Action Line: Not all price-match deals are created equal
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Thursday, December 13, 2012
12/13/12 at 6:37 AM
Dear Action Line: How seriously should we take these merchant offers that they will "match any online price?" They offer Black Friday deals, but I don't see how they can compete with Cyber Monday deals. - E.T., Tahlequah.
This is a competitive time of year and as the 2012 holiday shopping season heats up, many retailers offer great deals - or great-sounding deals - such as matching online prices and layaway plans to beat all other layaway plans.
"The Better Business Bureau's past experience tells us that not all deals are created equal," said Rick Brinkley, chief operating officer of the BBB serving eastern Oklahoma. "Being an informed consumer provides the best shopping experience for the money."
Some major retailers have pledged to offer the same pricing in stores as major online competitors. This presents great savings opportunities for consumers willing to take the time to look for best deals. The bureau recommends that consumers fully understand retailers' online price matching policies, Brinkley said.
"Know which online competitors are covered by local price-matching programs," he said. "The retailers offering online price-matching may only take into account the pricing of specific online competitors.
"What time frames do the price-matching programs cover? For example, one retailer ends its program Dec. 16 while another excluded sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
"What happens when you already purchased an item but find the price lower afterwards? Some retailers will honor the price if presented within a specific number of days after the sale. Can you use coupons in conjunction with price matching?"
In addition to online price matching, several retailers rolled out their layaway plans for the holidays a month earlier than last year. Some are even offering additional incentives to use the layaway option, such as cutting fees and increasing the number of items eligible for layaway.
When buying items on layaway, Brinkley advises consumers to "carefully read each plan's terms and conditions. Specifically, how much time do you have to pay off the item? When are payments due? How much of a payment must the customer put down? Are there any storage or service plan fees? What happens if you miss a payment? Are there penalties?
"Does the unpaid item return to inventory? Can you get a refund or store credit if you no longer want the item after making a few payments? What happens if the item goes on sale after you've put it on layaway?"
If the retailer offers a third-party layaway plan, know who you are doing business with. Make an informed decision by checking out the business at tulsaworld.com/BBBfindbusiness and its "BBB Accredited Business Directory" (arranged by industry type) at tulsaworld.com/BBBAccreditedBusiness
Original Print Headline: Not all price-match deals are created equal
Submit Action Line questions by calling 918-699-8888, emailing phil.mulkins@TulsaWorld.com or by mailing them to Tulsa World Action Line, PO Box 1770, Tulsa OK 74102-1770.