What are your rights when a retailer displays two different prices on an item?

So it’s Sunday I am walking down an isle at a certain shop when I notice an argument between a man and one of the shop attendants. Upon closer inspection I hear the shop attendant trying to explain that the price displayed is incorrect and that the price of the object in question has increased. As a consumer I was curious as to what the law says in this regard. Is the retailer actually obliged to sell me an item for the price displayed and giving me a deal of a lifetime or can they rectify this and I have to pay the correct price?

What does the law say?

In terms of section 23 of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA) where a supplier has displayed two different prices on an item, a consumer has a right to demand to pay the lowest of the two prices. If there is an error on the price, the supplier cannot insist that the consumer pay a higher price for the goods or services than the one displayed.

However, the exception to this rule is if the price contains an unintentional and obvious error, a consumer cannot hold the supplier to that price if the supplier:

  1. corrects the error on the displayed price, and
  2. Takes reasonable steps to inform the consumer of the error and the new corrected price.

The CPA does not define what those reasonable steps might be. Suppliers will also not be bound to a displayed price if that price has been altered or tampered with by an unauthorized party.

According the CPA the general principle is that a supplier cannot display goods for sale without displaying a price in relation to those goods. The exception to this rule is if the goods in question are being predominately used as a form of advertisement.

If more than one price is displayed, the consumer is not required to pay the higher of the two prices displayed. However, this does not apply if a new price fully covers an old price.

What happens if the Retailer purposely advertises the wrong price to draw consumers?

This is called bait marketing, and it’s a no-no in terms of the CPA. The CPA does give retailers an “out” in terms of honoring prices which are obvious mistakes as mentioned above.

What if I find the same item at a different store for a much lesser price, can I take the item back to the store where I bought it?

Yes you can take it back. There are a number of sections in the CPA that allow goods to be returned, but it is important to note that there is no general right of return.


  • If you not happy with how the store handled your issue, you can speak to your legal insurance provider about the option of referring your matter to the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman.

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