Sierra Trading Post - watch out
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Mike Oxford
(moxford) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
Sierra Trading Post - watch out on 04/25/2013 15:34:27 MDT Print View

I had a coupon for 35% off my order ... looked at a few things.
Then I received a 30% off + $20 back coupon. Looked at a few things.

Then I noticed that the "base price" of the items (and thus, the linked coupon price below it) changed based on which link I came in from. I can swap back and forth between the two coupons and watch the prices shift, sometimes radically.

Maybe this is known... but I've never known another retailer to do this and it really turns me off to STP due to it being super shady. Do they need to do this? Maybe. Does it make sense, based on the variance of offers they have running? Maybe.

But it still feels shady since they don't disclose it.

So maybe this is an "anti-gear-deal" post.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Sierra Trading Post - watch out on 04/25/2013 15:47:04 MDT Print View

That is shady. I'm used to companies taking items off sale or clearance in preparation for a big across the board coupon. That's fair and legit and really technically just a time based change in pricing (which no one can argue is unfair). I know amazon will shift prices throughout the day based on sales and remaining stock for an item.

But to offer different prices at the same time based on what link/address you use to access their site is ridiculous. This borders on consumer fraud, similar to the illegal bait and switch tactic where companies used to have a much lower sticker price on the shelf but then ring up at the cashier at a higher price...consumer protection laws now let you demand the "viewed" lower price even if it's an accidental error on the store's part.

They should do what every other company does, have an outlet store so that there's a marked division in inventory. If a brick and mortar store offered you different prices based on whether you drove up in a honda, mercedes, or ford you can be sure that there'd be some legal action taken.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sierra Trading Post - watch out on 04/25/2013 16:05:44 MDT Print View

Yes, I don't believe that there is anything outright illegal about it, but it is very shady. Some retailers do that simply because they can, and they think that they know their customer base closely enough that nobody will complain.

I fix them. Whenever a retailer is doing anything that shady, I stop all of my business with them. Then, alert BPL. Eventually the shady retailer will get the message.

--B.G.--

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Sierra Trading Post - watch out on 04/25/2013 16:46:16 MDT Print View

I've always been suspicious of any time you have to click a link to get a deal. Normally what I do is add the stuff to my cart then while I'm checking out just Google "[store name] coupon code". Never had any problems that way.

Adam

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
No Irregularities found on 04/25/2013 17:06:20 MDT Print View

I just wasted 30min of my time testing this and found no irregularities or variations in the Sale pricing or the Compare To pricing for ~100 sale items for both the currently valid coupons of "30% OFF + $20eDeals" and "35% OFF".

Additional coupon discounts from the Sale price were also calculated correctly.

Perhaps some specific examples of the alleged flim/flam should be provided?

P S
(xeren) - F

Locale: Southern California
? on 04/25/2013 17:30:56 MDT Print View

As far as I know, price discrimination (an economic term, not a perjorative one) is legal in the US.

As long as they aren't advertising one price and then charging a higher price to you after you've agreed to buy it, i don't see the issue. If I arrive to the site by a "higher price link" (not that I've seen it happen myself) or whatever you want to call it, if the price is too high, I don't buy it. Simple as that.

The only time I shop at STP is when their price is markedly lower than places like REI or backcountry where I have a lifetime guarantee from a retailer I trust. I'm pricing in the lack of a retailer warranty when I decide to buy from STP.

For example, I've been looking for some snowshoe poles, and decided on BD Expedition Poles. They're $53-$63 everywhere else, but with coupon code SFBTD4413 (35% off one item) and free shipping by checking out through the android app, I got the poles for <$40. I don't care what link I arrived from- I got the poles down to much cheaper than everywhere else, so I jumped on them.

Edited by xeren on 04/25/2013 17:32:03 MDT.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
maybe not..... on 04/25/2013 18:37:09 MDT Print View

Be careful, sometimes the only up-to-date web pages are those you click to get to from inside the vendors site.

It is often possible to get to defunct web pages by clicking old links from outside the vendors site. You can get to pages that show items in stock and sale prices for things from months, or even years ago. But its not always a real live web page anymore.

I find this issue a lot when google searching for items. Simply enter the retailers site home page and click on links , and often find the item no longer exists in inventory, or is out of stock or not on sale any longer. Google finds old webpages on servers, and directs you to them, whethere they are still supposed to be functional or not.

I have had only good experiences with STP, buying and returning.

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/25/2013 18:38:30 MDT.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Bait and switch on 04/25/2013 19:52:25 MDT Print View

Sears did this years ago in the store. Has nothing to do with shelf pricing. From what I understand, Sears or any other store would advertise a cheap TV say, then when you went to the store, talk that item down or get you to buy a more expensive item.
Duane

Reggie Garrett
(regarrett) - M

Locale: Lost in the mountains
STP on 04/25/2013 21:03:25 MDT Print View

I've never had a problem with STP. Things have always been calculated correctly, customer service has been top notch, I found great service in the stores and on line and on the phone. Sorry you had that bad experience....

