A Complete Guide To Price Matching In Canada

acompleteguidetopricematching.jpgWhen my first child was born, my wife and I agreed that a digital camera with video recording capabilities was in order; we wanted to be those parents who post embarrassing home videos of their kid on Youtube. I did some research and settled on a Canon model which could take videos in high definition. The only thing left for me to do was to find a decent price that we were willing to pay.

A few weeks went by before I noticed a pretty awesome one-day sale at Aden Camera with 25% discount on the camera we wanted. The store was located downtown and there was no way I was going to make it there in time before store closing. Instead, I walked into a local Future Shop where the same camera was listed for the original price of $1099. I told the customer service representative (CSR) that I wanted to price match the camera with the lower price from Aden. The CSR called Aden to confirm the price and stock. Long story short, after about 15 minutes and a price match later, I walked out of Future Shop with the camera we wanted for $825. #PriceMatchFTW.

What Is Price Matching?

Price matching is a practice wherein a retailer agrees to match a lower advertised price from a rival store and sells you the same product for the lower price.

Many retailers are committed to providing value to their customers through offering products at the lowest prices; however, it is difficult for them to keep an eye on the pricing of all their products. To remain competitive and increase brand loyalty, large retailers will offer to match competitors’ prices for the same items. The details concerning the specifics of what a given retailer will match can be found in a retailer’s price match policy or price match guarantee.

Price matching policies often don’t just apply to items you are going to purchase, they can also apply to items you’ve already purchased:

  1. If a customer has already made a purchase and finds the same item at a cheaper price from a competitor’s store, within an approved time frame, some retailers will refund the difference between the advertised price and competitor’s lower price.
  2. If the retailer reduces their own price on a product within a set period of time after a customer has made a purchase, the customer is often entitled to a refund of the difference upon request.

Related: Get Free Stuff Using The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)

The Different Types Of Price Matching

There are several different ways that companies match competitor pricing. Some will simply offer the same item at the reduced price while others will give an additional discount as an incentive for the consumer to remain a loyal customer. Different stores have different policies, but their price match practices will generally fall within one of the following categories:

The Standard Price Match

The first and most common practice is to simply match the competitor’s lower advertised price. Let’s consider one of the more recent entrants into Canada’s retail landscape: Target. Target’s Price Match Guarantee states that they will match a lower price if a consumer finds an identical item for less in a current and locally printed flyer.

Example Price Match:

If an item is sold for $10 at Target and for $6 at a competitor’s store, Target will sell the same item for $6 upon presentation of the competitor’s flyer.

Price Beat By A Percentage Of the Difference

Another common price matching practice for retailers is to beat a competitor’s lower advertised price by matching the lower price with an additional discount. The discount is given as a percentage of the difference. For example, Best Buy’s Lowest Price Guarantee stipulates that if customers find a lower price from an authorized Canadian dealer, they will beat it by 10% of the difference.

Example Price Match:

If an item is priced for $100 at Best Buy and a customer were to find the same item for $80 somewhere else, the customer would be able to purchase the item from Best Buy for $78.

Price difference: $100 - $80 = $20

10% of difference: $20 x 0.10 = $2

Final price: $80 - $2 = $78

Price Beat By A Fixed Percentage

Increasingly less common is the price matching practice where a retailer will beat a competitor’s lower advertised price by first matching the lower price and then providing a fixed percentage discount on the lower item. Home Depot’s Price Guarantee specifies that they’ll beat a competitor’s lower price by an additional 10%.

Example Price Match:

If an item is priced for $100 at Home Depot and a customer were to find the same item for $80 elsewhere, the customer would be able to purchase the item from Home Depot for $72.

10% of lowest price: $80 x 0.10 = $8

Final price: $80 - $8 = $72

Price Match With Rewards

Some retailers choose to match lower prices and provide additional discounts by offering loyalty reward incentives. Canadian Tire’s Price Match Guarantee notes that they will match competitor pricing and give 10% of the lower price in Canadian Tire ‘Money’ (a form of coupon currency that can be used as scrip in their stores).

