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Can Retailer Refuse to Honor Advertised Price?

1:34 AM, Jan 22, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The internet has become America's biggest mall, where online shoppers spend billions.

Sunday, Jan. 16, Thomas Thornburg was browsing when he saw a Playstation Three video game player and control advertised at a crazy price.

"They had it marked down for $39.99, marked down as clearance," he said.

He made the purchase, but with no charge to his credit card until it was shipped. Thornburg said he called customer service to confirm the purchase.

"We were on hold 58 minutes waiting for a supervisor, who said, 'Hey, no problem, we'll go ahead and honor the price and get it shipped to you,'" he said.

Two days later, however, he received an email saying there was a mistake and the order was canceled. Thornburg now feels should honor the price.

Consumer law attorney Kate Hatfield looked at the website and said the company does not have to honor the price, at least not based on its terms and conditions.

"Companies do make errors, that is why they put terms and conditions on the site," said Hatfield.

The terms and conditions read:

-If an item's correct price is lower than our stated price, we charge the lower amount and ship the item.

-If an item's correct price is higher than our stated price we will cancel your order and notify you of such cancelation via email.

Hatfield said Thornburg is out of luck. Thornburg admits he never read the website's terms and conditions, but that doesn't change how he feels.

"I believe they should honor pricing they had on their website," he said.

Kristy Welker, a spokesperson for said the following in a statement:

"Early last week Target became aware of the mismatched price and product information on and, which resulted in the PlayStation 3 Move Advanced Shooter Grip and the discontinued Sony PS3 Hardware System being displayed incorrectly on both sites. Unfortunately we are unable to offer either of these items at this time and we are cancelling guests' orders without any charge to their account.  We sincerely regret this inconvenience."

Attorney Andy Kantor said when it comes to advertised prices, they should be considered as an invitation to buy, and they are not a binding contract. He said the retailer does not have to honor the advertised price, but if you believe there is a case of bait and switch, you should report that to the proper authorities.








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