Not the actual set of furniture at the center of this lawsuit (Courtesy: Overstock.com)
A judge in in Alameda County, California ruled yesterday that Overstock posted misleading “compared at” prices alongside the item’s actual sales price. In other words, the judge found the company intentionally mislead customer to think they were saving more money than they actually were.
The comparison price Overstock used was not based on the average price that other retailers sold the item at recently, which would be too logical and straightforward. Instead, it was based either on highest sales price found in the marketplace or ARPs (advertised reference prices), a fictional formula, Marin County’s District Attorney, also a party to the suit, told a news outlet.
The lawsuit stems from one California consumer’s buying experience with Overstock, where he paid $900 for two patio sets that had a Wal-Mart price tag attached at $247 each. The poor guy overpaid for his two sets of furniture by $406. Ouch. For the deception, Overstock was slapped with a $6.8 million fine.
Bottom Line: Buy with your eyes wide open at discount and outlet retailers, both in-store and online. They’re not always the cheapest place to buy stuff. A deal is not always a deal.