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(March 2019 update: Walmart has indeed announced the end of Savings Catcher nationwide – read more about it here.)

Big changes are taking effect at Walmart this coming Monday – but how big, depends on where you live. In most areas, the retailer’s Savings Catcher program is being absorbed into Walmart Pay, so only smartphone users who pay with the Walmart app will be able to take advantage of the store’s automated price-matching program.

But some Walmart shoppers will have to adjust to an even bigger change – their Savings Catcher is going away altogether. And that may not be good news for everyone else.

Beginning last month, while most Walmart Pay users were informed via the app about the upcoming changes to the way they can use Savings Catcher, some shoppers got a different message: “Because Walmart is working hard to provide the low prices you love, we will be discontinuing the Savings Catcher program starting October 29, 2018 at multiple locations, including a store you’ve recently submitted a receipt to.”

Walmart has not provided a full list of stores that will no longer be offering Savings Catcher, but it did confirm to Coupons in the News that the phaseout is occurring in parts of two states – Tennessee and Massachusetts.

“We are at our best when we deliver everyday low prices for our customers, and we have been focused on doing that in certain markets in Tennessee and Massachusetts,” Walmart said in a statement to Coupons in the News. “Because of this, we’ve seen a significant reduction in rewards issued from Savings Catcher. As a result, beginning in late October in some stores, Savings Catcher will no longer be offered as we continue to offer upfront, consistent low prices to the people shopping our stores.”

Walmart has a total of 144 supercenters in Tennessee and Massachusetts, a small percentage of the 3,565 supercenters it has nationwide. So for now, relatively few stores appear to be affected by Savings Catcher’s discontinuation.

But the move is reminiscent of what happened when Walmart began phasing out its “ad match guarantee” two years ago – first, only a few hundred stores were affected. Then a few hundred more, and a few hundred more, until the ad match guarantee quietly faded away without any big national announcement.

So if the past is prologue, the fact that Savings Catcher is quietly going away in certain areas may not bode well for the program’s future in other Walmart locations.

“We always have the lowest prices – unless someone else has the lowest prices, then we’ll refund you the difference if you ask us to” is kind of a clunky marketing slogan. But it’s effectively what Walmart has been saying, ever since it started heavily promoting and simplifying its various price match promises.

Back in 2011, Walmart announced it would start matching competitors’ advertised prices right at the register, without requiring you to bring in a competitor’s ad. In 2014, Walmart introduced Savings Catcher, which streamlined the process by allowing you to scan and submit your receipt, while Walmart compares prices automatically and refunds you any difference in the form of an eGift card. Later, Savings Catcher was added to the Walmart app, so you could opt to submit your receipt at the click of a button instead of having to scan a physical receipt to get your savings.

It kept getting better and better – until it didn’t.

Ad matching began going away as Walmart unveiled new lower prices on thousands of the items that were most commonly ad matched, like groceries and household products. The thinking was that the prices would already be so low, there would be no more need to ad match at all.

But Savings Catcher stuck around – and, judging by the refunds they continued to get, many who used it found that competitors did still sometimes have lower prices. But now, instead of getting those lower prices right at the register, you had to scan your receipt, wait for the results and get your savings after the fact – and some grumbled that the automated process didn’t always accurately identify competitors’ lower prices.

And then last month, Walmart announced that effective this Monday, its pay-with-your-phone service Walmart Pay would become “the exclusive way to submit your receipt to Savings Catcher,” meaning that “the ability to scan paper receipts within the app or submit via desktop will be discontinued.” That leaves those without a smartphone, or those who don’t want to use their phones to pay, out of luck.

Walmart says all of the changes have been in response to customer demand. In the areas where Savings Catcher is going away, there had already been “a significant reduction in rewards issued”. In all other areas where Savings Catcher will only be accessible via Walmart Pay, “the vast majority of active Savings Catcher users have previously made a transaction using Walmart Pay,” Walmart spokesperson Erin Hulliberger told Coupons in the News last month. “Therefore, the majority of active Savings Catcher users should be able to continue to use Savings Catcher in stores where it is offered.”

But if fewer shoppers overall are now able to use Savings Catcher, it could all become a self-fulfilling prophecy – a decline in the number of users could bolster Walmart’s contention that there’s less demand for the program, thereby justifying a potential move to eliminate it in even more locations. And by ensuring that prices of popular products are low enough that price matching isn’t as necessary, eliminating Savings Catcher region by region could be seen as a test to see whether shoppers will even miss it.

For now, though, Savings Catcher is only going away in Tennessee and Massachusetts. How shoppers there react, could help determine Walmart’s price-matching future – and whether Savings Catcher ends up becoming a thing of the past.

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21 Comments

  1. ADRIAN COMBE says:

    And the author was correct. The program was discontinued 14 May 2019

  2. Sandra L Shelton says:

    I am so disappointed with all the savings catcher changes. Why mess with something that was working so well. I use the savings catcher every time I shop Walmart and I shop there more cause they always gave the price matches. Now I will have to do it the old fashion way and get the paper out for the sale adds, all of my shopping will no longer be done at walmart. I will go where the sales are. Thanks for nothing Walmart

  3. Angela Howard says:

    Saved my balance all year for Christmas time. An extra $100 was great, which I still used to shop from Walmart. Upset in Ohio because savings catcher is phasing out in May! Won’t be shopping as much at Walmart, and definitely won’t be using Walmart pay after that date. Only did it to get my savings catcher to begin with. For shame, Walmart!

