Hey Lifehacker, I'm shopping around for a tablet and have noticed that the one I am after is available much more cheaply online ($100 or more). How likely is it that the local retailers (JB Hi Fi, Good Guys, Harvey Norman and so on) will be willing to match this? Thanks, Tablet It Be
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Australian retail stores used to be quite strict about only price matching with other brick-and-mortar outlets. This delighted online rivals such as Kogan, who frequently cited this tell-tale exclusion as proof that the traditional retail model was broken. In recent years, the industry has begun to reassess its stance on online price-matching, although policies still vary from store to store.
Most retailers now have separate price-match policies specifically relating to online products. Office Works provides a pretty good example of the terms and conditions you can expect to encounter on its website:
Identical products are price matched against online stores but as with any other kind of store, the item must be currently in stock. When price matching online stores we also take into account the added cost of delivery. If the identical product can be purchased and delivered via an online store for a total price lower than the one we are offering, we will beat that total price by 5%.
The chief caveat here is shipping -- any price matching has to include the cost of delivery, which can often wipe out the discount altogether. Most retailers will also veto overseas e-stores, especially if the "Australia tax" amounts to more than a hundred dollars. For example, JB Hi-Fi will only match online prices that come from "major" Australian-based retailers. This excludes eBay, even if the product is being sold by a local reseller, brand new.
Even when a retailer does match online prices, there are still occasional loopholes to be aware of. As we have noted in the past, price match guarantees usually need to be taken with a huge grain of salt. There have been numerous reports of retailers refusing to price match due to all manner of weaselly excuses, ranging from "restocking policy" issues to claiming the rival store was charging below cost.
Naturally, you also need to make sure that the product in question has identical specifications across the board. Even something as inconsequential as the chassis colour can be used to quash your price matching request. Thankfully, there's a lot less variation in tablet models than AIO PCs or laptops, but it still pays to check.
With all that said, it never hurts to ask! Most brick-and-mortar retailers are willing to haggle to an extent, especially when it comes to large ticket items. At the very least, you can usually score a free accessory such as a carry case or screen protector which we suppose is better than nothing.
We're also going to throw this one over to our readers. Which traditional retail outlet provides the best price matching policy in your personal experience? Have you ever had a bad customer experience in this area? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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