An Experiment: Using Walmart’s New Price Match Policy – Frugal Confessions

An Experiment: Using Walmart’s New Price Match Policy

In a world tipped in the favor of retailers and manufacturers due to the  recent uptick in media attention on consumer dishonesty and fraud, Walmart has chosen to not only simplify its price matching policy, but to choose to trust consumers on their word with their new price match policy.  Granted, this was not a feel-good public relations move; Target and dollar stores are closing in on Walmart’s market share and this is their response. Regardless of the intention, I was excited to try it out for myself!

New Policy will Save You Time and Money

The new policy claims that “if you find a lower advertised price on an identical product, tell us and we’ll match it. Right at the register.” Furthermore, “We do not require customers to have the ad with them to honor a competitor’s ad.” You read that right—I simply just need to know the prices of products in the “local competitor’s ads” for the week from the rolodex of numbers I keep in my head and then feed them to the cash register as my items are blipped through.

Do you realize the amount of savings this could bring? Every week each of the stores in our area send us their sales circulars with a loss leader or two to lure us into their store. Every other week when we grocery shop, I circle the purchase-worthy items from each of the ads and then decide which 1 store (two is my tops) I am going to go to. With Walmart’s new price ad match program, I don’t have to decide between stores. I can rack up all of the loss leaders in one trip!

The Red Tape

As with any program, there is some red tape to read through. The type of price matching Walmart will accept includes Buy One Get One Free ads with a specified price, competitor’s ads featuring a specific item with a sale price, and preferred shopping card prices for specific items that are in a printed ad. For meat and produce sales, competitor prices will be accepted when the price is offered in the same unit type (lb. for lb.). It also specifies that the product must be identical to the ad (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc.).

And then there are the grey areas. For example, Walmart will not price match items that require a separate purchase to get the ad price, items with no actual price that require a purchase to get a free product, items that require a purchase to get a competitors’ gift card, buy one get one free ads with no price given, closeout/going out of business sales, percentage off sales, or competitors’ private label price promotions. Also, internet pricing is not accepted and misprinted ad prices are not accepted.

My Experience with Price Matching

The following are circulars that make it into our home each week: CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Food Town, Target, Belden’s, FoodARama, Kroger’s, Randall’s, H-E-B, and the Family Dollar Store. This week I took each of the ads received at our home and circled products I would purchase based off of sale prices. Based on the list of accepted and not accepted price matching above, I had to cross certain items off of my list. Then there were a few grey area items that I wasn’t sure about: will they price match H-E-B’s 5 for $5 items, or does this constitute “items that require a separate purchase to get the ad price” due to having to purchase 5 items (note: when you see sales like 2 for $5, you can generally just purchase one item for $2.50). Another question of mine was whether or not CVS, Walgreens, and the Family Dollar Store—all of which sell grocery items—are a “local competitor” to Walmart. Finally, I was unsure if some of the products I circled would be available at Walmart at all, such as Alexia brand Frozen Sweet Potato Fries and Allegra brand Elbow Mac/Thin Spaghetti Pasta.

I made a list on a sheet of paper of the product name, size, cost, and the competitor so that I would have everything ready at the cash register. To be honest, I also brought all of these ads with me but decided to keep them in my purse during the transaction unless I absolutely need to pull them out. In fact, I never had to bring them out!

As the cash register clerk put my products through I forewarned her of which ones to change the pricing on. She suggested that next time I put all of the price match items in a lump together so that we don’t miss any—great suggestion, but could be a little time-consuming.

 The Pros:

  • I have a Walmart about one mile from my home
  • I was able to purchase all of the loss leaders that I wanted from the other stores without having to waste my time, energy, and gas going to those other stores
  • I get a slew of grocery and drugstore ads that come into my home each week anyway, so all of the material was at my fingertips
  • They accepted my pricing from CVS for cokes (5 refrigerator packs for $13, or $2.60 each)
  • They accepted my Family Dollar competitor coupon for Special K Cereal
  • I saved a total of $9.92 from price matching, and a total of $4.50 from other coupons used (including the Special K competitor coupon); while this approximately $15 may not be much, I did not have to go to any other stores to get it
  • Several items I did not have to price match for because they beat the competitor’s prices or were in line with the prices anyway: Cantaloupe ($1.00), Hunt’s Ketchup 24 oz. (2/$2.00), Triscuits, and Bertolli pasta sauce

The Cons:

