Borrowing a page from the Grinch’s marketing book, retail stores are jacking up prices and taking advantage of customers. But it appears that customers are fighting back. Mike Feuer, a Los Angeles city attorney, recently sued J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Sears for deliberately inflating the original price on some store items.
It’s a simple strategy employed to mislead customers into thinking that they’re getting a better deal than they really are. For example, according to the Los Angeles attorney, Sears advertised a washing machine with a false price of $1,799.99, but the retailer never sold the washer for more than $999.99 online. In other words, sometimes a bargain isn’t really a bargain.
According to attorney Mike Feuer, this type of practice, which is called “false referencing”, is common amongst retail giants and part of an overall marketing strategy. False referencing impacts customer behavior by giving a false perception of a sale’s value. It also creates an unfair method of competition.
However, whether it’s a price scam or a clever marketing strategy depends on which side of the aisle you’re on. All four retailers have declined to comment on the lawsuit.