Retailers not honoring pricing

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Albert_H
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Retailers not honoring pricing

#1 Post by Albert_H » January 17th, 2017, 8:47 pm

On Monday I had contacted a local Wine Purveyor regarding a bottle of the 2013 Cask 23 that I had found to be the cheapest on wine searcher. Being that this store is a 50 minute drive from my house I decided to call them to make sure they had the wine in stock and that the listed price was correct. I had spoken to a young lady who did confirm that the wine was in stock and that the listed price was in fact correct. When I was ready to pay for the wine at the counter the gentleman scanned the bottle and then signaled to another gentleman, presumably the owner, in a foreign language to come over. For a brief moment the gentleman paused looking at the screen as if something were not right and a few other words between the two men were exchanged. He then tells me the price of the wine which was about $66 more than what I was expecting to pay. I then explained what price it showed on their website and how I had called to double check the price, he scoffed out loud saying that he would be paying me to take the wine home at that price. This incident left a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth and I ended up leaving empty handed when I was planning on leaving with some bourbon as well. Has this type of situation happened to anyone else?
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#2 Post by Alan Eden » January 17th, 2017, 9:12 pm

The key is to name the shop here so others dont purchase anything there, not sure if they can legally do this but even so its an incredibly douche move
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#3 Post by T. Altmayer » January 17th, 2017, 9:15 pm

Complete donkey move. I am curious, was the wine listed below what you would normally find at retail? Either way, for one bottle he should have honored the price. I agree, you should name the retailer.
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#4 Post by NED VALOIS » January 17th, 2017, 9:28 pm

I just went through a similar situation on line. Searched for the best price on a wine & called Flatiron Wines in New York , bought the wine (2) at $174.99 per, received a verified email from them. A week later email stating they were all out of it.
I then checked & same wines (2) advertised in stock on their site for $350 per.
Last edited by NED VALOIS on January 18th, 2017, 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#5 Post by larry schaffer » January 17th, 2017, 9:30 pm

My guess - they brought the wine in and marked the pricing as if they brought in a full case, but instead brought in 6 bottles? Just a thought - I remember this happened with Sea Smoke and Whole Foods back in the day - and folks made off like bandits :-)

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#6 Post by Nick Ryan » January 17th, 2017, 9:32 pm

Email wine-searcher and specify how you were bait-and-switched.
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#7 Post by Albert_H » January 17th, 2017, 9:37 pm

I don't know how I feel about messing with another persons livelihood. But to those that want to find out, their price still shows up as the cheapest on wine searcher. The price they listed the wine at was $179.95 with the next cheapest being $195.95, although the wine no longer shows up once you actually go to their website and search for it. I'm not sure what the margins are in this business but I highly doubt he was telling the truth that he would have been selling it to me at a loss as I had purchased last year's vintage for $10 less than that. [scratch.gif]
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#8 Post by T. Altmayer » January 17th, 2017, 10:40 pm

Nick Ryan wrote:Email wine-searcher and specify how you were bait-and-switched.
+1
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#9 Post by Albert_H » January 17th, 2017, 11:16 pm

I just checked wine searcher again and it appears that the link has been taken down.
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#10 Post by Ian Dorin » January 18th, 2017, 4:36 am

The practice isn't illegal so long as they somewhere on their site that the prices online are different from those in store. If their website doesn't say this, you can file a BB claim, and they will most likely be prosecuted.

Sadly, this happens way too often. Even though the retailer can protect themselves with the language above, it's clearly misleading. If a price brings you to the store, isn't that the goal of listing the price that way? Not to piss off a potentially new customer??
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#11 Post by Robert B. » January 18th, 2017, 4:56 am

I agree that you did everything correctly. You called ahead. The price at the store was the same as online. I would file a claim at the BB and tell us the name of the shop. The shop should have honored the price for you and then change the price before anyone else tried to buy the 2013 Cask 23.
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#12 Post by Doug Schulman » January 18th, 2017, 5:00 am

Albert_H wrote:I don't know how I feel about messing with another persons livelihood. But to those that want to find out, their price still shows up as the cheapest on wine searcher. The price they listed the wine at was $179.95 with the next cheapest being $195.95, although the wine no longer shows up once you actually go to their website and search for it. I'm not sure what the margins are in this business but I highly doubt he was telling the truth that he would have been selling it to me at a loss as I had purchased last year's vintage for $10 less than that. [scratch.gif]
It could be. $180 is below wholesale in Massachusetts on that bottle. Still, given the fact that you called, I would email Winesearcher.
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#13 Post by Matthew Slywka » January 18th, 2017, 5:10 am