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: STP on 04/25/2013 21:14:21 MDT Print View

I've noticed that if i click on more than one coupon via my email and open up several pages, the cart will update automatically to the last one i clicked. I suspect that relates more to cookies or something, and isn't necessarily shady. I just close out the pages, go back and reclick on the coupon i like better and all is well in the world again ;)

I've mostly only had good experiences with STP. I've bought a lot of stuff there over the years. In the past, it was often one of the few places i could afford to buy decent to good quality stuff from. REI etc. was almost always out of my price range.

The coupons may seem like a gimmick, and in a narrow sense they kind of are, but i've also seen and experienced first hand, a number of times, how much money they can actually save you, especially comparing to the REI's, retail prices, etc.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
Sierra Trading Post is Excellent on 04/26/2013 07:13:02 MDT Print View

I'm on a budget, willing to shop & compare and have used Sierra Trading Post online for years. I've also been to their Reno, Nevada storefront, where the deals are not quite as good on some things, but I scored many canisters of Brunton fuel for quite a bargain.

Of course, I am familiar with the different levels of discount that one might get, based on electronic coupons, paper coupons and emailer sales. There's even a subscription-only set of clearance sales that includes things like a Primus ETA HE stove/pot kit for $47, yesterday in fact.

There's no scam, and those quick to claim so have only stumbled over something noted above: the "intarwebz" will cache old pages and bring search results for products that are no longer on the STP site, or that have been updated to new higher or lower prices. You can easily find this phenomenon in nature by searching for the Brunton Trooper compass on this site. Among the results will be a thread I've posted here with a link to a page that STP has updated to indicate "out of stock", but you'll also find Google's cached pages with the item for sale.

Finally, a note on customer service from Sierra Trading Post: it's excellent. Not only are they super nice and polite, they back the product if there's a problem. I don't have many situations where I want to return something (because I shop, you see) but they include a return label with every order, back up the policy and will step-in, just like REI, in cases where they think it's appropriate. When my brand-new, birthday-present Katadyn Hiker Pro freaking quit on us, 4 days into 7 on trail last year, I mentioned it in the nightly email to my Scout parents and my wife (who bestowed the replacement for my highly-reliable, ancient First Need) contacted Sierra Trading with the details and concerns I had. Their customer service contacted Katadyn, got detailed instructions on the potential repairs, boiled it down to simple points and emailed it directly to me, along with a personal note that the rep didn't think it was going to work. When Katadyn replaced the valve but balked at a new filter to replace the one damaged by their faulty valve, STP took the whole thing back, gladly, and credited me toward my Sawyer, which was at an excellent price.

Sierra Trading Post is excellent and as a member of Backpacking Light, I endorse them.

I hope that helps to balance things out a little.

J R
(JRinGeorgia) - F
I've seen this on 04/26/2013 08:35:59 MDT Print View

I have noticed this differential pricing at STP as well. It's not a scam or "shady" or bait-and-switch, it simply is different discount offers available at the same time. Happens everywhere -- if you and I both go to Macys and see the same shirt that was originally $50 but now is half off, and you pay $25 but I also have a coupon for an extra 20% off then we aren't paying the same price. Same basic thing at STP, I can have two different e-mails in the same week from them offering different percentages off, one includes free or reduced shipping while the other does not, etc. Click through one link to a certain product and you will see one after-discount price, click through the other link to the same product and you can get a different after-discount price, or at least a different final cost after shipping is factored in. The actual price for the item is the same, the final cost after the discounts are what's different. It might be "gimmicky" and definitely means the consumer needs to be on his/her toes, but nothing under-handed.

Keith Crosby
(kcrosby) - F
STP on 04/26/2013 11:06:19 MDT Print View

I dont think this is shady. A lot of stores offer coupons. Even REI offers discounts to its members. If you sign up for the membership at STP, they will send emails with coupons regularly. If you are patient, you can get 30% with e-card or today I got one for 45% off of certain items. Granted, they have coupons that change regularly and you can easily have 3 or more different ones active at once. I actually like it. The other day I had a coupon for 30% off + $20 gift card for $75 or more. Since I am close to Reno, I did ship to store for free freight. I used it in the morning on $78 worth of stuff and it shipped same day and I got my $20 e-card the same day. That evening I bought some shoes for my daughter and a couple other things and got another $20 e-card. As another note that some might want to try if you don't want to pay shipping. The other day I put something in my cart and left it there. About 4 or 5 days later I got an email that offered free shipping if that would help me decide to buy it. I didn't do it but I thought it was interesting.

Jordo _99
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Nebraska
Prices changing depending on links on 04/26/2013 11:27:35 MDT Print View

IT guy here who does WAY too much shopping online. This is far more common than you think.

This is also rampant for airline and concert tickets among other things--The idea is that if you have been frequently looking up ticket prices then you're less likely to see the prices drop as they know you're probably desperate.

Here's the best tip for getting around this...use the private browsing feature on your web browser:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy_mode

There's a table on that link that names each browser's feature...search for that on google to find steps for the corresponding software you use.

For most browsers the shortcut combination (Ctrl + Shift + P) will open a new window for you.


