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November 20, 2006

Toys R Us Price Guarantee: We Match Prices Only When We Feel Like*

Filed under: Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am

TRU logo Many shoppers like to buy at stores that offer a price protection guarantee. That means if you subsequently find an item you bought there for less money elsewhere or even at their store, they will give you back the difference.

For some who have bought toys over the past few weeks, the Toys R Us “Black Friday” sale is going to bring wth it an unwelcome surprise. A fine print footnote indicates that they are suspending the price guarantee:

*MOUSE PRINT: “Price Guarantee is not in effect for other retailer special offers or Doorbusters.” [Circular, November 23, 2006]

So, on the day with some of the lowest prices of the year, if you paid more at Toys R Us, it looks like you are out of luck, even if Toys R Us itself is selling the item as a “Doorbuster” for less. [Since they have capitalized "Doorbusters", it appears that they are referring to their own early morning specials that go by that name.]

Of course, since the store has a liberal return policy, you could return the overpriced item, and repurchase it on the spot at the lower “Doorbuster” price. If Wal-mart or another store is offering a lower price, however, it looks like they will not match that price.

Thanks Toys R Us for suspending a good consumer policy on the day it matters most.

• • •

21 Comments

  1. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It’s a variation on a well-worn theme with many Brick & Mortar retailers–not just ToysRUs.

    Best Buy. Circuit City. CompUSA. These are not small retail players–and all of them attempt to find ways not to price match one another when it suits.

    When it comes to honoring “price guarantees” hardly any retailer does so if they don’t like another retailer’s price. It happens repeatedly–and if states don’t start cracking down on retailers who fail to honor their guarantees, it will happen over and over and over again.

    One shouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail to get a retailer to honor its (in most cases) posted in-store low-price promises.

    Comment by Cindy — November 20, 2006 @ 9:46 am
  2. *MOUSE PRINT: “Price Guarantee is not in effect for other retailer special offers or Doorbusters.”

    Doesn’t that always apply? companies only lower their prices when another company has a normal price which is lower then theirs.

    Otherwise they’d have to match every single promotion or add another store has. I think it’s normal….

    Might be the atlantic ocean between the two of us though…

    Comment by Alcari — November 20, 2006 @ 10:09 am
  3. Alcari…

    No, the point of a price guarantee is not to match only another store’s REGULAR prices, but their sale prices.

    Comment by Edgar — November 20, 2006 @ 10:20 am
  4. I really don’t have a problem with this policy. It’s been around since forever. I agree with Edgar’s
    comment that the price match is for regular prices. Or, a sale price from the same store.

    What if a store like Wal-Mart just went ridiculous with prices just to make other stores match. They
    can absorb a more losses than anybody else.

    Comment by GNecastro — November 21, 2006 @ 2:13 pm
  5. GNecastro>”What if a store like Wal-Mart just went ridiculous with prices just to make other stores match”

    Exactly the problem. If they don’t want to match these other prices then they should either not offer it or put certain exclusions like (up to 10% of the sale price.)

    When I contacted Toys-R-Us years ago about carrying a product I have, they wanted to get it for less that our price, have us ship it to them at our own expense, and if they didn’t sell it, ship it back to us at our expense. They can definitely afford to pay the difference.
    and if anyone has gone to the annual International Toy Fair in NYC (106 years now) you know that the industry typically won’t touch your profit unless they can make 50% profit. So when you buy a toy for $30, you can be sure that the company is making at least $15 on it. So if another company offers a sale price of $20, they can easily match that and still make a decent 25% profit versus the sales price ($5 out of $20).

    Comment by RS — November 22, 2006 @ 1:42 am
  6. Oh. just to clarify, that 50% price markup is typically for toys, not all merchandise. Other merchandise is typically 20% but may be as low as 5% for certain types of items.

    Comment by rs — November 22, 2006 @ 1:43 am
  7. Price guarantees are supposed to include sale prices, so you won’t be gun-shy about buying something “before it goes on sale”

    I recently bought something at Best Buy, only to find it went on sale 2 weeks later. Took the receipt in, and got the difference back — a significant amount BTW.

    The problems I have with such policies is when stores carry items with unique manufacturer’s model numbers that are only to be had in that particular store. When attempting to cash in on price guarantees, it won’t match up with any other store’s merchandise, since the model numbers are different.

    Places like Lowe’s and Home Deepot are worst offfenders with this, since many items that are usually considered commodities are compared using UPC’s instead of descriptions. With that type of policy you can have wide discrepencies in pricing and no recourse on any price “guarantee”

    An example would be a roll of electrical wire: Lowe’s sells Cerro, Home Despot sells SouthWire. They are essentially the same product, but since they are made by different manufacturers, and have different UPC on the box, neither will honor their price guarantee. So you are forced to shop for the best deal on your own, instead of relying on either store to honor their (non-)”guarantee”

    Bottom line? Caveat Emptor

    Comment by Ken — November 22, 2006 @ 11:20 pm
  8. “buyer beware” for those clasically challenged.

    “”So you are forced to shop for the best deal on your own””
    Which is generally a good idea under all circumstances.