Winesearcher does not take these things lightly. I can only understand an honest mistake but the fact you called to confirm the price should have resolved any error. To have you drive 50 minutes away for it they should have taken the last loss.
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#14 Post by Neal.Mollen » January 18th, 2017, 5:11 am

This does not seem to be one of those too-good-to-be-true deals, where one has to suspect that the price is in error; under those circumstances the retailer has every right to decline the deal IMHO. I don't know how much the retailer paid for the bottle(s), but it would have been Retailing 101 to explain the situation and make the deal nonetheless. How many bottles were you buying?

The only thing you might have done differently would have been to conclude the transaction over the phone. "If I am going to drive all the way there I want to make certain that the bottles don't get sold." But this wasn't your responsibility, of course.
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#15 Post by Richard T r i m p i » January 18th, 2017, 5:48 am

Raw deal Albert. Sorry to hear about it.

Over time, I've had so many hiccups with the "lowest wine searcher price" that I've given up buying that way. I don't resell/flip so profit margin is not a big factor.

For day-to-day purchases, it's a wise move to use retailers you've developed a rapport with and perhaps pay a few bucks extra. It saves LOTs of headaches.

There are always times when an unfamiliar retailer is the only place that has what you want. WB is a pretty good resource for a retailer check. Good move to verify that they actually have the physical bottle(s), even better if they're looking at them! Then as Neal suggests, try to close the deal on the spot via phone or on-line. There're still tons of things that can go wrong: shipping, handling, bottle condition, bottle details (i.e.: wrong wine!), retailer still backing out, etc. In my experience, it's about the best you can do.

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#16 Post by alan weinberg » January 18th, 2017, 7:30 am

closing the deal on the phone and then going to pick up the wine precludes both price change and lack of availability--unless of course they have cases of the stuff.

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#17 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » January 18th, 2017, 9:23 am

Was the price of the bottle marked on either the bottle (with a price sticker) or on the shelf? If so, did the listed price correspond to the price shown on the website and confirmed over the phone? If the price on the bottle/on the shelf was the quoted price, then they might be in violation of state law that typically requires a retailer to honor the listed price.

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#18 Post by S. Stevenson » January 18th, 2017, 10:45 am

Regardless of the law, the retailer should have honored the price. I've told the story of going into a wine shop(Pinos' in New Jersey) and seeing a 70's DRC Montrachet for $79(this was in the 80's, but still). It was in a locked case and the owner had to open it for me. He looked at the price on the bottle and said, "I guess I should have changed the price." and laughed. He checked me out with a smile and gained a high volume, repeat customer instantly.

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#19 Post by dougwilder » January 18th, 2017, 11:08 am

Albert_H wrote:I don't know how I feel about messing with another persons livelihood. But to those that want to find out, their price still shows up as the cheapest on wine searcher. The price they listed the wine at was $179.95 with the next cheapest being $195.95, although the wine no longer shows up once you actually go to their website and search for it. I'm not sure what the margins are in this business but I highly doubt he was telling the truth that he would have been selling it to me at a loss as I had purchased last year's vintage for $10 less than that. [scratch.gif]
Generally full retail price represents a 50% margin. a $180 retail wine would cost $120 wholesale.
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#20 Post by Kirk.Grant » January 18th, 2017, 11:53 am

About 1-2 years ago I had a similar problem with an online retailer advertising a tete de cuvée Champagne (with a photo of the tete de cuvée) at what would seem a slightly discounted price (30% below ssrp). Yet the wording on the order changed to just rosè during the checkout and I got suspicious. When I called they got very defensive and blamed me. I forgot the name of the place...but I listed my concerns here to warn folks and hopefully save someone the potential heartache. I was promptly taunted, jeered, and shamed by some for doing so...it sucks, and I can certainly empathize with your frustrations. Yet I think it makes sense to want to warn others when you feel like someone's trying to take advantage of you.
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#21 Post by dougwilder » January 18th, 2017, 12:38 pm

