Man Convinces JCPenney To Honor Online Price

Gerry and his wife tried to buy a pair of sneakers that the JCPenney website had listed on sale. While other products were marked “online only,” this particular pair of sneakers was marked “also in stores,” so the couple assumed that the price would be the same. Naturally, the store’s employees refused to see the logic of this argument.

My wife found a pair of athletic shoes she wanted to purchase on the J.C. Penny’s website. She found that the site was out-of-stock. Disappointed, at first, she called the local J.C. Penny’s store and found that they did have stock of the same shoe. So, off to the store we went. Upon arriving we headed to the woman’s shoe department and found the shoes which were placed on hold for my wife. She got the last two pair because of the out-of-stock issue, thinking this might be her last chance to get this specific shoe. When she paid for the shoes, they were $10 higher than the ‘advertised’ web price. They said this is what the price is and they could do nothing to change it. She completed the transaction and we walked over to the catalog counter to ask why the prices were different.

The shoe in question is the New Balance 411 Woman’s Running Shoe, listed for Sale $39.99 on the web with ‘Also in Stores’ plainly under the price. Other shoes show “Online Only”. So, we both were under the impression that this price was ‘Also in Stores’.

The staff at the catalog counter insisted that they have web pricing and in-store pricing. However, she could not prove to me where it was clear to us that the store had different pricing. After a lengthy chat, a supervisor arrived and said the same thing. I pointed out the web price on my smart phone and said “Also in Stores” leads me to believe that this was available at the store for the same price. She could not deny this and after struggling to prove so, she reluctantly refunded us the difference between the web price and what we were charged at the store.

Please be careful of these deceptive practices. They continue today around every corner.


Edit Your Comment

  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Kudos to them, but I wouldn’t call it deceptive. The “online only” and “also in stores” refers to the product’s availability, not the price. Most companies operate their stores and websites as two different “storefronts” and the price at one isn’t always the price at the other.

    The OP just happened to catch a supervisor who didn’t know anything.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      I agree, but they should also make it clear that the price is web-only. J.C. Penney’s website kind of sucks for that sort of thing. They also don’t have a link to their size charts in their women’s clothing section and there is only one size chart sitewide but they sell various brands of clothing and as all women know, a 4 by brand A is not necessarily the same as a 4 by brand B, or brand C, or brand D. (This is why we try clothes on…because our sizes aren’t measured in inches like men’s clothing is.)

      So I can see your point, but I also see his. I think you’re both right.

    • Pax says:

      I don’t know where they were, but at least in Massachusetts law … if there was no explicit declaration that in-store prices may differ from those published on the web, then, the web price *IS* what the store is allowed to charge. Failure to do so, is a violation of 940 CMR 6 – IOW, “false advertising” and/or “a misleading and deceptive business practise”.

      That may not have been the store’s INTENT. But, they need to make sure the pricing of items is _excruciatingly_ clear, especially when the price at location A might differ from the price in location B.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Stores with their own brand like Gap, Ann Taylor, etc tend to have sale prices that match online and in store. “Clearance” merch is usually when I see prices differ in those type of stores. Department stores or stores with a large variety of brands, however, hardly ever share prices online and in store in my experience. Anyone else notice this?

    • Anonymously says:

      It’s complete B.S. that they do that. A website *should* be the same thing as shopping in-store. If they don’t like it, they should start a different online store with a different name. It confuses customers and breeds animosity towards the stores.

    • sonneillon says:

      Penny’s is usually pretty good about that kind of thing. I don’t think it is about catching a supervisor who didn’t know anything. Of course I have only gotten them to price match a competitor, no themselves.

    • MauriceCallidice says:

      Target tried to get out of honoring a price on their website that stated “only available in Target stores”, by stating they don’t have to match internet prices. It took my wife and me 45 minutes of polite escalation before they would agree to honor the price.

      They were trying to argue it was a website price, and they don’t have to go by website prices. But since the website was, and it explicitly stated that the price was the in-store price at Target stores (not available online), we wouldn’t budge until they accepted that they were obligated to honor it.

