I found a startling price disparity at Petco on Tuesday.
We paid $39.99 in-store, which I thought sounded higher than I was used to. Sure enough, I checked online and found the price there is $35.99. And, of course, Petco is constantly having online sales, so the current cost was $32.39.
That’s a bit of a difference, no?
I emailed Petco with my concerns
To be fair, part of that was an online sale, but the food was still only $35.99 online. I was a little confused and frustrated as to why I paid $4 more. Part of that was an online sale. Still, the regular price was listed as $35.99. For those of you playing along at home, that’s a $4 price difference.
I emailed Petco, asking why the prices were so different. Apparently, it’s not a fluke. According to their response email:
“We know that customers who choose to order products from us on petco.com will have to wait for their items to arrive and will have to pay shipping charges to have their items delivered to their door. Because of these added inconveniences, we try to offer the lowest price possible.”
He also offered to give me an e-gift card for the difference in price, so that I’ll pay the same as I would have by buying online. Good customer service touch.
This whole price variation thing has always been a little weird for me — especially if in-store pickup is an option. Either I take the item off the shelf or your store associate does. Either way, it’s the same item from your store to me. So why is it significantly more?
I know, I know. It’s because there are people who won’t or can’t pick it up. They have to wait the annoying 5-7 business days and either cough up shipping fees or find ways around them.
It’s nice that the company appreciates the hassles involved.
All of that said, I have to acknowledge the other side of the coin: If you need something now, you’re going to pay a premium. Right now, I’m happy to get a better deal online. The next time we need something right now the fact will probably aggravate me.
Still, I think it’s nice to give shipping hassle some consideration. Of course, companies can make a little money off the shipping charges, which helps them make up for lower prices. Still, that’s true of all companies, and most of those don’t offer cheaper prices online. So I still feel like Petco is being pretty considerate.
Of course, I also ordered three more bags of pet food online. Chances are, I won’t have to pay an immediacy premium anytime soon. That and 6% cash back might be coloring my judgment a bit.
What do you guys think? Is it good that a company has lower prices online? Or is that unfair to people who shop in the actual store?