Example Price Match:

If an item is priced for $100 at Canadian Tire and a customer were to find the same item for $80 elsewhere, the customer would be able to purchase the item from Canadian Tire for $80 and receive $8 in Canadian Tire ‘Money.’

How To Get A Price Match

While price matching sounds easy and seamless in theory, it can prove to be more difficult in practice. There are several factors to consider for a better chance of having a retailer match a competitor’s lower price. Let’s say you’re in the market for a new camera and have come across a sale price that’s too good to be missed. What would you need to get the lower price matched at your favourite store?

What You Need For A Successful Price Match

The first thing to do is to collect the flyer noting the price and model number. If the sale originates from an online source, print out the ad. Make sure the ad clearly indicates the price and model of the item. Model numbers must be identical! Also take into account the quantity in stock and any applicable shipping costs; retailers will not price match an item if the competitor does not have the item in stock. Some retailers will also accept a glance at your smartphone as proof a lower price or quantity in stock.

Next, review the price matching policy of the store from which you are seeking to get the price match. Checking the policy will help you determine the necessary documentation (e.g. flyer vs print-out), inform you of the store’s specific rules (e.g. will not match if competitor does not have item in stock), and mitigate the likelihood of any surprises.

Spend some time to prepare and gather sufficient proof to ensure a successful match. While it may seem tedious to collect and bring all of this information, each retailer will vary in the leniency they display towards a customer looking to obtain a price match. You can never have too much information - it’s better to be over prepared than to be denied for not providing sufficient proof. Print out the policy and bring it to the store. Bring the flyer or a printout of the ad to the store as well.

Keep in mind that not all CSRs or managers take kindly to price matching even though it is their policy to do so. In the event you run into a difficult individual, a phone call to the company’s head office can help clarify the situation. Bring the head office number just in case.

To review, the following things are needed to maximize the chances of a successful price match:

  • Flyer (including ad printouts or websites) with price, model, proof of stock and shipping costs, as applicable.
  • Copy of the store’s price match policy.
  • Phone number to the company’s head office.

Getting The Price Matched At The Store

Once you’ve arrived at the store, find the you’re looking for, take a deep breath and approach a CSR. Then do the following:

  1. Let the CSR know that you would like to match a competitor’s lower price.
  2. Be polite. The success of the transaction depends entirely on the willingness of the CSR to grant the request.
  3. Present your flyer or printout supporting the proof of a lower price. Retailers reserve the right to confirm the validity of the flyer and may call the competitor’s store to confirm the item is indeed at the lower price and in stock. Once confirmed, that should be sufficient for your request to be granted.

Congratulations , you’re price has been matched and you can go happily along your merry way.

Related: Buying On Sale: Are You Really Saving Money?

What To Do When They Say No

If the CSR is unwilling to grant your request for a match, don’t just take no for an answer. It’s time to take out your print-out of the store’s price match policy. If you are confident in the validity of your request, calmly explain the reasons as to why the price should be matched.

If the CSR continues to refuse your request, ask to speak with a customer service manager. Explain your case politely to the customer service manager and request their policy be upheld. If you are still refused but still believe you have a case, call the company’s head office while in the presence of the customer service manager. Head office can clarify any misunderstandings and either grant your request or clarify any miscommunication.

Additional Tips For A Better Price Matching Experience

  • Choose retailers that offer a fixed percentage discount on price matched items for the lowest prices. Remember, even a price difference of a single penny should allow you to save 10% if such a policy is in effect.
  • Younger cashiers are less likely to care about the retailer’s bottom line. Approach them with a price match request and they may process you without much hassle.
  • Going to the store at peak hours may work to your advantage. Cashiers can get overwhelmed with the number of people in line and may approve the price match without much scrutiny to keep the line moving.
  • If the first CSR doesn’t honor your price match request, try your luck with another CSR or cashier. There’s no rule preventing you from asking the same question to multiple people.
  • If all else fails, you could always try another location of the same retailer. Other stores may be more lenient or offer better customer service by adhering to their policies.
  • Think outside of the box when choosing retailers for a price match. Many stores have branched out from their traditional product lines to include new product categories. Get electronics price matched at Canadian Tire or groceries at Walmart, for instance. They may even have more inventory as most people wouldn’t consider them as their first choice to purchase that specific product.

