Online Only Pricing Scams

Look, I’ve just about had it with “online only” pricing. It is a personal attack on people who check prices online before going to the store. I am sure that it says online only somewhere on the website. (Although maybe not always at It definetly says the online only price much bigger than the words “online only”. It can easily get over looked. 

I can’t be the only one that this has happened to. I get up to the counter with what I think are great deals only to find that I am being pranked. At this point, I then decide if I’m willing to pay the price difference in order to get the product that very moment or if I would rather wait. I usually go ahead and get it. It’s already in my hands. It seems silly to put it back and then go online to order the exact same thing and then wait for it to be delivered to me. 

Sometimes, however, the price difference is so ridiculous that I have to tell the cashier, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that was online only pricing. I will just order that online.” I have learned it’s pointless to fight these things. Clearly, stores would rather just not see us to the point that they will take a loss to keep us home. I understand this. It’s how I feel about most people. 

I did walk away from an item recently so that I could go home and buy it. It was a starter kit of Srivectin skin care best sellers that I had been wanting to try. It’s normally $35 which is a lot considering these sample sizes are so tiny that you probably don’t even get enough product to see if it even works well. (We are talking .25 ounces of neck cream. That’s like one trip around my neck.) On this particular week, though, they were selling for the kit for $15 and that did seem reasonable to me. But, of course, that price was online only. 

Are you kidding me? That’s a difference of over half the total cost. I will wait for that percentage of discount. That’s ridiculous. It seems like Ulta has so many online only deals that I’m reluctant to ever buy anything in the store. Having makeup delivered in the summer can be risky business though. 

Having only only pricing is one thing and it was totally my fault for not noticing. This next anecdote is my fault too but it still fills me with rage and you will see why. 

Target had PS4 controllers on sale for $39.99 down from. $59.99. If you guessed that was the online only price…I actually wouldn’t pat myself too hard on the back for that one. It was kind of obvious where I was heading with this. 

But you’re right, Special Agent Dana Scully. It was the online only price. 

But here’s the thing…

Target also offers free in-store pickup on products already in them store. So in other words, I could stand in the store and put this controller into my online cart while I have the actual controller in my actual cart and there is a $20 price difference between the two identical items. This is made even stupider by the fact that I could order it online in the store, walk up to customer service, hand them the controller that’s already in my cart and then ask for it back as my online order. And then it would be $20 cheaper. 

(Wow! I guess if anyone was wondering what my cut off point to make a big deal out of this online pricing thing was, it must be $20.)

What’s even worse is that they wouldn’t even let me do that because it was less than an hour before close. The website said the absolute earliest I could buy the thing in my hand would be the following morning. I asked an employee about it. He confirmed that it was exactly the same item. He referred me to customer service. He said they would probably just give me the difference. 

They would not. 

I knew they would not as soon as I turned the corner and saw my nemisis, overly friendly night cashier who mansplains cartwheel to me every time I come in. I guess he got promoted to the device desk. Yay. 

Sidebar: Every time I come in to this particular target it is late at night and I have just left the gym. I have a hat on. I have wet hair. I have no makeup. I have my head phones in. Zero fucks given. I’m just trying to get in/get out. I don’t want to talk. But then again, do I ever?

I am generally pretty good at my cartwheel (and if you don’t know what that is, I’m sorry. I’m already telling a story inside a story. That’s the best I can do. I’m not George R.R. Martin.) I generally, by Monday or Tuesday, have gone through and picked out the things I might buy and saved them to my barcode. Some weeks I don’t. Some months I don’t. Even still, some of those things stay on my barcode for months. 

So I don’t always know if the items I’m buying are on my cartwheel app and I always tell that to the cashier when I’m checking out. I do this because sometimes when they are expecting the price to go down and it doesn’t they think something didn’t scan or it’s not working  correctly and they want to fix it. So I say it to let them know that if nothing comes off the price, it’s okay. I’m not about to have a fit. I say it out of habit. I’ve said it to the man I question at least twice. 

Each time he acts flustered with me and he tells me that’s not how cartwheel works. He then tried to explain it to me like I’m a moron. I am a woman and I can tell he’s one of those men who think that’s the same thing. According to him, I have to go around the store and scan each and every thing to see whether or not it’s on cartwheel. 

That’s not how Cartwheel works. I know what he’s talking about. There is a function on the app where you can scan something’s barcode and see if it has a discount available. That’s just to doublecheck though and make sure you bought the right brand or the right package amount. No one walks through the store scanning every single item that they put in their cart. Do they? I don’t know maybe they do. I don’t.That would take all fucking day and kill my phone battery.  No judgment if that’s what you like to do. I’m just saying it’s not the only way to do things. 

I don’t like this guy, clearly and now he is the one standing between me getting this controller at a logical price or at the price that punishes me for coming into the store. Luckily, I didn’t have to talk to him because he was on the phone having the exact same conversation with someone else about another online only priced item. It was clear he was sticking to the policy. 

I knew he was never going to cave. Not for the person on the phone and sure as hell not for me, the wet idiot that can’t even use Cartwheel correctly. I left my cart. I left the store. The fight was out of me for the day. I wasn’t in the mood to do the weekly shop. Besides, I was going to have to go home and order the product I just had in my cart so that I could come back and pick it up tomorrow anyway. I may as well just shop then, right?

I didn’t go back though, I ordered it off of Amazon for a little bit cheaper than Target’s “online only” price. I also got a tea maker I’ve been wanting. I didn’t have to pay for shipping. I did my weekly shop at the actual grocery store. You’re on a time out Target for being dumb. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love Target. I’m not trying to talk bad about Target. If I had a first born child, I would give it to Target. Target wouldn’t want it but it’s just something that’s bound to happen. I’m just saying. I could get distracted scanning everything through cartwheel and just leave the kid somewhere. 

I’ve fought online only pricing before and I’d be happy to tell that story to at some point. So now you have something to look forward to. 😉

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