We received a call at Consumer Affairs recently from a young lady complaining about a mis-marked item in a local store. There were two very similar products on the shelf; one had more features than the other.

The price for the product with more features was less than the similar product with less features so of course she decided to buy the lower priced, better product. When she got to the register to pay the salesperson explained that there had been a mistake and the product was indeed mismarked.

Shouldn’t I pay what was on the shelf in front of the product? That was what the consumer called us to ask. Not in this case as this falls under what the law calls, an invitation to treat.

Wikipedia defines this as: an expression of willingness to negotiate. A person making an invitation to treat does not intend to be bound as soon as it is accepted by the person to whom the statement is addressed.

Essentially, the retailer decides the price he wants to charge for his goods and is not obliged to sell it to you at the lower mismarked price. The retailer can withdraw the offer to sell the goods until the problem has been rectified or you as the customer can buy the goods at the higher corrected price.

Of course the consumer has every right to refuse to buy the item but it doesn’t hurt to complain to the manager and try to negotiate the better price. The Consumer Affairs web-site has quite a bit of useful information on situations like this as well as tips for teens and seniors as well as information on personal finance and scams. For more information visit www.ca.gov.bm.

Honey Adams Bell is the education officer for Consumer Affairs. Email consumers@gov.bm if you have a question for Consumer Affairs.