      The final resolution was a manager stating they would make an exception this time only, and that the price was for an in-store promotion that hadn’t started yet (supposedly it started the next day), and shouldn’t have been advertised yet.

  2. SkuldChan says:

    I’m sure the stores founder would have honored it – having read plenty of his quotes from training manuals etc.

  3. COBBCITY says:

    “While other products were marked “online only,” this particular pair of sneakers was marked “also in stores,” so the couple assumed that the price would be the same.

    The OP was wrong. It clearly says on

    “JCPenney Internet prices may differ from prices offered in our print catalogs, JCPenney retail stores, or Catalog Outlet stores for the same items.”

    While I don’t agree with the practice, many chain retailers consider their web site another company and treat is that way. Yes, it does confuse consumers.

    That said, the store was generous to match, the OP didn’t read the web site.

    • Anonymously says:

      Where does it say that? Is it in an obvious, hard-to-miss place, or is it hidden in the legalese section? If a customer can’t find it in 30 or so seconds, it’s existence is sure to confuse and anger someone.

  4. XTREME TOW says:

    I’m surprised J.C. Penny would try a stunt like that.
    Sears? Expect it! Penny’s? NO!

  5. DrRamblings says:

    Initially I sided with the customer, but considering the online presence has different overhead costs, different inventory, and often is treated as a separate entity… is a much fuzzier decision. Since the website lists the disclaimer, the retailer probably has its bases covered, though that doesn’t always mean it is the “right” business decision. I think the consumer would have a bigger gripe if the website offered a “Pick Up In Store” option.

    At the end of the day….$10. Life is too short to push much more than asking for the adjustment.

  6. sirwired says:

    Stores that won’t price-match their own website really annoy me. I understand why they commonly have different prices, but if I’m going to try and price match, they should agree to do so. After all, they usually price match the websites of competitors; why not their own?

    Really, not price matching means I’m just going to order one online too, and when that arrives, wander by the store to return it, as if it was the one I purchased at retail.

    • Beeker26 says:

      “After all, they usually price match the websites of competitors; why not their own?”

      I don’t know any brick and mortar retailer that will price-match a website, specifically for this reason — website prices are often cheaper due to lower overhead.

  7. Beeker26 says:

    More old stuff. Retailers have been doing this for a long time. Wal-Mart especially. Tho WM makes it very clear on the web pages that in-store prices may be higher.

    Honestly I don’t have an issue with the practice as long as it’s disclosed.

  8. jpozenel says:

    I have a Best Buy store less than 2 miles from my house. I saw an item online that I wanted and went to the store to buy it. It was priced considerably higher than what was indicated on the website.

    I drove home, purchased it online for pickup at the store, and then returned to the store to pick it up.

    This makes no sense to me.

    • stevenpdx says:

      I did the same thing when I bought a digital camera, but I didn’t drive home to order it. The price was $300 in the store, but only $239 at the Best Buy website. So I just used their in-store computer to order it for in-store pickup.

  9. Benobi says:

    Personally, I think these big, dinosaur department stores should just be thankful of any business they get.

  10. Destron says:

    It says right there on the detail page “Store prices may vary”.

    The reason many retailers do this is because when you order something online it is usually drop shipped by the manufacturer and lessens the overhead of the retailer, so they are trying to pass that savings on to you. The don’t pay someone to handle it 15 times to get it on a store shelf where it sits.

    Also, using this method you can get the most recent price from the manufacturer. If you buy something in the store, that store could have bought it 6 months ago. In the meantime the price could have went down, but the store won’t drop the price because they bought that inventory at a higher price.

  11. lenagainster says:

    I bought a pair of sandals at Bass Pro and later that day looked up online where they were on sale for $15 less. Still not on sale at the store but the next time I went to Bass Pro they refunded me the $15 without question. It’s called “keeping the customer happy”. Some stores do it, others don’t. Some stores survive, other stores don’t. I wonder if there’s a connection there.

