Consumer Advice

The Legality of Rainchecks

Does anyone know the legalities of rainchecks? We have a store here that routinely runs out of "sale" items -- none of which are posted "until supplies last." When I ask for a raincheck, I am told, "We don't give them out." They used to tell me to, "Tell the cashier the next time you are in the store," leaving it up to me to (1) remember, (2) bring in the store ad to prove the price the next time I shop, (3) prove that I bought at least $15.00 worth of groceries to get the special price, and (4) fight with the cashier.


Several cashiers have told me that the store owner tells them not to honor the old sale price. But now they refuse to give a raincheck and refuse to honor the price at a later date either. I already shop at this store as little as possible, but live in a small community with few other choices. So my question is, "Is this legal?". If it isn't, who do I contact to get the problem looked into? Obviously, the store owner cares only about his bottom line.

Susan from AR

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January 6, 20060 found this helpful

Okay, I might not know all the legalities, but I have worked in retail for 12 years so here goes... Stores might receive only a small amount of the sale item and therefore do not give rainchecks as they might not restock the item or will not carry it again at that special price. Chain stores will have a notation in their ads like "2500 chainwide" or "15 per store". Small stores might have a one time deal with a distributor to get an item cheaper wholesale (sometimes by purchasing something else) and so cannot give the sale price later. Even if a store doesn't say the sale price is "until supplies last" you should reasonably assume that is the case.


Maybe the store stocked 100 of this sale item and 4 greedy people bought 25 each instead of 100 people each getting one. If something is on sale, be there the morning of the sale when the store opens if you can. Your fourth point gets under my skin the most. You say that you have to "fight with the cashier" to try to get the sale price, but then go on to say that "several cashiers have told me that the store owner tells them not to honor the old sale price". Cashiers are not in charge of store policies, rules, amount of stock, or the demands of their managers/store owners, but they can very well lose their jobs for going against the word of their boss. If you consistently have this problem go to your local Better Business Bureau.

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January 7, 20060 found this helpful

Well, Susan. Guess who I am? The lady for whom the California Bait-and-Switch law was written some 35 (was it that long ago?) years ago. The rain check was included in that law. A similar thing happened to me for an item listed at "while supplies last," and the Attorney General won a $4M lawsuit against the merchant, a large chain furniture store. Just advertising "while supplies last" wasn't enough in LA, with some 7M people then.


They had to list exactly how many (24), since that wasn't enough in this large city for "while supplies last."

Then our state legislature--remember them, the guys who never do anything?--passed a law spelling it out, adding rain checks.

So my advice is call the Arizona Attoney General's office and tell them the situation, especially what the cashier said. See what the law really is, and what they advise.


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By (Guest Post)
January 7, 20060 found this helpful

You are a victim of "bait and switch", an old con in the retail trade. They get you in the store with an advertised super bargain, don't have it when you get there, and then expect you will buy other stuff or a more expensive item. This is illegal. Contact the DA's office.

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By Linda (Guest Post)
January 7, 20060 found this helpful

Obviously, from the other replies, it is illegal. Another suggestion, while contacting your local states attorney, contact the corporate office if the store is part of a chain.


They may not know their store is doing this.

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By Dannielle Jenkins (Guest Post)
January 7, 20060 found this helpful

Do you live in Prairie Grove,AR cause I do and local store will give rainchecks depending on who you get at the checkout. I think they do pretty much what they want being as it is a small community and they think you won't report them to their home office which is how I started getting my rainchecks.

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By susan (Guest Post)
January 8, 20060 found this helpful

Thanks for all your responses. No Dannielle, I don't live in Prairie Grove, but not too far from it.

I understand how stores get only get a certain amount of promotional items, but this is a grocery store and a particular brand/item that it always carries. Once they sell so many at their advertised sale price, they just refuse to put any more out. The owner tells his cashiers to tell customers to ask for it the next time they come in, and they'll get the sale price. Well, the next time you go in and ask the cashier--the same one who said she'd give it to you, and remembers the conversation--she refuses to give it to you.


They have done some clearly illegal things in the past, and I quit going there once for over a year, and another time for over 6 months, but we just don't have many other places to shop. I don't want to just cause trouble, since I'll get marked in this town. Talking to others, they have had numerous complaints too, but no one will do anything about it. I just wondered if anyone though I hav a good enough reason to complain.

THANKS for all the responses.

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January 11, 20060 found this helpful

You could contact your local newspaper, but be aware that if this store engages in a 'bait and switch', then you have very little hope of ever receiving the advertised goods at the lowered price.

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