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Smart Buying

Can You Beat This?

Retailers promise to match rivals' prices, but know the fine print.

The story you see on that Best Buy commercial is true: Employee Rachel Muñoz of McAllen, Tex., really did use her customer-service skills and Best Buy's price-match guarantee to persuade a customer calling from Wal-Mart to switch stores. "We're trying to get every customer out there," says Best Buy spokeswoman Lisa Hawks. "And we'll continue to be aggressive on price."

The company's competition has the same idea. What Muñoz's customer might not have known is that Wal-Mart offers its own price-matching policy. Target launched its "low price promise" in July.

Tough times for retailers mean that diligent shoppers can just about pick their price. All three of the big-box retailers' in-store programs work similarly. Best Buy is the only one with a separate online policy.

Still, before you join Muñoz's convert and become a "Best Buyer for life," learn the details. BestBuy.com will match the price of the exact item offered by any of its own stores in your area (prices vary by location). Call 888-237-8289 and let the operator know where you found a lower price.

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Best Buy's in-store matching guarantee applies only to offers from local competitors. Be ready to prove your case with an actual clipping of a current local advertisement.

For a price-matching refund on an item you've already purchased, bring your receipt to customer service along with the ad. There are restrictions on clearance items, rebate offers and pricing errors.