  12. ginnel says:

    I bought shoes online at Penny’s. They sent the wrong size. I returned them to the return desk at the store. They said the right size was no longer available online and they could only refund my money. I asked if they had them in the store. Yes, but the price would be $10 more. I argued that they were the ones who shipped the wrong size. No deal. I went home with my refund and don’t shop there anymore.

  13. brinks says:

    I was a manager at Staples and they often had different prices in the store, catalog, and website. This wasn’t even for sales, either. It was the regular retail price. However, we would always price match in the store unless if they had a website print-out or the catalog in hand (except for the RARE occasion that it was an online-only price, in which case it was CLEARLY noted on the website).

    Costs are different in-store and online, but having different prices everywhere you look inevitably (and OFTEN) leads to customer service issues. Companies need to take a look at the big picture. People who buy one way and then find a lower price through a different channel always feel deceived. It happens often. At Staples, it was an easy fix on OUR end…but the customer would have to notice the price difference, call and complain, then come back to the store with proof of the different price. I think more often we just lost their business.

  14. fourrpaws says:

    As a former JCP employee, I came across this situation often. In our store the management went the extra mile to satisfy the customer, though. If the customer found it cheaper on the website, I would explain the reason (as it was explained to me):

    “When ordering from the website, you will always have to pay for shipping and handling, therefore JCP often has lower prices on the website than in the store.”

    If the customer still wanted the lower price, a quick call to the manager on duty would usually get approval and the customer would go away satisfied, if not happy.

  15. TheTaoOfMeow says:

    FWIW, “online only” in JCP lingo usually means that the ITEM itself is a web exclusive, not the PRICE. But I will say that unless the shoes were on clearance/being liquidated on the site, the OP had the right to ask for the price match.

    What I find interesting about the whole thing is that DOES price-match the in-store sales when the size/color a customer wants is out of stock at their local store. I have had this service offered to me several times when shopping there. This practice is called a “referral” and involves an employee using the register to place a direct order with the warehouse to be billed at the store sale price when it arrives. And the shipping charges are free if you choose in-store pickup. Why this option doesn’t work in the reverse, like the OP requested, is the puzzling thing.

  16. crb042 says:

    “… she reluctantly refunded us the difference between the web price and what we were charged at the store.”

    wait… so you paid the mistaken price and THEN argued?

    I tend to pay attention to that stuff when it’s being rung up, before handing over any money or credit cards. Maybe I’m just odd.

  17. teqjack says:

    I would have thought the same as the OP, since other individual items had the probable price differential noted. But yes, the site has a site-wide notice to that effect, so I thin I would have been wrong.

    And once the manager (entire store ir department) head was involved, it does not appear to have taken long to resolve, with some talking, in the customer’s favor. JCP does that sort of thing, the “guidelines” are not, as is so often the case, carved into tablets of stone.

    Discalimer and anecdote: I worked for JCP for a while some years back. A custoner wanted to return a sweater she had bought at another branch. Birmakky not a big deal – but the purchase had been fifteen years years before! Apparently it had been put in a closet and forgotten about. Even the department head was flustered by this and called upon the branch manager. Noting that it was still in the original wrapping and had the original price tag, he ruled it could be returned. 90-day limit? Nah…

  18. sopmodm14 says:

    a brick and mortar store operates differently, with different inventories, than a warehouse

    but it never hurts to ask

    lots of retailers have flexibility, and it never hurts to ask

    case in point : i was shopping for a birthday toy, and their was a price discrepancy, so i went to customer service. the guest in front of me had an holier-than-thou attitude, and nothing could be done in her case (item was out-of-stock or something). i went next and was friendly and polite and asked my question as if asking for a favor….the associate said, that b/c i was so nice and understanding, she used her discretion to fix the price difference !!!

    sometimes, if its store policy, its store policy that corporate implemented

  19. WhosOnFirst says:

    I have many friends who look at stores like J.C. Penny’s as ONE store, not three as in Catalog, On-Line and physical store… They expect Target to be Target and so on…. and so do I. This might be a ‘normal’ practice, but I think it’s NOT an ethical practice.