Asked in Business Law for California

Q: Are the prices advertised on a retailer's website binding? In other words, can he advertise goods at $85 and charge $95?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Timothy James Walton
Timothy James Walton
  • Aptos, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Generally, a seller is required to stand by an offer once the offer is accepted. There have been instances, however, where a seller's price was just unreasonably low, due to a typographical error, for instance. Most retailers will still honor the price, but in one case a court found that the price was so low that the buyers should have known it was not real. This makes it difficult to know whether a price is absurdly low because of a "fire sale", because the goods are hot, or because the seller put the decimal in the wrong place.

If a retailer makes a habit of not honoring the advertised price, the free market assumes that he will get written up on web sites like those run by the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, RipOffReport, and the like.

If you know of only one instance where a seller has done this, and the true price was reflected rather soon after bringing it to the merchant's attention, then you will have a hard time prevailing in court.

If you are in a disagreement over $10, then it is really just a life lesson (i.e., check the BBB before buying form someone you don't know), as even filing in small claims court will cost many times that amount.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.