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July 9, 2007

Office Depot Price Guarantee: We’ll Match Prices Anywhere*

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:08 am

office depot price guarantee

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:

*MOUSE PRINT:

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.

• • •

10 Comments

  1. When is the government going to step in and protect us all from these corporate greed mongerers?

    Comment by shawn — July 9, 2007 @ 9:04 am
  2. Seems like we hada a similar discussion on the Dec 25 edition of MousePrint about return policies (“Return Policies: Big Surprises in the Little Print”)

    I guess many companies tried to gain advantages through deceptive advertising.

    Rather than list their competitiors, they should list cicumstances where they will not price-match (like buying from the stuff that “fell out of the back of a truck”, buying used products, or probably buying from unlicensed merchants. As long as the merchant is properly licensed to sell competing merchandise, that would seem to be a valid competitor and worthy of the price-match guarantee.

    As for sale prices? Why not?
    Liquidation prices? OK, maybe not, although this probably means that the product has become obsolete.

    Comment by RS — July 9, 2007 @ 9:19 am
  3. I understand they want to exclude price dumping places like eBay and foreign dumping sites, but as usual, they as soon as the lawyers got involved, more than necessary got excluded.

    Comment by Jasper — July 16, 2007 @ 10:34 am
  4. During a recent trip to Office Depot I found that many of their office products are now branded with their own label. This removes an element of choice except for price. Obviously you cannot compare prices when other retailers will not stock Office Depot own brand. I was very disappointed and will probably look for another retailer.

    Comment by Anne — July 23, 2007 @ 8:40 am
  5. It is quite obvious they want the publicity of advertising the “lowest” prices,
    but don’t really want to provide them. “Wo ooa Office Depot Wo ooa, we are ripping
    you off, ‘cuz it’s just what we do” “Taking care of business, RIPPING YOU OFF”

    Comment by Dave — July 23, 2007 @ 10:41 am
  6. There are laws against this sort of thing. We walked out of a chain store that pulled this crap on us, contacted our state attorney general’s office and have been assured they will investigate and bring appropriate charges.

    Comment by Catmoves — August 11, 2007 @ 10:48 pm
  7. Aha! Qualified competitors!

    Have you done an investigation on Sit N Sleep? (“We’ll beat anybody’s advertised price or your mattress is free!”) I’ve always wondered how are it would be for a competitor to advertise ridiculously low prices (unreasonable) and print their ads, and shell out this bragger’s inventory for what they promised.

    Comment by Josh — August 12, 2007 @ 4:59 pm
  8. This practice, while not exactly ethical, is probably necessary due to some less than honorable shoppers. However, try to use two coupon codes that apply to their website!! I went so far as to “chat” as well as call and speak to a human being and still ended up bewhildered as to why they BOTH didn’t apply!

    Comment by Pam — September 14, 2007 @ 1:16 pm
  9. And that is one of the many many reasons that we never shop at Office Depot or Staples or Ink Stop. We have had reasonably good success at Office Max but they too will not always match prices but they also don’t try to mislead you that they will. And they have matched or beaten Walmart’s price a number of times.

    Comment by Mark J Smith — November 28, 2007 @ 10:23 pm
  10. One more note. Office Depot will not match prices below what they say is their base cost for the item. If you find the same item somewhere for $89, but Office Depot records show their base cost is $102, they will only reduce your price to $102, not $89.

    Comment by Steve — March 21, 2008 @ 10:28 am

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