Some stores will refund the difference if an item's price drops after you buy it. Here are the price adjustment rules of some popular stores, and how to take advantage of these policies. TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
Amazon's Post-Order Price Match Policy states that the company does not give customers refunds when a price drops after they purchase an item. Amazon states, "Our prices regularly change, and the price you paid when your order shipped was the lowest price we were able to offer at the time." Amazon also does not match the prices of competing retailers, with an exception for one product: TVs. You have 14 days from your order date to find a lower price on another qualifying website, after factoring in shipping and promotions. You also have 14 days to pocket the difference if Amazon drops its own price on the TV you bought. (For related reading, see Shopping Online: Convenience, Bargains And A Few Scams.)
Best Buy's price adjustment policy is part of its Price Match Guarantee. The price adjustment period is the same as the return and exchange period, which can vary depending on the item you purchased and your Reward Zone membership status. Perfect Match Promise products, which include TVs $899 and up and appliances $429 and up, have an extended 60-day price guarantee period.
Best Buy's price adjustment policy states that if you find the identical item at a local Best Buy store or at BestBuy.com within the return and exchange period, Best Buy will honor the lower price. Mail-in offers, offers that include bundled or free items and items advertised as limited quantity, out of stock, open box, clearance, refurbished or used are not eligible for price adjustments. Also excluded are BestBuy.com Midnight Sale and special hour sale events and items for sale Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. For items purchased online, price adjustments are handled by phone only, not in store or via email. (For more on ways to save money, read Coupon Shopping: Clip Your Way To Savings.)
According to Target's confusingly worded Black Friday press release for 2011, Target offers customers a price adjustment if the price on an item they already purchased drops either the same week or the week following their purchase, the customer can receive a price adjustment. The customer has up to 90 days of purchase date to receive the price adjustment.
While we don't know the details of Target's price adjustment policy, you should probably assume that a price adjustment means a price adjustment, not a promotion adjustment. If you take advantage of one of Target's "Buy X and get a Target gift card for $Y" deals and the store later offers a more generous gift card for the purchase of the same item, we suspect you can't use the price adjustment policy to get an additional gift card.
If you want to try returning the item and repurchasing it with the better gift card deal, you'll need to return your original, unspent bonus gift card as well; for deals like these, Target receipts state that "All items must be returned for full refund." If you've already spent the gift card, ask if you can have the value of the gift card subtracted from your refund amount.
If you purchase an item on Walmart.com and notice a price decrease on the website within seven days of your order date, Walmart.com will refund the difference upon your request. If the price decrease is in-store only, you cannot get an adjustment on your Walmart.com purchase. The reverse is also true: if you buy an item in-store and see a lower price online, the store will not adjust your price. Other purchases not eligible for price adjustments include clearance items, Value of the Day and Special Buy items, items purchased up to seven days before Thanksgiving, on Black Friday or during Cyber Week and items purchased with an employee discount. (For related reading, see How To Prevent An Online Shopping Nightmare.)
Kohl's will refund the difference to you if an item's price drops within 14 days of your purchase date. Regular and sale-priced items are eligible for price adjustments, but clearance-priced and BOGO (buy one, get one) items are not eligible for price adjustments. Both in-store and online purchase are eligible for price adjustments, and the store's online prices are generally the same as its in-store prices.
Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta and Piperlime
For online purchases, the Gap family of stores will refund the difference if you request a price adjustment on an item that is marked down within 14 days of your purchase. Price adjustments for online purchases can be obtained by calling the web store's phone number or by emailing customer service. Price adjustments for an online purchase cannot be handled in-store.
These stores frequently offer promotional codes. Clearance-priced items and final-sale items are not eligible for price adjustments. Merchandise purchased with rewards certificates earned by store credit card holders is eligible, however. (To learn more on online shopping, see Is Online Shopping Killing Brick-And-Mortar?)
Additional Information About Price Adjustments
It probably goes without saying, but the lower price must be in effect at the time you request the adjustment. You can't go to a store and ask for last week's deal. You also have to ask for the adjustment; no store will monitor all of its customers' purchases and automatically issue refunds for qualifying post-purchase price drops. When you request an adjustment, you'll need your original receipt, the credit card or debit card you paid with and possibly a photo ID. Also, be prepared to provide proof of the new, lower price.
Some stores do not advertise whether they have a price adjustment policy, so in these cases talk to a store manager. If a store does not have a price adjustment policy, in some cases you can give yourself the price adjustment by doing a little extra work. Buy the identical item at the new, lower price and then return it with the old receipt that shows the higher price. This process takes extra work, but may be worth your trouble for higher priced items and at stores you frequent. However, you can't employ this strategy with purchases that fall outside the store's return timeframe or with items that can't be returned.
Finally, while some stores do specifically address Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in their price adjustment policies, others do not. If you manage to get your pre-Black Friday purchase adjusted to a Black Friday price, consider yourself extremely lucky. If you purchase something as part of a special Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale and its price later drops, it also may not be eligible for a price adjustment.
The Bottom Line
It won't make sense to keep an eye out for lower prices after every single purchase you make, but for expensive items and for stores whose circulars you check every week, looking for price adjustment opportunities can really pay off. (For more on online shopping, read Comparing Online And In-Store Prices.)