No law says stores must honor prices mistakenly set
On Saturday, Sept. 29, I bought a pack of barbecue chicken labeled for 39 cents from a market in Waimanalo. The cashier said it was wrong, went to the back to the meat cutters and came back with a price of $2.79. By law (this has happened to me three times), isn't it a fact that I should have been charged 39 cents as it was labeled such and it was the meat department's fault?
Answer: No, there is no such law.
The facts in each particular case would need to be investigated, but "generally, if it's just an honest mistake, there's not necessarily an obligation on the part of the merchant to provide the goods or service for the price that was (mistakenly) placed," said Stephen Levins, executive director of the Office of Consumer Protection.
Some merchants might do so as a matter of customer service, but there is no legal obligation to do so, he said.
However, if the mistake is brought to the business's attention and no effort is made to change the price, "then that could be problematic and may, in fact, be in violation of consumer protection laws," Levins said.
It is similar to a situation in which an item is priced at $1 but scans at checkout for $3. If that problem is brought to a store's attention but nothing is done to correct it, then "that's problematic," he said.
Q: About a week or two ago, there were reports about nigari tofu being recalled because of safety concerns. Is that true? What are the circumstances and details?
A: We did not see any recall alert about the tofu by Quong Hop & Co. on the state Department of Health's Web site.
However, the department did contact retailers, wholesalers and distributors regarding the voluntary recall by the San Francisco-based company on Sept. 28, said spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
She said that follow-up phone calls to major health food stores indicated they had already been notified by their distributor, and the products had been removed from sales.
The "Soy Deli" and "Quong Hop" brand tofu was recalled after the organism Listeria monocytogenes was found in three of 29 products during routine testing. The organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems, according to a press release by the Federal Drug Administration.
The recall was expanded last Monday to include soy-based products, such as tofu burgers.
Okubo said the Health Department sent out a second notification to retailers, wholesalers and distributors because even though the FDA's press release indicated the products were not "officially" distributed in Hawaii, "a limited amount of the products may have reached Hawaii."
The FDA said because the products were distributed in 13 states (on the West Coast and in the Midwest), the recall was considered a "national recall" to ensure consumer and trade awareness.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to email@example.com
. See also: Useful phone numbers