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Is a CA store compelled to honor the price shown?
May 17, 2009 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Was at Best Buy today. They had the Flip Ultra HD on display - an employee led me right to it when asked. The price card said $150. As I suspected, they'd mixed it up with the Flip Ultra II. Is there anything in California state law that requires them to honor the price shown? I've been in this situation before and I'm never sure if I'm in the right to insist that they honor the price displayed. I thought there were consumer protection laws governing this stuff, to keep the retailers honest and make them care about accuracy, but I don't really know.
posted by scarabic to Shopping (13 answers total)
 
It looks like they are required to honour your price.
AB 1721 (Koretz-D) Prices: overcharges

Prohibits any person, at the time of sale of a commodity, from charging, as defined, an amount greater than the price, or computing an amount greater than a true extension of the price per unit, that is then advertised, posted, marked, displayed, or quoted for that commodity.
Of course, I've tried that argument on retailers here, and it's gotten me nowhere.
posted by jeather at 5:23 PM on May 17, 2009


Common law generally treats price tags as "invitations to treat", but California's Business and Professional Code 12024.2 (effective since 2005) has this language:
(a) It is unlawful for any person, at the time of sale of
a commodity, to do any of the following:
(1) Charge an amount greater than the price, or to compute an
amount greater than a true extension of a price per unit, that is
then advertised, posted, marked, displayed, or quoted for that
commodity.
(2) Charge an amount greater than the lowest price posted on the
commodity itself or on a shelf tag that corresponds to the commodity,
notwithstanding any limitation of the time period for which the
posted price is in effect.
There's presumably wiggle room in the wording for "that commodity", so I wouldn't assume you can go back waving the printout and walking out with a Flip. Still, you can report them if you like.

We have cameras?
posted by holgate at 5:24 PM on May 17, 2009


I used to work at Best Buy, so I'm familiar with their price tags. Every one has the full name of the product, the exact model number, the UPC code, the SKU, and (typically) a listing of features.

Did all of these match the Flip Ultra HD, and show a $150 price?

Or did the price tag advertise the name, model, and features of the Flip Ultra II, and someone moved the Flip Ultra HD display in front of the wrong tag?

That will likely be what determines if your complaint has any merit.
posted by CrayDrygu at 5:52 PM on May 17, 2009


This definitely falls under the invitation to treat clause, there's no way you'll get them to honor it. I believe that the overage charges are used to prevent stores from marking an item down and hoping you don't notice that they didn't actually mark the item down using whatever backend system they have (or, more likely, not marking it down enough). I've heard of thing like supermarkets marking down cereal a dollar or whatever, scanning it at 50 cents and hoping that no one notices, and if they do notice it is a "mistake." It makes sense from a business owner perspective when you're talking in the context of a grocery store where you'll have a long list of items of variable value, not a single purchase good.
posted by geoff. at 6:04 PM on May 17, 2009


I had this happen to me at a Best Buy in Florida. I thought a webcam was $40 and it rang up much higher. I asked about the tag on the shelf and got the worst run around. They claimed the tag I saw was for another webcam but they took the tag off the floor and refused to show it to me. It was one of those experiences where I felt like I was getting worked over and the people at customer service did this routinely. I had such a bad experience that I stopped going to Best Buy over it.
posted by advicepig at 7:50 PM on May 17, 2009


Best Buy has a habit of doing this, in my experience. As does another electronics retailer I used to frequent. I'd advise taking your business elsewhere.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:30 PM on May 17, 2009


CrayDrygu, you are correct. It was the price card for another, cheaper model, displayed under the model I wanted. So the price card was accurate unto itself, it was its placement that suggested the price applied to another model. Does that not apply?
posted by scarabic at 10:21 PM on May 17, 2009


Sorry, don't know if that was clear at all. It was an accurate display card for the Ultra II with a physical display model of the Ultra HD sitting on top of it. When I asked for the Flip Ultra HD, an employee also walked me right over to the display and pointed it out.
posted by scarabic at 10:34 PM on May 17, 2009


I have successfully gotten stuff that was mis-priced, but only because on the tag with the price, and the correct model # was also listed. If a different model number is on the tag, then they simply claim something was incorrectly placed (heck, you could even move the tags around, I'm not accusing - but it would be very simple for unscrupulous persons to simply move a tag from a cheaper, similarly named item over, then claim loudly MIS-PRICE and want a discount.) I would make a stink with the management, just to see what happens, but I wouldn't count on a discount if I were you.
posted by defcom1 at 11:01 PM on May 17, 2009


Hmm.. to clarify the answer.
No. The price shown is clearly for an UltraII, not HD, as stated on the price card. They have CYA'd. But, this does not mean you can't play dumb consumer, walk in, go to the check-out, higher price comes up - make big sink about how price displayed is not correct, grab manager, he will walk over and point out small print that this is not the same (Ultra II vs. HD), then you make big stink about how are you supposed to know the difference, the price is clearly marked etc. etc. They legally don't have to do anything, but if you're a pain, they may fix the price and give you your discount. Otherwise, don't pay and leave. Come back tomorrow see if price is fixed. If not, send in wife, repeat! :D. (If it's an honest mistake, they will fix it. If they are counting on the fine print to make it look cheaper, give 'em a hard time, they are being unfair).
posted by defcom1 at 11:16 PM on May 17, 2009


It was the price card for another, cheaper model, displayed under the model I wanted. So the price card was accurate unto itself, it was its placement that suggested the price applied to another model. Does that not apply?

Of course that doesn't apply. Otherwise, I could walk into best buy, and move a 1000 dollar display computer over to a sign for a 9.99 mousepad and demand that they honor the price. Down that path lies madness.

Look, some poor schmuck making minimum wage printed the wrong pricetag, or a customer put a boxes back in the wrong place. Either way, it's not a bait-and-switch scheme, or the store trying to rip you off. You know perfectly well what happened and you're looking to make a buck at the expense of others. That's not cool.
posted by chrisamiller at 6:35 AM on May 18, 2009


I've got to agree with everyone who says you shouldn't get the lower price. There are any number of reasons why the price tag is under the wrong item, not all of which are under the store's control.

The consumer protection laws are there so the stores don't mess with the price tags. If the price tag is correct, then that's what matters. Not that the price tag is under the wrong item.
posted by theichibun at 7:49 AM on May 18, 2009


[few comments removed "don't insult people" is still sort of how we roll here]
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 PM on May 18, 2009


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