Many retailers offer some kind of guarantee to match their competitors’ prices — but those policies can be so riddled with exceptions that they’re rendered nearly useless.
Cheapism examined eight major retailers’ price-match policies and tried to untangle the common threads. Here’s what the site found:
- Matching is usually restricted to local competitors, but the definition varies. Local could mean within 25 miles or within the state.
- Most don’t match online competitors. Best Buy and Target are the exceptions, but they won’t match third-party sellers on Amazon.
- The best proof of a lower price is an original printed ad. Some retailers don’t accept photocopies or photos on your phone.
- Because you usually need an exact match on everything from color to model number, it’s difficult to get matches for expensive products with store-specific versions. The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Best Buy all have their own model numbers for many high-end appliances and electronics.
- Typically only regular prices are matched. Items with percent-off discounts, clearance items, and items with special offers like free gift cards or rebates are usually not eligible.
- Some retailers will price-match items you’ve already purchased at that store, and give you a partial refund. How long you have is usually up to a manger, but it’s probably less than a week.
Cheapism rated Target, J.C. Penney and Lowe’s as having the best policies, followed by Best Buy, The Home Depot and Walmart. It placed Sears and Kohl’s in a “don’t bother” category.