  4. prior to the 10\29\18 date I used the Walmart pay app almost exclusively and always submitted my receipts electronically through the app. I got the message indicating that the app would be the only way to submit, not the one stating it was going away. However, when the app updated on the 29th my submit receipt link went away. I live and shop in Maine almost exclusively. Like others I had save a couple hundred dollars over the time I used the feature. Each week I applied the savings to my bill, which was nice. However, the biggest savings for me was time. I didn’t have to search sales or go from store to store for some of the staples, I knew the difference would be credited to the app. Now that this feature is gone I rarely shop Walmart as I have no incentive to deal with their poor replenishment schedule.

  5. For me this move is complete bullshit. When they instituted savings catcher they obviously had no idea people would use it that much and it started “breaking into their profits”. I am a Tennessean and figure this is just one more way for them to get more money in the end. Next thing you know fuel rewards will go bye bye too. Mark my words people.

  6. I do not know how much saved should be decided by someone else. I saved over $250 in the year I used the savings catcher and to me that is a lot. It bought extras – also purchases from Wal-mart! As soon as it switched to using a phone – which I did – it seemed to go away. I do live in Tennessee but shop in Kentucky and have had no savings yet. It is a good program to help busy consumers and it is not fair to take it away from us. When I have asked in two different stores the actually whispered that they no longer had savings catcher available. Really are you trying to keep it a secret?

  7. We, too, live in Tennessee. We have been trying for three weeks now to figure out how to submit our e-receipts to Savings Catcher, beause it seems we no longer have that option in the app. For two hours today we’ve been caught in a never-ending circle of almost finding an answer to this problem via Internet search, only to be referred back to 1-800-Walmart, where we spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME ON HOLD, finally having to hang up as no one ever answered our call. Thanks to this site, we can now verify that they have eliminated our option to use Savings Catcher here in Tennessee. For Walmart to say the savings were substantially lower for those living in Tennessee, I can personally say that up to this point we had saved $378! Therefore, we will now be shopping the sales at other local stores, and oh, happy day…no more checking ourselves out and bagging our own groceries anymore!!! We’ve had enough!!!

  8. Megan Winterbottom says:

    In the time I’ve been using Savings Catcher, I’ve gotten back almost $200. That’s a good chunk for a family on a budget. I was willing to adapt to the Walmart Pay only changes because it was nice to not have to shop around multiple stores for the best price. I got no notification of my state discontinuing the program. I just noticed that my last receipt didn’t give me the option to submit so I emailed customer service. Days later, they replied to say I’m just out of luck.

  9. This sucks. I had Walmart Pay, so I could use the money I had saved up in my Savings Catcher. Low refunds? My ass! I bought my daughter a tablet for xmas last year with that. This summer i paid for almost half of my laptop with it. I saved so much by shopping at Walmart and not driving around all over the place to catch sales at other stores. Screw that. Guess it’s back to making a list on what’s on sale where and go there. No way am I spending money in a stare that doesn’t appreciate me doing all my shopping with them. Bet the other stores will though.

  10. I live in Massachusetts. I found out I needed a smart phone to submit my receipt. I don’t live in a cell phone area but have saved a ton on the savings catcher so I got a smart phone. Now days later I find out that savings catcher was cancelled in my area!! No email ahead of time to let me know! But I got the email that stated i needed the smart phone! Thanks for nothing Wal-Mart!

  11. Bill Shuster says:

    I’v had it with Walmart and their promotions! I just spent two hours trying to find how to enter my receipts only to find that they no longer want my business because I refuse to go “Smart anything”! Mainly phones because I don’t let a phone run my life! If I have to go elsewhere to save a buck I will probably do the rest of my shopping there also!

  12. After chasing the Savings Catcher rabbit all over the Internet and looking for answers on their own website, I finally break down and call their 800 customer service because my iPhone app did not show what they said it should. Well, then I had a lengthy wait on the phone to get to a person who put me on hold and finally got back to me with this wonderful news. Tennessee is one of a handful of districts that “opted out” of offering Savings Catcher refunds. To me, that makes the Walmart App useless on my phone so I’m kicking it to the curb. I had gotten over $60 in savings up till now. I’m ticked in Tennessee!

  13. I am fed up with Walmart. Extremely dishonest company. They don’t even price match their own stores. I’m in between two Walmarts how do even charge us more for their own brand at the other store. Now they’re forcing us to give them our credit card numbers and pay through an app in order to save. Screw them. There’s all the across the street Meijer couple blocks away.

    • You can turn off your debit or credit cards in Walmart Pay, scan the QR code and still have your receipt go to the savings catcher app I do it all the time since the change was made in October.

  14. Yup, second that for NH, store in Epping no longer accepting. One of the main reasons I shopping there was for the program, but with Market Basket right now the street, probably go back to shopping there.

  15. Valerie Waitt says:

    I live in NH and it has been discontinued here aswell. Unfortunate, as I have a balance of 8$ that I am probably unable to use at that store now.

  16. I live in Tennessee and I can confirm that the two Walmart Stores closest to me have discontinued Savings Catcher. For the last two months Walmart has been waiting to process my receipts that have matchable items (Mainly Soda). THey process all receipts they can’t match though.

    Then, starting 10/29 there is no savings catcher option at all. I still have six receipts since September that still say “processing”.

    I used to depend on Savings Catcher so that I didn’t need to shop around. There is always a store in the area selling 12 packs of soda for 1.99-2.99 whereas Walmart’s “always low prices” are at 4.68 each.

    When I asked employees at the store about it, they were all flabbergasted. No one knew.

  17. Laura Grunewald says:

    Its just another way that those of us without a smartphone lose out.Walmart doesn’t really need my business anyway.

  18. When I find a lower price elsewhere, I just buy it there…simple. Walmart is most most often more expensive, even though they hide under this low price illusion.

  19. “and some grumbled that the automated process didn’t always accurately identify competitors’ lower prices. ”

    Meaning, the incorrect ad matches were stopped. There was too much scamming at the registers when ad matching was happening in the stores.

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