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.
- 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
- 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.)