Trying out the Walmart Savings Catcher
Walmart has a new feature to save you money called the Savings Catcher. The idea is that you shop at Walmart, and if anything you bought is cheaper somewhere else, Walmart will give you the difference in the form of an egift card. But does it really work and do what it says it does? I put the Walmart Savings Catcher to the test to see how it works, and if it actually saves you money.
The real purpose of the Walmart Savings Catcher is not to match prices and get you a bunch of egift cards. The real purpose is to convince you that you don’t need to shop anywhere but Walmart, because you will know your getting the best price. That seems like a pretty great product if you think about it. I don’t want to spend a ton of time figuring out how I can get the best deal on peanut butter, and I don’t want to worry that I could have gotten a better deal somewhere else. I just want to know I got a good deal without having to do a lot of work.
Walmart Savings Catcher itself, is incredibly easy to use. Just shop at Walmart and keep your receipt. Then using Walmart’s smartphone app you can either take a picture of the barcode or type in the receipt number. You can also use Walmart’s website if you don’t have a smartphone.
After you have scanned in the receipt, Walmart has a list of all the products you purchased, and it searches for those products at other area stores to see if any of them are cheaper somewhere else. It searches for 3 days, then if it finds any lower prices it tells you that you have a credit available. The whole process is incredibly easy and can be done with no trouble by even the most computer illiterate person.
Although the idea of Walmart Savings Catcher is a great, it is not the end to all your shopping problems. There are a number of loopholes in the program that mean you might not actually be getting the best price. Here are some of the problems Walmart Savings Catcher:
- Only name brand products are price matched, not store branch products- Anybody that cares about savings money buys store brand products every chance they get. If you bought Walmart’s Great Value brand milk and Target’s Country Fare brand milk goes on sale there will be no price match because these are not the same products. This creates a kind of a catch-22 as the people who could benefit the most because they buy name brand products probably wont care enough about saving money to bother entering their receipt into the system.
- Only local brick and mortar stores are searched- So often today the best prices can be found online, but those prices don’t count towards getting you credits on Savings Catcher. If Amazon has the lowest price you will be stuck with Walmart’s price. The really strange thing is that it doesn’t even search Walmart.com. If Walmart’s website has a lower price, as it frequently does, then you are out of luck and are still stuck with the brick and mortar price.
- Only certain kinds of sales count- Comparing prices can be tricky. Walmart Savings Catcher will search for sales where other stores say “Item A costs $x” Sales such as “40% off”, “get a $10 giftcard free with any $50 purchase”, or certain types of buy one, get one sales aren’t eligible because there is no clearly stated price to compare to.
- Privacy- You are telling Walmart everything that you buy. Will this be used to send you customer advertisements? Absolutely! Will this information be turned over to the government to track you? I don’t know, but probably.
- Not every purchase is eligible- Taken directly from Walmart’s website:
- Store brands, deli, bakery and weighed items like meat.
- General merchandise items, (including, but not limited to, electronics, media and gaming, toys, sporting goods, housewares, small appliances, home décor, bedding, books and magazines, apparel and shoes, jewelry, furniture and seasonal products).
- Non-branded items.
- Tobacco, firearms, gasoline, tires, prescription drugs, optical and photo products and services, or products that require a service agreement such as wireless, automotive or financial products.”
The Test Part 1
I wanted to see if it really works, so I used my families biweekly grocery shopping trip to try it out. We bought 38 items that totaled about $150. I wanted to really test this out, so I also purchased name brand products whenever reasonably possible (when it wasn’t too much more expensive than the store brand) since I knew that Walmart Savings Catcher would only work on name brand stuff.
I got home and quickly entered my receipts into the Walmart app. The app told me it was comparing prices of what I bought to 16 area stores and it would let me know in 3 days what it found.
The Results Part 1
The results were pretty anticlimactic. Three days later I got an alert on my phone telling me that Walmart hadn’t found lower prices at any of the 16 stores. Since I had already paid the lowest price available, I wouldn’t be getting any money refunded to an egift card.
But had the app not worked right, or did Walmart really have the best price on all 38 items? Walmart usually has the best price, so it really isn’t an unreasonable possibility that the app had worked correctly, and there were just no lower prices to find. Hmmmm. I needed to try a little harder.
The Test Part 2
The next step was to go search the advertisements myself. I looked through the advertisements of all the local stores, and I have to admit I didn’t find that any of the products I bought were cheaper elsewhere. The next step was to specifically search for items that were cheaper than Walmart, then go buy them at Walmart and test the app a second time.
Walmart’s app lets you search for products and tells you what everything costs at your local Walmart store. I used this and compared it to other stores advertisements. Let me tell you, it is not easy to find stuff that is cheaper than Walmart. After lots and lots of searching I eventually found 2 items that were cheaper than Walmart. Cinnamon toast crunch cereal was $1.99 at Walgreens and Bounce dryer sheets were $3.69 at a local hardware store.
So I ran to my local Walmart, double checked that the items in question were the same brand, size, and variety as the advertisements in question and purchased them. While I was there I also picked up a couple of other things I needed. Then I came home, entered the receipt into my app, and waited 3 days.
The Results Part 2
After 3 days I got a notification on my phone that Savings Catcher had found some extra savings for me. Success! I went to look at the app and was a little surprised by what I found:
The Cinnamon Toast Crunch had worked perfectly. I had paid more than Walgreen’s advertised price so I got 51 cents back. The next item was a bit of a surprise. I hadn’t realized that a can of tuna I had picked up had a lower price somewhere else, so Walmart Savings Catcher found one even I wasn’t able to find for another 5 cents.
But the Bounce dryer sheets didn’t work out so well. Walmart said they couldn’t find a lower price, even though they said they searched Menards, a hardware store where I had found the Bounce advertisement I took this picture of:
So they didn’t find all the lowest prices but 2 out of 3 isn’t bad, right?
What does it mean?
Clearly, my sample size is way to small to reach any definitive conclusions. I will keep using Walmart Savings Catcher for the next several months and report back what I find when I have a bigger sample size.
The preliminary results are promising though. Maybe they missed the 30 cents from the Bounce dryer sheets, but that’s not really what’s important here. They gave me 56 cents in credit towards an egift card, which is nice, but that isn’t really what is important either. 56 cents saved out of approximately $170 in purchases is not going to change my shopping habits.
The real benefit of Savings Catcher is that I can feel reasonably comfortable that I am not being cheated when I make a purchase. I can go to the store without doing any research and know that purchases I make at Walmart are probably the best prices I could have found at a brick and mortar store. Using Walmart Savings Catcher is easy and takes a few seconds so if I get a few dollars back once in a while that is just a bonus.
Disclosure: I received absolutely no compensation of any kind from Walmart or anyone else for writing this review. Wait, that’s not quite right… I did get a 56 cent egift card I guess.