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Sam's Club will now match Walmart's prices after furious customers complain

Business Insider logo Business Insider 6/2/2018 Hayley Peterson

Sams Club© Provided by Business Insider Sams Club

John Davidowsky bought a $689 television at a Sam's Club store in Scranton, Pennsylvania on May 11, and the next day, he said he saw the exact same TV advertised at Walmart — which owns Sam's Club — for $579.

Sam's Club refused to match Walmart's price, Davidowski told Business Insider. After he posted several messages about the issue online, a store manager offered Davidowski a gift card worth $20.

"I pay for a membership and this is how you treat the members?" he said, referring to the $100 in annual fees he pays to access Sam's Club's lowest prices. "I won't renew my premium membership."

Now, Sam's Club is trying to make things right by matching Walmart's price, and not just for Davidowsky.

Sam's Club, which is owned by Walmart, has for years told customers in stores and on social media that it won't match Walmart's prices, or any competitor's prices. On its website, Sam's Club states, "We do not price match competitors but will price match ourselves to ensure you are getting exceptional deals." On Facebook, Sam's Club's has explicitly said that it doesn't price-match Walmart.

"Unfortunately Sam's policy is that we do not price match items with any competitor, including Walmart," the company said in an August 2017 response to a customer complaint.

Calls to Sam's Club's customer service line and 10 Sam's Club stores yielded the same response: Sam's Club will not, under any circumstances, match Walmart's prices. 

This is highly frustrating for customers like Craig Barnes, a Sam's Club member for more than two decades, who said the warehouse chain should at least match the prices of its parent company if it's charging members fees to shop there. 

"I get more and more infuriated every time it happens," he told Business Insider. "I pay you $100 a year for a membership, only to find out you are charging me more than Walmart?"

Barnes was recently shopping for a copper grill mat at his local Sam's Club store in Torrance, California, and discovered that the price, at $8.98, was 11% higher than at Walmart. He also found that a Kumho car tire cost $84.66 at Sam's, and $73.17 at Walmart.

When Business Insider contacted Sam's Club about these complaints, the company said that the price-matching policy needed "clarification."

"Sam's Club is all about member satisfaction," Sam's Club spokeswoman Carrie McKnight said. "When members let us know they are unhappy, our job is to take care of them. We all agree — up to the top of the house — that we need clarity on this."

She said Sam's Club doesn't have a specific policy enforcing price-matching, but that it empowers its store managers to use their best judgment in providing refunds or price-matching on certain items. 

For identical items carried at both Walmart and Sam's Club, the club chain should match prices, she said. 

"We could do a better job explaining this to our associates," she said.

If customers are denied price matching on identical items by their local club, they should contact customer service or reach out to Sam's Club on social media to resolve the matter, she said.

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