During Columbus Day shopping, I came out of my blissful bliss that online shopping is often the hassle-free alternative of shopping: no need to get out of the house, find parking at the mall, scramble through busy malls, and then haul the loot home. No, it is delivered right to your front steps by your favorite man in town (or second favorite), the UPS guy.
This season, I was ready for a new Eddie Bauer coat, and I knew what I wanted and which size I needed. When a sale came up online I ordered it. Then, when I took a trip to ‘the city’ (there are few when you live in Maine, and there is only one that has an Eddie Bauer store) over the long weekend, I still checked it out in the store, just for fun, and realized, much to my dismay, that the sales in the store were significantly better. WHAT?!!? The online offer of the coat was $219, and in-store it was available for $170. Ouch. Since I had not worn the online one, I sent it back and bought the in-store version.
Something similar happened at the Gap. Find cute sweater in store, on sale, 30% off, I try it on, love it, take it home, only to find out that the same sweater was only $23 online instead of the $36 in store. Grumble.
I assume the good times of relying that online prices match in-store prices are over.
How to shop wisely:
- Always compare online prices and in-store prices before you buy any item.
- Before you order online, call in to your nearest store and ask for the price in case you do not have time to visit the store (or it is too far away).
- Most stores ship items to your home, and do it for the in-store price. Some stores even ship for free (e.g. Lululemon)
- When you find a great item in store, and have the nagging doubt that there might be a better deal online, use a smartphone to check the online price in the store, or wait until you can check it out.
- If you find out that there is a better deal available online while you are in the store, ask to get a price adjustment to match the online price in the store.
- Or, worst case, you can return either one item, online or in store, in case you find it less expensive elsewhere, later on.
- If you want to save your sanity instead of your wallet, don’t check any prices, and be happy with your item.
- The End.