If a Store Advertises the Wrong Price, Does It Have to Honor It?

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Do you know your rights as a consumer? Test your savvy with these tricky scenarios.

Whether it’s paying the bills, shopping for a new appliance, or buying a latte, spending money is a daily occurrence for most of us.

As you’re doling out all that cash, do you know what your rights are as a consumer?

When does common sense trump the details in a warranty?

If you have unpaid debt do you have to do whatever the debt collector says?

What happens if you use a credit card chargeback and the merchant doesn’t agree?

Consider these scenarios below, and see how well your understanding of your rights as a consumer stacks up.

A local store accidentally leaves a zero off the price of a $300 vacuum cleaner in its weekly ad. They have to sell it to you for $30, right?

Ljupco Smokovsky / Shutterstock.comLjupco Smokovsky / Shutterstock.com

Probably not.

This question tends to trip people up because businesses are required to be truthful in their advertising. This is what the Federal Trade Commission says on the subject:

In many jurisdictions, companies are legally required to charge no more than the advertised or shelf price for a product, so good pricing practices are important for both customer satisfaction and a company’s bottom line.

However, retail pricing is actually governed by state laws, and many include provisions that excuse businesses for unintentional mistakes they quickly correct. For example, let’s take a look at Massachusetts law. The section of the law pertaining to correcting such errors states this:

It is an unfair or deceptive act for a seller, manufacturer, franchisor or distributor who discovers a material error in an advertisement subsequent to the submission date of the advertisement to fail to either honor the terms of the advertisement prior to correction, or to promptly correct any material misrepresentation … .

The law goes on to say that corrections should be published in the same medium as the original advertisement, if possible, or at the very least posted at all store entrances and by the sale item.

Check with your state attorney general’s office for the specific law in your area. However, as a general rule, if there has been no correction posted, you could get away with demanding the retailer honor a misprinted ad. But if a correction has been published, you’re probably out of luck.

These jeans make me look fat, so I disputed the charge with my credit card. Can the store come after me to pay up?

Nina Buday / Shutterstock.comNina Buday / Shutterstock.com

Of course it can.

The ability to dispute charges and request a chargeback is one of the benefits of having a credit card. However, you need to use this option carefully. A chargeback for jeans that hug all the wrong curves or green paint that looks like puke on your walls is an abuse of the feature and could get you sent to collections by a retailer or even sued by a merchant.

Instead, chargebacks should be a last resort, limited to those situations in which a merchant refuses to work with you and you believe the item you purchased was misrepresented. Even if the credit card company agrees with you and reverses the charges, that doesn’t mean the retailer can’t pursue other avenues to get you to pay.

For more information on disputing credit card charges, you might want to read this information from the Federal Trade Commission.

It’s Day 31 with your new toaster, and it’s stopped working. The warranty was only for 30 days. Are you out of luck?

Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock.comMarcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock.com

Maybe not.

The warranty that expired was the express warranty. However, under federal law, products also come with implied warranties. The Federal Trade Commission has this to say about implied warranties of merchantability.

The implied warranty of merchantability is a merchant’s basic promise that the goods sold will do what they are supposed to do and that there is nothing significantly wrong with them. … The law says that merchants make this promise automatically every time they sell a product they are in business to sell.

For example, if you, as an appliance retailer, sell an oven, you are promising that the oven is in proper condition for sale because it will do what ovens are supposed to do — bake food at controlled temperatures selected by the buyer. If the oven does not heat, or if it heats without proper temperature control, then the oven is not fit for sale as an oven, and your implied warranty of merchantability would be breached. In such a case, the law requires you to provide a remedy so that the buyer gets a working oven.

Now, the federal government doesn’t put a time frame on how long this implied warranty lasts, but it does say the state statute of limitations on the breach of an express or implied warranty is typically four years. That doesn’t necessarily mean your toaster is guaranteed for four years, though. Normal wear and tear, misuse or abuse of a product can void the warranty.

Still, if a toaster can reasonably be expected to last two years, and yours conks out on Day 31, it’s probably still covered by the implied warranty. The one exception is for products sold “as is” or “with all faults.” Those items do not come with an implied warranty of merchantability.

Debt collectors are phoning and harassing you at all hours of the day. Can you get free legal help?

Amarita / Shutterstock.comAmarita / Shutterstock.com


As we recently reported, legitimate debt collection businesses have easy-to-follow rules. Some of the practices that are prohibited include:

  • Calling repeatedly to annoy you.
  • Calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you have agreed to accept early or late calls.
  • Lying about the amount you owe.
  • Using foul language.
  • Making threats.

In a recent crackdown, federal, local and state enforcers have worked together to take down collectors for harassing phone calls, false threats of lawsuits and arrests and attempting to collect phony debts. The Federal Trade Commission won court cases barring more than 100 firms from the debt collection business.

Getting legal help is one of four ways to get debt collectors off your back. Some consumer rights attorneys will represent you for free if they feel you have a solid case. Another option for low-income families may be to check with a local legal aid office. The Legal Services Corp. website has a listing of free legal services offices across the nation.

You can also check out the Collector Harassment page in our Solutions Center.

Of course, you have to remember that an attorney can only help you fight harassing debt collectors. Even if you’re successful in proving the collector is engaging in illegal practices, that doesn’t wipe out a legitimate debt. However, on the positive side, you may receive an award of up to $1,000, which could be useful in paying down that debt.

Did you get all four answers right? Share your score in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 22 Things You Should Always Buy Generic

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,060 more deals!