Note: It is a good idea to bookmark this article, just in case next time you’re standing at the checkout line with a manager over a pricing error. You can also access this page by memorizing and typing this in a web browser: “TinaLikes.com/error“
Glitches and pricing errors can be fantastic little “surprise deals” when you’re able to get them from your stores. However, the “when you’re able to get them” is the biggest hurdle to overcome. Luckily, if you live in California (or one of several other states), you have the law on your side!
In this article, I’m going to talk about how pricing error laws work to the benefit of the consumer, and how to use them. I’m going to focus specifically on how this law works in California, but you can check the full list of states to see if yours participates.
When this happens (weather it’s a display price tag or ringing up at the price scanner), what I do is take a picture of the signage and show it to cashier at checkout. They will usually bring a manager over to resolve the issue. When they don’t, that’s when I will recite the CA Pricing Error Law below.
When you see Free Stuff Finder posting deals on pricing errors (such as this KitchenAid deal at Target) we always mention false advertising laws. This is because many states have specific laws that protects consumers from paying a higher price than from what is advertised on the shelf. So, if you see a price tag on the shelf that seems way lower than what it should be, keep in mind that your store may have to honor it or face fines and penalties!
I’ve never had a store not honor display price errors. One time (Star Wars Dolls ringing up for $0.99 in January 2016) the manager tried to refuse, I simply pulled out the following law and read it to her. She stepped away and allowed me to buy several of the toy. Hope this comes in handy for you. Let me know in the comments below if you know of such a law in other states.
California B&P Code #12024.2.
(a) It is unlawful for any person, at the time of sale of
a commodity, to do any of the following:
- (1) Charge an amount greater than the price, or to compute an
amount greater than a true extension of a price per unit, that is
then advertised, posted, marked, displayed, or quoted for that
- (2) Charge an amount greater than the lowest price posted on the
commodity itself or on a shelf tag that corresponds to the commodity,
notwithstanding any limitation of the time period for which the
posted price is in effect.
(b) A violation of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a
fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25) nor more than one
thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in the county jail for a
period not exceeding one year, or by both, if the violation is
willful or grossly negligent, or when the overcharge is more than one
(c) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a
fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100) when the overcharge
is one dollar ($1) or less.
(d) As used in subdivisions (b) and (c), “overcharge” means the
amount by which the charge for a commodity exceeds a price that is
advertised, posted, marked, displayed, or quoted to that consumer for
that commodity at the time of sale.
(e) Except as provided in subdivision (f), for purposes of this
section, when more than one price for the same commodity is
advertised, posted, marked, displayed, or quoted, the person offering
the commodity for sale shall charge the lowest of those prices.
(f) Pricing may be subject to a condition of sale, such as
membership in a retailer-sponsored club, the purchase of a minimum
quantity, or the purchase of multiples of the same item, provided
that the condition is conspicuously posted in the same location as
This means that if you find a pricing error at your local store in California, they have to give it to you. If they don’t, they’re breaking the law. Additionally, there are other participating states where you have a good chance of being able to get it at that price, as well. Make sure you check the list of participating states to see if you one of the lucky states included in this!