I have had several episodes where bottles I was interested in suddenly were no longer available. Once a Wine-Searcher inquiry located a bottle of Single Malt in the Midwest at a price presumably based on buying it 20 years ago. The website showed it was there as did the answer to an email. When I placed the order it had mysteriously sold out. Another time I was browsing a retailer in SF and found a bottle priced about 30% less than normal. When I attempted to buy it, the clerk refused telling me "You must be in the industry to know this bottle is mis-marked and we don't sell to industry." When I was in St. Louis for a family event I went into a retail shop and they ended up having some fun stuff that I didn't see on the west coast so I brought up 10 wines wine and a couple pear brandy. The clerk rang it up and I paid for it, expecting to receive the case discount shown in signage. Apparently it only applied to wine and the clerk was a little bit of a jerk when I asked him why brandy wouldn't qualify. So I told him to void the order and I would find 2 more bottles of wine to make a case. He then re rang everything and applied the discount. I was somewhat surprised that the new total seemed like more than 10% off but I wasn't doing the math accounting for the additional bottles. It wasn't until I looked at my receipts after flying home that I discovered on top of the 10%, the clerk had keyed in $2.99 instead of $29.99 on several wines.
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#22 Post by Dan Hammer » January 18th, 2017, 1:24 pm

dougwilder wrote: Generally full retail price represents a 50% margin. a $180 retail wine would cost $120 wholesale.
The formula is retail minus the cost, divided by the retail.

In this case 180 - 120 = 60

60 divided by 180 = 33%
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#23 Post by c fu » January 18th, 2017, 1:34 pm

NED VALOIS wrote:I just went through a similar situation on line. Searched for the best price on a wine & called Flatiron Wines in New York , bought the wine (2) at $174.99 per, received a verified email from them. A week later email stating they were all out of it.
I then checked & same wines (2) advertised in stock on their site for $350 per.
this type of stuff for sure happens and it sucks.

A board member bought some 98 Rousseau Chambertin at a great price and wanted to buy it all. They offered him 2-3 and said the rest were sold out. Within a week the rest went back up at nearly double the price. Ridiculous.
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#24 Post by Nick Ryan » January 18th, 2017, 2:51 pm

It's honestly become more and more of a minefield trying to translate the results of a Wine-Searcher search into an order. Conduct a search on a typical high-value wine ($50+), and I'd say less than half the hits can be translated into a bottle of wine on your doorstep in a few days. Instead, you get:

1. Stores that look slick and update their price list daily, but lag far, FAR, behind on updating inventory (Artisan Wine Depot, thanks for two wasted trips recently).
2. Mom-and-pop sites that don't allow online ordering. I have better things to do than spend 20 minutes correcting the spelling of multiple addresses over the phone for two bottles of Pinot.
3. Stores that don't ship, like Total Wine, yet W-S still insists on listing them. (I had to individually exclude like 30 Total Wine locations.)
4. Idiots who just scrape listings from distributors/wholesalers. Typically can be rooted out by trying to add 600 bottles of wine to your cart, and seeing if you get a quantity error or not.
5. Auction listings.
6. Imprecise listings... where the item page on the website lists the wine as 2013 in one sentence and 2014 in the title, for example. Is it that hard to pay attention when updating an entry?
7. Fraudsters trying to hock desirable futures under the names of their new companies.
8. The infamous per-bottle price available only as part of a case. If I have to buy a case, just list the whole damn case price please. This is easy in W-S (the bottom of most listings usually contain entries for "cases of 12").
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#25 Post by Peter Tryba » January 18th, 2017, 3:30 pm

S. Stevenson wrote:Regardless of the law, the retailer should have honored the price. I've told the story of going into a wine shop(Pinos' in New Jersey) and seeing a 70's DRC Montrachet for $79(this was in the 80's, but still). It was in a locked case and the owner had to open it for me. He looked at the price on the bottle and said, "I guess I should have changed the price." and laughed. He checked me out with a smile and gained a high volume, repeat customer instantly.

Retailing 101.
You're suggesting the retailer break the law here. There is no customer good enough to risk one's license to sell alcohol.
As Doug mentioned upstream, it is illegal to sell below invoice cost. The best a retailer could do would be to sell at cost.

The other Doug was "mathing" for mark up, not margin as was duly pointed out. Wine retail margins are not great and prices listed as a special or on sale are often a 20% mark up (16% margin). Subtract overhead and the credit card fee and you're well into the lower single digit margins.

That doesn't excuse the terrible attitude and poor customer service found in the OP.
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#26 Post by Ian Sutton » January 18th, 2017, 3:39 pm

Next time, buy the wine over the phone and arrange to pop in to pick it up!
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#27 Post by Neal.Mollen » January 18th, 2017, 4:04 pm

Peter Tryba wrote:
S. Stevenson wrote:Regardless of the law, the retailer should have honored the price. I've told the story of going into a wine shop(Pinos' in New Jersey) and seeing a 70's DRC Montrachet for $79(this was in the 80's, but still). It was in a locked case and the owner had to open it for me. He looked at the price on the bottle and said, "I guess I should have changed the price." and laughed. He checked me out with a smile and gained a high volume, repeat customer instantly.

