Best Buy mistakenly offers high-end TV for $9.99

by Walter Olson on August 19, 2009

And a New Jersey lawyer hopes to hold them to it via lawsuit, despite a “we will not honor typos” clause in the retailer’s announced policy. [ABA Journal]

{ 10 comments }

1 Raymer 08.19.09 at 3:04 pm

for ten bucks it is at least worth flushing things out a bit. Just what is a typo and at what stage of transcription does a typo get to be only a typo.
i.e
-Best Buy proofed add copy shows $999 and a goof by the print shop makes it $9.99, then typo it is.
-Best Buy management approves $999, but Best Buy employed copy writer in promotions slips the decimal place and sends the add copy to the print shop as $9.99. Error generated by Best Buy employee who did not have the authority to make such a change independently. Typo.
-Best Buy management has crappy handwriting and it looks like $9.99 and the copy writer therefore ‘correctly’ transcribed the price and sent it to the printer. Error made by someone with authority to set the price. Price sticks, not a typo.

That is to say, for Best Buy to save itself with the typo clause, it had better be able to track the error and demonstrate a typo and not poor management.

2 David 08.19.09 at 4:20 pm

Hmm, Raymer, are you planning to sue? Overlawyered again!

How about…it was a mistake and everyone, including you, knows it was a mistake?

3 Doug 08.19.09 at 4:35 pm

Its obviously a mistake or joke. This is case of loser should pay.

4 Bill Poser 08.19.09 at 4:40 pm

Nobody reasonably expects to buy a high-end TV for $9.99. Anyone who really does expect to get one at that price is not going to buy one for the real price, so this is not a plausible case of bait-and-switch. It therefore doesn’t matter whether Best Buy can document the process by which the typo occurred.

5 Joe 08.19.09 at 4:53 pm

Darn. And I would have LOVED a new TV.

6 jeff nolan 08.20.09 at 12:19 am

I seem to recall from Business Law 101 that an advertisement is an offer as opposed to contract… the lawyer in question isn’t Vincent ‘Vinny’ Gambini by chance?

7 VMS 08.20.09 at 9:26 am

The law is very well established in this area.
If the mistake were $899 insead of $999, then the store could be held to the advertised price, but as previous commentators aptly pointed out, no one expects to get a $1000 TV for $9.99, so the mistake is mutual and any contract is voidable.

8 A.W. 08.20.09 at 1:15 pm

the clause in question is not as clearly about typos in the offers as claimed. indeed if i was a judge, i would read it to be about the right to correct erroneous offers, but not to cancel erroneous contracts. and that is the problem–the contracts created by going on their website and making the purchase.

that being said, obviously mistaken offers can be corrected under various rules, but these days what constitutes an obvious error. have you ever checked out the clearance areas in, say, target. sometimes you can get deals on a similar scale.

9 Dave Lincoln 08.20.09 at 10:08 pm

Really, A.W.? Let me know the next time Target is selling a 52 ” LED flat-screen for under $200. I’m down for that.

Yes, they do sometimes have some good deals (even 40% off) on cran-apple juice and Chef Boy-R-D, I will grant you that.

10 Dave Lincoln 08.21.09 at 1:37 am

Hey A.W. , if you can find a 52″ LED flat-screen for under a couple of hundred bucks at Target, please let me know. Mark me down for that.

I think the clearance sales you are thinking of are 30-50% off on Chef Boy-R-D and 5.5 oz. tuna fish cans. Get real.

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