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  1. #1
    Jon
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    Harbor Freight class-action lawsuit alleging deceptive pricing

    Harbor Freight being sued for monkeying around with its pricing? What a surprise!

    This class-action lawsuit, Beck v. Harbor Freight, is about Harbor Freight's alleged improper advertising of items as being "on sale", and their questionable use of "comp at" (compare at) phrasing.

    Harbor Freight isn't the only one getting in trouble for this type of activity. Other similarly-troubled retailers include Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Kohl's, and Kate Spade.

    This has to do with a cognitive bias called anchoring, and, in this case, is related to pricing concepts like: Law of one price, Price dispersion, Equilibrium price, and Price discrimination.

    Anchoring means that we heavily anchor our decisions based on initial pieces of information. So, if a retailer is selling something for $19.99, and the price tag says stuff like: "Compare at $49.99", or "Previous price: $39.99", we anchor our evaluation of the price to those pieces of information, thus convincing ourselves that the $19.99 price must be a great deal. The legal problem occurs when such an item was never in fact sold by this retailer for $39.99, and is not sold by anyone else for $49.99.

    I don't know enough to know whether this really should be illegal, or is just unethical. I do know that this strategy is diminishing in effectiveness on the web. Not only do we have gobs of comparative pricing information available, simply by visiting other websites, but we can also just search for the product in a search engine, or use a price comparison site like CamelCamelCamel.com for Amazon, or, for Harbor Freight, a coupon website like HFQPDB.com.

    Previously:
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    Homemade tools made with Harbor Freight tools

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  3. #2
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Deceptive pricing? Could it be? What a surprise, indeed.

    My premise is that, if you accept deception and misdirection as a form of lying, then ALL advertising is a lie.

    Staged demonstrations. Food cosmeticized (hamburgers coated with motor oil to make them look juicier) by professional food "stylists". Feel good ads - dancing to sell furniture, beautiful people cavorting on the beach to sell automobiles. Notice that car ads these days never mention car features (maybe an occasional of artificially inflated horsepower). My favorite is " Love. It's what makes a Subaru a Subaru.” Come on, it's a freaking car; you're not going to marry it. Unprovable phrases like "40% improved", "first in its class" (said class having only one member. Can't we just go back to the old days when they sold everything with sex?

    The list goes on and on. Next time you watch TV, if you still do, actually listen critically to what's said in a few commercials. Content-free, feel-good nonsense meant to evoke an emotional response to the product.
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  4. #3

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    [QUOTE=Jon;96929]Harbor Freight being sued for monkeying around with its pricing? What a surprise!

    This class-action lawsuit, Beck v. Harbor Freight, is about Harbor Freight's alleged improper advertising of items as being "on sale", and their questionable use of "comp at" (compare at) phrasing.

    Unfortunately, yesterday was the last day to file a claim under the settlement for this suit. If I had filed one, the settlement guidelines would have given me a Harbor Freight gift card for about $300!

  5. #4
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    I think I started buying from HF in the late '80s (but I'm old and memory sucks, on occasion). What I started with, as a mindset, was "Harbor Freight imports a variety of crappy items, some not-so-crappy, some really okay" and went from there. Probably my dad was the one who instilled, "Caveat emptor," into my very supple gray matter when I was in my Wonder Bread years. Luckily, I had parents, and even friends' parents, who were as wise. I do see how little thought goes into purchases by sheeple brought up on Madison Avenue Gospel, so it's no wonder there is (yet) another lawsuit regarding pricing and advertising. I suspect the winners in this one will (as usual) be the plaintiff's offensive line, but more importantly, IMHO, it's another waste of the Court's (our money) resources. I was pissed off enough to claim a spot in the X-Hose class action suit, and I did get my money back for the total of the purchase, but seeing how the lawyers fared, I expect it will be (if the plaintiff is awarded), a pocket-stuffing event for the offensive line (again). More than anything, I'm dismayed at how few people take the ads with a grain of salt. That's just me, so I'm not claiming to speak for anyone else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by billster View Post
    I think I started buying from HF in the late '80s (but I'm old and memory sucks, on occasion). What I started with, as a mindset, was "Harbor Freight imports a variety of crappy items, some not-so-crappy, some really okay" and went from there. Probably my dad was the one who instilled, "Caveat emptor," into my very supple gray matter when I was in my Wonder Bread years. Luckily, I had parents, and even friends' parents, who were as wise. I do see how little thought goes into purchases by sheeple brought up on Madison Avenue Gospel, so it's no wonder there is (yet) another lawsuit regarding pricing and advertising. I suspect the winners in this one will (as usual) be the plaintiff's offensive line, but more importantly, IMHO, it's another waste of the Court's (our money) resources. I was pissed off enough to claim a spot in the X-Hose class action suit, and I did get my money back for the total of the purchase, but seeing how the lawyers fared, I expect it will be (if the plaintiff is awarded), a pocket-stuffing event for the offensive line (again). More than anything, I'm dismayed at how few people take the ads with a grain of salt. That's just me, so I'm not claiming to speak for anyone else.
    It's been settled. The terms to the class members who filed before yesterdays deadline were: 20% cash, or 30% HF Gift card, if you had receipts with the language "You Saved" on them, of the amount shown as savings. There were a couple of other options, depending on what documents you had to prove your purchases.


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