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Mispriced items – what are your rights?

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
May 12, 2015

We all like to feel we’re getting a bargain.

Certainly, Esther Hiller from Ely in Cambridgeshire does.

So, she was delighted to snap up a pair of size 8, Nike Mercurial soccer boots for her 13-year-old son, Alfie.

They were £39.99 from Sports Direct.

She ordered the boots online and when they arrived, they were exactly as described.

Except that Esther noticed that the price on the box was £29.99 – £10 cheaper than she had paid for them.

Not surprisingly, she felt a bit cheesed off.

But when she contacted Sports Direct, they were less than sympathetic.

She was simply told:

“Please be advised that our stock go through price increases and decreases all the time. The price you have paid is the correct price for the boots.

Kind regards.”

So what are your rights if something like this happens to you? Scroll down to find out. 

 

Above: a trailer for the recent Channel 4 documentary exposing SportsDirect's dubious pricing strategy.

Perhaps not the best approach to customer service.

But what are Esther’s actual rights?

She certainly felt strongly she had been misled and she contacted A Spokesman Said to complain.

“I thought they were just rude,” said Esther.  “And should refund the difference between the two prices.

“I thought that if something is marked at a certain price in a shop, then they have to sell it at that price. And this is sort of the same,” she added.

Sadly, though, this is commonly held view that turns out to be a myth.

No one is allowed to deliberately misprice goods and once a deal has been struck, the retailer must sell at the price agreed.

But if a shop just makes a mistake, they are under no obligation to sell an item at the advertised price – so long as it really is a mistake.

The displayed price does not amount to a contract, but what is known legally as “an invitation to treat”; in other words, it’s an invitation for the customer to make an offer. The seller doesn’t have to accept that offer.

So, Esther can at least take comfort from the fact that, even if she had seen the boots in store marked with the wrong price, Sports Direct would not have been obliged to sell at that price.

Lots of shops will, of course, honour a small pricing error in favour of the customer, but that’s their choice

If you've been the victim of misleading prices, make your complaint now. 

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