  • While I have read that store associates are being trained nationwide so that transactions using price match will go smoothly, this cashier told me that normally I have to have ads in order to get these prices (I corrected her, but for people who are not assertive or who do not know the policy, this may be a frustrating issue)
  • Several products on my list were not carried at this Walmart: Allegra Elbow Macaroni Noodles, Wish-Bone Salad Dressing 8 oz. size, Tyson Centercut sliced bacon, Driscoll’s raspberries, and Hillshire Farm Deli Select 5 oz. size
  • There were no cage-free eggs available, something that I make a point of buying
  • No doubling/tripling of coupons (while Kroger no longer offers this in Houston, Randall’s still does but only one like coupon per product per transaction)
  • I looked through ten different ads instead of the 2-3 I typically do
  • I was still intimidated by the meat price matching; all of the meats were priced per lb. and prepackaged and I did not know whether or not the cash register clerk would be able to essentially re-sticker these packages in her register (As a side note, meat prices were high enough to make me want to be vegetarian for the rest of my life! No better time than now to eat through the meats we have stored in our freezer.)

Have you used Walmart’s new price match guarantee? How was your transaction, and how much did you save? Is this change enough to make you shop at Walmart?

13 comments… add one

  • I have not used it, but this is a great summary of your experience. It sounds convenient to have a WalMart so close to home.

  • Walmart is not that convenient for me, so we shop at Target. We just got their credit card that provides a 5% immediate cash back. Normally, we only buy hosehold goods at Target, but my wife started to buy food items too. Hooray for savings.

  • Is this new? My walmart has been doing this for years. When I was couponing a lot I used to price match at Walmart all the time, and I never brought the ads. I would just tell them the prices and they did it. Maybe they were just lazy. haha.

    They used to match bogo but then stopped. I didn’t know they will do it if the price is listed… good to know.

    • That’s interesting–it is a new policy (they have always price matched, but you needed to bring in the ads). Perhaps some managers were doing it in some parts of the US, and they decided to make it national?

      Definitely try the bogo now!

  • Kurt O'Keefe

    A local (Detroit) appliance guy told me how the chains do this, they use a different model # that is essentially the same product, but no one else has it to match the price.
    I showed him an ad from one, and he showed me the model # was in the ad.
    I doubt Walmart would do this, but other stores might, which would foil the strategy.
    Great post though, no Walmarts close by here.

  • Michelle

    I second Kurt. My mom works in receiving for a grocery store and more than once a vendor has unloaded the wal-mart order instead of their order. The UPC codes are different for Wal-mart as well as some sizes (16 oz vs 18 oz).

    Personally, Wal-mart is the absolute last resort and I need the item immediately store for me to shop at. I ended up buying a cardigan there a couple of years ago (we were out of town and a cold front moved thru the morning of an outdoor wedding) and it pilled after two washings and air dryings. Have never been impressed with the poor quality produce and meats.

    I have no problem spending the extra $ and getting quality food. What’s the point of buying the cheapest if it isn’t any good for you OR you end up replacing it three months down the road because it fell apart?

  • That’s very informative. It looks like a lot of work, but you did saved some money. Great job!
    We don’t have a convenient Walmart nearby. :(

  • I have noticed the signs in our Walmart and never even thought twice about it. I am going to have too implement this.

    Our Walmart has very good produce and meats. I don’t really know about the clothes though. We live in a very rural area and the one local grocery store has extremely high prices, no matching and does not except internet coupons:( I really would love to not shop at Walmart, but it really is our only option other than driving 45 minutes away to a Wegmans. Not a real practical solutions.

    Thanks again for an informative post.

  • I haven’t used it but can think of some circumstances in which I will now…cool beans!

  • I’m with Michelle. It just doesn’t make sense to me to try and save every penny I can when I know that the products I am receiving are nowhere near attempted to be made for quality, but manufactured for rapid consumption and, believe it or not, disposal to keep you coming back for more.

    I am unfamiliar with this new policy, but I do believe that everyone finds their own unique rhythm that works for them. If this helps in yours than keep it up! As for me, its going to take more than coupon promises to make me put up with the inconvenience that Wal Mart provides for my shopping experience.

  • Mandy

    I tried to use this new price match policy the other day and the cashier refused me. I told her that not only was I being honest, that it was a new policy that had been splashed across the headlines of major newspapers. She wouldn’t budge, saying she hadn’t heard this news and didn’t want to get in trouble.

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