By Teresa McUsic,
THE SAVVY CONSUMER
My daughter recently saved me $40 on an old fashioned purchasing technique that I think many of us have forgotten about—price adjustment.
Heading to school next week in Boston and gone until Christmas, she purchased a $200 pair of snow boots from L.L. Bean a couple of weeks ago. Over the weekend, a friend of hers told her the retailer was having a store-wide 20 percent off sale.
So she called the store, told them of her purchase, they looked it up and voila, they put $40 back on my credit card.
In the old days, our mothers would scour the grocery ads or retail fliers looking for prices on recent purchases that had dropped. My husband winces at the recollection of standing in the customer service line of the grocery as a little boy while his mother saved $1.20 on last week’s groceries.
But while the concept is old, there are new tools to help us.
A quick online search for price adjustment policies show most retailers still offer this service, although not all. So the first step is to simply search online for your retailer’s policy (or give them a call or ask in person). Most typically allow price adjustments from 7-30 days with clearance, seasonal, holiday purchases or those that used a coupon being generally excluded from getting an adjustment. Some will even match lower prices at other retailers that occurred after the sale.
There are also a handful of phone apps, websites and even a credit card that will search out this information for you post purchase.
Almost three years ago, Citibank launched a service to its credit card members called Citi Price Rewind, which offers cardholders a free search of hundreds of online merchants for up to 60 days of their registered purchases to a better price. If they do, the cardholder will receive an email stating they qualify to request a refund. They can then submit a claim either at the Citi website, CitiPriceRewind.com, or by fax or mail, and Citi will reimburse the cardholder for up to $300 per item and $1,200 per year.
Citi’s website said in the first six month of this year, it has refunded $1.6 million in almost 47,000 refunds. The average refund was $37.50.
Another program, Walmart’s Savings Catcher, announced last September it had saved customers $2 million after launching in some test markets and then rolling out nationwide last September, according to a Walmart spokesperson.
The retailer has not disclosed further savings amounts, but in February it limited the program by excluding produce, bakery items and meat and seafood. It also will no longer compete against drug store competitors.
The program still applies to other groceries, cleaning supplies, health and beauty aids and over-the-counter medications, however. Similar to Citi’s program, Walmart requires consumers to submit their receipt to use the program at https://SavingsCatcher.Walmart.com or with the iPhone or Android app. Savings Catcher then compares the prices of the eligible items to the advertised prices found in the print and online versions of the current weekly ads of top retailers in your area.
If savings is found, it will be applied to a Walmart Rewards eGift Card or a Bluebird by American Express Card, which can be used either in-store or online at Walmart.com.
Finally, a free web service called Slice will find electronic receipts in your inbox, pull out information from emails to know what you have purchased online, then track the item through the price adjustment period of the retailer and let you know if the price drops.
While, Slice doesn’t disclose its customer base, it did say that in August it saved customers an average of $32.30 on each price drop notification and it sent an average of 165 price drop notifications a day.
“We watch prices as long as the retailer will guarantee the price adjustment, on a retailer per retailer basis, to ensure our customer’s success,” said Jaimee Minney, Slice’s spokesperson.
Once a drop notification is found, Slice even will provide a form for the customer to send to the retailer, she said.
“We pre-populate a form including all of the necessary information (including the receipt) and request a refund,” Minney said. “All the customer has to do it push send, and voila! Free money!”
Slice will work in Outlook, Yahoo, AOL, Gmail and other places where you may have email. Its free app is available for iPhone and Android.
So don’t have buyer’s remorse the next time you notice a price dropped after you purchased. Take action and find some savings.
Teresa McUsic’s column appears in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. TMcUsic@SavvyConsumer.net