Price matching

Special thanks to Alise Wakeland, a quality assurance specialist for MMI, for providing this guest post.

Recently I tested out Wal-Marts’ ad match policy.  Wal-Marts’ policy is not new, but with their recent commercials promoting this service, I figured it would be a good time to try it out. Now, this was not an adventure in “extreme couponing” nor was my goal to see how much I could save, but rather to see how the ad match policy works. I discovered that the policy works pretty well, but there are a few tips and tricks I thought I would pass along.

First, do your research by checking out Wal-Mart’s ad match policy online.  Reviewing the policy before shopping can save you a lot of time and effort. For example, you should know that Wal-Mart will not match buy one, get one free (BOGO) ads with no actual price given. Also, they do not match percentage off advertisements.

The next tip would be to actually call your local Wal-Mart to see which stores they accept as competitors. In my case, they accepted a grocery store that is not within a typical competitor range, but not one that deals with close out items or refurbished items.

Before I went shopping, I made a detailed list of what I needed and if the competition had it cheaper. While Wal-Mart says you do not need the advertisement to prove another place has it cheaper, I did not want to take that risk. So armed with my very detailed list, and five competitors’ ads I went down to Wal-Mart (I did this at night past 8 p.m. and on a weekday, for convenience). If you have a big list, or want to cut down your time in the store, it might be helpful to bring someone with you.

While shopping, keep in mind that Wal-Mart will only match name brand items and if that item has a specified price, and size. For example if you see a good price in a competitor’s advertisement for a name brand laundry detergent, then it must have a specified price and the size must match Wal-Marts’ stock.  In my situation, one competitor had a good deal on name brand frozen lasagna, but for the size listed in the advertisement, Wal-Mart did not have the size that was advertised; which leads to my next tip. This is where the ad match policy can get frustrating; Wal-Mart does not carry a lot of the same sizes as what other stores do, so the ad match policy does not work for these items.

When it comes time to checkout, it is nice to separate out what items you want ad-matched, this can be done at the beginning or the end. Personally, I told my checkout person I do have items I need ad-matched and which item began the ad-matched items. My checkout person was very nice and said to me “as I scan the item, tell me what price it should be,” I thought this was extremely helpful, but I had my competitor ads with me just in case.

Final tip:  ad match items can be coupled with coupons, but again check the coupon to see what size item the promotion applies to.  Sometimes, the size on the coupon doesn’t match the size on the competitor advertisement.  In that case, going generic is normally the cheaper option.

All in all, it was a good lesson learned. For ad matching to work successfully, a detailed list, an organized plan, and an understanding with the person at the register are a must. My advice if anyone wants to try the policy on more than a few items is to be patient, have a backup plan (like buying generic), and to bring someone with you, if you plan to be at the store awhile.

Have fun shopping!

Alise Wakeland graduated from Angelo State University in 2008 and started working at Money Management International in May 2009. Alise chooses to help clients and co-workers was by sharing her personal experiences to motivate. She feels that if you know someone else had the same struggle and overcame it by making a few simple changes then that will empower you to do the same. Alise enjoys cooking, reading, and music.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.