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The local NBC station in the Dallas-Fort Worth market has reported in the evening news that Wal-Mart shoppers who buy six identical items at different area stores can find as much as a $5 discrepancy in their total bill.

Wal-Mart responded to the story by explaining that local stores can adjust prices for competitive reasons, in essence saying that this is a kind of informal “zone pricing.”

The station shopped at eleven Wal-Mart Supercenters and bought the same six items: One 100-fluid ounce bottle of Tide, one box of Claritin with five pills, one package of Pampers Baby Dry Diapers, one can of Campbell's Chunky Soup, one tube of Maybelline mascara, one bottle of Opti-Free contact lens cleaner

Wal-Mart also said that if a customer finds a discrepancy in pricing, the store manager can make the adjustment.
KC's View:
This is sort of a “mountain out of a molehill” story, but it is interesting because it shows that there can be a downside to ubiquity. Virtually every retailer of any size probably can be fairly accused of zone pricing, but Wal-Mart gets hit with the “pricing discrepancies” label on the local news.

All retailers -- not just Wal-Mart -- have to be cognizant of how these kinds of practices can look, even if they are entirely legitimate and common.