Chambersburg, PA asked in Business Law, Civil Litigation and Contracts for Maryland

Q: Can a pawn shop lie about the value of the item I’m selling them, and then sell it for 3x the amount?!

I sold a computer to a pawnshop that said AT MOST they could sell it for 1200, so they gave me 650. I just saw the computer listed, and sold by them, for 2200. They deliberately lied to me, and undervalued my product.

1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: You do not have a claim for this. The buyer/pawn shop has no duty to tell the truth about what they believe the value of your property is worth. As the owner and seller, you should know or be capable of researching the fair market value of your property before you sell it. Also, pawn shops are in a business for profit, so they will only buy low and sell high. Their asking price is most likely an opening asking price or bargaining position, and not what a future buyer will end up offering them for the item. Pawn shops are also notorious for low-balling the value of the items they buy or loan money on, precisely to insure against the risk of not being able to sell the item for at least what they paid for or loaned on it. Valuing at 1/3 what they think they can sell it for is a common pricing strategy for such businesses, who may end up having to stock it for months or years before it sells and recouping their money or earning a profit. Selling your property at a pawn shop is typically the worst possible choice for getting fair value, and usually is a last desperate resort for people needing money, but because money is immediately paid, and it's in cash, people know they will get money at once. If you want fair market value, sell on e-bay or CraigsList, etc., and hope someone offers you a better price. That takes time and patience you may not have.

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