Retailing 101.
You're suggesting the retailer break the law here. There is no customer good enough to risk one's license to sell alcohol.
As Doug mentioned upstream, it is illegal to sell below invoice cost. The best a retailer could do would be to sell at cost.

The other Doug was "mathing" for mark up, not margin as was duly pointed out. Wine retail margins are not great and prices listed as a special or on sale are often a 20% mark up (16% margin). Subtract overhead and the credit card fee and you're well into the lower single digit margins.

That doesn't excuse the terrible attitude and poor customer service found in the OP.
I don't think this is illegal in most jurisdictions, but it is in some.
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#28 Post by Ross BROWN » January 24th, 2017, 3:05 pm

Nick Ryan wrote:Email wine-searcher and specify how you were bait-and-switched.
Please do so. All emails to Wine-Searcher are treated confidentially. Bait and switch tactics are not acceptable.
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#29 Post by John Morris » January 24th, 2017, 3:27 pm

dougwilder wrote:I have had several episodes where bottles I was interested in suddenly were no longer available. Once a Wine-Searcher inquiry located a bottle of Single Malt in the Midwest at a price presumably based on buying it 20 years ago. The website showed it was there as did the answer to an email. When I placed the order it had mysteriously sold out.
Sometimes these are examples of sleeze. But sometimes there's an innocent explanation, as the inventory controls at wine retailers are generally pretty lame in my experience. Even buying things that are obscure (i.e., they're not a lot of turnover of the inventory) and fully priced, stores often don't have what their computers show. I've lost track of the number of times that's happened to me.

Also, with Wine-Searcher, I think there's a lag. I don't think you're seeing the retailers' real-time inventories.
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#30 Post by jcoley3 » January 24th, 2017, 5:03 pm

John Morris wrote: Sometimes these are examples of sleeze. But sometimes there's an innocent explanation, as the inventory controls at wine retailers are generally pretty lame in my experience. Even buying things that are obscure (i.e., they're not a lot of turnover of the inventory) and fully priced, stores often don't have what their computers show. I've lost track of the number of times that's happened to me.
Keeping up with all the details of inventory, POS and pricing can be a more than full-time job. It's obvious the store in the OP's story screwed up - most of the time I doubt it's malicious, though the store absolutely should have taken the loss based on blowing multiple opportunities to correct their mistake before the customer drove down to pick up the wine.

I try to be on-hand for moments like one that happened yesterday - good customer was picking up a back vintage of Guigal La Landonne that I knew was priced much lower than the current release, but the bar code defaulted to another vintage priced in-between the two [head-bang.gif], and fortunately I was around to make sure everything went smoothly.

Some distributors are great about making sure they let you know about vintage and price and bar code changes, some aren't. Even the ones that do a good job fall down every now and then.

Anyway, as the guy in my store who would have been the equivalent of the owner type from the original story, I might have explained what happened to the buyer just so they understood it was a one-time price because of a mistake, but the store would take the hit.
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#31 Post by John Morris » January 24th, 2017, 7:05 pm

jcoley3 wrote: Anyway, as the guy in my store who would have been the equivalent of the owner type from the original story, I might have explained what happened to the buyer just so they understood it was a one-time price because of a mistake, but the store would take the hit.
At least you ought to get credit with the customer for making it right, eh?
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#32 Post by Brandon J. » January 24th, 2017, 7:38 pm

dougwilder wrote:
Albert_H wrote:I don't know how I feel about messing with another persons livelihood. But to those that want to find out, their price still shows up as the cheapest on wine searcher. The price they listed the wine at was $179.95 with the next cheapest being $195.95, although the wine no longer shows up once you actually go to their website and search for it. I'm not sure what the margins are in this business but I highly doubt he was telling the truth that he would have been selling it to me at a loss as I had purchased last year's vintage for $10 less than that. [scratch.gif]
Generally full retail price represents a 50% margin. a $180 retail wine would cost $120 wholesale.
Boy I don't know what state you live in, but alcohol here is not even CLOSE to 50% margin. I think it's around 35% and in some extremely rare cases, 40%.

