If you’ve bought something in the last month from a major retailer, you’re probably due for a refund. That’s because an item you’ve bought has probably gone on sale for a lower price. As a result, under stores’ best price guarantee policies, you’re entitled to a refund for the discount you missed. Most retailers tout their best-price guarantees to draw in customers. Unfortunately, navigating the world of price adjustments and price matching policies can be unnecessarily complicated.
Stores almost never tell you when you’re eligible for a refund. And even when you think you are due for a refund, it’s not always easy to get your money back. Here are some of main reasons why it can be difficult for you to get your money back.
Constant price changes. Many retailers change the price of an item millions of time per day, or show different prices on the item to different customers. Amazon, for example, has over 2.5 million price changes every day. Here’s an example of how the price of a router fluctuated over the course of one day on Amazon:
Courtesy of Business Insider.
This type of constant fluctuation makes it difficult for consumers to know when they are even eligible for a refund. But on top of that, these price changes make it difficult of claim the refund: if you see a lower price at 3 p.m., that discount might not exist anymore at 4 p.m., which then makes it difficult to get your money back.
Defining ‘Direct’ Competitor:
Many stores offer to match the price of a competitor store. However, the definition of what stores are competitors can vary from store to store. For example, Target won’t match the price from ‘membership clubs,’ which include stores like Costco, and Kohl’s leaves it up to store managers to decide if another store qualifies as a direct competitor.
Exceptions for ‘on sale’ items.
Many stores will not price adjust or price match items that were were sold originally purchased on sale. So that means if you bought an item on sale, you might not be eligible for a refund when the item goes on sale later at an even cheaper price. Or you might only be due for a store credit refund, as opposed to cash.
Some stores will only give you a refund if the item you’ve bought is exactly the same as the item that later went on sale. So if you want a price adjustment on a pair of pants because those pants later went on sale, the discounted pants will need to be the same brand and maybe even the same size and/or color as the ones you bought.
Different Return Policies at Different Stores:
Almost every major retailer has a slightly different return policy. Some allow you to return items within a year, while others have a limited, week-long return period. Some will match the price of other stores while others will only match their own prices. Some stores will match competitors online prices and some will only match physical retailers (for a full list of these policies, click here). Keeping track of which policies belong to which stores can be a headache.
Even though most shoppers are due for refunds, it can extraordinarily difficult for the average shopper to navigate the hurdles to getting their money back.
Fortunately, technology makes it possible for consumers to easily navigate store policies and get the refunds they deserve. Shoppers can sign up for Paribus, which automatically gets users money back on items they’ve already purchased. That way, instead of worrying about how to get the refund and jumping through corporate hoops, they can just watch as money flows effortlessly into their inbox.