Most retailers like to boast that their prices are "unbeatable" — often going so far as to provide a guarantee that you won't find cheaper prices anywhere. But how often is this actually the case? If last night's expose on The Checkout is anything to go by; hardly ever.
The Checkout is an ABC consumer affairs program fronted by The Chaser's Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel (read our interview with Morrow about the show here.) In last night's episode, the show put lowest-price guarantees to the test at a range of retail stores. Unsurprisingly, none of them delivered on their promise when put under the slightest amount of scrutiny:
[We] found that despite the guarantees, finding a lower price with competitors was easy. "Lowest-price guarantee" doesn't necessarily mean you're getting the lowest price. So while businesses aren't meant to be misleading or create a false impression, you can't always trust them.
One example flagged by the show was a Bosch lithium-ion garden saw which cost $149 at Bunnings Warehouse compared to $99 at Mitre 10: that's 50 per cent more expensive. Similar price discrepancies were found at Big W, Office Works, Harvey Norman and Dan Muprhy's across a range of different products.
As the show noted, most of the above stores claim to employ teams of "passionate" price-checkers who ensure prices are consistently low. These days, anyone with an internet connection can quickly price-check products, so it seems highly unlikely that these pricing anomalies slipped through the net unnoticed.
Something else to watch out for are product exclusivity deals: some brands are only available from one Australian retailer, yet are still prominently advertised with a price-matching guarantee. This is an empty promise, as you can't actually buy the product anywhere else. Tch.
The Checkout also discovered occasions where stores refused to honour a price guarantee due to a range of weaselly excuses, ranging from a "restocking policy" issue to claiming the rival store was charging below cost.
These findings are nothing new of course: a recent CHOICE investigation discovered that a whopping 85 per cent of electronics retailers failed to follow Australian consumer law; usually due to limited or no understanding.
Thankfully, the law does offer certain protections against dodgy advertising regardless of what retailing staff tell you. For example, any price-match exclusions needs to be present in all advertisements; if not you can successfully argue that it doesn't apply.
Naturally, if you find a cheaper price somewhere else, make sure you have the store details and preferably a contact number to streamline the process. You can find more about your rights by checking out our guide.
[Via The Checkout]