Price matching is one of the easiest ways to score yourself a discount at retail. Do your research, find the best possible price you can and march into the store with your dollar-saving knowledge. But this little Google Chrome trick makes it exceptionally easy to deceive retailers about exactly how much a product costs at other stores.
I wish I knew this when I was working in retail.
It's Evil Week at Lifehacker, which means we're looking into less-than-seemly methods for getting shit done. We like to think we're shedding light on these tactics as a way to help you do the opposite, but if you are, in fact, evil, you might find this week unironically helpful. That's up to you.
The first thing to remember with this trick is that you’re only going to get away with it at stores that have a price matching policy, so largely will work for consumer technology and home appliances. (Think your JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, EB Games etc.) It does require a little extra knowledge of Google Chrome too, but it's rather simple to pull off once you know what you're doing.
Google Chrome's developer tools allow you to inspect elements on a web page with their feature 'Inspect'. On the desktop, this is easy. Right click the region that you want to change, select Inspect and then use the module that appears on the right hand side of the screen to change the price. You can see the original and doctored price of a TV below.
Note: Do not add 'Yewwww' if you try this.
However, you will likely have to print this out and show it to an employee, which harms your chances of getting a price match. They're more likely to check on their own device/laptop/work PC if its printed because it gives the impression it could have been doctored.
Another option is to take in your laptop to show them, but this might also raise suspicion - who walks around shopping complexes with a big ol' laptop? Fortunately, there's another option.
The best bet is to change the pricing on your phone. However, in this case, there's a few extra steps you'll have to take to enable remote debugging on your Android device and you're going to need a PC to do so.
The full tutorial can be accessed via Google's Developers site. By enabling this service, you can access the developer tools from your PC or Mac and screencast to your device. This will involve a lot more work. Is it worth it for the savings?
This dodgy exploit – and that’s exactly what this is – won’t always work because the employees should be checking the price match themselves as opposed to blindly cutting prices at a customer's whim. There are a few things you should remember:
- If you approach in a confident, friendly manner, there's less chance they won't just take you at your word and slash the price. Politeness is key.
- Be wary of manipulating the price so much that it becomes unbelievable. A new release pair of headphones for $250 off? You're kidding yourself. 10-15 per cent off is a safer figure.
- During busy sales periods, employees are likely up to their eyeballs in customers. They'll want to get you in and out as quick as possible and maximise the amount of customers they can get to. You're more likely to get a straight price match to spare the hassle.
Retailers, pro tip: Check your price matches and don't say I didn't warn you. I have no doubt that I've been caught out by this trick during my days in retail, even though I was diligent in checking prices that seemed a little strange.