We have a regional grocery store here, New Seasons, who has sold me cases at 25% off and that is just slightly above cost. I don't really know what retailer is making more than 40% EXCEPT the wineries themselves who sell to us :)

OP, I would have been pissed. I don't know if you spoke to the manager or owner or not but that type of thing really bothers me. As someone already mentioned, I too once discovered a screaming deal on an incorrectly marked wine. The owner, rang me up and said, "you should look this wine up when you get home". I had scored No Girls Syrah for a silly price. I've since revisited that shop dozens of times and given them a significant amount of business for a single customer.
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#33 Post by Randy Bowman » January 24th, 2017, 7:51 pm

Price error - We've done it. I entered the wholesale cost into the retail price column by mistake during an end of day update. Didn't double check it and uploaded it to our website. We sold out the next day and didn't make a dime. Shit happens, but you have to own it.

Buyer error - We offer a number of half bottles for sale on-line. The bottle size is listed but if somebody misses it, I'm a con artist or using bait and switch.

Speaking of Bait and Switch - Not going to name them but, there are a number of retailers in a certain state that always have the lowest prices on Wine Searcher. Good luck finding the wine on their website when you click on the link. Rather than taking you the wine, it takes you to their homepage where you can start your search.
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#34 Post by jcoley3 » January 24th, 2017, 8:44 pm

John Morris wrote:
jcoley3 wrote: Anyway, as the guy in my store who would have been the equivalent of the owner type from the original story, I might have explained what happened to the buyer just so they understood it was a one-time price because of a mistake, but the store would take the hit.
At least you ought to get credit with the customer for making it right, eh?
That's my experience. Seems like 101 level service, but it's a crazy world these days!
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#35 Post by jcoley3 » January 24th, 2017, 8:49 pm

Randy Bowman wrote: Buyer error - We offer a number of half bottles for sale on-line. The bottle size is listed but if somebody misses it, I'm a con artist or using bait and switch.
My favorite one of these was the guy who got really shi--y over me refusing to sell him a $99.99 Cabernet Sauvignon he found abandoned by another customer in a $19.99 rum slot on the other side of the store.
Jim Coley ITB

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Robert A. Ashley
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Retailers not honoring pricing

#36 Post by Robert A. Ashley » January 24th, 2017, 9:42 pm

That type of practice is in all sector of retail and commerce

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Neal.Mollen
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Retailers not honoring pricing

#37 Post by Neal.Mollen » January 25th, 2017, 6:02 am

Randy Bowman wrote:Price error - We've done it. I entered the wholesale cost into the retail price column by mistake during an end of day update. Didn't double check it and uploaded it to our website. We sold out the next day and didn't make a dime. Shit happens, but you have to own it.

Buyer error - We offer a number of half bottles for sale on-line. The bottle size is listed but if somebody misses it, I'm a con artist or using bait and switch.

Speaking of Bait and Switch - Not going to name them but, there are a number of retailers in a certain state that always have the lowest prices on Wine Searcher. Good luck finding the wine on their website when you click on the link. Rather than taking you the wine, it takes you to their homepage where you can start your search.
On the halves, one store I have deal with (can't remember which one, unfortunately) has a pop up message when you move a 375 into the cart -- "hey dummy, you do know this is a 375, right?" Very helpful. Don't know how easy it is to implement but I appreciate it
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Retailers not honoring pricing

#38 Post by B Stucker » January 25th, 2017, 6:30 am

Randy Bowman wrote:Price error - We've done it. I entered the wholesale cost into the retail price column by mistake during an end of day update. Didn't double check it and uploaded it to our website. We sold out the next day and didn't make a dime. Shit happens, but you have to own it.
Any chance there is a video from the security camera of the moment Carrie found out about this? [whistle.gif]
Bruce


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Retailers not honoring pricing

#39 Post by John A Hunt » January 25th, 2017, 7:36 am

Robert A. Ashley wrote:That type of practice is in all sector of retail and commerce

So true.

Try buying a new car through a service that provides a price, similar to Wine-searcher.

Follow the same steps: check inventory online, call to confirm it's there and the price, show up, and watch as the "alternative facts" emerge.

One dealer had a list of extra items to buy, one simply crossed out the price and hand-wrote a new price, + $1700, above it.

At least Wine-searcher will get involved if needed. The car referral service has a backdoor in tiny type so they do not really care. By the time the legal route is explored, the rep has left the store and the owner claims "rogue employee."

We used another service for the car, through a trusted retailer, and had none of these problems.

Couldn't agree more the store should have sold the bottles at the published price.

Sharing the offender's name is the best thing you can do!

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