The importance of tracking prices after you buy

If a company lowers the price of the product you just bought, you may be able to get a credit for the difference. I just scored a huge one.


True story. A couple weeks ago I purchased a Sigmac LE55ABD 55-inch HDTV from Wal-Mart for $899. That being a particularly good deal on a 55-inch TV with 3D, my intention was to write about it -- but the model has been out of stock since I received it, so I've held off.

Of course, I've been checking Wal-Mart's site almost daily because I'm keen to write my review. (Wal-Mart is currently the only store that stocks this model.) Yesterday, I discovered that the LE55ABD was still unavailable -- but the price had dropped to $549. That's a difference of $350.

Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don't know why Wal-Mart massively cut the price of a product that isn't even available, but you can bet I went racing to my local store, receipt in hand. (I'd also printed the Web page, just in case they needed hard-copy proof of the price drop.)

Turns out that because I'd purchased the TV via, I had to "file my claim" on the Web site (even though I'd actually picked up the Sigmac from the store). So I hurried home and contacted customer service about the discrepancy.

My expectations were low. Surely Wal-Mart would claim that because the model was out of stock or discontinued or whatever, no adjustment was applicable. Or, more likely, the $549 price was a mistake (because that would be an off-the-charts good deal).

What happened was this: a couple hours after I submitted the online form, I received a credit for $371 (which factored in sales tax). Wow.

The irony is that if I hadn't been checking Wal-Mart's site, I'd never have discovered the price drop. And that brings us to the moral of our story: whenever you buy a big-ticket item (or, heck, even a medium-ticket item), keep checking the price. If it gets reduced, you might just be able to get some money back.

Indeed, many retail stores offer a price guarantee, meaning if the advertised price of a product drops within a certain period after you've purchased it, they'll credit you the difference. A handful of e-tailers do, too, most notably -- but, Newegg, and TigerDirect do not.

Don't fancy the idea of checking a Web site every day for two weeks or longer? You can set up a price-drop alert at a site like PricePinx, which monitors prices and sends you an e-mail notification if and when they change.

In my case, there was a heavy helping of dumb luck. Your mileage will vary, of course, but I'm forever convinced that after-the-fact price checking is essential, especially for bigger items like PCs and TVs.


Discuss The importance of tracking prices after you...

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Articles from CNET
I, robot, take this other robot to be my wedded wife