It seems that many businesses and stores these days are willing to fight hard for your patronage. I’ve noticed a lot more stores lately that now offer price matching on equal items from a different store. You simply show the ad or online printout showing the item that is less expensive at the rival store, and they will give you the item for that price (or sometimes even for cheaper). The fact is that in today’s day and age, your money is in demand and you can use this to your advantage and save yourself even more cash. Here are a few of the biggest benefits to taking advantage of the price matching strategy.
Simply put, if you can get the best sale price on an item at a store that is closer to your home or work instead of having to drive far, it’s going to be more convenient for you. Recently I was looking to buy a label maker in an effort to better organize my house. I found one online at OfficeMax that was on sale for only $20, but when I went to look up my nearest OfficeMax store, I found out that the nearest one was in a different state! I knew that there were 2 Office Depot stores between my work and my house so I went to their website to see if they offered price matching, which they did! I was able to go to the store closest to my house without wasting extra gas and get the same price I would have if I would have driven a lot farther.
Convenience is also a factor if you are already going to a certain store to buy something else. If that store will price match the item you want to buy, you can save yourself the gas and effort of going to a different store, finding another parking spot, standing in line again and making another transaction. While these extra steps may not take a huge amount of time, they can be very beneficial if you are in a hurry or are short on time.
Even more convenient is being able to purchase the item online if you don’t need it right away. We were able to purchase an area rug for our house at a significant discount (with free shipping) due to price matching. Usually all you have to do is provide them with the link to the lower price on a different site.
What’s even better than stores that match prices, are those that beat them. For instance, Home Depot and Lowe’s both offer to beat competitor’s prices by 10%. This is a wonderful combination because since both stores carry similar items, you can almost always save 10% on an item by going to whichever store the item costs more at and getting 10% off of the lower price at the other store. Since this does take a little research and effort (i.e. finding the sale price in an ad or printing it off the website) it may not be practical for smaller items, but it can definitely pay off on bigger purchases. When we got ready to build our backyard patio, we found the pavers we wanted on sale at Lowes. However, we had a coupon to use at Home Depot, so we took the Lowe’s ad to Home Depot and they beat the sale price by 10%. The gentleman who ordered the pavers for us at Home Depot even said that we were buying them for less than what they had paid for them as the store!
Another nice thing about price matching an item at a different store is that often times you are eligible for extra incentives at the 2nd store that you wouldn’t be eligible for at the original store. For instance, when I bought my label maker at Office Depot for the same price OfficeMax had advertised, I was also eligible for an additional $10 rebate on the product which took my price down to only $9.99! The rebate was offered on the Office Depot item to offset the original higher price, but I received it WITH the lower price, which saved me 75% of the original cost.
Other stores may not offer a rebate on the item you wish to buy, but they may offer a better return policy, better customer service, or even a less crowded store. Sometimes a store with lower prices can mean a more crowded store with lower quality customer service, but if you can get the same item for the same low price at a store that treats you well, why not? Stores also differ on their return policies, with some stores letting you return or exchange for longer periods of time than others. Also, some stores like Rite Aid will let you return/exchange cosmetics if they don’t turn out to be the color you expected (not sure if they offer price matching or not though).
After the Fact
So you’ve already bought the item you want and after the fact find out that it was on sale somewhere else for cheaper and you could have gotten the price matched. You may not be out of luck in this case. Many stores will offer price matching AFTER the fact. If you bring in proof of a lower price elsewhere within a certain period of time, they will refund you the difference. And many stores will match their OWN prices by giving you a refund if the same product you purchase goes on sale within a certain length of time.
Shopping frugally does include looking for the best price, but it often also involves being creative and thinking outside the box. Price matching is a practice that many stores offer but don’t necessarily advertise unless you ask. It may be a good idea to keep a list of stores that you frequent in your city that do offer price matches so you can reference that in the future. It just takes a quick phone call to ask if they offer it, or a quick question to the sales clerk the next time you are at the store. It will be worth it because the savings will add up over time.