Did they overcharge me?
April 23, 2007 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Michigan Scanner Law: Item originally sells for 29.99, but was stickered as 1.99. I think I deserve to be able to buy it for that price, but they say since it is due to human error, it doesn't qualify under the law. Who's right? They still charged me more than the sticker said, regardless of whether or not it was supposed to be that price.


I know, I know, you're not my lawyer, but before I drag this out, I wonder, do I have grounds for suing? Its really only a few bucks, but the manager was so rude I'd kind of like to follow through just to teach him some manners.
posted by gilsonal to Law & Government (43 answers total)
Did they tell you it was $29.99 before you paid for it?
posted by subclub at 2:15 PM on April 23, 2007

I suppose you had the option of putting the item back?
posted by Plinko at 2:18 PM on April 23, 2007

I may be wrong, but this seems like it's more along the line of "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" than there being a law on the books about this particular incident. That is to say it's probably part of contract law what sort of legal agreements are valid between buyers and sellers and part of that has got to be that both of you have the freedom, before the deal is done, to not do it.

Think of an extreme situation: you're a jerk and you take a $1.99 sticker and put it on something, expecting to get the low price. Why should the store be open to this sort of shenanigans? Unless you can truly argue that the misprint was somehow the stores FAULT (i.e. broken scanner or something, and good luck with that) this is just a stupid error along the "we have cameras" amazon debacle.

So, you said "sticker" but the law you point to says scanner. I assume you read #15
15. What if an item is marked the wrong price and the clerk catches it before I pay; am I entitled to buy the item at the price marked?

This is a fact-specific question best answered by a court. A store may not knowingly charge or attempt to charge a price higher than the price marked on the item. MCL 445.354. Therefore, the consumer may have a claim if the store will not sell the item at the price marked. However, the consumer may face obstacles convincing a court that the store knowingly charged the higher price when the pricing mistake is not intentional and will result in an obvious windfall to the consumer.
So I think to answer this question we'd need a little more in terms of who knew what when narrative to even begin to help you interpret the law you cite.
posted by jessamyn at 2:25 PM on April 23, 2007

You're gonna sue over $30? Seems like writing corporate would better serve your purpose of trying to stick it to the manager, as I can't imagine suing is going to be worth your while.
posted by jckll at 2:27 PM on April 23, 2007

Was the item ever advertised at $29.99? Or, maybe more importantly, as being $1.99?

IANAL &c, but there's a pretty clear difference in appearance between (a) the presence vs. absence of prominent advertising at the wrong price, and (b) the absence vs. presence of the correct price elsewhere than on the product itself. The former in both cases might help your argument; the latter would likely undermine your position further.

For that matter, would any reasonable person look at the product and thing that $1.99 is a plausible price? And was the sale concluded before the price was caught, or was the correction made while the purchase was in progress? If they handed you a reciept and wished you on your merry way and then complained, you've got a lot mroe common sense standing than if they blinked during checkout.

Finally, a lawsuit over $28 and some hurt pride is probably a really lousy idea, regardless.
posted by cortex at 2:27 PM on April 23, 2007

The FAQ you linked to acknowledges that the point is unclear. I think a sensible court would likely side with the company, particularly on an item where the marked price is 15 times lower than the "real" price. I mean no offense, but if I were the judge I would think you are trying to get away with something (i.e. "aha! They priced it wrong, but the Scanner Law requires them to sell it to me! Suckers!"). That's pretty clearly not what the law is intended to do; the fact that the "bonus" due to the customer is 10 times the price difference, for a maximum of $5.00, indicates that it is meant to catch small overcharges.

Practically speaking, if you give your notice as required by the statute, you are likely to get the money. The manager would probably much rather give you your $33 ($28 + $5) than have to escalate it out of his store.

So if the point is to punish the manager for being a big jerk, then (1) it seems from the FAQ that your complaint is of sufficient legal ambiguity that it may be brought in good faith, and (2) the amount at issue is so small that the manager will likely suck it up and pay you your $33.

