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On the Price Patrol

Alert! Major Differences Between Online and In-Store Prices at Vitamin Shoppe   

Just about every store in the world these days has a website from which consumers can purchase products online. The Vitamin Shoppe is no exception. I literally spend thousands of dollars at the Vitamin Shoppe every year – both online and in-store – for they sell great products that I use regularly. But I came upon something the other day while perusing their website that rubbed me the wrong way.

I think it’s reasonable to expect that a store’s in-store prices will be the same as the products they offer for online purchase. If not, that information is usually made available. So you can imagine my irritation when some of the products I buy regularly in-store at Vitamin Shoppe would have cost me less had I bought them online.

For example, a 16.9 ounce bottle of Carlson’s Liquid Fish Oil. In store: $39.95. Online: $22.89! That’s a 43 percent difference in price!

I’ll give you another: 120 capsules worth of Cholestene (one of the best supplements on the market to help naturally lower cholesterol). In store: $19.95. Online: $13.82. Again, that’s a sizeable difference in price – 31 percent!

And trust me, those aren’t the only two.

When I approached one of the salespeople from The Vitamin Shoppe for some explanation as to the huge disparities in price, all I got back was, “Sorry, but that’s corporate policy.”

Well, like I said to the salesperson, Vitamin Shoppe’s “corporate policy” is a corporate rip off! The least they could do is advertise in newspapers or on the products themselves as to whether or not a product is cheaper online as opposed to in store. I don’t think that’s asking much. Good grief!

I don’t want this to come off as a scathing indictment of the Vitamin Shoppe. As I said, I spend thousands of dollars in one year alone; what they offer is generally very good at pretty reasonable prices. But in today’s economy, where people are literally living paycheck to paycheck yet want to maintain their supplementation and healthy living lifestyle, every little bit counts when it comes to stretching the average dollar.

To avoid spending more than you need to, you can always check online before checking out the store. But consumers shouldn’t have to go to do this. The onus ought to be put on the business itself, and that onus is driven by consumers’ demands. So get in touch with the Vitamin Shoppe and their website and respectfully ask them to make consumers aware of products that are less expensive online as opposed to in-store. They’ll be crazy not to implement some kind of informative policy because, ultimately, it’s a win-win scenario: consumers’ get what they need at a less expensive price, while Vitamin Shoppe turns a profit one way or another. Failure to do will hurt them more than anyone else, as consumers – yours truly included – can always seek out alternatives stores whose policies are more consumer friendly.

Contact Details for Vitamin Shoppe

http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/content/en/support/feedback.jsp

The Vitamin Shoppe
Customer Care Department
2101 91st Street
North Bergen, NJ 07047

Domestic Callers: (866)-293-3367
International Callers: (201)-868-5959

Update: Over the weekend, a representative of my company had a chance to speak with one of the District Managers at Vitamin Shoppe regarding this issue. She informed me that the District Manager was very cooperative and will honor our request for matching the in-stores prices with the online prices, even without bringing in the printout of the online prices. This means I will continue to purchase supplements at the Vitamin Shoppe. I encourage you to check with your store to make sure they do the same for you.

I am aware that a “brick and mortar” store incurs more expenses than an “online” store, which may contribute to higher prices. However, I feel that consumers should be informed of the higher priced in-store items. That’s why I published this alert. A consumer should be aware of all the facts to make an informed decision. In this case, that decision could mean a big difference for some.

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Comments

Comment from pinky
Time January 22, 2009 at 7:07 pm

The Vitamin Shoppe I go to always honors the online price if it’s less expensive. I usually look online, print out what I’m looking for, the bring in a printout of the item.

Comment from irenefk
Time January 22, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I totally agree with you. I like to do business who I can trust to always put the customer first and when it happens in the health field, i get really disgusted.

Prescription drugs are the same way, generic brand versus name brand, give me a break, some of them are made by the same company and packaged differently. Think that is not a good place for me to go so will try and stay with healthy products and eating healthy to stay healthy.

