For several months, Walmart has been running a series of ads touting its Low Price Guarantee and calling out specific competitors for their higher prices. But those retailers are now fighting back with complaints in several states.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the companies filing these complaints to various attorneys general range from national mega-chains like Toys R Us and Best Buy to regional supermarkets. The stores allege that the prices Walmart uses for its in-ad comparisons are inaccurate.
For example, the Journal learned that Best Buy wasn’t happy to see Wamart’s holiday shopping ad that listed a Dell laptop as being $251 less expensive at Walmart. Per Best Buy’s complaint to the Florida state Attorney General, the two laptops in the ad were different models, so the claim in the ad “would be like comparing a Toyota to a Lexus.”
In response, Walmart says it never claimed in the ad that these were identical laptops.
But as the Journal points out, Walmart agreed in 1994 — as part of a resolution to a legal dispute with Target over price-comparison ads — to no longer compare products that weren’t the same size or model without noting differences.
In addition to the complaints filed with the states, a handful of supermarket chains have taken their battles into the public arena.
In response to the Walmart ads, Publix begun running ads declaring, “Walmart doesn’t always have the lowest price.” Meanwhile, Pick ‘n Save’s radio ads highlight that the consumer might be getting what they pay for when they buy less-expensive meat and fish at Walmart. One ad states: “If you’d rather feed your family good food made fresh instead of just cheap food, there’s no comparison to Pick ‘n Save.”
A Walmart rep tells the Journal this is all just a matter of sour grapes from its competitors: “We know competitors don’t like it when we tell customers to compare prices and see for themselves… We are confident on the legal, ethical and methodological standards associated with our price comparison ads.”