Common Price Matching Restrictions

The key to a successful price match is to ensure that the request falls within the boundaries defined by the price match policy. Although each retailer has different requirements, the following restrictions will generally apply:

  • Products must be identical in brand, size, weight, colour quantity and model number.
  • Product must be verified to be in stock.
  • A printed copy of the competitor’s flyer or ad must be provided. Some stores do not accept photocopies or flyers printed from online.
  • In some cases, the lower price must be from a local competitor, meaning the same city or metropolitan area.

There are several exclusions that apply and retailers often will not match products that fall within the following categories:

  • Some brick and mortar stores will not match competitor’s online prices.
  • Buy one get one free (BOGO)1.
  • Special orders.
  • Rain Checks.
  • Items from paid membership clubs (e.g. a retailer that requires a membership to join such as Costco).
  • Clearance, closeout, damaged products, used, refurbished, open packages or liquidation sales.
  • Door crashers or limited time sales including Boxing Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.
  • Mail-in offers or instant rebates.
  • Sales tax promotions.
  • Credit or financing programs.
  • Pricing or typographical errors.
  • Free offers1.
  • Gifts with purchase1.
  • Display merchandise.
  • Bid pricing or volume discounts.
  • Item cannot be combined with any other offer.

1 Some retailers definitely do price match under these scenarios as well, but they are common exclusions. Refer to individual price match policies for details.

Price Matching Is Worth The Effort

My price matching experience with the camera, even though successful, didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. I approached a CSR with a flyer advertising a lower price and asked for a price match. He was sceptical of the sale and reluctant to proceed with the match. He called the competitor’s downtown location to confirm the price and stock, gave me a look and hung up the phone. To my surprise, the CSR told me that the competitor was out of stock and that even if they had any left, he could only match an authorized Canon dealer. I couldn’t help but wonder “Do the benefits of price matching outweigh the hassle?” In most cases, the answer is YES.

Save Money

The most obvious benefit to price matching is the monetary savings that come with the matching or beating of a lower price. There are other scenarios in which the price match guarantee can also be worth the effort. One example is when you have unused gift cards. Simply find a competing store with the identical item, match the lower price and use the gift card. Another example is when the price match guarantee can be combined with earning extra rewards. That way the extra points earned can be used towards a future purchase for additional savings. Some retailers may even allow customers to take advantage of coupons and promotional codes on top of the match, whereas the store with the cheaper price might not!

Save Time

Price matching can save time. In my situation with the camera, the price matching policy provided an added convenience when I couldn’t make it to a particular store before closing. It can also provide the option to consolidate shopping trips to only visiting one store. This works particularly well for grocery shopping because running to 5 different grocery stores to always get the best price is impractical, but going to one and matching all the lower prices adds only a little extra time to the shopping trip.

Price matching can allow consumers to skip long lines when a store advertises a sale on a hotly anticipated item. Instead of lining up for a sale like everyone else, grab a flyer with the advertised price and head over to another store with the same item to match the price.

Worth Every Minute

I wasn’t fazed when I was initially denied the price match; I had come prepared. I called the competitor ahead of time to confirm both the stock and the price. I also knew that they were an authorized Canon dealer in Canada. I called Aden from my cell phone and put the phone on speaker. Aden’s confirmed the price, indicated they had plenty of inventory in stock and verified that they were an authorized Canon dealer.

The CSR then called over a manager who had no choice but to oblige and match the lower price. The manager explained that he would not be able to honor their price beat policy as it would eat into their margins; I was in a hurry so I didn’t push the issue. In the end, the 15 minutes I spent was worth the effort for the $275 I saved. If you find a lower advertised price, be polite and stick to your guns - it’ll be worth every minute - just remember to be prepared!

