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Long time TM reader Stuey emailed us today with his analysis of Craftsman’s Father’s Day sale specials.  He’s found a few interesting discrepancies, especially when comparing the “sale” prices to standard catalog prices.  In short: many “sale” items are actually sold for similar prices every day in the catalog.  Read on past the jump for details.

Stuey writes: “Today I went to pick up one of Craftsman’s 80th anniversary 6-drawer ball bearing chests.  I was thrilled at the $120 price.  Once home I rifled through my 2007-2008 catalog and noticed a few discrepancies between prices in the catalog and prices at the store.”

“Then I spent a few minutes online checking things out.”

“Product #0959902 is a red 6-drawer ball bearing box.  The catalog lists the price as $140. The online and in-store prices put it at $170 typically and $153 on sale.  Item #0961806 is the same thing in blue, with a $140 catalog price.  The online price reflects $140 normal price and $126 on sale, but it’s only available for pickup in 3 weeks or delivery.”

“Item #0961805 is the same in black and marked at the correct price but also is not available immediately in stores.  However, item #0959294 is available in stores, and for $153.  This is identical to the previously mentioned black chest except for the fact that it’s immediately available in stores.”

“There’s more:  Consider item #0962396 — a black quiet-glide 8-drawer unit marked with a catalog price of $160.  The online and in-store price is marked down from $190 to a price of $150.  $40 savings is hot, $10 is not.”

“This doesn’t only happen on metal chests, either.  A tote (#0959627) that’s ‘on sale’ for $50 after $10 off, is listed for $50 in the catalog.  I’ve found a few more instances where the in-store ‘sale price’ is very close to or more expensive than the catalog price.”

“I’m aware that some retailers *cough* Macys *cough* do things like this, but I didn’t expect it from Sears.  This is just a warning in case you want to buy something on impulse.  Certain things they might have marked up just for Father’s day (like the barbecue set that’s “on sale”), and it’s not worth it to check to see if a wrench is listed for 20 cents cheaper in the catalog, but watch out on those big purchases.”

Thanks, Stuey, for taking the time to suss this out and possibly save us all a few bucks this Father’s Day.


13 Responses to Tip: Compare Those Craftsman “Sale Prices” To The Catalog Before Buying

  1. Toolaremia says:

    I totally expect this from Sears. They are a retailer, a public corporation, and not doing great. They also have Marketing-types who’s job it is to hype products and make money, truth be damned. Caveat Emptor!

    Harbor Freight does this too. It’s best to hold onto a few of their flyers and when you want to get something, look through all of them to find the one with the best price, then check online too. Local stores will usually honor the best price you find, but certainly will not tell you if you could have had it cheaper.

  2. jeremiah johnson says:

    Best Buy tried this on my wife a few days ago. They had a dvd player on sale for $29, but the regular everyday price for that item was 25. When we pointed it out to them they accused us of trying to swindle them – we just wanted what we overpaid.

    There was a problem when one of the pimple-faces couldn’t coax the register into giving money to a customer based on the sale price being more than regular price, so over comes the manager to claim that it can’t be done. He was adamant.

    We left and came back with all of the extended warranty reciepts we’d bought there (over 30) in the past 4 years and at that point they were finally willing to give us our $4 back.

  3. Rick says:

    That Best Buy story reminded me of many of Circuit City’s practices per an ex-employee from the Consumerist site a few days ago:

  4. Stuey says:

    I’m only down to the 7th “confession”, but thanks for the link!

    Also, it may or may not be worthwhile to mention that Best Buy is in trouble for fraud regarding ordering from a duplicate website that’s accessed by customers from within the store.

    I only mentioned my Sears pricing observation for the benefit of others that might see an item, specifically tool chests and the such, and say “I’ll buy it later when it’s on sale”. If someone sees a chest for $170 and then decides to buy it later when on sale for $135, they might be thinking that they’re getting a 20% discount.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still like shopping at Sears, but I just thought that this is a little sneaky on their part even if not entirely intentional. Also sale price discrepancies are not new – Sears is notorious for hiking up appliance prices before major sales. There’s a difference here though since this is online/in-store/sale prices vs. catalog prices as opposed to sale price vs. msrp price discrepancies.

  5. Jim says:

    Unfortunately this sort of stuff seems to happen far to regularly. Two nights ago I was at the local Home Depot and saw they were having their annual clearance sale. Among the items was a Milwaukee router. Somewhat interested I checked the price and saw it was $159, a quick run around the corner to where the rest of the routers were located and I noticed that the same exact Milwaukee router was $139 regularly. I pointed this out to an employee there and they couldn’t have cared less. And thus my love hate relationship with HD continues. Sigh…

  6. Walker says:

    Most all retailers do this. Carpe Diem.

  7. benjamen says:

    I have also noticed that the meaning of Dollar Days in some stores is to round some products up to the next dollar.

    Don’t get me started about how Best buy won’t honor their web prices in store. I once told a sales person that X was $X online but $(X+25) in the store. He told me to go home and buy it online then come back to pick it up.

  8. l_bilyk says:

    What a rotten thing to do! I never shop at sears

  9. Brian says:

    Sears has been doing this for years. Once a year they publish a tool catalogue and their ‘regular’ prices are based on this. But the regular prices are never actually the prices the tools sell at, they are ALWAYS on sale. So actually, they are never on sale, right?
    I once asked a Sears employee about this while I was in the store. He asked me, “Are you from the government?” LOL! Home Depot wins my buck since they really never have ‘sales’ and their prices are low to begin with. Craftsman tools are good quality but Sears’ pricing games force me to shop elsewhere.

  10. Brau says:

    It is common practice for businesses to raise prices for a certain time then lower them as a “sale”. Sears does this too as most people buy on “sale frenzy” and never do any research because essentially they are too lazy to bother. The wise buyer does not get caught up in these scams because they shop around and take *time* before laying out the cash.

  11. John says:

    I’ve noticed sale commercials recently with small print: “Regular prices shown may not have resulted in actual sales.”

    English translation: “The regular price is not the price we regularly charge.”

  12. Old Donn says:

    Anybody who shops Craftsman has 1) picked up a catalog in the store or got one in the mail. And, 2) found out there are better deals in it as well as stuff not available in the store. Besides that, everthing’s available on line. Don’t see what the big deal is here.

  13. bobby b says:

    Happens a lot? Well . . . How about “sometimes”? Okay.

    And it’s been my experience that these kinds of things usually happen, not because some greedy junior (or senior) exec somewhere is thinking he can boost margin and get that year-end bonus, but because someone in buying/receiving/distribution screwed up and mismarked something, or didn’t check a number that should have been checked.

    Regular, planned rip-offs are hard work, and require expertise and cunning. Fact is, most huge corporations don’t perform on a level sufficient to support devious practice.

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