Major retailers accused of 'deceptive pricing tactics' during sales

One consumer group is accusing some major retailers of deceiving shoppers with questionable pricing strategies.

Kevin Brasler and his team at Chicago Consumers' Checkbook spent the last 10 months tracking prices for hundreds of items at 19 different retailers.

“They want you to buy then and there, without thinking about it, without going somewhere else,” Brasler said.

Nearly every store had at least one item on sale all of the time.

“These stores, in order to try and compete, especially with their online competitors, are just holding these fake sales,” Brasler said.

A cordless drill from Walmart was listed on sale every week in the 44 weeks Checkbook tracked.
The company also found a treadmill from Sears was also on sale all the time.

“For sure, it's dishonest,” There's no question it's dishonest, and it's for sure misleading,” Brasler said.

Checkbook’s investigation found Costco and Bed, Bath and Beyond are the most likely retailers to hold legitimate sales.Staples and Target scored well, too.

Brasler said there are ways to make sure your low price really is a good deal.

“Don't buy something just because it's on sale. Don't buy something because oh it says it’s 60 percent off,” Brasler said.

Instead, consumers should price shop and price match by comparing prices store to store.
You can also ask a retailer to price match if you find a better deal somewhere else.

“I think it's alarming whenever a business decides its business model is going to be based on manipulating you and deceptive pricing tactics,” Brasler said.

Walmart and Sears did not comment on the specific products we mentioned in the piece. 
We reached out to every retailer in Checkbook’s report. To see their comments, and the full findings, click here

Macy's – “At Macy's, our pricing cadence varies for each item, based on the nature and seasonality of the merchandise, its family of business, and customer response.  Some items rarely go on sale prior to clearance; others, particularly seasonal fashion items, go on sale more frequently as part of promotional or clearance events.”

Lowe's – We strive to offer customers the best value at competitive prices in the marketplace. To give customers increased confidence in their purchase decisions, we offer everyday low prices as well as a price-match guarantee.

Home Depot – We disagree with the study because it appears they may have counted our price markdowns, “everyday low price” and “new lower price” items, or seasonal and clearance markdowns. In fact, we rarely have sales because we’re an everyday low price retailer and also price match.

Kmart & Sears –“Sears disagrees with any suggestion that its pricing is misleading or deceptive. Sears is focused on providing its members with great prices on a wide variety of products and services. We do not publicly discuss the details of our pricing strategy, however we can confirm that Sears complies with applicable pricing and advertising laws. While we cannot speak to other retailers’ pricing behavior, as a multi-channel, leading integrated retailer we are uniquely positioned to provide discounts to our members and customers in a number of different, legally compliant ways, including things like member pricing, Your Way to Save, store or online only promotions, clearance offers, and offers from third-party marketplace sellers. It is unfortunate that did not appear to take these factors into account before making its assumptions.”

Banana Republic, Bloomingdale's, Gap, Neiman Marcus, Walmart, Office Depot/OfficeMax, JCPenney, Kohl's, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Staples, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco – No response by deadline