10% buyer's premium ???

Our local Borders Book Store is going out of business. Everything is for sale, including some of the fixtures (e.g. bookcases). One bookcase was hand-written $100, so I inquired about buying it. When I went to pay for it, they attempted to charge $110 plus tax. When I went “WTF”, I was shown a sign that said (in moderately small print) “Due to the circumstances, there is a 10% buyers premium on fixtures”. When I asked about the “circumstances”, they replied that they were going out of business. I asked for an explanation as to why that entitled them to advertise one price, but charge another. They shrugged their shoulders.

In another case, I contracted an auctioneer to sell some antiques. He told me his charge was 15%. Then I found out that his auctions have a 10% buyer’s premium. If a buyer bits $100, the buyer must actually pay $110. And since I get $85, my 15% commission magically turned into a 23% commission.

Putting aside the debate on whether this is ethical, how is it even legal? In both cases, the party is advertising one price, yet charging a higher price. Isn’t this bait-and-switch? Isn’t this considered false advertising?

Advertised prices aren’t binding. A business can at any time refuse to sell at a given price, or at all, or specifically to you because they don’t like the cut of your jib. In England here, an intentionally misleading price would be worthy of a complaint to Trading Standards, but that little sign they had up warning you would probably be good enough for them too. And false advertising should concern the product, not the price, I think.

You may be correct, I don’t have e vidence to the contrary. But that doesn’t pass my smell test. I can understand some latitude on quality, an idem out of stock, etc. but blatantly not making any attempt to honor their add? You sure about that?

They probably hired a company to sell the stores assets and the 10% goes to them. All auction houses charge a buyers premium and a sellers premium, sometimes it is referred to as a tip. There is a lot of work involved and since they don’t own the merchandise the tip is how they make their money.

It sucks when you are the one paying more than you thought but the lesson here is to read all the fine print. I would just think of it as the bookcase costing $110 bucks, and suck it up.

Sorry, there is an additional 10% poster penalty. That book case is now $121.10. Suck it up.

Scummy? Yes. Illegal? No. In a business like this, they don’t care if they piss you off. They are only there until the store is empty. They don’t worry about customer satisfaction and repeat business. They want to maximize profit in the few weeks until they shut down.

A normal business couldn’t do this since it’s bad for the business long term. Customers wouldn’t like it and they won’t come back.