Rachel Achmad

Consumer Rights: Supermarket Savvy

Oops sign


I recently went to the dairy section of my grocery store to take advantage of an incredibly low price on milk I’d seen in my weekly flyer . . . too low to be true, as it turned out. A large sloppily written sign on the milk cooler greeted me, stating, “Sale price advertised in this week’s flyer is incorrect and will not be honored.” I shrugged—these things happen.


But a few minutes later, I noticed an irate shopper complaining to a store employee that they had to honor the printed sale price. I didn’t stick around to watch, so I don’t know if my store honored it, but it did make me wonder how about regulations regarding this type of supermarket slip-up.


Do consumers have the right to put up a good fight over these kinds of gaffes? I looked it up when I got home. Apparently, regulations can differ by state. My state, Massachusetts, has a hefty, online guide published by the Attorney General. It’s chock-full of regulations and consumer rights. I learned from it that in Massachusetts, as long as a company makes a reasonable effort to inform the public that a sale is incorrect—i.e., the sloppy sign on the cooler—they do not have to honor a mistaken ad. (However, it makes good customer service sense to give the customer the discount anyway.)


To find out more information on regulations where you live, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection site at www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.



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