Most of us have come across a mispriced item while shopping online or in-store – sometimes the shop will honour it, other times they won’t. But what is your legal standing as a consumer when you try and buy something that has been incorrectly labelled?
Unfortunately, retailers aren’t necessarily bound by law to sell you an item mislabelled with a lower price tag. According to the European Consumer Centre Ireland, this falls under something known as an ‘Invitation to Treat’ – basically when an item or service is advertised for sale, customers are invited to make an offer to purchase it. Generally speaking, if you’re told the correct price before you buy, you won’t have any comeback.
“Once an offer is accepted, and consequently a binding contract is formed, the consumer can insist that the trader sells the goods/services for the price they were advertised at,” says ECC Ireland. “However, if there is a genuine mistake on the part of the trader to display the correct price, the trader can claim that there is a defect in consent and the contract may be set aside, especially if the consumer should reasonably have known that the price displayed was the result of an error.”
For example, if you spot a 50-inch TV with a price tag of €50, a mistake has likely been made. “On the other hand, if the consumer has ordered in good faith, unaware of any error, he/she could look for arrangements, [and] particularly may seek to enforce performance of the contract or even compensation (e.g. damages) when the actual loss can be accredited,” ECC Ireland adds.
If you feel that the retailer or service provider has deliberately misled customers on pricing, you can make a complaint to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, which can take action against businesses in the event of a breach of the EU’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.
For more information, see eccireland.ie.