There is a regulation published online by the California Department
of Consumer Affairs (the consumer is a California resident) that in my opinion applies to this situation. The law against
overcharging is identified as AB 1721 and here's how the state's website summarizes the law:
Prohibits any person or store from charging an amount greater than the lowest price posted for a product, even
if there is an expiration date posted for that product. This law clarifies that expired sale signs that are not removed must
be honored by the merchant. It also clarifies the language of the law to cover scanner overcharges.
seems to me the key words here are in the first part of the summary: "prohibits any person or store from charging an
amount greater than the lowest price posted for a product" and clearly the price tag on the garment is a lower price
than what Saks.com was charging.
Of course you want to know if the consumer contacted the service
department of the website first -- and of course the consumer did that. What was the consumer told? According to the consumer,
the customer service representative said "but you agreed to the online price" and the customer service representative
said there was nothing that could be done.
I think that's not only bad customer service, I
think it also violates the spirit if not the letter of the law. It also sends a bad message about how this major, national
retailer conducts its business and treats its customers.
In case there is any doubt, this is how the
California Department of Consumer Affairs shows the actual law, including the fine for violating it, on its website:
12024.2. (a) It is unlawful for any person, at the time
of sale of a commodity, to do any of the following:
(1) Charge an amount greater than the price, or to compute an amount greater than a true extension of a price per
unit, that is then advertised, posted, marked, displayed, or quoted for that commodity.
(2) Charge an amount greater than the lowest price posted on the commodity itself
or on a shelf tag that corresponds to the commodity, notwithstanding any limitation of the time period for which the posted
price is in effect.
(b) A violation of this
section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25) nor more than one thousand dollars
($1,000), by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding one year, or by both, if the violation is willful
or grossly negligent, or when the overcharge is more than one dollar ($1).
(c) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100)
when the overcharge is one dollar ($1) or less.
It seems to me this consumer is owed more than
an apology and it seems to me all consumers and the State of California are owed an explanation from Saks Fifth Avenue and
its website operation.