I think you will pay more than $33 in karma and lost time in pursuing this, though. If you paid $29.99 for it after your argument, and you intend to keep it at that price, then it is worth that price in your mind. To try to extract a little revenge for rudeness and/or some easy money due to a crummily-written law seems a bit rude yourself.


15. What if an item is marked the wrong price and the clerk catches it before I pay; am I entitled to buy the item at the price marked?

This is a fact-specific question best answered by a court. A store may not knowingly charge or attempt to charge a price higher than the price marked on the item. MCL 445.354. Therefore, the consumer may have a claim if the store will not sell the item at the price marked. However, the consumer may face obstacles convincing a court that the store knowingly charged the higher price when the pricing mistake is not intentional and will result in an obvious windfall to the consumer.

posted by AgentRocket at 2:32 PM on April 23, 2007

It appears that if the transaction was never completed and the pricing error was not knowing, you're out of luck.

From what I gather, the clerk refused to sell you the item, so nobody was hurt. If you had paid $30.00 for the item, both you and the store would be hurt, and the law would resolve it in your favor.

Alternately, if the store had knowingly tricked you with respect to the price of the item, you'd also be hurt, and the law would resolve that in your favor.

Since the incorrect price was apparently accidental, and you're not out of pocket anything, it's not clear why you would be entitled to anything. The law seems to agree.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:38 PM on April 23, 2007

If that were the case (customer gets marked price on object, no matter what), wouldn't it be really easy to steal things, by switching price tags? I always thought this is the reason why prices are on shelves as well as the item itself.
posted by kellyblah at 2:39 PM on April 23, 2007

Yeah, I do see the comment in the FAQ that it might be difficult to pursue, and I know it may seem jerky to follow through on too. But the fact of the matter is, the price said 1.99, and they "knowingly charged a price higher than that marked on the item".

And as for the trouble of taking it to court, its summer and I'm a student, so its not like I'd be taking a day off of work. All I expected was for the manager to say "oops, our mistake, we'll honor it this time". I wasn't going after the five bucks or anything. A family member had this same incident with a larger corporate chain, and they gave her a far more expensive item for about 200 dollars less. I'm sure it wasn't out of the goodness of their hearts--that it was because they had to, per this law.

I was going to buy the product even before i noticed the error. I spend a lot of money at the store and you'd think that it would be worth it to them to honor what their price tag states.

my question is though, does human error count as an exemption?
posted by gilsonal at 2:42 PM on April 23, 2007

oh, and they did sell it to me, for that price, so the transaction was completed.
posted by gilsonal at 2:44 PM on April 23, 2007

Scanners don't cost $2.

You aren't going to convince a court that they intentionally misled you into believing otherwise.

Suing will waste not only your time and the store's time, but it will waste the time of probably a dozen courthouse staff members. (judge,bailiffs, various support clerks, etc.)

Don't be that guy.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 2:53 PM on April 23, 2007

its summer and I'm a student, so its not like I'd be taking a day off of work

Pity. As it is, you'd be taking a day off...drinking beer at the beach? Sheesh, go with the beer'n'beach.
posted by kmennie at 3:03 PM on April 23, 2007

Please take my word for it, as an attorney -- you would make a colossal fool of yourself if you sued somebody for $29, especially in a case where a store merely mis-marked the price on an item. This could result in severe humiliation for you.

Don't become a poster-child for litigiousness.

Furthermore, at least where I live, filing fees for civil lawsuits are at least $100 (for small claims cases) and range up to the $400 range for regular civil court. It would be ridiculous for you to fork over $100 to sue somebody for $29.