More On Price Matching

These two articles will both help you find stores that price match in your area as well as understand exactly how each store's price matching policy works:

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Comments

Cheeky Saver
Cheeky Saver's picture
Price matching is the most underutilized tool that can save you thousands every single year. I estimate I save $200 a month or more on groceries for a family of 2 by effective price matching. It isn't all easy, but I never give up. You are not going to have results every time and staff is often not trained in price matching. I contact head office of stores as often as needed and if the deal is going to run out fast and I want to reduce head office waiting times I write in bold letters head office and their head office's phone number on the printed policy so they know you are prepared to take that next step. It also is a good idea to state their name on the name tag when you see them. This way they know you know and paid attention to their name. (I usually just say hi ___! and keep it friendly) Things you can be price matching:
  • Groceries
  • Camping supplies
  • Electronics, game systems, computers, games, TVs, etc
  • Clothing
  • Home building supplies like: flooring, plumbing, paint, lumber, counter tops, tools, etc
  • Decorating items
  • Lighting
  • Outdoor living stuff like lawn mowers and BBQs
  • Major appliances
  • Storage items
  • Basically almost anything that goes in your house
Why pay full price when you can price match at a store that is closer to you and sometimes get 10% lower than the lowest price? They are paying you to spend less gas and less time driving. I believe a urban family of 4 could be saving $75 - 100 per person per month by price matching just on groceries. (Depending on your skill and dedication to price matching) In 2012 the average family of 4 spends $644.92 a month on food... JUST groceries and consumables with no shampoo, conditioners, bathroom tissue, laundry soap, razors, antiperspirant, toothpaste, dental floss, or cleaning supplies. This does not include a budget for clothing or gifts. I have watched the shopping at Walmart and people spend over $200 to go get a week of supplies every week. Here is some food for thought on even bigger items. Things like fridges, stoves, ovens, and laundry machines people will go into stores ... look at them ... pick one and buy right away. They spend way too much money and they didn't start at the right place. I start looking for these things online ... I check consumer reports and narrow down my choices there. I don't want to buy a dud, so it helps me eliminate a few choices. Then I go to stores like Home Depot online and Lowes ... both offer 10% lower prices and I like Lowes better because they will match any online Canadian price. Most of the time the prices are within a few dollars but often Home Depot is $2 cheaper. So on a $1000 purchase of a nice fridge at Home Depot, you can go to Lowes and get it for $900 because of the 10% lower price. If you are redoing your kitchen, it is a fast way to pay less. When it comes to price matching, you can price match almost anything.
April 09, 2014 @ 1:15 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Thanks for the very valuable comment with all kinds of extra information for my readers. I took a few minutes to format it a little bit so it will be a bit easier to read and serve as an extension to the main article. Much appreciated!
April 09, 2014 @ 8:42 pm
Cheeky Saver
Cheeky Saver's picture
^^^ I like it thanks Stephen! Quite often my brain is 3 sentences or more past what I am typing.
April 11, 2014 @ 5:47 pm
Sean Cooper, Financial Freelance Writter and Blogger's picture
I've made price matching part of my daily routine when it comes to grocery shopping. I go through all the flyers Saturday morning and circle any items I was already going to buy. When it comes to food, produce can be a pain to price match - some supermarkets made you match the grade and country of origin. Price matching is a good way to save money - it beats driving around and wasting gas to save 10 cents on Oreo cookies!
April 11, 2014 @ 6:37 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Yes, it's definitely a kind of art form that you have to practice a bit and master. I hope this guide will serve as something to get people over the initial hurdle and then they can learn and adapt their own strategy from there. We buy such specialized food in my house and are so strapped for time, that I haven't been able to price match food. I miss the old Staples 150% price match guarantee days though. That combined with mail-in-rebates that used to be everywhere meant getting paid to take stuff off the store shelves a lot of the time. That was awesome!
April 11, 2014 @ 11:03 pm
kirk
kirk's picture

I want to do this so badly. I know a woman that is a pro and won't show me how she does this. She just did a $ 700 haul for $70 dollars she gets these coupons then price matched on top of it vut I have no idea how. I would pay money to learn how to do it.

