Having an obsession with fashion oftentimes means lusting after something that will never love you back. Sure, you will feel incredible in it, but your Burberry Prorsum shearling-lined aviator jacket will never return the sentiment. This is a fate, we fashion-crazed souls proudly accept. We watch beautiful designs come down the runway, we wait for them to hit stores, and, for those of you who understand the pain of being a student while involved in this love affair, we wait longer for them to go on sale. Which brings us to an event we’re all sure to encounter in this process: the item once out of reach is priced so unbelievably low that you have to pinch yourself to ensure it’s not a dream. This is precisely what many Macy’s customers recently experienced. The retailer mailed out catalogs in March, which mistakenly listed a $1500 “diamond-accent cable necklace in sterling silver & 14k gold” for just $47.
The necklace was, in fact, supposed to be marked down, but the intended price was $479. Shoppers flocked to the store to make their purchase and others took to online shopping. And some of the earliest shoppers to arrive at the store actually walked away with the necklace after only paying $47. But for the rest, their purchases were cancelled due to the pricing error. We’re here to tell you what to expect should you ever encounter a jaw-dropping pricing error.
The short answer is this: expect your order to be cancelled and that’s the end of it. Many retailers, including Macy’s, have policies that no sale is final until it is in your hands. This means that even after clicking “complete purchase” online, the retailer can still “cancel or refuse to accept any order placed based on incorrect pricing or availability information.” The Fair Trading Act also allows a retailer to claim a genuine mistake was made if an advertisement has a pricing error. The Act recognizes that a “reasonable mistake” could’ve been caused by a third party or missed in checking for accuracy. As long as a retailer isn’t in the habit of claiming a genuine mistake, a retailer is okay in not selling you the item at the low price. The lesson to be learned: Go to the store, get there early, buy as much as you can!
Jennifer Williams is a law student, who writes about fashion, the legal avenues available for protecting it, and the ways in which the laws are falling short.