(And in the U.S., each side generally pays their own attorney fees and costs regardless of who wins, so you would not be entitled to reimbursement for the filing fee, even if you were to win.)
posted by jayder at 3:12 PM on April 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

So: the item was stickered as 1.99, but it scanned at 29.99, and that's what you paid? I guess what isn't clear to me is whether (a) they said "Hey, that's the wrong price" and you went ahead and paid (which is what #15 seems to address, though it is confusing), or (b) you paid and then said "Wha?" and they explained the error (no problem with your claim here), or (c) you "noticed the error" during the shopping process (as you suggest above) and proceeded to buy it, with them noticing before or after you were rung up.

I don't get the question about whether human error counts as an exemption, but are you riffing on #15? But for that,
I'd assume the law is this way to force stores to prevent stores from always being the winners on sticker/scanner discrepancies -- profiting on a bunch of customers who don't notice and at worst allowing the others to unwind the transactions. So it seems to be indifferent as a general matter as to why the error transpired, and rather designed to force stores to be more careful in labeling by punishing them whenever they are not and they are caught.

In my view, this significantly diminishes any sense of extra-legal entitlement you should feel: you are capitalizing on a mistake, and it is really hard to show how you were disadvantaged. I can understand why some think this is dubious.

On the other hand, for all the haters, do recognize that failing to pursue tiny claims like this -- in court or otherwise -- does mean that the stores profit on the mass of errors, and have an insufficient incentive to correct it. And, if you would read the info provided, you would learn that "A person who suffers a loss as a result of a violation of the Item Pricing Act may bring an individual or class action to recover actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, for each day on which a violation of the act has been found, together with reasonable attorneys' fees not to exceed $300.00 in an individual action."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:29 PM on April 23, 2007

I say you should absolutely prosecute your case to the fullest extent available to you, as long as you hold yourself liable for the remainder of your life to the exact same standard of required perfection. So any errors you may make on school or work reports and emails should become grounds for serious grade markdowns and possible termination. Oh, and the same would hold true in your dating life. "You said we'd meet at 8:00, but you didn't roll in until 8:11--we're through!"

Maybe you have a case, but you're trying to put one over on The Man, and not because he's keepin' you down, but because you think you have a shot at getting a quasi-freebie. That's not striking a blow for the proletariat...it's just scamming.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 3:44 PM on April 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

but the manager was so rude I'd kind of like to follow through just to teach him some manners

Aside from everything everyone else said, you won't teach him anything -- the company will consider you a crank, and you'll deal with their lawyers, not the employees you spoke to.
posted by mendel at 4:00 PM on April 23, 2007

Well jeez. I was just trying to determine whether or not the law was on my side, not get insulted and berated. I really have no intentions on actually suing, its more of a principle thing. It doesn't seem fair that they can circumvent a law just because it will be "litigious" to take them to court over a small dollar amount.

businesses should stand by what they say. and if they mark a package as a price, no matter error or not, they should be held accountable. as for Midnight Creepers accusation of hypocrisy, I do consider myself a reliable individual, and I do hold myself accountable for my word. And in the store-keeper's position, I would have honored the price. At the very least, the manager should have treated me with the respect due to any human being and not the manner in which he did. It is that which I am most disappointed with, and why I will no longer be spending my money at that store.
posted by gilsonal at 4:01 PM on April 23, 2007

The whole point is to keep stores honest: Most of the times I've collected on the scanner law penalty have been because stores failed to take down their sales price signage in time. That's obviously an error on the store's part, but most groceries will ante up. But only after they positively confirm that that specific item was promoted at less than the sale price by either signage or a shelf tag.

An item mis-stickered by 1500% is too good to be true. If the manager didn't send anybody to check the shelf for the stock number and promoted price, you should have insisted on it. A price sticker can be stuck on anything and it's reasonable for the manager to assume you'd done it yourself, even if you hadn't.
posted by ardgedee at 4:03 PM on April 23, 2007

And in the store-keeper's position, I would have honored the price.

Have you worked retail before? People will come up with everything in the book to allow themselves to pay a lower price than is ticketed. While, as a manager myself, I'd LOVE to be able to have faith in the Goodness of People, I can't because of the scams that some customers like to concoct to get something free/discounted/whatever.