    Comment by Alcari — November 23, 2006 @ 1:46 pm
  9. Huge window banners, shelf talkers, signs all over the store, WEIS MARKETS advertises “thousands of ways to save”. Well there are only about ten ways to actually money from you total bill. They may use a few ways on many items. The wording is incorrect. Better yet when you ask management to name some of the ways they can only name one or two, out of thousands.

    Comment by jack russell — November 26, 2006 @ 6:05 am
  10. Ken>>The problems I have with such policies is when stores carry items with unique manufacturer’s model numbers that are only to be had in that particular store.

    There it is! Especially with electronics. These big stores seem to get specific model numbers so that they don’t have to worry about price matching.

    Comment by GNecastro — November 27, 2006 @ 4:27 pm
  11. No one has ever gone out of business price matching. They know how to do it. It’s all marketing.

    Comment by GNecastro — November 27, 2006 @ 4:28 pm
  12. In addition to pricing – try the non-existent customer service for online returns
    – they cannot be accomplished. The packing slip in the order is not accepted
    for in store returns and no one at 1-800-toyrus knows what is required to make an
    instore return. If you have 2-3 hours to argue with them, be put on hold, etc.
    give it a shot – cause that won’t work either!

    Comment by Karen — December 19, 2006 @ 3:31 pm
  13. A friend of mind went into Best Buy recently with a printout from the website of J&R, a competitor of Best Buy here in NY, featuring a price that was about 50% of the price that Best Buy was charging for the same item. He had called ahead to Best Buy several times to make sure that they would honor the price. He was told that all he had to do was bring the printout in, and they weould match the price. When he presented the printout, he was told that they would not match the price, because it was “below cost.” When he asked what “cost” for the item was, the price they told him was J&R’s regular (not sale) price, about $20 lower than the price in the printout. He told the guy that he had spoken to several people over the phone, who had assured him that they would honor the price, was the guy flat-out refused. So he will be writing to the corporate headquarters to complain about their refusal to honor their own adverised policies.

    Comment by Rebecca — December 21, 2006 @ 11:36 pm
  14. Sorry, my last comment should have said that the “cost” of the item quoted by Best Buy was about $20 *higher* than the sale price in the printout, not $20 lower.

    Comment by Rebecca — December 21, 2006 @ 11:37 pm
  15. TRU has had a no price match for a while now, ignorance-have to love it…

    Comment by John — December 29, 2006 @ 10:29 pm
  16. I’ve been with Toys R Us for nearly two years, and the price-match policy was ended prior to me starting there. Believe it or not, price mark-up on TRU merchandise is not as high as people are ‘claiming’ it to be.

    Comment by Ryan — January 2, 2007 @ 3:31 pm
  17. Well here is a good one for you. I found a price for a freestanding
    stove $496.00 less than the price at Lowe’s, I went into the store
    and asked them their policy on price matching prior to showing them
    the price difference, they said as long as it is a store front,and
    we can call them to verify the price then we will honor it. I then showed them the price, a department manager came over, it met the
    requirements, so I payed for the item, almost skipping out of the store, and so proud that I had saved so much money.
    Now my stove has arrived at the store and the manager just called
    and left a message: that I would have had to pay shipping for that item,
    so we are going to have to charge you more.
    Their policy is price match the actual item, not anything else.
    Now they are holding my stove, and the manager has left and no one else
    has the authority to talk to me. Boy am I angry!

    Comment by rochelle — July 18, 2007 @ 8:20 pm
  18. price matching should never have been made a policy by any store. it doesn’t help buisiness, and if customers are going to complain anyway, it’s just not worth it. if you can find the item cheaper somewhere else then just go there.

    Comment by Tania — May 28, 2008 @ 10:47 pm
  19. Toys “R” us is a good store and is trying harder than any other company!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by joe — July 5, 2008 @ 9:18 pm
  20. Actually Joe, you need to reevaluate your opinion of a store that won’t even match their website price. TRU stores sell a product for $39.99, but the website sells it for $22.99. I called to ask if they would honor their own price and they said that’s not their policy. What a giant load of ####!

    Comment by buyer — July 23, 2008 @ 9:06 pm
  21. Toys R Us does not price match their own current online selling price.
    I purchased a Medela Pump for $179.97 on 26th March 2010. On the 1st March 2010 there is an
    additional $20 off promo. So I naively contact customer service
    thinking that they will honor the adjustment but boy was I wrong. They told me they
    cannot do an adjustment for $20 since the current selling price is a promo. To me, the consumer
    the bottom line is the selling price is $159.97, it makes no difference whether it is a promo or
    otherwise.
    Btw the promo price ends 31st Dec 2010 so its not like its going to expire any time soon.
    I don’t have any confidence buying at Toys R Us as it would mean hanging on to unopened items
    and if there is a promo within a week, return the item for a refund and repurchase
    with the promo price. The rep suggested I do a return and re-purchase which will not work now
    since the item is opened. I think I’ll take this further and fight Toys R Us for the principle.

    Go figure and they can’t just do an adjustment.

    Comment by Anne — March 4, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

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