Can anyone enlighten me on this. I read a bunch of sites but there is no real tutorial really.

Thanks in any case.

June 04, 2015 @ 4:46 pm
Jake Pender
Jake Pender's picture

What I have a bit of an issue with when it comes to retailers offering to price match their competition is that the item has to be in stock at the competition. It really makes no sense in some cases.

I recently asked a local Canadain Tire to price match an item sold for less at Cabela's but not currently in stock due to high sales volumes. I explained and showed the Canadian Tire manager that the item was backorderable at Cabela's and the sale price was in effect for another 60 days. I simply wanted the item immediately and did not want to order it from Cabela's and have to wait.

The manager refused to price match because Cabela's was sold out. I told him that if they were't sold out of this item I wouldn't have wasted my time driving to his store (the only CT with this item in inventory and 1 hour from my home) and would have simply bought it from Cabela's in the first place - a lot less hassle. And yes, I first called the store and explained the entire situation to someone who apparently was ill advised on the matter because they assured me that they would price match the item.

Anyway, going forward, that store has lost my business. I ended up ordering the item from Cabela's and will have it in 2 weeks or so.

As a foot note, Cabela's actually has the same policy as CT regarding the item having to be in stock at the competitors, but it still makes little sense.

November 19, 2015 @ 3:55 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Well, in a lot of cases this measure makes sense Jake because stores frequently put something on sale at insane prices but only have limited quantities on hand so they don't end up losing too much money. These are called loss leaders to get people in the door.

Other stores with price match policies don't want to lose money every time someone puts out a loss leader.

It's a terrible customer experience, I agree with you, but I understand the reason why they have this exclusion.

November 19, 2015 @ 3:39 pm
Mark
Mark's picture

There is a general perception that in price matching, stores lose money which is misguided. Most of the retail stores have agreements with suppliers that if any stores are selling the same product for less than the listed price and consumers show up with flyers, then vendors will need to reduce the sale price to the retail store to make up for the loss. Retail stores never make a loss on price match and actually gain in many ways. Stores gain as they capture the sale from another store, makes the vendor pay for the drop and actually get to cross sell as the consumer sometimes buys other stuff. Canadian Superstore actually has no limits on price match policy i.e even if there is a limit on price match on other items, Superstore will give you unlimited number of items. Store staff is usually not trained in price matching so writing to the senior management always helps. In 4 out of 5 cases, the senior management sees the store staff or supervisor as a nuisance in the way of making a sale if they stop a sale. Store Management wants more sales and are thinking revenue, store staff except managers responsible for sales are thinking less work and what happens if I make a wrong move. Please also note that making a complaint to Advertising Bureau can get some unnecessary attention. The person who mentioned Canadian Tire should have made a complaint upwards and not just stopped going to the store. Make a complaint and pursue it. The gains in pursuing a complaint are more than the cost the company has to suffer in resolving it. In my professional experience, 2-3 similar complaints and you will not find the employees in the company (no brainier for guessing what happens to them). Before I raise a complaint, I always advise the staff that they better know the rules very well and majority dont know.

December 28, 2015 @ 2:34 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, that's news to me Mark. I didn't realize that the supplier was on the hook for price matching. Are you sure that is always the case? I remember about a decade ago Staples was famous for pulling products off the shelves when a competitor had an amazing sale going on so they wouldn't have to price match those big price differences with their insane 50% price match policy they had at the time.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't the supplier on the hook back then but the store itself.

December 30, 2015 @ 9:10 pm
Alex
Alex's picture

Thank you for this. Canadian Tire is the worse in price match. There are lots of complaints against the company. Each Canadian Tire store is operated by a dealer so dealers decide and make up their own policies. Different stores of Canadian Tire apply different policies and it seems that Corporate does not have control over these stores any more. In an effort to appease the dealers, the company HQ is not enforcing the brand image and group policies.

