new stuffs on the catalog

Be careful what you demand, because we might give it to you.

BACKGROUND: I own and operate my own retail store. It’s actually a seasonal fireworks tent, but not like any fireworks tent you’ve seen before. It’s 2400 square foot of fireworks heaven.

STORY: A guy came in to pick up some fireworks. He was having a party and wanted to put on an impressive show for his friends. I spent about 20 minutes walking him through the store, explaining the different items to him, and showing him videos of the stuff to help him pick out exactly what he wanted. He mentioned a couple of times how he usually goes to <other store> and how their prices were cheaper. Each time, I’d apologized, but I let him know that our prices were usually less than theirs, and that I thought that we had beat them on each of the items in question.

The third time it happened, I walked to our counter and grabbed the new catalog from <other store>. I found the stuff he had mentioned, and showed him how we were in fact cheaper on every item that he had selected (and that’s why I keep catalogs from my competitors on the counter). In fact, on a couple of items, we were about half of <other store> price. Amazingly, he didn’t seem happy about it, but he kept shopping.

By the time he was ready to check out, he had a rolling flat cart full of stuff. It was mostly large assortment packages, finale cakes, and big mortar kits, with a few smaller items here and there. To speed things up, and prevent us from having to unload all the big kits onto the counter, I started calling out the prices for the bigger items to the cashier (my dad). About halfway through, I got to one of the largest items, a massive mortar kit, and called out the price of $199.95. When my dad was ringing it in, the register display looked like it had screwed up, so I stopped him and went to check it out. Sure enough, the item had rung in at $19.95.

While I’m talking to my dad about it, the customer walks over and demands to see the mistake. I show him that the last entry was for $19.95 instead of $199.95. He immediately tells me that I have to sell the item to him at the price that rang up. I showed him that the item itself had the correct price tag on it, and that the cashier had just miss-keyed it when he had rung it in. The guy gets agitated and repeatedly starts telling me that I have to legally sell the thing to him at that price since the cashier had rung it in like that. I calmly explained that if the item had been priced wrong, I would sell it to him at the incorrect price, but since it was just a miss-key, we would just void the last item rung in and do it again. Now armchair lawyer guy (ALG) starts yelling that he knows his rights and that I’m breaking the law if I have the cashier change the price and I don’t sell it to him at the wrong price.

Now I’ve had the staff screw up before when doing pricing, and if we put the wrong LOWER price tag on something, that’s what I’m going to sell it to you for. I also know that unless it’s an ADVERTISED price, I don’t LEGALLY have to do it, but if I screwed up, I’m going to eat that mistake and re-price the item after we’re done. (Side note to Josh C. - Happy birthday today! And next time, pay attention to the damn price list when you’re using the price gun, because I know most of these screw-ups have your name on them. Also, go back to school and don’t do drugs).

ME: Are you telling me that legally, even if we screwed up, I can’t have the cashier fix a mistake and that I have to sell you the item at whatever price was keyed into the register?!?

ALG: Yes!

ME: (looking at my dad) I guess we’re going to have to charge him whatever you keyed in.

I calmly walked back around the counter and picked up another item from his cart, a small fountain with a price tag of $9.95, and continued calling out the prices. When we were all done, my dad gave him the total.

ALG: That can’t be right! That’s way too much! There’s no way I got that much stuff!

DAD: Oops! Looks like the fountain rang in for $995.95. Did you want to pay that in cash or with a credit card?

ALG just glared at my dad for a few seconds then quietly asked if we could fix it.

We happily fixed both mistakes, boxed up his items, and sent him on his way with a smile