Saving Money

The Back To School Sale That Wasn’t

back to school sale, school sale, sale items

Business will do almost anything to get you through their door and buying their merchandise. I’ve seen jewelry store commercials boasting 75% off, with the fine print stating that the original price may not have resulted in any actual sales. I may, or may not have almost been the victim of a bait and switch with a charcoal sale at Walmart. But I never thought I’d encounter a similar tactic while shopping for back to school clothes.

My son is extremely picky about jeans, seemingly always finding something wrong with whatever kind he tries on. There is, however, one popular clothing store where a certain variety of their jeans consistently gets his stamp of approval for fit, length, and color. Naturally we wasted no time and headed directly to that store when school clothes shopping over the weekend.

The store was having a buy one get one free sale on jeans. Looking at the price tag, a pair of jeans were priced at $54, so we were extra motivated to find as many pairs of jeans for him as possible. Unfortunately, the waist and length he requires are very common and they had exactly zero in stock in the type he wanted. We tried on every other style imaginable; boot cut, straight leg, and even slim but none of them fit quite right.

The salesperson mentioned that since we now knew the style, waist and length he needed, we could just go online and order them. We were concerned that the buy one get one free sale would not apply to online orders; however we were assured that the same discount would be given online as well.

I walked through our front door and headed straight to the computer to order the jeans, as we wanted to make sure they arrived before school started. As we were navigating the website looking for the exact jeans we were going to order, my wife stated there was no notification anywhere indicating a buy one get one free sale. I shrugged my shoulders as I started adding jeans to our shopping cart, but then noticed something very interesting.

Each pair of jeans were on sale for a cost of $24.

Not only were each pair of jeans less expensive than if we would have taken advantage of the buy one get one free sale in the store, but we didn’t have to buy them in pairs to get the discounted price. Plus, our purchase of five pairs of jeans exceeded the $75 threshold to take qualify for free shipping.

The store used the “buy one get one free” term simply as a flashy advertising draw to get back to school shoppers in the door.   

I plan to go back to the store and website later to see what the price is of jeans when they don’t have a supposed sale going on.  This experience is a great reminder to not only compare prices of products you want to buy between stores, but also with even the same store online.

Have you ever found a better price online than in the same physical store?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Have I?! I found a set of 24 Prismacolor pencils for my son for $13 less online that at the physical store. Great part was that the store clerk checked out my claim online and honored the online price. I’ve had that happen at Target as well. Always well worth it to check the store’s online price and then ask them if they will price match in the store.

  • Ha, that’s kind of fun, but also annoying! The physical store would have done a lot better trade in them, selling them in pairs only, I bet.
    This often happens to me with the grocery stores in town. I’ll see something “on sale” at one store, buy it (especially stuff that I don’t buy very frequently) then notice a few days later that the regular price is lower than the “on sale” price at the other store. Grrrr.
    Example: dates were $3 less for a box a few weeks ago. Ouch. Of course, by then the box was open in my fridge, so I couldn’t price match it or return it.

  • Many stores run their brick-and-mortar operations completely separate from their website operations…so much that they often will not honor prices from themselves! I’m glad you were able to be on the right side of that, but if you really do some digging, you’ll see this is more common than you think.

  • Tricky! My (now former) grocery store does similar deals. Noticed last time I was in that there sale price was the regular price the following week. They are making it more and more difficult to know what is a sale and what isn’t. I also hate when I head to the outlet mall and the outlet store is selling most things are the price you would pay at the regular store.

  • @Charlottem Russell – that’s great that you got Target to honor the online pricing…I’ve heard stories that physical stores claim they do not have to honor the online prices and match them. Nice to know it works sometimes – great deal you found!

  • @Anne – We have to be very careful not to be mesmerized by the word “Sale.” Just because there’s a big sign in front of the item doesn’t mean it’s a great deal…..I think you’ll agree! Thanks for reading!

  • @Money Beagle – I had heard that physical stores don’t necessarily honor their online prices…but I guess I’m surprised at that. Seems counter intuitive to me – seems like stores would want them to be the same. But then again, they don’t ask me. 🙂

  • @May – It’s kind of like Kohls…..where the regular price is just super inflated. There always seems to be a “sale” going on…which makes me NEVER EVER buy anything at Kohls unless it’s on sale AND I have a 30% off coupon!

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