Do Not Think About Walmart's Website Price Matching Policy Or Risk Brain Damage

Reader Doug bought a TV at Walmart this morning — and then he returned a TV at Walmart this morning. Why? Because even though Walmart’s website lets you buy things at the lower website prices and have them shipped to the store for free — you have to wait for the warehouse to ship the TV to your local Walmart — even if they already have the TV in stock.

Here’s Doug’s story:

I bought a TV at my local Wal-Mart store this morning. I had looked up the TV on Wal-Mart’s own website, where the price was $367. They offered free “site to store” shipping where they send it to my local store at no additional cost.

I stupidly assumed that the website price and the store price would be the same. The TV wasn’t on display, so a store associate had to go find it in the back somewhere. She brought it out and didn’t tell me the price, but went ahead and rang up the purchase. At this point, I should have checked the price, and it was my fault for not doing so, but after I left with the TV I realized they charged $397 for it.

I immediately went back to the store and went to customer service. The easy thing to do would be for Wal-Mart to match their own website price and give me back $30. So I asked about the possibility of that, but they said no. So I brought the TV back inside and returned it, less than 30 minutes after I purchased it. I just could not believe that they won’t match the price, since I could order the same TV right now for $367, have it shipped to the same store for nothing, wait 7-10 days to get it (even though the same item is in stock at the store already), and then pick it up from the same customer service desk.

Why go through all that when they could just give me $30 and be done with it? I would have my TV, they would have their money…the same amount of money will get if I do it the round-about way.

Doug emailed Walmart corporate and here’s their response:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the price difference between individual Wal-Mart stores and the price difference between Wal-Mart Online and Wal-Mart Stores. With regards to individual stores, each store is required to manage its own inventory; therefore prices may vary from store to store. Our store managers are given the freedom to lower a price to clear out an overstock item, to reward customers with an in-store sale, or to compete with local merchants. It is not Wal-Mart ‘s policy to price match our own stores since we are not in competition with ourselves.

With regards to different prices between Wal-Mart Online and Wal-Mart Stores, the merchandise and prices available on our web site do not reflect the merchandise and prices available in our stores. Our stores will not match prices with our online store (or other online stores) because we do not consider them to be in competition with our retail stores. Currently, Wal-Mart Online does not have access to store inventory lists or price lists.

If you would like more information on pricing policy, you may contact your local store management or visit our website at

Thank you,

Wal-Mart Customer Relations

We suppose they would have a point… if the TV that Doug was trying to buy had actually been on display at the store in question. It wasn’t. It was just sitting in the back… wait, we’re thinking about this too much.

Let’s concentrate on being helpful and suggest some other retailers that might be interested in selling Doug a television. Where do you like to buy your TVs?


Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.