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Price Protection and Secessions

I bought a Daiwa Capricorn 2500 on August 27. A few days ago, I noticed that they were on sale. I went back to Sports Authority, picked up a Shimano Stradic 6000. Normally $149, it was on sale for $112.49 - a savings of over $37. The Capricorn used to be $114.99, but was now $86.24 - again a savings of nearly $30. The previous day, I'd returned a $320 GPS because I found it for $260 online (not yet purchased - may not purchase).

With the refund and discounts on the two reels, I ended up spending $88 for a $149 reel. At one point, the clerk said "I think you only have five days for this…" I said "no, it's a law, I have thirty days." However, now I'm curious: it is a law, right? And if so (I'm fairly certain it's so), how many people know this? How many people know that if you buy something, and it goes on sale or otherwise drops in price within 30 days, that you can claim the difference? Or maybe it's not a law.

This reminds me of another story. In my third year of college, I helped a friend move to Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He had about $800 in cash on him - first month's rent plus a security deposit, as instructed by the apartment. He'd yet to sign his lease, so he was not obligated to abide by any agreement of sorts. He showed up with the cash, and tried to pay. The women working in the office refused it. At this point, I interceded, pointing out that the bills said "THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE" on them. They again refused, saying "we can't keep that much cash around or we'd be robbed." I said "then you get a safe or something. It's a federal law, you have to accept the money. The law is what makes the money worth something, or should we all go back to trading seashells? It's a federal law."

One woman's retort? "Not in Indiana."

"Oh? When did you secede?" I asked. Long story short(er), to the bank we went to get a money order. My friend as yet still hadn't signed his lease, so he really was under no obligation to follow an "acceptable forms of payment" clause. A policeman at the bank, who obviously had nothing better to do, offered to return with us to force the women to take the money. My friend Kevin declined, not wishing to have the leasing office place him on their secret "jackasses list" (you know they keep them, even if only in their heads).

2 Responses to "Price Protection and Secessions"

  1. The 30-Day rule is not a law. I used to work for Target, and we just had a corporate policy of 14 days if the item went on sale, you could come back and get an adjustment. I've never heard of a 30-day law.

  2. That's not a law, just a courtesy the merchandiser can offer if they're inclined to do so. Sports stores usually have some good local competition, so it's in their best interest to have flexible price protection to avoid pushing customers away.

    When it comes to chains (electronics places like Best Buy and Circuit City, big box all-in-one places like Wal-Mart and Target, places hitting fixed markets like REI and Sports Authority, etc etc.), there's quite a bit of competition. Customers will therefore shop where prices are reasonable, service is acceptable, and where they have a high level of comfort "after the sale" that the seller will "be there to help" (i.e. take it back if it doesn't work out). If you're in this business and you don't take returns and offer your customers various protections, your sales will go way down. You don't have to, but it's somewhat expected.

    If you purchased on a credit card, your credit card provider might offer some sort of protection against short-term price changes. You could also try to return the higher priced product, but they may only give you the current selling price for it (which they can do). You could also get over it: it's only $30.

    Regarding the acceptance of cash... under most circumstances, private businesses don't have to take cash payment for goods and services if they don't want to, unless they're selling something that has cash acceptance as a requirement. If you sell someone a bond from the U.S Treasury, you have to take cash if offered.

    Paying rent has an small exception. A renter must accept cash, unless the payment terms in your lease don't offer cash as an option. Everything is determined by the lease: no specific type of payment acceptance is required unless there's no list of payment terms in the contract, then the renter is obligated to take cash if offered by you. They must also log the cash payment and give you a receipt, or you can sue them for some nominal amount.

    Since your friend hadn't signed a lease at the time, the woman wasn't obligated to take any form of payment. The initial payment should have been made as the agreement was being signed, not before. Paying for something like this before you have signed, written terms is never a good idea.