No one wants to pay more than they have to, so when a retailer like Office Depot advertises that they will match prices anywhere, that is reassuring.
Or is it?
*MOUSE PRINT: “If you find a lower price on an identical product advertised for less within 14 days…” “…Internet offers do not qualify.” [circular 8/20/06]
By excluding items priced lower online, Office Depot is eliminating a primary source of low price comparison. Thus their headline promise of matching prices anywhere simply is not true.
It is now nearly a year after that ad was published, and Office Depot’s print advertising has been slightly modified to say “Low Price Guarantee. Find a lower price, and we’ll match it!” They took out the words “anywhere” and “instantly,” and shortened the claim period to seven days.
Their website details their price guarantee, the terms of which vary with your method of purchase. For online and catalog purchases, they will match competitors both online and off; purchases made in stores qualify for price matching at brick and mortar competitor stores only. In both cases, the terms “competitor” and “web competitor” are specially defined by Office Depot:
The qualifying competitors (“Competitors”) are: Staples, Office Max, Best Buy, Circuit City, Reliable, Quill, Sears, Target, K Mart, Costco, Sam’s Club and Comp USA. The qualifying web competitors (“Web Competitors”) are: Staples.com, OfficeMax.com, BestBuy.com, CircuitCity.com, Reliable.com, Quill.com, Sears.com, Target.com, KMart.com, Costco.com, SamsClub.com, CDW.com, Tigerdirect.com, Outpost.com and Frys.com.
They also say if you find a lower price in a different store, “we reserve the right to review your request and match that price in our sole discretion.”
Lastly, they, like Staples, get into a contorted explanation of how they handle price matches when coupons, rebates, or instant savings are involved.
The policies seem simple as advertised, but the details could easily trip up the shopper who doesn’t know the rules.