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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    2

    Default Seller Didn't Honor Advertised Price

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: California.

    Shopping online for a camera, I saw a good price on Sony's DSC-TX9: $254.09, marked down from $399.99. That was on Sony's own site, SonyStyle.com. I clicked "ADD TO CART." But the price in my cart was $349.99. Turns out the advertised price was a mistake, employee pricing accidentally shown to the public. Sony said it was unfortunate, regrettable, it's happened in the past, and now the problem is fixed. "You can buy it for $349.99."

    No one in customer service is willing to see things from my side. What can I do to convince them? What magic words can I say to get them to honor the advertised price? It's maddening. I have screen captures to prove the advertisement, if necessary.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    27,025

    Default Re: Seller Didn't Honor Advertised Price

    What magic words can I say to get them to honor the advertised price?
    so, did you happen to read their disclaimers concerning pricing errors?

    If you believe they did something improper or illegal, contact the attorney general's office.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    9,085

    Default Re: Seller Didn't Honor Advertised Price

    Quote Quoting Mojo22046
    View Post
    No one in customer service is willing to see things from my side. What can I do to convince them? What magic words can I say to get them to honor the advertised price? It's maddening. I have screen captures to prove the advertisement, if necessary.
    Since you don't have any recourse against a mistake on the website, the only magic words you could use were be something along the lines of "Yes, I would love to come work for Sony."
    All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
    - Mark Twain

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Seller Didn't Honor Advertised Price

    Cyjeff, I was hoping for some actual legal insight, not smartass remarks. This is supposed to be ExpertLaw.com. Can you cite to the UCC, California consumer protection law, regulation, rule, case law? Any legal authority whatsoever? That's kinda what lawyers are supposed to know, right? If you can't be both helpful and respectful, I don't need to hear from you. Seriously.

    I know it's a poor substitute for legal research, but Google is basically telling me that it's a myth that sellers have to sell their products at the advertised price. That comes as a surprise to me and I'm sure most of the public. It's widely believed, apparently mistakenly believed, that a seller may not attract customers with a price that brings them in the door only to tell them as they're checking out that they will have to pay something more. This happened to me at Staples a year or so ago, and the manager said, well, it's not the right price but we'll give it to you since it was our mistake. I was buying copier paper, so it didn't amount to much. My friend's wife was looking for a new fridge and saw a price she knew had to be a mistake. She took the ad down to the store and insisted they sell it to her for that price. And they did.

    Now, maybe they had no legal obligation, maybe they were being kind and wanting to protect their good will. And ultimately I think that's what pisses me off with Sony. After talking with customer support, I quickly came to realize they don't care how I feel about it. They won't look at this from my point of view, the point of view of the consumer. And they're big enough that they don't mind pissing off one prospective customer. So I'll just look for a different camera and take my business elsewhere. Not that they care. They should, but they don't. And that's what leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

    Thanks, jk, for directing me to the state attorney general's office.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,625

    Default Re: Seller Didn't Honor Advertised Price

    Per the website TOS:
    Quote Quoting Payment Terms; Price Confirmation/Billing Errors:
    Unless otherwise indicated, the purchase price of Products will be billed in full at the time of Product shipment. Sony will charge credit cards upon shipment. Sony accepts Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover. Sony does not accept cash, COD, purchase orders, personal checks or the Sony Preferred Card unless specific arrangements have been made for business sales. Sony payment terms are subject to change without notice at Sony's sole discretion. For web orders, we confirm the price of a Product as part of our order processing procedures. In the unlikely event that a price stated on a Sony Web site or direct sales materials are incorrect, then the following applies: If a Product's correct price is lower than our stated price, we charge the lower price and ship you the Product. If a Product's correct price is higher than our stated price, we will, at our discretion, either contact you for instructions before shipping or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation. We reserve the right to correct the balance of your Gift Card if we believe a clerical, billing or accounting error occurred. Sony shall not be liable for any billing errors unless you advise us of such billing error within sixty (60) days of its transaction date. Sony further accepts the Sony Gift Card and up to 10 Gift Cards can be used for payment.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    15,932

    Default Re: Seller Didn't Honor Advertised Price

    That's kinda what lawyers are supposed to know, right?
    If you want a lawyer, hire one. No one promised you help from an attorney here - it even says at the bottom of every single page on this site that the folks here are volunteers who may or may not have legal training:

    If you submit a question or comment it is assumed that you are interested in soliciting, receiving or giving general information and not legal advice. Laws vary by state, and the laws described in this forum may be different in your state or may have been changed since the information was posted. The legal help offered in this forum comes from volunteers who may not have any formal legal training or knowledge, and all information should be confirmed with a qualified legal professional. All information is made available on an "as is" basis.
    Reading website terms before availing yourself of the site would serve you better than getting snippy at someone trying to inject a little levity into a frustrating situation.

