Haggling over electricals can save cashWe asked shops to match their online prices

25 October 2007

Man looking at televisions whilst in a supermarket

Aisle of dreams? There are some decent electronic goods in supermarkets, but others are just cheap - and far from cheerful.

High-street shoppers could save hundreds of pounds on electrical goods by doing a little homework online beforehand, Which? has found.

If you're prepared to ask, some stores will match their website prices, which are often less.

But we found that policies vary between companies and not every manager is happy to match.

We sent undercover researchers to leading electrical chains in four major cities in September, armed with lists of popular electrical goods of varying value.

PC World and Currys

At PC World, shop assistants immediately matched lower prices we quoted from the company's website, saving us £80 on a laptop in one case.

Currys staff needed more persuasion. Our shoppers saved £105 on a TV at two Currys stores. At one, once the assistant had checked the price, they were happy to match, while at the other we had to press for the online price.

But getting a reduction can be hit and miss - we could get only a £50 discount on the same TV at a third Currys store.

Success of price match requests across the UK
Location Product Web price Store price Price matched?
Comet
Cardiff Sony DVD Recorder (RDRGXD360) £179.99 £199.99 No: £20 gift voucher offered
Edinburgh Sony DVD Recorder (RDRGXD360) £179.99 £199.99 No: £20 gift voucher offered
London Sony DVD player (DVPNS36B) £45.99 £59.99 No
Manchester Sony DVD player (DVPNS36B) £45.99 £59.99 Yes: £14 off in-store online order
Currys
Cardiff Panasonic TV (TX26LMD) £494.95 £599.99 Yes: £105.04 saved
Edinburgh Panasonic TV (TX26LMD) £494.95 £599.99 Yes: £105.04 saved
London Panasonic TV (TX26LMD) £494.95 £599.99 No: £50 gift voucher offered
Manchester Panasonic TV (TH37PX70) £898.99 £899.99 Yes: £1 saved
PC World
Cardiff Advent laptop (7203) £399.99 £479.99 Yes: £80 saved
Edinburgh Fujitsu Siemens LCD monitor (1818) £599.99 £599.99 n/a: same price
London Sonly laptop (TX5MNW) £1,399 £1499.99 Yes: £50.99 saved
Manchester Philips laptop (X59) £549.99 £549.99 n/a: same price

Currys told us that, in general, its policy is to match online prices, but it allows stores some flexibility.

Comet

The policy at Comet was more confused at stores we visited; two said that they wouldn't reduce the price but offered gift vouchers.

Meanwhile, a Comet store in London refused to cut a DVD player by £14 to match the online price, but the assistant in a Manchester outlet allowed us to reserve the item at that price online while at the store.

Despite our results, Comet said most of its prices are the same but it would match where they differ.

Getting a good deal

If you want to get the best deal, check pricing policies online or with customer helplines.

Then take printouts with you for prices of your chosen product at your chosen store and always ask staff to match the lowest price.

For more about how prices online compare with those on the high street, see our report about bagging a bargain online.