Target boots customer for comparison shopping - Know your rights

In September, we told you about a cool new comparison shopping tool for T-Mobile's Android G called ShopSavvy. The application lets users check the price of an item at local stores and online by simply taking a picture of the barcode. While consumers love the ability to instantly check the price of an item from anywhere, some stores aren't as fond of this technology. Since the launch of ShopSavvy at least one customer at Target has already been told that it is against store rules to price check an item.

In this particular case when the makers of ShopSavvy contacted the Target in question they were informed that there was no policy prohibiting customers from price checking an item. The manager blamed the mistake on an uninformed employee. I think the employee may have confused the shopper with an employee of a competing store who had come inside to record prices. This was something I ran into as an employee at Kmart years ago and that we did have a policy against.

Despite claims that they price match, many stores don't want you checking out the competitors prices from inside the store. This isn't a new problem -- for the longest time you could check a price of an item using Google's Product Search for Mobile. Before that a pen and a piece of paper would suffice for a price check at home, thought I have been asked to not write down model numbers and price information in a store or two.

To better understand our rights as consumers I contacted the Ohio State Attorney General's Office regarding this matter. After consulting with several lawyers they wrote to let me know that my best bet in this situation would be to not make it obvious that I was checking the price of an item, suggesting that I use the phone discreetly or tell any curious employees that I am making a shopping list for a an upcoming holiday. The most important piece of advice was that a store can technically eject a shopper for any reason so long as it isn't discrimination without being in violation of any laws.

With that in mind, if you are comparison shopping and come across an employee who attempts to stop you from checking a price or recording an item number your best bet for a quick and happy resolution will be to ask for a manager. In most cases you'll be invited to continue what you were doing and can even take advantage of the situation by asking for a price match from the manager. If you are asked to leave the store because you were checking prices, your best bet is to happily leave and take your business elsewhere.
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