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?|
|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|
|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|
|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.
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.