Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wal Mart - The Evil Empire

Apparently, Wal Mart will match any competitor's price, but not if the competitor is themselves.

Yesterday, my wife purchased a 4GB MicroSDHC flash memory card at our local Wal Mart for me to use in my phone. She paid $20.88 plus tax.

The price wasn't unreasonable but, knowing that she probably overpaid, I did a little poking around on the internet and, to my surprise, I found the same product for $14.84... at

I took the card back to our local store and requested a price adjustment. I was refused. I returned the card for a full refund. Apparently, Wal Mart's policy is that they would rather lose $20.88 instead of $6.04 and would also prefer to create ill will with its customers. The excuse that I was given was that, "the internet prices are separate from the store prices."

I was shocked. The page does not clearly state that the price is a web-only price. In fact, it noted that the item was available at my local store. I figure that any reasonable person would believe that the price advertised on the web would be the same as at the store or would at least be honored at the store. Wal Mart price matches, don't they? (I'm calling bullshit on that policy, by the way)

When I got home, I re-examined the page. It was only then that I saw at the bottom of the page past the big, bold, red price; past the notification that this item is in stock at my local store; past the suggestive sales in the "you might also like" section; past the item description and specifications; past the customer reviews; past the Q&A/FAQ section; past the second suggestive sales section under the "people who viewed this item also viewed" heading; past the gifting options; and finally past the payment options which include a suggestion to get the Wal Mart credit card as well as a "bill me later" option; this:
About Our Prices
We strive to provide you with the lowest prices possible on as well as in our stores. However, sometimes a price online does not match the price in a store.'s prices may be either higher or lower than local store prices. Our local stores do not honor pricing or competitor advertisements from outside of a store's local trade territory.
Yeah. that's a reasonable placement. I always scroll all the way to the bottom of a web page to make double double sure that the price is correct and will be honored. Again, I point you to the argument of what a reasonable person would do.

I have sent a comment to the corporate office. I had thought about filing a complaint with the FTC but thought I should give them a chance to respond first. I told them that if they don't respond to me by Wednesday, I will file the complaint... and I fully intend to do so.

My biggest problem with this is that they have a minor monopoly in my town because there are no other stores of their class or type (i.e. Target, K-Mart, etc.). A boycott would simply be unsustainable. There are too many products for which I rely on them to provide. This will, however, make me start looking for alternatives (going to Braum's for milk, for instance).

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