Businesses are responsible for the truth of their advertisements. At all times a business representation should not be false or misleading; a merchant’s failure to disclose an important fact may be unfair or deceptive. Businesses therefore must disclose sale end-dates, may not base price comparisons on inflated prices, and may not advertise products they do not intend to sell as advertised. If mistakes are made in advertising, it is the businesses’ obligation to make corrections, and until the corrections are made, to honor the price offered, unless a reasonable consumer would recognize the mistake.
It is not false advertising if a store runs out of an advertised item and any one of the following is true:
- It had a reasonable quantity, but demand was extraordinary.
- The ad stated that quantities were limited and no rain checks were available.
- The seller offered a rain check.
- The seller offered a comparable substitute item.
- The seller can prove shipping delays.
A merchant should not try to attract consumers into store using one product’s advertisement, but then attempt to convince consumers to buy more extensive products once in the store.
- refuse to show or to sell the advertised products;
- discredit advertised products’ terms and quality
If a store runs out of an advertised item, ask for a rain check, if one is offered, so you can buy the item at the advertised price at a later date. The store must notify you when the item is back in stock if it sells for $25 or more. The rain check must be honored within 60 days. The store may have a policy of no rain checks but this fact should be disclosed.
Lay Away Plans
It is an unfair or deceptive act or practice for a store to fail to disclose or to misrepresent its lay away plan to those consumers seeking a lay away, or for a store to represent that a particular product chosen by the buyer or an exact duplicate is being “laid away” if that is not true, or to fail to disclose any time limits on the setting aside of merchandise.
It is also unfair or deceptive to increase the price of lay away goods, either by increasing payments or substituting lesser quality goods, or to fail to deliver the goods laid away or an exact substitute, when payments have been made, unless the buyer has previously agreed to changes in writing.
The store is also required to give the buyer a receipt for payments made as they are made, and, if requested, to give a list of the balance of payments made to that date.
Finally, it is unfair or deceptive to fail to disclose or to misrepresent in any way the policy concerning cancellations and repayments or non-repayment of payments already made, and if payments are not refunded, to fail to disclose that fact in writing.