If a sale is advertised ,does it have to be honored?
July 10, 2009 8:33 AM   Subscribe

If a company has a sale item on their website with no end date and the checkout takes an order-are they required to honor the sales?

A company has a sale advertised online and they state no end date to the sale ( a fathers day sale) I made an order July 3 and I did not receive confirmation for some odd reason.I emailed them and they told me the sale had ended on fathers day.

The website still had the lower price advertised on July 9 and the checkout took my order on July 3 at the lower price.I have screen shots of these 2 dates-one was taken when I ordered on the 3rd for my own back up.When I received the reply from the company stating the sale was over I sent them the screen shot(plus the additonal one from the 9th) showing it still advertised and the checkout acceptance.They have not replied since

When I did the original order the checkout process went through.

I was under the impression that an advertised sale item had to be honored.With no end date posted-is this not wrong that they say my order is not accepted?

I also have a screen shot I made with a current newspaper website on the 9th with the sale page beside to show I did not alter my computers date.
posted by plumberonkarst to Shopping (11 answers total)
They are not obligated to sell to you at an advertised price.
posted by phearlez at 8:37 AM on July 10, 2009

Generally a sale price (or any price) is an offer to trade. Only once they take your money and give you the item is a contract of sale made. You making an online order is also an offer to trade, it's like when you used to send a form and cheque via mail for a mail-order company - until they cash the cheque, the sale isn't a sale yet.

You see this all the time where online retailers put a silly price by mistake online - only when they actually bill you and ship the item at that price is the order accepted and they can't back out, they're free to cancel your order up to that.

On the other hand, there are often consumer protection laws to prevent regular fraudulent low price offers which are never actually sold, in order to get people into the store. A one off mistake though, you're basically out of luck, they have no obligation to accept your offer - unless they actually already billed you at the lower price, in which case they do indeed owe the item.
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:42 AM on July 10, 2009

I bet there's some fine print on the site somewhere saying they aren't responsible for mistakes and such.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:19 AM on July 10, 2009

Previously (among others- this question gets asked repeatedly)

Basically, unless you can prove bait-and-switch, "pricing mistakes" do not have to be honored.
posted by mkultra at 9:24 AM on July 10, 2009

If it's a valid Sale price, not a pricing error, they should honor it. Consumerist is a great place to seek resolution, after you write to them proposing that they honor the sale price, or pay for the return.
posted by theora55 at 9:34 AM on July 10, 2009

Some states do have consumer protection laws that include sections about how advertised sale prices have to be honored--I'll do some digging for more information, but I'm quite sure I saw this on The Consumerist a few years ago. There is no federal law to this effect, however, and this being an Internet sale, I'm betting you're out of luck.

I wouldn't want to do business with a company that acted like this. Get a refund (or do a chargeback). If you want to give them bad publicity, send your screenshots to The Consumerist.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:37 AM on July 10, 2009

Can you explain this checkout system? Did the order form specify the sales price? Was that price then accepted by the system? It's unclear what happened because you said there wasn't a confirmation sent.
posted by Happydaz at 11:46 AM on July 10, 2009

Get a refund (or do a chargeback).

The OP should qualify, but I'm pretty sure that no money actually changed hands in this case.

IMO, from a purely moral standpoint you should not be putting up a fuss (again, assuming they haven't captured funds). While the sale didn't list an end date, it was clearly labeled as a "Father's Day Sale" that you saw two weeks after Father's Day. You're not entitled to a deal at their expense because someone forgot to update the website.
posted by mkultra at 1:21 PM on July 10, 2009

Best answer: If a company has a sale item on their website with no end date and the checkout takes an order-are they required to honor the sales?

It depends on the jurisdiction. I see you are in Ontario. I am a marketing consultant in Canada, although I also have experience with US marketing. I am NOT a lawyer and I am not giving legal advice. I believe that you may have seen misleading advertising for a sale, which is not allowed in some Canadian and US jurisdictions. So it depends on where the company is based. Just calling something a Father's Day sale does not imply a timeline for a sale, by the way.

You may, in fact, be entitled to the sale price because someone forgot to update the website. Depending on jurisdiction, any medium used to advertise a price counts as advertising. In Canada, you would want to look at the Competition Act. But if the company is in the US, go look at business.gov and see what rules apply in the particular jurisdiction.
posted by acoutu at 2:00 PM on July 10, 2009

Response by poster: For additional information

-This sale was advertised and transacted in Canada

-I ordered the item even though it was posted 2 weeks "after" fathers day on the assumption that either they did not sell off all the bundles they wanted or they sold so well-they carried on.This is a rather large company and a professional website so the sale still being posted seemed to me at least-to not be an omission.

- I received a an email from the sales staff a couple days later saying they have sent it to the head sales agent for a decision on whether the sale would be honored.

-the online checkout took my payment at the sale price and I proceeded through checkout.I went through multiple screens to go through the sale and to confirm the final order-I was given a screen that said confirmation email would be sent.No confirmation email was sent.

If I do not hear back i may see if the Consumerist has any input or is willing to look at eh issue.To me at least- 2 weeks is plenty of time to remove a sale item if you no longer are having it-otherwise, it implies to me that the sale is current.
posted by plumberonkarst at 12:18 PM on July 13, 2009

How did it turn out? You could probably point them to the Competition Act and say that you'll be contacting the competition bureau or what-not for your province.
posted by acoutu at 8:16 PM on July 23, 2009

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