My Experience With the Ad Match Guarantee
By Steve Gillman - December 14, 2013
Maybe you've seen the signs in the stores, or the television
spots about the Walmart "Ad Match Guarantee." At our
local Walmart Neighborhood Market (these are basic grocery stores
with a pharmacy) they have the sign at every register. It says
that Walmart will match any competitors advertised prices, even
the ones that are for other store's loyalty card holders, and
even buy-one-get-one-free sales. The latter are now commonly
called "BOGOs," and there were a few good ones at a
grocery store across town, according to the newspaper flyer I
was looking through in one Sunday morning at the dining room
Then the sale prices at another store caught my eye. By the
time I found a third store with good deals, I imagined running
all over town spending an hour and $5 in gas to save $8 or so.
But then I recalled the signs at Walmart. They actually say that
you do not even need to bring in the ads. It seems too risky
for them to just take people's word for what they saw in an ad,
and I was a bit skeptical, so I set the ads aside to take with
me. Later I checked out their policy online and read this:
We will match any local competitor's advertised price.
We do not require customers to have the ad with them to
honor a competitor's ad.
Items purchased must be identical to the ad (size, quantity,
brand, flavor, color, etc.)
To make my list I selected items my wife and I actually purchase
regularly. For example, one store had a BOGO offer on a brand
of whole wheat bread that we buy, and on one of our favorite
brands of soup. Another had bananas for 39 cents per pound and
a 3-pound bag on onions for $1.49, for which we normally paid
$2.98 at Walmart. I brought my ads and my list with me a couple
Given that Walmart normally has the lowest regular prices
in town, I especially liked the BOGO offers. For example at $2.18
for eight ounces, they already have the lowest price on Borden
cheese. But I picked up two 8-ounce packages for just $2.18 total
since the second one was free. The celery I've been paying $1.68
for was going to cost me just 99 cents, and the tomatoes were
When I had done my shopping, half of the things in the cart
were "ad match items." With the food and my advertising
flyers from three different stores, I headed for the register.
I let a man cut in front of me, assuming that ringing up my order
would take a while. When I put my stuff on the conveyer belt
I first unloaded the things for which I would pay the regular
price, and then put all of the "special" items behind
those. After the girl rang up the last of the regular items I
pulled out my ads.
"I haven't ever done this price-match thing," I
explained to her, pointing to the sign, "but all the rest
of these things are cheaper at other stores and I want Walmart
to match the prices."
She sighed, gave me a dirty look (not at all surprising),
and started to figure out how to ring up the rest. The items
that were buy-one-get-one-free seemed easy enough. She apparently
had some way to just ring the second of each pair for $0. Discounting
the other food was more difficult, but she figured it out. Then
we came to the things that are sold by the pound. It took her
several tries to figure out how to make the bananas cost 39 cents
per pound rather than 59 cents. If you have 2.7 pounds of bananas
rung up at 59 cents per pound and you need to charge 39 cents
per pound, how much do you credit back? This is not something
the cashier (or you or I) could figure out in her head. On her
third attempt she figured out how to weigh the bananas and ring
them up at the lower price.
By this point there was another shopper behind me, of course,
and she seemed annoyed. Eh, what can I say? The things I normally
would have paid $22 cost me just $13. Should I give up that $9
just so the person or persons behind me can check out two minutes
faster? I don't think so. Maybe the next time I do this, when
I get in line, I should call out to everyone in the area, "I'm
going to do a bunch of ad-match items, so this could take a while!"
Of course my credit card failed to register properly on the
first attempt, but that really wasn't my fault. The cashier forgot
to say the usual "thank you" when I was done. I believe
I heard her let out a sigh of relief as I rolled my cart away
toward the doors.
The lesson here, if there is one, is that if you don't mind
annoying a cashier and a few customers, and you don't get embarrassed
easily, you really can save money by lining up the deals at the
kitchen table on Sunday morning and then taking up Walmart on
their ad-match offer. Oh, and the cashier never did ask to see
the ads, although I was probably waving them around as I told
her what she was going to charge me, which might have annoyed
her even more.
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