January 12, 2016 @ 4:55 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's unfortunate to hear Alex. I haven't tried a price match in a Canadian Tire store for a while. I have successfully done it in the past though. I should try it again soon to see if my local stores give me a hard time or not.

January 12, 2016 @ 9:29 pm
Jason
Jason's picture

Lots of great price matching apps out there including https://www.flipp.com and one of the new players, http://afforo.ca Plenty of resources online to help consumers price match quickly and easily!

January 29, 2016 @ 4:08 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It's getting easier all the time Jason, that's for sure!

February 03, 2016 @ 4:32 pm
Brad
Brad's picture

Well, count me in as converted on price matching. My wife and I bought a fridge at The Brick on Monday - I negotiated $ 500 off the list price of the fridge at the store and thought that was pretty good. The salesman showed me Home Depot price being higher but told me to keep an eye out for price match. Well I did and found the fridge on another website - it wasnt the same model number but was the same fridge. Yesterday I went into the store not 100 % sure if they were going to honour the price match - I would have just cancelled the order and bought it at the other store. But much to my surprise, they didnt even hesitate and gave me 20 % more from the difference for a whopping $ 745.96 more off the fridge! I couldnt believe it but needless to say was very pleased! Thanks Stephen!

March 16, 2016 @ 9:20 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Great story Brad - thanks for sharing. So glad you found the information helpful. An extra 20% of the difference is pretty rare as it usually tops out at 10% - so good work there!

March 18, 2016 @ 3:30 pm
Colleen
Colleen's picture

I am a fan of price matching, but don't do it so often because I live in a rural area and "local competitors" are sometimes few and far between. However, I've come across a case of price matching that I think is terrible and I would like an opinion from the pros. Kobo Canada has a price match guarantee: If you find a digital e-book for a cheaper price within 7 days of purchasing from Kobo, they will credit the difference +10% (of the competitor's price) to your account. At first glance that sounded great because I was shopping for a hard to find book. However, when I brought it to their attention that Kindle had the same edition of the same book for more than $10 cheaper, Kobo informed me that I had to first purchase the book from them before they would even look at it! So, in effect I would have to pay them full price, hope to get an approved price match, then get a credit on my account, rather than my money back! Can they do that? Are there any laws or rules governing this in Canada?

May 26, 2016 @ 4:50 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Having to make the purchase in advance is sometimes a requirement. Usually they will give you both options, but no I don't think there any laws about this sort of thing because price matching is a policy implemented by the retailers themselves. They can basically put whatever terms and conditions on it they want. As long as they spell out exactly how the policy works in their terms and conditions, then they aren't really false advertising.

Only getting a credit on your account kind of stinks instead of an actual refund though. Might not be worth the hassle because of that, but if you are committed to the Kobo platform and you know you'll be making future purchases - it could still be OK.

Even though you are in a smaller rural area, some of your local stores might match online competitors - I guess it depends on how rural you are exactly.

May 27, 2016 @ 9:36 am
Jou Moer
Jou Moer's picture

What are your thoughts on price protection? I purchased a TV from Canadian Tire for $400. I thought this was a very good sale price. 3 weeks later it went on sale again but for $319.99. I guess I could try and see if they will meet the lower price but am sceptical as Canadian Tire is the most reluctant of the stores to price match and I read that they only offer price protection for 2 weeks.

July 25, 2016 @ 5:45 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

If they won't do the price protection, simply purchase a new one on sale and return the old one. They have a 90 day return policy. Tell them you are going to do this, and they will likely just give you the adjustment because it will cost them more if you return.

If all else fails, you can buy the new one and return it unopened with the old receipt. Some people don't think that is very ethical, but honestly it saves the store money over you returning and re-buying because they end up with a completely saleable unopened product vs an opened returned product.

July 25, 2016 @ 10:56 pm

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