Even in the chain I work at, where almost anything goes as long as it can be justified, I would never give a customer a $30 item for $2 if the item wasn't supposed to be $2. I doubt any manager in any store would do that.

Makes me glad my workplace is exempt under New York State law. Super Refunds (as we call 'em) may be supposed to keep stores honest, but they just spawn greedy people.

Anyway, my little rant aside, write an e-mail to their corporate customer service. You'll most likely receive an apology, if nothing else, and the manager will likely be talked to. I don't know what store it is, but I can tell you that some stores will give you coupons as part of the apology (don't say you deserve a discount/coupon/etc though, or they may think you're just fishing for a discount).
posted by Verdandi at 4:35 PM on April 23, 2007

If that were the case (customer gets marked price on object, no matter what), wouldn't it be really easy to steal things, by switching price tags? I always thought this is the reason why prices are on shelves as well as the item itself.

Price switching had been a core scam -- before scanning and after (via bar-code switching scams, etc.).
posted by ericb at 4:49 PM on April 23, 2007

This is rather irrelevant in this case, but I know that in UK law a "contract" is formed by an "offer" being made and then "accepted". It is well established (at least by case law) that a price on an open shelf does not constitute an "offer", it is merely an "invitation to treat". It is the buyer who makes the "offer", by going to the checkout ("So, I understand you want to sell someone this scanner at $2?"), which the shop then accepts - or not.

I have known supermarket checkouts acknowledge that an item has been mis-priced, but because "that's what the scanner says" the customer gets away with the lower price. However, that is just individual store policy (or lack of staff-training).
posted by wilko at 5:39 PM on April 23, 2007

Though the Michigan law doesn't mention it (which shocked me, because it seems to open it up to making tag switching easier), often times the law will mention that the price offered must be something reasonable. For example, the KMart website once listed an HD TV for only a few dollars.

Almost no one would expect to reasonably pay only a few dollars for an HDTV, as such, KMart didn't need to honor the price.

When I worked in retail, 90% of the time customers misread a shelf label when they tried to get me to do a price check. If it was some thing reasonable, I'd let it slide.

If a customer would have brought a $30 item to my register (I worked in electronics) and tried telling me it was $2, on a good day I would have someone check the shelf and see if they were all mislabeled. If that were the case you'd maybe get it for $2 (maybe), but only of it were mislabeled clearance. On the other hand, there's a good chance the Assets Protection person would be up in the booth searching through the tapes, following you on your entire trip through the store, trying to find out if you switched the tags.

While you're most likely an honest person, you have to realize that retail employees are jaded by the constant attempts of customers to try to steal or cheat the system.
posted by drezdn at 6:51 PM on April 23, 2007

if you want to give a little F-You to the manager of the store, write to his supervisor. That is the proper way to handle being treated rudely by a store manager. Tell his supervisor that you will never shop in the store because of your experience.

Your question exemplifies one of the things I hate about the U.S. - If someone has a bad experience, they want to sue. The purpose of lawsuits is to right a wrong, not to punish someone for being rude.

Since you are a student, here is some advice: Grow up. Life is full of rude people, and if you insist on being vindictive every time you deal with one, you are just making the world that much worse.

Now, if the manager had cussed you out, kicked you in the nuts, and gotten your sister pregnant, that's a different story...
posted by markblasco at 7:02 PM on April 23, 2007

This is getting unbelievable. I would not have tried to get away with such a steal, or considered suing, or asked this board. But a lot of the responses here are really hasty or mean spirited. Jayder says to "take my word for it, as an attorney -- you would make a colossal fool of yourself if you sued somebody for $29," and adds a bit on the American rule, but doesn't bother to follow the link to find that the poster is entitled to $250 (which, notably, is intended to be super-compensatory) and a small amount of attorney's fees.

