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.
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How does price matching work?
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.
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Price matching tips to help you save
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:
1. Make sure items are identical
Right down to the bar code, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples before invoking a store’s price matching policy.
2. Keep it local
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.
3. Be prepared to show proof
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).
4. Expect certain sales to be excluded
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.
5. Check the in-stock status
The competitor’s lower-priced item may need to be in stock (locally) to qualify.
6. Know that online-only retailers work differently
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.
Bonus tip: Watch the checkout screen and get stuff for free
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:
- If the item is less than $10, you’ll get it for free.
- If it’s more than $10, you’ll get a $10 discount.
The Retail Council of Canada publishes a list of stores that participate in the Scanner Price Accuracy Code program on its website.
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Canadian stores with price matching policies
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.
- Canadian Tire: Available in-store at time of purchase and within 30 days of purchase (or 14 days if price matching with another Canadian Tire store).
- Home Depot: Available at time of purchase. Home Depot will also price match online items; it will beat the price of another retail store by 10% but for online retailers it will only match the price with no additional discount.
- Best Buy: It’ll match a better price (whether the price is online, in-store or in print) before you buy or within 30 days of purchase.
- No Frills: Will match the price of any major supermarket competitor in the area.
- Fresh Co: It’ll sell you the item for one cent less than the competitor’s price.
- Lowe’s: You’ll get an additional 10% off, in-store and online. Competitor’s price must be at least $1 lower to qualify.
- Bed Bath & Beyond: Price matching is available at checkout and up to 14 days after purchase.
- Leon’s: Find a lower price within 60 days of purchase and it’ll refund the difference.
- Sleep Country Canada: Not only will this company beat any competitor by 5%, but the lower priced item doesn’t even need to be the same mattress. Sleep Country will even match a competitor’s “going out of business” sale. Price matching does not apply to prices on their website, however, only in-store pricing.
- Walmart: Unfortunately Walmart’s price matching policy was discontinued in 2020.
- Amazon.ca: With such an emphasis on low prices, one might assume this giant online retailer offers price matching, but alas, it does not.
Mistakes to avoid when price matching
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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Apps and websites that make price matching easier
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.