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Learning to price match can save you money

February 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Many stores promise to match competitors' prices. Home Depot, Best Buy, Walmart, and Sears are just a few. But price matching policies can vary significantly store to store and online, too. Consumer Specialist Ric Romero says you can save money, but it takes some work. Nina Bernhardt is always on the lookout for a bargain, even after she's bought something.

She struck gold when she found the same printer at Office Depot for less than she'd paid at Staples. She asked staples to match the price.

"They gave me the money back. I think, if I remember, it was about $100," said Bernhardt.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart says you can make price-matching work for you, but you've got to know the rules and play by them.

"Be sure to bring in the actual ad showing the lower price," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "Don't bring a copy. Also don't cut it out. Bring in the whole circular."

Be aware, finding a better deal online often doesn't count. You've got to find the better deal in a store. And there are plenty of other limitations.

At Target you must find the cheaper price at another retailer within seven days of your purchase. And as with many other price-matching policies, the competing store must be in the same local area. At Best Buy, like many other stores, clearance items are not covered. And at Home Depot, it's up to the store manager to give you the difference. But if you're successful, you might get an additional 10-percent off for your trouble.

"All in all, price-match guarantees can save you money. And if you do your research ahead of time, the store might even be willing to drop the price before you make the purchase," said Freeman.

Bernhardt got a great deal on her gas grill that way. Home Depot dropped the price immediately when she brought in a 10-percent off coupon from a competitor.


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