not 30% off. In the mean time, some other shopper is likely to buy it. What in the world would Target’s obligation be here? “We’re offering these items at our loss of $15; if it doesn’t sell to someone else in 1-2 weeks, it will be a loss of $45 to us. You want us to take another $30 off now? Sure, why not!” :

  31. krom says:

    Large chains shift prices to benefit stores in competitive markets by compensating by raising prices at “safe” stores in non-competitive markets.

    This is how the new Wal-Mart or such can manage to stay afloat by undercutting the local competitors. There’s no risk and they can keep doing it for as long as there are stores in non-competitive markets (likely because the same strategy was used there) to subsidize it.

    Of course, once the big box chain succeeds in running the century-long family-owned corner store into the ground, they can jack the prices back up for further recoupment.

    • RogerX says:

      There’s always somebody younger and more innovative waiting around the corner. That’s when the big companies turn to lobbying congress to protect their business under the guise of protecting consumers.

  32. u1itn0w2day says:

    Alot of stores put your savings on the receipt. Is a Target receipt supposed to show anykind of discounting or clearance? How would a Target employee handling a return or exhange know wether it’s considered a clearance item. Except for price and tax the receipt seems the exact same, no special codes or a different set of numbers.

  33. jp7570-1 says:

    Staples does this too. In fact, their shelf price is often a buck or two higher than the price on their OWN website. Do yourself a favor and make sure to print a copy of the Staples web page for an item you are looking for just to make sure that a) it isn’t priced higher at the store; and b) to get them to lower the price if it is.

    Maybe there are other stores where the bricks-and-mortar price is higher than the web price, but Staples is the only one I have found that consistently has this problem.

  34. d0x360 says:

    Target doesnt price match itself because it sets prices based on sales at specific stores and competitive shopping at other retailers. That being said with the exception of food 99% of items are the same price across the region. Clearance is a different story. Some stores mark down sooner or at a different percent based on inventory levels and sales.

  35. mantelope says:

    The company I work for has different price levels that are dictated by several factors(nearby competition, avg income of local community, etc.) You can drive 2 miles down the road and find a different regular retail price on many items(whether it’s vitamins, batteries, otc drugs). In terms of clearance pricing, sometimes the amount taken off an item on clearance depends greatly on how many the store has on hand. If I have 2 left, and the store down the street has 10, my markdown may start at 25% off and theirs may start at 50% off. Or, it could be that one particular store has a different size department, so they are discontinuing an item other stores may still carry. If it’s still going to be an everyday, basic item in my store, why should I match another store that no longer carries it?

  36. stevenpdx says:

    I don’t know of any store that matches clearance prices.

  37. quail says:

    FYI: computers decide the clearance prices. It will look at inventory at one location, and the operating costs to decide what the clearance price should start at. It’s not arbitrary. And it’s common for clearance prices to be different from one store to the next.

    As to getting your price adjusted, used to be Target did bend over backwards with returns and customer service. That was before Macy’s parent company took control. That all changed in the 2000s. Unless you get a kind hearted manager on your side you’re just out of luck. Be thankful you got the sets you wanted and you didn’t pay full price for any of it.

  38. Swins says:

    1. If we really dig deep we will find that the stores are in two different states or in different commercial zones, city tax added to state tax.

    2. If you REALLY pay attention, items on clearance are NOT eligible for price matching.

    I blame the OP for not paying attention, I blame The Consumerist for AGAIN allowing a whiny post to post without checking it out.

  39. renswic says:

    I once bought a PS2 from a Target store across town from me(picked it up after leaving my job that was across the street) as the didn’t have the game I wanted in stock(Crazy Taxi) I stopped by the Target near my house, while I got my game(for $5 less then the other store) I noticed their PS2’s were $20 cheaper.

    Afer being told to go to the service counter by the minion helping me and then having the service counter minion go through a shift leader, then an assistant manager, then the day manager, the the general manager and from what they told me the district manager I got my $20. Was it worth the 45 mins it took? Not really I did learn that the store close to me almost always has a cheaper price then the one across town though.