Maybe the OP isn't being realistic in saying that he would honor the price if the situation were reversed, but aramaic somehow converts this and the possibility that customers iwll lie into a bizarro three-party transaction . . . when the origin of the problem is with two parties, and the fact that scanners otherwise permit one of those parties a potential ratchet in store-favoring markups. (I.e., in reaction to w world in which drezdn/aramaic systematically had the upper hand, supposedly.) That's what the legislature thought, anyway, when it wrote this prophylactic rule.

And I agree with chundo that the law shouldn't define personal ethics, and that the OP should consider refraining, and that the law is partly aimed at preventing intentional fraud, but it's not an accident that the law doesn't require a showing of intentionality . . . and if it did, it would defeat the point. I think (but don't know) that the law is aimed at addressing store behavior that may or may not be intentional, but in any event can be made more careful.

Can't wait until someone posts with a question about strict liabilty.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:08 PM on April 23, 2007

What was the $30 item, anyhow?

The law is designed to prohibit stores from having a different price in their system tied to the barcode, and pulled up via the scanner, than the one marked on the shelf or the product. So I can't say bread is $0.50 on the shelf and tag, and then try to trick you by changing it to $2.00 when I scan it in.

This is obviously not the case in this instance. The fact that the OP feels like he should be able to sue is ridiculous, and that is why all of the responses are piling on. Being sue-happy is not a desirable trait. Trying to swindle a store is not a desirable trait. Revenge on a store manager who was most likely just doing his job (but possibly rudely) fails to gather sympathy, because the OP has not instilled confidence with any of the rest of this story. Just get over it.
posted by stovenator at 11:03 PM on April 23, 2007

One last try, then I give, especially since I couldn't imagine suing. Sorry for being frustrated and beating a dead horse.

1. It is very hard to say when customers or stores are being tricksy.
2. Both can exercise greater care. The store is a repeat player, and can exercise care more cheaply and profit more casually from a low level of error.
3. If everyone restricted herself to pursuing remedies only when they could show that the store was being tricksy, little mismarking would be detected and little care inspired. Giving shoppers a no-fault remedy promotes more accurate pricing; demanding a showing of tricksiness undermines it.
4. That seems to be exactly the thesis of the legislation.

I view this like strict liability law, or treble damages in antitrust, or punitive damages -- not intended to compensate precisely, nor (save sort of in the last case) to measure fault. But I'm in the minority. And I do believe, like others, that you should only serve these liability engines if you feel comfortable doing it.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 11:15 PM on April 23, 2007

Said cortex: "Finally, a lawsuit over $28 and some hurt pride is probably a really lousy idea, regardless."

I disagree: it sets a precedent that might well redound to the public's benefit. Businesses should be more careful (assuming that's all the issue is), and customers should have some pride.

But I can't imagine any lawyer I've known taking the case because 1) it'd be hard to prove damages (especialy given the Public Opinion you're seeing around here), so 2) if they won the lawyer would only be getting paid something like 1/3 of $29.99 USD -- contrary to some jokes most members of the bar won't cross the street to pick up a $10 bill lying on the sidewalk. (Such cases are taken on a contingency basis, right?)

If you want to "crusade" on your own as your own attorney go ahead. This does not mean I think you'll win if it ever gets to court, I think even Judge Judy would look at you like you're nuts and call you dirty names (like folks are in this thread), but more people should be willing to risk looking like loony idiots by standing up for themselves. The alternative is a society full of cowards who take whatever shit The Man hands them and insult everybody who shows more gorm than they've got.

But of course, I'm not a lawyer myself nor do I have any legal training.
posted by davy at 12:05 AM on April 24, 2007

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:14 AM on April 24, 2007

A store can be dishonest. The bait-and-switch approach is pretty common, I believe. But no store has the $30 thing on sale (even as a trick) for $2.

Maybe you were legally screwed for being stupid, and maybe you were illegally screwed for being literate. Surely you knew that $2 for $30 was going to cause problems, right?

