- Wegmans agreed to modify in-store price comparisons that took aim at Costco after the National Advertising Division found the claims to be misleading, according to Progressive Grocer.
- Costco had claimed that the price quotes on Wegmans’ store displays were inaccurate, and often compared dissimilar items. The displays often showed Costco prices as being more expensive than similar items at Wegmans, when the opposite was true.
- The National Advertising Division, a division of the Better Business Bureau, mostly sided with Costco. It recommended Wegmans compare only like items, and list the date of the price comparison along with a disclaimer that prices are subject to change.
Price comparison displays are a popular and effective tool used by retailers to show customers that their store saves them money over the competition, helping keep them there and spending more.
Price disputes are not uncommon in an industry where margins are razor thin and competitors keep a close eye on each other. In 2009, H-E-B accused Wal-Mart of false advertising for its “Unbeatable Prices” slogan and claiming shoppers could save $700 over the course of a year by shopping Wal-Mart instead of its competitors. The NAD sided with Wal-Mart, but said the mega-retailer needed to cite the limitations of its claim in broadcast advertisements.
Nearly 20 years earlier, it was Wal-Mart doing the accusing. The company took aim at Winn-Dixie for claiming it had “Everyday Low Prices,” and for advertising price comparisons with Wal-Mart that it said were outdated and misleading. In this case, NAD also sided with Wal-Mart, and actually took the rare step of escalating the case to the Federal Trade Commission.
In the case of Wegmans and Costco, it appears the Rochester, N.Y-based chain wasn’t comparing like items, and failed to list accurate price information or the dates when the price data was collected. The NAD also took issue with a Wegmans claim — “Don’t shop around town…shop at Wegmans and save” — because it discouraged customers from comparison shopping.
In the end, the two sides reconciled without resorting to a court battle, and Wegmans came away with a slogan it says it plans to adopt, courtesy of the NAD: “Shop at Wegmans and save.”