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It was a deal so good, Robin Puppo could not believe her eyes.
“I’m like, oh my God, what is this?” she said. “It’s marked as a penny.”
The vacuum Robin wanted was on display at the Walmart near Sawgrass Mills Mall. She says the label under it read one cent.
“It’s a $279 machine,” she said, adding that she also thought it had to be mismarked.
Still, she did what most anyone would do. She grabbed one and headed straight to check out. But first, she took out her cell phone and snapped a picture of the label she saw.
“I said, Ok, let’s see what happens,” she told NBC 6.
Robin says the vacuum rang up for the full price. So she showed the picture to the cashier, who called over several managers. She says she told one of the managers that she expected the store to honor the price on the label.
“He says ‘I’m sorry ma’am, that’s not going to happen,” she said she was told. “Just shut me right down and took the machine and walked away.”
She said the experience made her angry.
“I expected him to perhaps say I wasn’t aware of this, thank you for bringing it to my attention and negotiate something,” she said.
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But according to Robin, that didn’t happen.
In Florida, a retailer legally doesn’t have to give you an item for free or at a discount if there’s a pricing issue.
Still, Robin provided NBC 6 Responds with several pictures of a few other machines on display with other penny labels. The penny labels look similar to some of the other regular-priced labels, though the regular ones do seem to have a more detailed description of the product.
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NBC 6 Responds contacted Walmart and asked what the penny labels mean and why would they be printed at all and placed on a display. The company did not answer our questions, but in an email, the company did say they were “…aware of the situation and apologized for any misunderstanding the customer experience” and that “Management explained the situation to the customer who then decided not to purchase the product.”
Robin said she wanted to know what resources would be available to a consumer who had experienced a similar issue.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services investigates pricing complaints similar to Puppo’s. In the past year, they’ve received close to 300 complaints involving all sorts of companies, from consumers claiming everything from price gouging to misrepresentation.
Robin says she did not file a complaint, so there was no way to know if what she encountered was a violation.
Still, she was disappointed by what she saw.
“Misprints happen all the time and that’s to be expected but realistically, you need to be aware of what’s on your shelves and how it’s priced,” she said.
The Department of Consumer Services told NBC 6 Responds they have inspectors who do random and routine inspections of stores throughout the state. Inspectors will also look into pricing complaints made by consumers and, if they find a violation, a store could get a warning letter or be fined.
You can file a pricing complaint with the state by calling 1-800-435-7352 or online by clicking here. Make sure you select “Weights and Measures” as the subject area of your complaint if it’s regarding a store’s pricing.
You can also read more about pricing complaints here.