This isn't a "fix all" solution to the problem as it's a problem with the retailers but it's a quick workaround and allows you to keep your cookies and browsing history intact.

Edited by jordo_99 on 04/26/2013 11:33:16 MDT.

Jay Campbell
(gohawks) - F

Locale: SE Iowa
Re: STP on 04/26/2013 12:46:58 MDT Print View

For free shipping use the android phone app for Sierra Trading Post. Load items into your cart from your desktop, and then check out using the app. Its been free shipping for a few months now at least.

I have never had any issue with STP. When I can get free shipping and 35% off (sign up for deal flyer emails) some of their items are almost too good to pass up. Makes a good deal on smartwool socks, and a couple of days ago I got a Marmot Ion windshirt for $31.82 shipped to my door.

Mike Oxford
(moxford) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
STP on 04/26/2013 13:06:34 MDT Print View

A couple things to clarify, since STP seems to have some defenders here (which is completely tangental to the issue at-hand.) I would like to heartily thank the people who took the time to try and verify this.

1) I have never had a bad experience with STP (sister company of TJMaxx/Marshalls), ever.
2) I cannot reproduce this with "no coupon" against "coupon."
3) All interactions except for the initial email link were within the context of their site; nothing was a stale/cached link that I know of.
4) My emails all expired yesterday, so I cannot even reproduce this right now because I don't have a valid "off + $20" to compare with.
5) I am talking about the BASE price, not the post-coupon price. This is "hey, I will sell you this for $100 and $35 off, or $105 with 30% and $20 back." The BASE is what was changing.
6) Is any of it illegal? No.
7) Do I consider it a bait-and-switch? No. They never guaranteed a base price. At the end of the day the "final price" is really all that matters.
8) Do I hate STP? No. See #1.
9) Did I want to post-up to the community so you all would be aware of potential price differentials when shopping there? Yes. You look at and item, see the price, do some quick mental math and make your decision...which is flawed because your math assumes a constant basis-price for the transaction, which (at least in the context of these two coupons) does NOT appear to be consistant.
10) Was I kind of miffed that I now feel like I need to "double check" my interactions with STP? That I cannot fully trust them because I have to watch for these things? Yes.
11) Will it influence future transactions? Yes, because now instead of a warm-fuzzy transaction from a retailer I trust to be straight-up with me, now I'm watching to make sure they're not playing other shell-games. Possible overreaction: maybe. :)
12) Please refer to #8 and #9.

My testing was done with "look at a price with the 35off coupon, note the prices, apply the 30off+$20, refresh page, note difference, apply original 35off from email link, refresh page, confirm base price difference." I was screwing around looking at synthetic sleeping bags, had both coupons, was curious which would end up being cheaper, so I was swapping back and forth.

-mox

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Sale AND Coupon on 04/27/2013 06:11:53 MDT Print View

I think you're probably seeing the results of them putting items on sale (no coupon required) in combination with the coupon code.

The base price changes as a result of the ongoing "sale" and the coupon is applied to that sale price.

In these cases they don't show the original (non sale) price of the item, just the sale price, retail price, and your coupon price.

If there is no underlying sale on the item then you see their original price for the item plus your coupon price.

I think you need to read your email flyers more carefully and take note that some combine sale prices and coupons on certain items while others are just strictly coupons.

I'm pretty sure your original assumptions are wrong.

And what did customer service say when you asked them about this? You did ask them right?

Greg Yurkovich
(Chubbs4U) - F
STP fan on 04/27/2013 08:59:21 MDT Print View

I have never had a problem with STP and the customer service is top notch.

Mike Oxford
(moxford) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
Re: Sale AND Coupon on 04/27/2013 22:16:11 MDT Print View

"I'm pretty sure your original assumptions are wrong."

I still have the emails.

30% off + $20 eDeals back
*Valid for web orders only. Discount will be applied at checkout. Discount is 30% off our regular prices on select items only. You must use the links in this email to activate discount. All purchases linked to this email or keycode will receive the discount for a maximum of three orders. Discount cannot be combined with other keycode offers or be applied to past orders. Sale prices expire at 11:59pm (MDT) Thursday, April 25, 2013.

35% off
**Discount will be applied at checkout. Discount is 35% off our regular prices on select items only. You must use the links in this email to activate discount. All purchases linked to this email or keycode will receive the discount for a maximum of three orders. Discount cannot be combined with other keycode offers or be applied to past orders. Sale prices expire at 11:59pm (MDT) Thursday, April 25, 2013.

If they were to let them "stack" then the prices I saw would have been considerably better than the 5% delta on just the coupons (eg, quite awesome.) They were not awesome.

It is impressive, though, how many people completely disbelieve that it may have happened and are "defending" STP.

I did not attack them; I did not say "ZOMG DO NOT EVER SHOP HERE!!!!1111one"
I just said "hey, heads up -- here's something I noticed and, thus, something to watch for."

Rock on,

-mox

Mike Blarowki
(MikeyB) - F - M
new sierra coupon codes for august on 08/21/2013 12:20:54 MDT Print View

Guys, I tested these august sierra trading post promo codes and they both work.
Let me know if they work for you

cheers, Mike