[To read the abbreviated version, scroll to the bottom of the post.]
It all started on Wednesday. I read about a new, low-cost, flip camcorder and its abilities to record HD quality – a Kodak zi8. During online review, I thought the price was $150 (it looks like it’s now $179 online.)
On Friday, we ventured to Best Buy store A, and the price was $199 on their tag. After exploring some other flip recorders, we decided to buy the Kodak. We asked the sales representative to work his magic and bring one to us. He checked, and they were sold out.
On Saturday, I called another Best Buy, let’s call this one store B, only to learn they too had sold out. So we went to another Best Buy, store C. When we arrived at the checkout counter, we saw the price was $229! “Hmm,” I responded upon seeing the cost, and then I professionally asked the cashier to check the price. Actually… that’s not entirely true. I wish I had done that. Instead, I muttered repeatedly, like a crazy person: “I think it was $199 yesterday. I’m pretty sure it was $199. David don’t you remember? It said $199. David do you remember? The world is crashing down around me, left means right, up means down. I know it was $199 but this register says it’s not so.” The cashier stared at us and double checked the price. “No, it’s $229.99.” So we said, “Okay, thank you for double checking that!” and ventured out of the store with our new flip camera. We also confirmed that price changes only happen on Sundays. There shouldn’t be price changes between Friday and Saturday.
Then we decided to drive to Best Buy store A. We went over to the display where the cameras were. Sure enough, the Kodak zi8 had a display price of $199. We showed it to the salesperson and said, “Hello kind sir. We just purchased this camera from another Best Buy, because you were sold out, for $229. Should the prices differ across locations?”
“Hmm. They should not!” he replied. “Let me go check.” During this interval, David and I debated.
David: Okay, so if they find out the paper is mistaken, the computer price stands. There is nothing we can do.
Me: But that is false advertising. They have to give us the price listed on the sticker. We would not have bought this camera had we thought it was $229. The $199 compelled us to buy from Best Buy. I would have just bought online had I thought it was $229.
David: No, one time, Amazon listed Nintendo Wii’s for $50. It was a mistake of course, but all these people bought a Wii. Well, Amazon realized the mistake, and refunded people their money, saying they could not sell the product for $50.
Me: That’s not good service. Now all of those people who thought they could buy a Wii for $50 have to either tell their children they will no longer be getting Wiis or buy Wiis they may not have otherwise bought had it not been for the false advertising.
David: Well it’s not good practice, but mistakes happen. What are companies supposed to do?
Me: David, you are a beacon of wisdom and champion of rationale. I suppose I’ll understand if it was a mistake.
Around this time, the salesperson returned and said, “Yeah, the paper is wrong. The price is $229. There’s nothing we can do.”
We thanked the fellow for checking.
This is where the plot thickens. We started to look for memory cards, and I said, “David. I know you want to let this price thing go, but if that salesperson put the paper with the incorrect price back in the same spot, he is advertising false information. Can we check to see what he did with the paper? If he put it back in front of the display camera, I get to go to Customer Service.”
David agreed, and we ventured back over to the display camera. Sure enough, the salesperson had put the paper listing the incorrect price right back in its original spot! False advertising! Outraged, David yanked the paper out of its holder and started charging towards Customer Service. I ran behind him, delighted to speak up for consumer rights. “David let me do the talking!” I insisted. “And then you can do the talking!”
“Fine,” he replied.
Customer Service immediately refunded the $30 difference and tore up the price paper. That’s right.
Abbreviated Version: We went to Best Buy to buy a camera…then we found $30.