Understanding Retailers’ Price Match Policies During Black Friday

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Almost every retailer has a price match policy — and understanding how that policy works for you is one of the best ways to make sure you’re saving as much money as possible during the holiday season. Retailers have different rules in place for how they price match items, and understanding them is crucial to getting the most out of your purchases.

A brief history of price matching

Price matching has been around for a very long time, but thanks to the internet it has completely changed forms over the last 10 years. Retailers used to require that you bring in the ad you were matching so they could verify the price. Some retailers would have to call the competing retailer to make sure the item was in stock before agreeing to match the advertised price. But the internet has changed a lot about how stores compete, including price matching. Now, retailers can tell instantly if another competitor has the item in stock and they can verify prices instantly with no need for a physical ad or flyer.

Not all internet advancements have been positive when it comes to price matching. Some retailers hate competitors matching their prices and will go so far as to require customers use coupons (online or in stores) to receive the advertised price. Since many retailers won’t match prices dependent on coupons, this trick effectively nullifies price matching for shoppers. Other methods of getting around price matching include requiring email signups for sale prices, and store-specific product numbers for identical items (allowing the store to deny the price match since they aren’t the same product in their systems).

When it comes to price matching during the holidays, many retailers have an entirely new set of rules shoppers must play by. Here is a breakdown of how each retailer is handling price matching this holiday season:

Amazon price matching policy

Amazon has the simplest and yet worst price matching options available for shoppers: they won’t do it. It would take a miracle for a shopper to get a price match via Amazon customer service. Even if the price changes the very day after you bought an item, Amazon will reject any attempts to match a lower price.

Normally, Amazon’s return window is only for 30 days on the majority of their products. However, for the 2020 holiday season, Amazon has extended returns so that any purchase shipped from Oct. 1 until Dec. 31 can be returned until Jan. 31, 2021. While you might not be able to price match your item, Amazon was gracious enough to open the return window for shoppers who find the price cheaper elsewhere.

Best Buy price matching policy

Best Buy is known for having one of the more complicated price match policies. However it didn’t use to be that way at all. Best Buy was one of the first retailers to get extremely competitive with their price matching by offering all customers a 30-day return window and if the price of any item you bought became cheaper at most major retailers, Best Buy would match that price along with taking 10% off the total. Sadly, they killed that price match offer long ago and replaced it with three different tiers for returns and price matching, most of which gets changed during the holidays.

At Best Buy, every shopper has a 14-day return window on almost all items. If you are a frequent Best Buy shopper and have a membership in Elite status, you receive a 30-day return policy instead. If you are a higher-tier member, Elite Plus, you receive a 45-day return policy. Some products do not follow these windows, however. Items like cellphones, tablets and wearables will be under a 14-day return regardless of your membership. The same goes for all major appliances, but with a 15-day return window.

These return windows also count for price matching. Because any product that you buy can be returned within your return window (based on your membership status), Best Buy will also price match several major competitors if the price goes lower than what you originally paid. There’s also no limit to the number of times you can price match an item, so if the item continues to go down in price within your window, Best Buy will refund you the difference.

Best Buy holiday price matching

Having said all of that, Best Buy treats price matching very differently during the holiday season and this year is no exception. Traditionally, Best Buy removes all price matching the weekend of Black Friday. However, in 2019, Best Buy implemented a new rule that stated they would no longer price match the entire week of Black Friday, starting the Sunday before.

For 2020, Best Buy has continued that new rule with some minor differences. Best Buy will not price match items marked by competitors as “Black Friday” pricing. This includes all products in the store.

However, because the holiday season in 2020 is very different from a traditional year, Best Buy will be honoring price matches for specific products denoted as “Black Friday Price Guaranteed” that were purchased from Oct. 13 through Oct. 28. If the price goes lower than what you paid prior to Nov. 28, Best Buy will refund your original payment method (however, cash purchases will be refunded via a check mailed to the member’s address on file).

Best Buy has also extended their return policy for 2020. Starting Oct. 13, all purchases made until Dec. 17 can be returned until Jan. 16, 2021. Purchases made after Dec. 17 will be returnable based on your membership status.

While Best Buy does require receipts for returns and price matching, they are able to look up your purchase history as long as it is tied to a store membership.

Target price matching

When it comes to price matching and returns, Target is quite the mixed bag. Target does offer returns on all unopened items for 90 days, which is a fantastic return policy as long as the item is still sealed. However, Target’s price match policy covers shoppers for only 14 days after the purchase is made.

Target holiday price matching

Fourteen days is a very narrow window, but thankfully Target has extended that window during the holiday season. However, the rules behind the holiday price match are not very attractive. Target is offering all shoppers the ability to price match items purchased from Nov. 1 until Dec. 24. Target will price match only their own prices found on Target.com or in stores. Additionally, the item the shopper is wanting price matched must have been advertised as a “Black Friday deal.”

Target’s extended holiday price match guarantee is definitely better than their traditional price match policy, but it is extremely limited in scope.

Walmart price matching

Like Best Buy, Walmart’s price matching policy has drastically changed over the years.  Twenty years ago, Walmart would price match any printed advertised price as long as the competitor was located within a 30-mile radius. With the growing changes to the way Walmart does business online and in stores, Walmart has changed their policies to make price matching much more difficult than it used to be.

Currently, Walmart stores will price match only Walmart.com and Jet.com. However, Walmart.com will price match online competitors, including Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Kohls.com, Target.com and many others.

Walmart will not price match any item related to Black Friday or Cyber Monday, whether in stores or on its site. Additionally, Walmart also restricts price matches to once per day per customer. They also clarify that the manager on duty has the final say in the price match, meaning if the manager does not want to honor the price match policy, they don’t have to.

Regardless of the retailer, one of the most important things to know about price matching is that many retailers will refund the difference in price to the original payment method. This is especially important if the original payment method was a gift card that the shopper may have thrown away or simply no longer has access to. So, if you’ve purchased an item with a gift card and want to get it price matched, make sure to check with the retailer first on how they will process the refund if you no longer have access to the gift card.