A CHOICE investigation into retailers’ pricing claims has found consumers who fall for slogans such as “lowest price”, “best price” and “price match” can end up wrapped in tricky terms and conditions and pay a high price.
“We found in most stores lowest or best price guarantees were not a guarantee of a bargain and consumers are often left to grapple with tricky terms and exclusions,” says CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey.
“While most retailers will quite understandably exclude liquidation and clearance items from price match guarantees, others back you out of a bargain by adding location requirements such as the cheaper offer needing to be within 10 kilometres of their store.”
“Once they get you in store retailers often greet you with fancy fine print as they seek to beat down a potential bargain.”
One of the broadest disclaimers CHOICE found was from Retravision Online. Although they claim they will beat any advertised competitor price, the fine print reveals ‘in some cases there are prices which Retravision Online cannot match. In these cases we will offer you the best possible price that we can.’
“The problem is that customers are selecting particular stores who make impressive sounding price promises with the expectation of receiving the lowest price, only to find the process isn’t that simple and the price isn’t that great,” Mr Godfrey.
Liquor retailers Dan Murphy’s and 1st Choice Liquor both give a price beat guarantee, but only if the competitor store is within 10km of the original store.
“If businesses are going to make a promise, they need to honour it rather than use terms and conditions to push the price back up once you’re in store.”
CHOICE also looked at ‘lowest’ or ‘best price’ guarantees offered by department stores, hardware stores and electrical retailers including Bing Lee, Chemist Warehouse, Harvey Norman, Officeworks and Toys ’R Us and found relying on their advertised prices can cost you a lot more.
“If you assume Chemist Warehouse’s price beat promise means they’ll always have the best prices, for some popular products you’re going to be disappointed,” says Mr Godfrey.
CHOICE found that while Chemist Warehouse try to convince consumers to ‘stop paying too much’, buying Rimmel BB Cream Matte from their website will see you pay 70% more than buying the same product on sale from Priceline.
“Toys ‘R Us claims that its prices can’t be beat but a Target Razor Power Rider 360 costs 20% more from Toys ‘R Us than at Target.”
“We found lowest-price guarantees do not guarantee the lowest price and companies should be more transparent. Price guarantees can also discourage consumers from seeking out lower prices and this ultimately leads to higher prices and consumer detriment.”
PRICE MATCHING TIPS
- Don’t rely on price beating and price matching claims as an indication of low prices
- Make sure you check the terms and conditions
- Make sure you have the documentation you need to so that you don’t give them the chance to refuse to price match/beat
- Shop around for the best deal
Photo Credit: some of rebecca’s photos via Compfight cc