How Online Price-Matching Would Work In The Best Of All Possible Worlds

When readers write to us to complain about their experiences with in-store pickup, they’re measuring what actually happened against a sort of retail Platonic ideal. “This item has a different price on your website, retailer!” they expect to say at the register. “You are correct, good sir; let me give you that better price,” the cashier should say, pressing a magical “savvy Internet reader” button on the cash register that unlocks those prices. Alas, this doesn’t happen. Or does it?

Maybe it does. Don’t expect to have this happen at your local Walmart or Sears anytime soon (or ever), but it happened to Tim while picking up some boots at Cabela’s. He writes:

This past weekend my wife went to the Cabelas web site to pick out a pair of winter boots. She found a pair she liked on sale for $65.00 and phoned the local store in [redacted] to see if they were in stock. They had a pair in her size and saved them for her in customer service where I would pick them up on my way home from work Monday.

The next day I stopped by Cabelas to pick up the boots. The nice girl behind the service counter found them after I gave her my name. She proceeded to ring them up and said they were $109.00. I did a double take and asked her about the price discrepancy. She said the other price was probably an on-line only sale but the in-store price was $109.00. I asked her to look up the price on-line for me. She did and confirmed the $65.00 price and said it was on-line only but was good to the end of the month.

So I stated to her very politely and sincerely (now with her manager, I think, standing behind her) that I thought it was very inconvenient that I would now have to go home, order the boots online, have them delivered to the store 5-8 days later (free shipping!), then come back and pick them up back here where I am standing right now with the boots in hand. Both she and her manager (?) did think that was unnecessary, did a little finger dance on the keyboard and said that will be $55.00 (!) please.

I paid for the boots and left the store a very happy customer.