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Ask an Expert: Appliance store won't honor our deal

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Q. In July I ordered a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a Viking range and Miele dishwasher from a local appliance dealer, to be installed in my kitchen renovation next month. I negotiated a decent discount because I was buying several appliances at once. Now the store says they made a pricing 'mistake' and that I actually owe them $1,100 more than we agreed on.

Can they do that? I have a written order on which I've put down a hefty 20 percent deposit. Don't they have to honor their word? What are my options?

A. You may or may not be entitled to the agreed-upon price, says attorney Stuart Saft.

If the agreement you signed with the store says that the price or other contract terms aren’t final until approved by the home office, then your only legal option is to cancel the entire order.

Nor would the store have to make good on your order if the mistake was an obvious one, says Saft, such as “a $10,000 Sub-Zero refrigerator sold for $100.00 because of the decimal placed in the wrong position. However, if there is a $1,100 mistake on a $20,000 order, the store would have to make good on it.”

If the store declines, Saft suggests that you go to the New York State Consumer Protection Board for help.

Architect Ethan Gerard observes that on the relatively few occasions where vendors misquote prices on his projects, compromise has proved the best way to resolve the issue.

“My advice is to ask for a complete explanation as to what is the pricing error and how it happened. Perhaps offer to split the difference (pay half),” says Gerard. It may be cheap in comparison to the delay you may face by canceling your order and getting your appliances elsewhere.

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