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Fraud Forces Walmart to Ban 3P Merchants from Price Matching

For shoppers, it was too good to be true. Walmart has now changed the online component of its price-matching policy to exclude Amazon third-party merchants after rolling out the new policy on Friday, November 14th.

Walmart spokesperson John Forrest Ales said the revised policy went into effect Wednesday afternoon and forwarded the following statement:

“We launched online price matching because it’s the right thing for our customers. It’s making a meaningful difference for people who want to feel confident they’re getting the best price, and we’re committed to matching online prices going forward.

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“At the same time, we can’t tolerate fraud or attempts to trick our cashiers. This kind of activity is unfair to the millions of customers who count on us every day for honest value. With this in mind, we’ve updated our policy to clarify that we will match prices from Walmart.com and 30 major online retailers, but we won’t honor prices from marketplace vendors, third-party sellers, auction sites or sites requiring memberships.

“We will continue to listen to feedback from our customers and our cashiers to make sure our online price match policy is working. Customers with questions can read the updated policy by searching “online price match” at Walmart.com.”

After EcommerceBytes confirmed on Friday that the new policy included 3P merchants, sellers were quick to realize the dangers to retailers like Walmart of price-matching items for sale by third-party sellers on online marketplaces. A reader had written, “my guess is that it would be too easy to “fake” a listing at a low price, then call walmart to get the lower priced item.”

By Sunday, people on Walmart’s Facebook were reporting that it was a problem and that it was “all over the couponing groups.”

Sure enough, as the news picked up steam among shoppers, some tried to game the system, as we reported on Tuesday.

The Online Price Match Policy, found here, also tightens up another provision. The policy launched last week with a list of online retailers with whom it would match prices prefaced by the message, “Online retailers include, but are not limited to.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the list was prefaced with the message, “Online retailers are limited to.”

While the incident was a learning experience for the retailer, it also demonstrates its power. Perhaps only Amazon itself could have galvanized so many shoppers to flock to its stores and website to try to capture deals.

Tried price-matching at Walmart? Share your story on this post.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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