On Friday, Best Buy (BBY) announced a new price-match policy that will include such online competitors as Amazon.com (AMZN), but the new policy falls short in one key respect: The retailer won't match a better price you find after you've made your purchase.
Both Best Buy and Target (TGT) offered to price-match online competitors during the holiday season, and last month, Target announced that it would do so year-round. Now, Best Buy is following Target's lead.
But where Target's policy specifically lets you come back for a price adjustment if you find a lower price within seven days of purchase, Best Buy's price-match does not. Retroactive adjustments will only be offered if Best Buy itself offers a lower price within 15 days. The policy specifically excludes "post purchase price match requests to competitor's prices."
To be fair, Best Buy doesn't need to offer retroactive price adjustments to accomplish its primary goal here. The retailer explicitly mentioned "showrooming" in its press release, so clearly, the policy targets shoppers who are using their smartphones to find better prices on products they see on its shelves, and who might otherwise leave the store to buy them online. Matching the best price available at that moment should convince most of those shoppers to complete their transactions at the store.
There is, of course, a way around this: If you find a lower price after you buy (but before you open and start using what you purchased), you can return the item, then buy an identical one, and get the price-match to the new, lower price. Just be aware that Best Buy recently cut its return window from 30 days to 15 days.
Best Buy deserves credit for finally getting with the times and realizing that it needs to price-match its biggest online competitors if it wants to revive its weak sales. And it's worth noting that that while Target is matching just five online competitors, Best Buy's list of qualifying competitors includes 19 websites. So even if you can't count on their deals being the best tomorrow, you've got a better chance at Best Buy of getting the best price today.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.
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