Are you trying to avoid high prices on things like groceries, home furnishings or electronics? Your favourite store may have a price matching policy that can help.
Price matching saves you money by ensuring you get the best price on the item you want — without having to visit a different store or online merchant. Here’s what you need to know about how price matching works in Canada and some tips to help you make the most of it.
» MORE: How to save money on groceries
Price matching, also referred to as a price guarantee, is a policy set by some retailers that stipulates if you find the same item at a lower cost, they’ll match or beat the price.
Depending on the retailer, price matching can be requested online or in-store, typically before you make the purchase. If you’ve already purchased the item in question, some stores may refund the difference (sometimes in the form of a store credit) if you find a lower price elsewhere within a certain amount of time.
The most important thing to remember is that each store has its own price matching qualification criteria, so it’s important to read the terms carefully. Here are some general tips for successful price matching:
Right down to the bar code, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples before invoking a store’s price matching policy.
In some cases, the lower-priced item needs to be available in the same geographic area as the store where you’re trying to price match.
Merchants won’t take your word for it; you’ll need proof of the competitor’s lower price via a physical flyer or a digital record (such as an online flyer or website price).
Stores may exclude holiday sales from their price match guarantee. Clearance items, free stuff (like buy-one-get-one), as-is and demo models, and other special promotions don’t usually qualify either.
The competitor’s lower-priced item may need to be in stock (locally) to qualify.
Brick-and-mortar stores may not be willing to match the price of an online-only retailer (the inverse may also be true). Also, items on sites like Amazon or eBay rarely qualify.
Implemented in 2002, the Scanner Price Accuracy Code is a program that aims to prevent consumers from being overcharged for certain items. If an item with a UPC code scans incorrectly at a store that has volunteered to be a part of the program, you are entitled to one of the following:
The Retail Council of Canada publishes a list of stores that participate in the Scanner Price Accuracy Code program on its website.
Here are the price matching policies of some major Canadian stores. This list is far from exhaustive — always search the FAQs of your favourite retailer’s website to see if they offer something similar.
Assuming a store that offers price matching has the lowest price. Doing this could mean missing out on potential savings!
Using the self-checkout or express lanes. You’ll need to speak with a cashier to get a price match, and the process of documenting the competitor’s price may not be quick, especially if you’re price matching on more than one item.
Taking no for an answer. If the cashier denies a price matching request that you think is covered by the store’s policy, don’t give up. Politely ask for the manager to clarify, or try another cashier.
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Price matching takes time and effort no matter how you slice it. Here are some digital tools that may ease the burden:
Rebee: A digital flyer app that lets you browse dozens of local flyers, compare prices, filter by category and create shopping lists.
Flipp: Plug in your postal code and Flipp (available via website or mobile app) spits out hundreds of local store flyers. Mark your favourite stores, clip coupons, circle items and add stuff to your list.
Sale Whale: With its website or app, Sale Whale lets you browse digital sale flyers and price match between grocery stores. You can also set price alerts for certain items and get notified if those products go on sale.
Nora Dunn is a former financial planner, and has been a digital nomad since 2006. On her site, TheProfessionalHobo.com, she decodes financially sustainable long-term travel. She's on FB and IG @theprofessionalhobo.