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?