Nonetheless, let's start a fund raiser for this individual. We need a mere twenty-eight donors -- putting in four quarters each -- to make things right for this fellow...
posted by wool sock at 12:16 AM on April 24, 2007

I think I deserve to be able to buy it for that price

I think this is why people are piling on. Saying that you "deserve" to buy it for that price suggests that you've done something special to earn that price, that you're being deprived and wronged by not getting that price.

But that rings false.

Legalities aside, it doesn't seem like you were wronged by a pricing error. (The manager shouldn't have been a jerk to you, but that's a different issue, and one that you should resolve by complaining to the higher-ups.) Complaining that you were "wronged", and that you "deserve" to pay a certain price, and that you'll make them pay for this injury, seems like overly dramatic language for what's going on here. That's why the pile-on.

Another point about retail sales:
Suppose the store pays $10 to get an item, and sells it for $20. Suppose the store needs to make back the wholesale price of the item, plus 25% for its overhead, to break even. (So for example, they can discount it by 20% in a sale and still make money on it.)

Probably if you discover a pricing error that is less than some magic "break-even" number, the cashier/manager can let you have it for the lower price. But once the price difference is greater than that magic number, then the store would be losing money, they'd be less than breaking even on an item - and in those cases, the cashier can't (by store policy) honor the stickered price.

It doesn't sound like you think the store is deliberately trying to deceive customers, but just that they made a mistake. In this case, you're saying that you "deserve" to pay the mistaken price, even though this would in effect be forcing the store to just hand you money. (because they lose money on the transaction) You're saying that you deserve cash from the store for their pricing mistake.

But why do you alone deserve this cash? Just because you walked by the shelf? Aren't the other customers equally affected -- don't they deserve cash too? (You can see where this is heading.)

So: what you deserve is civil treatment, and an apology for the pricing mistake. "I'm sorry sir/ma'am, this price is wrong. I'm sorry to have misled you. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. We're having someone change all the price stickers now." and it would be classy for them to give you 15% off the real price or something along those lines.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:20 AM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

One thing I forgot to add, if the manager gave it to you at the $2 price, assets protection would start watching his work much more closely.
posted by drezdn at 5:49 AM on April 24, 2007

This is Massachusetts, not Michigan law, but for what it's worth:
3.13: Pricing and Refund, Return and Cancellation Privileges

(1) Pricing.

(a) Failure to Disclose Price. It is an unfair and deceptive act or practice for any person subject to 940 CMR 3.13:

1. to fail to disclose to a buyer prior to any agreement the price or cost of any services to be provided, or
2. to fail to affix to any goods offered for sale to consumers the price at which the goods are to be sold. As used in 940 CMR 3.13, the term "affix" shall mean to price an item individually by means of a pricing tag or sticker appended to the item, or by printing the price on the product or its packaging.
So in MA, the store would, in fact, have to sell the item for the sticker price, unless they have evidence the tag was swapped. One reason that stores are thick with video cameras. "Human error" is not a defense.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:26 AM on April 24, 2007

Sticker prices are no usually considered an offer to sale in contract law. There may be some specific differences per state, usually in regard to automobiles and high ticket items that are prone to ripping people off. If there was an ad in the store that is different, but a sticker by itself is not usually considered an offer. With no offer there is no acceptance, etc.
posted by geoff. at 7:47 AM on April 24, 2007

geoff (and wilko),

That's right about stickers and shelved goods usually being invitiations to offer or treat, not offers. But that's in part what motivates consumer protection statutes like this -- the sense that as a matter of contract law the consumer may have no recourse. So the offer/acceptance paradigm is the supposed problem, not the solution.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:06 AM on April 24, 2007

I find most of the responses here rather bizarre, and I worked retail for 10 years. If something is marked at a certain price I expect to pay that price. End of story. Otherwise, it's pretty much bait and switch, no?