    I know it's a poor substitute for legal research, but Google is basically telling me that it's a myth that sellers have to sell their products at the advertised price.
    Not quite. You seem to be conflating actual false advertising with mistakes.

    It is true that a seller need not honor the advertised price if it's wrong - that is, if a mistake has been made, such as the employee pricing being shown, or someone fat fingered a key, then no, the seller is not obligated to honor that price. And, you'll find, most websites have disclaimers explaining exactly that. Because mistakes happen, and the law does not require that you be allowed to benefit from a seller's mistake.

    Where sellers are required to honor an advertised price is in the case of deliberate deception. California, like most other states, has a "Bait and Switch" law. Essentially, a bait and switch law holds that a seller may not falsely claim to do X or have X for sale for [insert stupidly low price here], when they in fact, do NOT do X or never intended to sell X for that price, or never had the item in stock to begin with.

    A good example of a bait and switch comes to mind from a local appliance chain. They always advertised "crazy low prices", and you'd always hear complaints around town about the ads being BS. They got caught with their pants down one year when DVD players were starting to become more widely available, advertising a particular make and model for $89 - wicked cheap for a DVD player back then. When you got into the store, however, they'd have ONE of that make and model, and they "couldn't sell you the floor model and didn't know when there would be more in stock", so would take you to "a very similar model!" - that was selling for nearly $300. You could get there at store open on the day the ad broke, and they'd already be "out of stock". Enough people fussed at our AG, the chain was investigated, and it was found that the chain never had the advertised item in stock to begin with. They're no longer in business - they closed up shop after they were forced to pay out triple damages to every consumer they had suckered in this fashion, not just folks burned by the DVD player ads, but those who could prove they were burned by ANY of their ads.

    Your situation does not fall under bait and switch laws. It was a mistake, not a deliberate deception. Your AG will tell you the same.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    9,085

    Default Re: Seller Didn't Honor Advertised Price

    Quote Quoting Mojo22046
    View Post
    Cyjeff, I was hoping for some actual legal insight, not smartass remarks. This is supposed to be ExpertLaw.com. Can you cite to the UCC, California consumer protection law, regulation, rule, case law? Any legal authority whatsoever? That's kinda what lawyers are supposed to know, right? If you can't be both helpful and respectful, I don't need to hear from you. Seriously.
    Seriously.... the only way you can get the employee's only price is to become an employee.

    I know it's a poor substitute for legal research, but Google is basically telling me that it's a myth that sellers have to sell their products at the advertised price. That comes as a surprise to me and I'm sure most of the public. It's widely believed, apparently mistakenly believed, that a seller may not attract customers with a price that brings them in the door only to tell them as they're checking out that they will have to pay something more. This happened to me at Staples a year or so ago, and the manager said, well, it's not the right price but we'll give it to you since it was our mistake. I was buying copier paper, so it didn't amount to much. My friend's wife was looking for a new fridge and saw a price she knew had to be a mistake. She took the ad down to the store and insisted they sell it to her for that price. And they did.
    That was that store's choice to honor a mistake. Sony doesn't have to and won't.

    Now, maybe they had no legal obligation, maybe they were being kind and wanting to protect their good will. And ultimately I think that's what pisses me off with Sony. After talking with customer support, I quickly came to realize they don't care how I feel about it. They won't look at this from my point of view, the point of view of the consumer. And they're big enough that they don't mind pissing off one prospective customer. So I'll just look for a different camera and take my business elsewhere. Not that they care. They should, but they don't. And that's what leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
    You have that right. That is the ONLY right you have here from a legal standpoint.
    All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
    - Mark Twain

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