EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 7, 2012

Getting a Deal at the World's Biggest Store

The Coupon Queen
Jill Cataldo

---- — I receive more questions by far about coupon policies at Walmart than I do for any other store. So, last week and in today’s column, I set aside my “no names” policy to answer the most-asked questions about the big retailer.

Wal-Mart Stores’ coupon policy differs somewhat from other retailers, so the questions are worth exploring.

Here’s what’s on readers’ minds regarding Walmart’s coupon acceptance and price-matching policies:

Dear Jill,Do your readers know you can use competitors’ store coupons at Walmart? I do this all the time but sometimes they get denied, which is why I’m writing. They said I can use a coupon from another store with a price on it, but they disallow coupons that don’t bear a price. Don’t all coupons have the dollars-off on them?” – Bailey K.

Dear Bailey,Walmart’s coupon policy can be found online at walmartstores.com. Here’s what it says about using competitor coupons: “Competitors’ coupons [must be for] a specific item for a specified price, for example, $2.99.” For example, let’s say that you have a Walgreens store coupon for a 2-liter bottle of Coke for 99 cents. You could take that coupon to Walmart and purchase a 2-liter of Coke for 99 cents, because the coupon specifies a specific price.

Now, if I had a Walgreens store $2-coupon for a hairbrush, I could not use it at Walmart. The coupon reduces the price I pay by $2 but it doesn’t state the final, end price of the hairbrush. Make sense?

BOGO fans will be pleased to know that Walmart also will accept Buy one, get one free coupons for items with a specific price, such as “Buy one for $4.99, Get One Free.”

Dear Jill,I love Walmart’s price-matching policy. It’s easy to gather up a bunch of ads and take them all there to save chasing around town. They will match the prices and that saves me time and gas! Is there anything they won’t price-match?” – Emma G.

Dear Emma,You know, I don’t think so! Walmart’s price-matching policy is pretty generous. As long as the product’s brand, size and type can be matched up to an identical product sold at Walmart, they’ll match it. Walmart’s price-matching policy states that shoppers do not have to have the ad with them to match another store’s price, though in my experience the price-matching process goes much smoother when I bring the ad along. (When I don’t, my store will call the other store and ask the other store’s employee to look up the price in their ad. This takes a lot of time, especially if you’re matching multiple ads from multiple stores.)

Beyond that, you really can price-match just about anything, from groceries to beauty products to office supplies. I once matched the price on bags of mulch for my flowerbeds! A hardware store on the other side of town had mulch for $1.25 cheaper per bag than Walmart’s price. After verifying that the products were the same brand and the bags were the same size, Walmart matched the price and loaded all of the mulch into my truck, too!

Keep in mind that Walmart will not price-match on a house-brand product. You could not take an ad for $1.99 Walgreens-brand orange juice and attempt to buy Walmart’s orange juice for $1.99.

One last stipulation on price-matching at Walmart. Parent company Wal-Mart Stores’ policy allows each of its units to set the radius within which it deems other stores to be competitors. The policy states, “We do not honor competitor ads from outside of the store’s local trade territory. It is a store manager’s discretion as to what defines a territory.” Your store will likely match a nearby competitor, but it may not match one 30, 40, or 50 miles from it.

To read up on coupon policies at any store, including Walmart, visit the retailer’s corporate website and download a copy. It’s worthwhile getting familiar with the rules and regulations.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.