A few years ago, I was going to buy a new Powerbook and a Toronto seller called Carbon Computing faxed me a quote which was about $200 less than everyone else in the city. I ordered the machine, went to pick it up, waited 90 minutes for them to add my upgrades (ram) and then when they brought it to the counter the price was $200 more than they quoted me. They refused to sell it to me for the quoted price saying it was "an obvious error" (though they agreed they sent me the quote I had in my hand).

I spoke to the president of the store who said that his assistant manager (the person who quoted me the price) was an idiot and fucked things up all the time and that he was sorry for the mistake. Well, in my opinion, he should make right on the (known) idiot's error. If he wants to avoid such mistakes in the future, he should fire the known idiot. He did neither and is presumably roping in customers with this technique to this day.

I did not take them to court but I did speak to my lawyer and she agreed that they were breaking the law. Instead of suing over such a frivolous amount, I simply purchased my Powerbook elsewhere (as I have my 4 Macs and many accessories and iPods since). I also make a point of telling everyone I know about what a shitass company Carbon Computing is and what a moron their president is.

I suggest the OP similarily badmouth the store that tried to dick them around. It's perhaps not as nice as the savings, but its an okay salve on a rather insubstantial wound.

And yes, I realize a faxed quote is different from a sticker price but I don't think it's different enough to warrant not honoring it.
posted by dobbs at 8:21 AM on April 24, 2007

Otherwise, it's pretty much bait and switch, no?

it's not an example of Bait and Switch

The most direct portion being...
There needs to be an advertisement for the bait in order for there to be a "bait and switch."
posted by drezdn at 8:48 AM on April 24, 2007

And yes, I realize a faxed quote is different from a sticker price but I don't think it's different enough to warrant not honoring it.

It's absolutely different enough, and here's why:

A faxed quote has to be put together and compiled by someone - you wouldn't have needed a "quote" otherwise, you'd get a "price". It's an offer from a person to a person and is a response to an ad hoc request.

A price tag has many differences:
- It wasn't put together especially as an offer to you
- It could be easily removed from one item and placed on another
- Because they're done en masse, the probability that a legitimate error is made increases vastly

This would be a different story if the price tag had said $24.99, but it says $1.99 which is an obvious error on an item that sells for $29.99.

Think about it this way just as an example:

Every day, some hooligan walks through a store and moves a few price tags with the intention of coming back later and buying items cheaper than they're supposed to.

However, you walk in in between the hooligan's delay time, and see one of the items he's "marked down." Does the store have to honor the price that is a result of our hooligan friend's misdeed?

If yes, how much time is it reasonable for that price tag to be on the item before someone spots it and corrects it? Surely they can't watch every single item in the store like hawks and fix it within seconds, so what's acceptable?

If it's even once a day - how much do you have to pay someone to go through the entire inventory of a store and make sure no price tags have fallen off, been moved, etc?

If you have to pay someone to do that, how much will it increase operating costs for the store and therefore consumer products to you as a customer?

Mistakes happen. Taking advantage of a mistake like that is tantamount to stealing.
posted by twiggy at 9:00 AM on April 24, 2007

I don't think any has thought to ask, were ALL the scanners marked with $1.99 stickers, or just this one? Did you find it with all of the others or on some random shelf? Was the sticker the stores type and matched the same style? Was there a shelf sticker that gave the price of the item? Did it match the same as the sticker on the item itself?

This law is to prevent the store from routinely advertising one price and charging another hoping people wont notice (that was a big issue at one time) its not intended so that one randomly mislabeled item can be bought at a windfall to the consumer.

At this point I think its best to move on and realize you do not deserve to recieve an item pratically free of chrage that you know does not sell at anything close to that price in a normal market.

If the manager was rude, follow due course with HIS manager, but don't try and sue the store because he wouldn't let you have your way.

