What To Do When Something You Already Bought Goes On Sale

What to do when something you already bought goes on saleEveryone likes to find a good deal on the things they buy. But, what happens if you buy something, thinking you got a good deal, only to find the same item go down in price after you bought it?

Use Price-Matching

Most retail stores in Canada offer a 30-day price match policy. This means if the price of an item goes down at either the same retailer or a competitor, the store will match the price and refund the difference.

Related: A Complete Guide To Price Matching

There are usually a few stipulations for a store to match a competitor's price on an item:

  • The item has to be identical (brand, size, model, etc) to the one you bought and it has to be available for immediate purchase.
  • Specific sales from competitors usually aren't honored such as ‘going out of business' sales, advertising misprints, limited quantity sales, holiday sales or sales that involve buying multiple quantities of the same item.
  • In order for the store to match the competitor price you'll need to show proof (an advertisement) of the item with the lower price.

My Costco Price-Match Experience

Last year I bought a central vacuum system from Costco. About 6 weeks later while shopping at the same store, I noticed the same item marked down to $100 less than what I paid for it.

Costco offers a 30-day price match – if the price of an item is lowered within 30 days a customer can receive a refund for the difference between the original price and sale price (with the original receipt). The nice thing about Costco is that any purchase you make can be easily traced in their system by membership number. This means in my case I didn't even need the original receipt since they could see in their system that I had purchased it 6 weeks earlier.

Since it had been over 30 days, the price match policy would not apply. Customer service said I could return the original item and buy the new one for the lower price.

That's great if it was something I could easily disassemble, but I had spent most of the weekend setting up the system and it would take hours to take apart. I explained it would be easier for both parties if they simply refunded me the difference between the price I paid and the sale price rather than have me return the item. The result – I was given just over $100 in Costco gift cards.

Take Advantage Of Store Return Policies

When a store offers a return policy that is longer than their price-match policy, the longer return policy can be used to your advantage. All you have to do is simply return the original item you purchased and buy it again at the lower price.

If you buy an item from a store that has a 30-day price match policy and 90-day return policy, make sure you continue to watch the price of the item for 90 days after you bought it. Let's say you buy an item that goes on sale 50 days after buying it. First ask the store if they will extend their 30-day price match policy. If they won't, since the store has a 90-day return policy, you can simply return it and buy the item again at the lower price.

As a general rule, I keep all receipts for purchases made over $50 for at least a year for warranty purposes as well as price drops.

Apply Credit Card Purchase Price Protection

Another way to handle a price drop on an item you've already purchased is to pay for the items using a credit card that offers purchase price protection.

Capital One currently offers a cash-back credit card that includes purchase price protection. Their policy basically means that if an item you buy using the credit card goes down in price within 60 days of the purchase (same store or competitor), you can get reimbursed for the difference in price. The protection covers up to $100 per item and $500 per calendar year.

Related: Top Canadian Credit Cards

To get reimbursed you will typically need:

  • Proof that the lower priced product is available for immediate purchase.
  • A copy of your original receipt for the higher priced product you already purchased.
  • A completed claim form submitted to the credit card company along with the previously mentioned things.

The Final Word

It's always a good idea to check prices on items you buy, even after you've purchased the item. Most stores have a 30 day price-match policy and if that doesn't work, the return policy can work in your favor. Always keep your receipts for items you've purchased (for price-match and warranty purposes) and consider using a credit card that offers purchase price protection.

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Roger's picture
Hi Apropo your Costco purchase, happened to me exactly as you mentioned, in my case an employee at the customer service desk told me to go and buy a new one with the reduced price and bring it back to her, mean while she printed the old receipt and i got the original full amount. Greate site R.G.
July 05, 2014 @ 9:30 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Unfortunately, Costco just changed their policy (at least at my store) so that they now require the original receipt to do refunds. They will no longer take the time to look up receipts in their system if you can't produce the receipt. This was one of the things I found most convenient about shopping at Costco because the return process was so trouble free. It is still better than most everyone else, but this is definitely a step in the wrong direction.
July 07, 2014 @ 10:41 am

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