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PayPal enters the holiday price-matching fray

By Alistair Barr

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - PayPal launched a price-matching offer on Thursday, following similar moves by retailers including Target Corp, as the payments giant tries to encourage more shoppers to use its service this holiday season.

If consumers purchase products with PayPal and the items are advertised for lower prices by any merchant within 30 days, PayPal said it will reimburse users the difference.

The price-matching offer includes PayPal purchases made online and in physical stores and runs through December 31, the company, owned by eBay Inc, added.

Price matching has emerged as a tool some retailers are using to head off competition from Amazon.com Inc this holiday season.

Target and Best Buy Co plan to match online prices with Amazon and other big online merchants this season to combat showrooming - where in-store prices are compared with online prices using smartphones.

PayPal's goal is different. It wants to encourage PayPal account holders to use its service more, both online and in physical stores. The company is making a big push offline and its payment service is now accepted in thousands of stores run by retailers including Home Depot, Office Depot and American Eagle Outfitters.

PayPal unveiled another incentive to use its service on Thursday. The company said products bought with PayPal can be returned free of charge within 30 days if the merchant accepts returns but does not cover the cost of shipping the item back.

PayPal plans to send shoppers a pre-paid shipping label within five days after they file a return claim. PayPal will also refund return shipping costs if shoppers have already paid for that service. The refunds will be sent to consumers' PayPal accounts, it added.

(Reporting By Alistair Barr; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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