Oh and aramaic, your thought pattern makes no logical sense. The poster said if he was in the position of the manager he would honor the price. He did NOT say that he would pull the money out of his own pocket, nor does his statement have anything whatsoever to do about sending some random far flung poster on ask me 28 bucks. Your demand he send you money as a way to prove his statement makes you look like a fool.
posted by crewshell at 9:07 AM on April 24, 2007

However, you walk in in between the hooligan's delay time, and see one of the items he's "marked down." Does the store have to honor the price that is a result of our hooligan friend's misdeed?

It's 2007. When I was a teenager (80s) there were methods to restrict this type of behavior. A sticker doesn't just have to have a price on it, it can have data that identifies it as being on the correct item. It can have digits or letters that ensure if it's swapped, it's not valid. Hell, even at my local record store, where they hand write the tags, they do this (they put the last 4 digits of the catalog number of the cd on the sticker AND the first initial of the artist--if anyone brings up a stickered item that doesn't match, it's very easy to show the customer that it's been swapped and therefore won't be honored).

Again, any store that isn't taking basic steps to ensure their stuff is not being fucked with is a store to avoid, imo.
posted by dobbs at 9:17 AM on April 24, 2007

I think what Twiggy and others are missing is that in my experience (which is, erm, being a LAWYER - but not yours) this is although not perhaps a textbook example, the situation laws like this are pointedly trying to address is errors on the sticker price (whether accidental or intentional). The law (or, at any rate, laws like it) is designed to put the onus, the risk of error, on the STORE not the individual. The law is designed to give stores incentive to monitor sticker prices (catching human error or machine error, etc.) and keep every sticker or tag on every item correct, reducing either ACCIDENTAL or intentional overcharges of customers. The law does this by punishing the store when they make errors; but since it would be a waste of taxpayer money to send in state government undercover shoppers that issue a state criminal prosecution against each store, the enforcement is shifted over to the wronged consumer. That Twiggy or others think this burden should be placed on a consumer - to check down to the penny each item and ensure the receipt matches on an item-per-item basis - is a perfectly legitimate difference of opinion on what the law OUGHT to be, but to excoriate the OP here for asking about the application of a law to a situation well within the parameters such law was designed to address is not only incredibly self-centered and rude, but plainly application of bad logic/reasoning to the question, yielding a very wrong answer to the question. It really burns me up when "layman's morality" is presented as an answer to a legal question without the caveat that the poster (in this case, Twiggy) is not a lawyer with any special knowledge of the law or its circumstances, who doesn't even appear to have read the law before posting a self-righteous tirade, and thus attempts to persuade an asker that her opinion can claim the merit of legal truth. Honestly, the most accurate answers (in my theoretical legal opinion) are those acknowledging that the law probably applies, but that an attempt to enforce it through the small claims court system would be ridiculous. A strongly worded letter with a copy to a local newspaper might at least make the OP feel better.
posted by bunnycup at 10:21 AM on April 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

[take metadiscussion to METATALK - there is a discussion there already in progress.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:05 PM on April 24, 2007

As the OP that everybody apparently loves to hate, here are a few points of clarification:

-it wasn't a scanner. The law in question is often known as the "scanner law"

-I had no intention of actually suing. You'll note that my question is: "do i have grounds for suing"? I'm wondering how the law is interpreted. "following up" referred to doing some research, which I had hoped would be aided by the usually gracious and helpful responses I've received on MF before.

-whether or not the item was stickered at a very reduced price or the mistake was in your mind 'obvious' seems to me a flawed argument. The law makes no distinctions about the dollar amount required for the law to take effect

thats it. feel free to keep speculating about my personal life, morals, hygiene and etc. on MetaTalk if you like, but I really was just trying to get an honest answer to what to myself seemed like a reasonable question.
posted by gilsonal at 4:45 PM on April 24, 2007

Well, I just read the website you referred us to (I was too lazy to cut-and-paste the URL you gave us, when I responded earlier) and I apologize for my off-the-cuff assholishness.
posted by jayder at 9:46 PM on April 24, 2007

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