What do you think about comparison shopping sale items at different stores, and then asking them to match a low price? Is price-matching worth the time? — Devoted Couponer
Dear Devoted: Price-matching usually refers to retailers matching the price of a big item — like an appliance or electronic device — to that of a competitor. Stores that offer to match another store's advertised price are willing to give up a chunk of their profit margin in order to keep the buyer from doing business with the competition. Lucky for us, some supermarket chains offer price matching on groceries.
Many everyday-low-price stores offer to price-match. Prices at these stores do not follow the typical 12-week, high-low pricing cycle of a traditional supermarket. A box of cereal may sell for $2.97 all year at the everyday-low-price store; at the supermarket, the box of cereal can fluctuate from a high of $3.99 to a low of $1.49.
Coupon shoppers tend to find the best deals at traditional supermarkets. We swoop in when the price of an item is low and use coupons to cut the cost further. But price matching at an everyday-low-price store is an even better opportunity for savings, since we can persuade these stores into even lower prices to match their local competitors. Shoppers can even price-match several items on the same trip.
While it's always advisable to check your store's price-matching policies, most will allow shoppers to use coupons on the price-matched items, too.
As with any good deal, there are possible pitfalls. It's worth finding out if the store limits the number of stores it will price-match. Your regular store may not consider a supermarket 30 miles away to be a competitor, so it will refuse to match prices. But if it does, watch the ad and get the match.
Beware of unique packaging or size of a product when price-matching. You may find special sizes at a supercenter ("12 granola bars plus two bonus bars!") that aren't available at the supermarket. Some price-matching policies specify that the store will only match the price of an identical item. If the item in the ad that you're matching isn't identical to the one on the shelf at the competing store, the store will not match the price.
My best tip for price-matching? Save it for a hot sale, when the product you want is going fast at the original store. Rain checks might be an option at the sold-out store, but if you want the product right away, consider matching that ad at a store where the product isn't on sale. They'll likely have plenty in stock.
Recently, a big supermarket in my area had a sale on boxes of single-serve juice pouches. The 10-count box was selling for 77 cents. After reading shopper complaints on a local blog that the supermarket was sold out of the beverage for days, I took the store's ad to another store. They happily matched the price.
And the bonus? At the price-matching store, many of the boxes had $1 peel-off coupons good for the purchase of three. I used those and paid $1.31 for three boxes — about 44 cents each!Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website. Email your own couponing victories and questions to email@example.com.