Like my submissive puppy, I groveled my way up to the Wal-Mart cashier with my tail down and protective.
I mumbled, “I want to price match.” It was my first time. The cashier neither looked up nor sneered at me. First, I put my regularly-priced items on the belt. Next, I placed my newspaper ads from competing stores with sale prices circled in permanent marker. Finally, I set down the items I wanted to price match.
“Oh, no need to show me the ads,” she said.
I was prepared to show CSI-level proof of sale prices. When the Wal-Mart watermelon was $2.99, could I really buy it for only $1.00 like the one on sale at Safeway? Bingo! My fat melon rolled through, and I saved $1.99 without any argument whatsoever.
I straightened up a little. “Hey, this price matching is wonderful — like finding a check in the mail. But I don’t really understand how it works.”
“A lot of people don’t,” the cashier said.
“I bet you ad-match your own purchases, too,” I said to the cashier.
She smiled. “Of course I do. All the cashiers do ad-matching for themselves.” Understand that the cashier is sympathetic to you, their customer.
Ad matching is asking Wal-Mart to charge you the same lower sale prices currently advertised on identical items in other local stores. Easy. Study all ads each week, write your shopping list, and tell the Wal-Mart cashier at checkout what the sale prices are at specific other stores before the items go through the scanner.
Even when you don’t have the printed ads with you (the Wal-Mart policy says you don’t need them) at least know the name of the store which you are referencing and the advertised price. Say something like this: “I want to ad match Fry’s sale on Hall’s pinto beans at 69 cents a 16 ounce can.” Voila! By getting all the bargains at one store instead of driving all over, you can save gas, money and precious time.
This Wal-Mart practice is not called “Price Matching,” rather it is called “Ad Matching” because only “advertised” prices from local stores are honored. To build your confidence, go online and get a copy of Wal-Mart’s policies (corporate.Wal-Mart.com/ad-match-guarantee). Learn the rules or keep a copy of the guidelines in your wallet or in your purse.
Also, Wal-Mart will ad match identical store-brand items from other stores; this includes, for example, matching “Safeway Select” products to the Wal-Mart “Great Value” brand. The key here is “exact matches.”
What’s a store brand? It’s a less-expensive line of products made by or for a specific supermarket. Consumer Reports found that store brands are often as good as — or better than — national brands.
Don’t worry about slowing down the checkout line. Typically ad matching is fast, and the people behind you won’t notice a thing. If the people running the cash register are alert (and most of them are,) they already know current prices for ad matching. And they will check you out quickly.
“How many customers ask for price matching at checkout?” I asked a Wal-Mart cashier. “Only about 30 percent of them.”
What? That answer shocked me as ad matching at Wal-Mart is one of the best ways to save money. I, myself, had felt awkward the first time I asked for lower prices. Heck, I thought all shoppers would be using Wal-Mart’s program by now. Perhaps you are shy about starting this practice even as I was in the beginning.
If you are among the remaining 70 percent of shoppers who do not ad match, now you know how easy it is to get sale prices at Wal-Mart.
Trust me. When you ad match at Wal-Mart, you don’t have to sit, roll over, or beg — and no one will dare call you “bad boy or bad girl.”
Linda Hutchings is a Gilbert resident and a life-long frugal consumer—uh, cheap skate. Please reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send her your penny-pinching ideas.