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Hobby Lobby Discount Coupons Refer to False “Regular” Prices Class Action

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If a company says it “always” sells an item at a markdown, what is the item’s “regular” price? The complaint for this class action says that Hobby Lobby Stores offer false discounts that apply only to prices at which the merchandise never sells—a variation on the “false reference pricing” allegations made at many outlet or “factory” stores.

The class for this action is a National Breach of Contract or Unjust Enrichment Class, consisting of all persons who, within the applicable statute of limitations, bought goods with a coupon at Hobby Lobby in the US that were marked as “Always” on sale, but in any case where a price higher than the “Always” price was never charged for the goods, and the coupon discount was taken off of that higher price. A Florida subclass has also been defined.

When Plaintiff Steven D. Marcrum went shopping at the Hobby Lobby in Pensacola, Florida, for a small table, he brought along a Hobby Lobby coupon that stated that he would get 40% off “one item at regular price only.”

He selected a small table that was marked, “Always 30% off” and priced at $83.99. One might assume that the price at which something is “always” sold is its “regular” price. Marcrum believed he would pay 40% less than $83.99, or $50.39. However, when he went to purchase the table, he was told that the “regular” price was $119.99, and that the 40% discount only resulted in a price of $71.99.

The complaint claims that the “regular” price is the price at which Hobby Lobby always sells the table. A tag on the table said, “Furniture always 30% off.” The complaint charges that the $119.99 price is therefore not the “regular” price, but a made-up amount used to raise the price before the discount is applied.

The complaint claims that this amounts to deceptive advertising and trade practices under the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (FUDTPA)

Also, the Federal Trade Commission says that it is deceptive to advertise a higher price as a “regular” price when the item is never sold for that price. Its regulations state that “the advertised higher price must be based upon fact, and not be fictitious or misleading.” The complaint claims that Hobby Lobby makes no attempt to determine prices of comparable merchandise in the area.

Among other things, the complaint claims that Hobby Lobby has engaged in breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

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