Dick Smith advertised a 32GB microSD card for only $8 earlier this week in error. It has announced that it won’t honour that price, but is it within its rights to do so?
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The short answer, for the tl;dr crowd is that no, it’s not actually obliged to honour an advertised price if it is in error. It is different if a retailer offers a “sale” price in a deceptive fashion that it never intended to honour, but as the Dick Smith deal linked through to a cheaper 8GB card that it is selling for $8, that wasn’t the case here.
Current has the writeup on the Dick Smith deal, noting that it has a specific advertising clause in the small print:
In certain circumstances, we may need to reject your order. This may happen where the requested Product is not available or if there is an error in the price or the product description posted on the Site.
There’s a difference in expectations here between what some retailers offer in the case of pricing errors, and what they’re obliged to actually do. Many vendors go above what they’re legally obliged to do in order to meet consumer expectations, but that doesn’t change their actual obligations, nor does it mean that what one store does is law for another.
A good example is the supermarket code of practice for computerised checkout systems, which offers customers a single item under $50 for free if it scans at a higher price than the ticketed shelf price. That’s a voluntary code (Woolies, Coles, Bi-Lo and Franklins are signatories). IGA has its own version with a slightly tighter $20 limit but the key thing in all cases is that it’s the supermarket’s choice to do so. Coles and Kmart are part of the Coles group, but the code doesn’t apply at all in Kmart stores as an example.
We’ve covered instances previously where pricing errors have been honoured by vendors wishing to “make good” with their customers, but they’re not actually obliged to do so. In Dick Smith’s case, it has decided to apologise to customers, but not honour the price.