Take Advantage of this Really Crazy Deal from Walmart Now

Read about great coupon deals and savings for August 2023.

I do not pretend to understand everything about retail shopping but there is one thing I know and that is that if you have to ship an item from point A to point B, that costs money. Given the way major retailers like Walmart now store and distribute merchandise, it may not cost very much to ship any one specific item. They take large deliveries from manufacturers and then divide that merchandise among their regional distribution centers, of which there were between 30 and 40 in North America the last time anyone told me about this stuff. They actually project how many units of any item will be sold in each region and ship an estimated “right amount” there.

So let’s take something as small and simple as a DvD, like the new “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” DvD. I don’t like Blu-ray (it has a terrible picture quality on most machines I have used, and very bad audio as well). So I usually buy just the DvD or the Blu-ray + DvD when I can find a good deal. I heard that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” had hit the stores this week so I went online to check prices. We’re close to stores like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. And it turned out that Walmart had the best price: $14.96 (tax is extra).

Walmart's September 2014 online deal for 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'
Walmart’s September 2014 online deal for ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

I was, like, “Wow! That beats everyone else by several dollars”. You can’t even buy the DvD in CostCo (how lame is that?). So I drove over to my local Walmart and found the DvD on sale there. But the price tag said $19.96. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I took the DvD up to a cashier and asked how I could get the price I saw online (I showed her the price on my cell phone). The cashier (a lovely lady who was just doing her job) said, “Oh, you have to order that online. I’m sorry, we don’t match our Internet price.”

Okay, I knew already that not every retailer will match its online price. But I thought I had a clever solution. I politely asked if I could just walk away from the cash register, order the DvD online, and then pay. “I’m sorry, sir,” the lady said. “You will have to wait for the DvD to be shipped to us.”

The DvD Walmart wanted to ship to my local store was exactly like the one in my hand. But her hands were tied. She could not offer it to me for the online price (and I don’t think she was wrong about the policy).

This exchange took place around 10PM in the evening. I decided that saving $5 was worth the extra effort so I thanked her for answering my question and left the store without the DvD. I drove home, got on the Internet, and ordered the DvD. I paid just over $15 after tax. The Website said that because I had ordered the DvD after 6PM I would have to wait until the next morning to pick it up. And that was not a problem, either.

So I was amazed when I received a text message just after midnight saying my DvD was waiting to be picked up in the store. That’s pretty quick delivery and obviously my online order must have been received by the local distribution center just before the overnight truck went out.

I am sure Walmart actually shipped that DvD to my store. They did not need to but they did. It’s crazy. Sure, the truck was going to make the run anyway and Walmart has already figured the cost of sending that truck out into all its prices. But the point is that I had the DvD in my hand and Walmart’s policy-makers had concluded that most customers would probably pay the extra $5 rather than wait a few hours or until the next day at most to pick up the DvD.

So I have to ask, is this a clever bait-and-switch promotion that just barely falls within the line of the law? Or is Walmart simply lagging behind other retailers in matching its online prices with in-store merchandise? I think Walmart is hedging its bets in a very clever way. They will absolutely honor the online price with free in-store pickup because they can get the merchandise to most of their stores on regularly scheduled trucks within a few hours. But somewhere I am sure they have calculated that some percentage of customers will just pay the extra price because they already have the merchandise in hand.

Going forward I now know to order my merchandise online in advance of going to Walmart when I see a sweet deal on the Internet. And now you do, too!