Comment from Gilda Brodsky
Time January 22, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Years ago I found the online prices to be much better so I uses to purchase them online from Vitamin Shoppe but since then I have found much better prices through other websites – Vitacost is one which I now use for many of my purchases.

Check it out -

Comment from engtovo
Time January 22, 2009 at 8:36 pm

I would expect the online prices to be cheaper because the overhead and number of employee hours to serve the online purchase is less not to mention that the product in the store has shipping included in the price and online shipping has to be added to the price shown.

Comment from Steve G. Jones
Time January 22, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Frank,

Your wisdom and insight are coming in handy. You just saved me a LOT of money. Thank you.

Steve

Comment from Mike Hart
Time January 23, 2009 at 3:07 am

I have always used Holland & Barratt in the UK. They regularly advertise in the newspapers and I receive e-mails from them when there is a reduction (sale) on any of their products. This reduction is always applied in their stores. This is not to say that they are always the cheapest; once again it is still always worthwhile to shop around.

Comment from Kim
Time January 23, 2009 at 4:38 am

I order from Carlson’s lab direct

Comment from Lynn
Time January 23, 2009 at 5:28 am

my family orders online and in the store.What I do like is the end of the year moneycertificate that you get according to the points the your purchases total thatyou get the money from them.We also look around at different places for
items and prices.Especially if it is a certain product that we need and find out where we can get it.my dtr.looks all places for items for prices,shipping,etc.

Comment from Roy
Time January 23, 2009 at 7:25 am

I order all of my supplements at http://ourhealthcoop.com/.

They may not have as large a selection as Vitamin Shoppe, but they have excellent quality and prices.
Give them a try.

Comment from Deborah
Time January 23, 2009 at 7:39 am

Thanks for the information regarding pricing difference at the Vitamin Shoppe. I sent them an e-mail.

Comment from bob remini
Time January 23, 2009 at 9:43 am

How much do they charge for shipping and handling? Maybe the prices even out when you add the shipping charges, especially if they charge tax online or in the store.

Comment from Ann
Time January 25, 2009 at 11:28 am

While I agree with you to some extent (i.e. the price differences you mention shouldn’t be as large as they are), I don’t believe we can expect a retailer to match on line prices. The web store doesn’t have the overhead that the retailer does, store rental, electrical bills taxes, employee salaries etc. If we are going to compare the difference in price, we must add the cost of shipping and handling to the online price and then make a comparison. Fair is fair.

Comment from Bernie G.
Time January 25, 2009 at 11:37 am

I have found VitaCost on line to be a good source, but I also shop locally. When using the “brick and mortar” stores, remember that they have lots of overhead, starting with renting retail locations that are convenient, more lighting, heat, employees, etc. So that there is a major price difference should come as no surprise.

As more people use the online services, the number of retail locations will diminish, and we will find it more difficult to find local stores.

So we have the choice, but when the locals close, do not wonder why.

Comment from Stewart
Time January 25, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Well done Frank……perhaps we all ought to be speaking out more often when we identify something that we find annoying or just plain wrong!

Comment from Mike Roberts
Time January 25, 2009 at 9:04 pm

It’s just a shame we don’t have doctors with the same scruples as you in this country Frank.
And in many cases it’s cheaper to go with main stream medicines. I do so wish to look after my health as I suffer High BP, the side effects are horrendous but so is the cost of obtaining alternative methods. I have bought supplements from the States but again the cost is high (cheaper to use conventional medicine).
And not being in your country I risk being ripped off or short changed if I happen to choose a supplier that is less than honest. And there is the threat of customs not allowing it into the country.
I look forward to the day that Australia can offer what you have in the same quality and cost effectiveness that you do.

Keep up the great work Frank and I’m sure the Antipodes will get it right one day.

Regards Mike R. Queensland Australia

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