Internet's kind act for Target manager after customer's bizarre complaint

Hey all,

I came upon a curious article coupled with a chain of tweets over a consumer rights issue in the US. A man with over 200k followers blasted a manager at Target for not selling him an electric toothbrush for the marked price of “0.01”. He contacted the police who suggested he file a lawsuit against Target.

Some things to note:

  • Massachusetts pricing law only covers food and grocery items.
  • The label pictured is for “Display”.
  • He has posted a picture of the manager along with their name on social media, spurring backlash and a GoFundme campaign to give her a holiday.

What do you all think about how this was handled? Do you think he is within his rights?(or should he at least receive the display model for $0.01?) Despite who is right or wrong, should customer service workers be open to harassment that could effect their livelihood given they forget specific consumer laws?


It is a bit hard to determine the facts, as the information appears to only that through the eyes of a complainant.

I just hope that the $0.01 display item is like mobile phones on display…often replicas which have no usuable value. Maybe US Target could sell him the display item (replica?), but then again he is likely to complain that he has been duped by Target.

Attacking or naming and shaming store personnel who are only likely to be implementing the stores policy is also inappropriate. If he has any issue, it is with US Target and not an individual.

It would slso be interesting to know if the Massachuesetts pricing law defines what a grovery item is and whether the electric toothbrush is considered a grocery item. If it isn’t, he might be barking up the wrong tree.


To me it seems like a scale - rip-off, retail pricing, sharp pricing, deal, bargain, clearance, fire sale, obvious mistake …

In the case of ‘obvious mistake’ - I’d personally check that it is real, and reasonably accept (a little disappointed but not a lot) that it was a mistake and hope they hadn’t been fleeced by too many opportunists. Regardless (or as Americans say, irregardless :wink: ) of the law, mistakes happen and I’d like to think if I was the poor company soul who stuffed up that I wouldn’t meet morons like David Leavitt - to me he epitomises everything that is sick and cancerous on social media and the way it can create the mob mentality.

Badly and No.

Definitely not - it is about the company not the individual - if the individual has crossed any boundaries or behaved/acted in an inappropriate manner then the company should deal with it. This isn’t always easy of course, things often get personal, but it is an interesting exercise in self control to try keeping within the bounds of respect and politeness with an individual while directing ones complaint toward the company (different if they are one in the same though :wink: )

Looking at the guy on twitter he claims :slight_smile:

Award-Winning Multimedia Journalist. Bylines: CBS, AXS, Yahoo, Examiner, etc. I love #Games #Tech Travel. Casual #MTG player. Work w/me:
Boston/Providence/Manhattan Joined August 2009
1,989 Following
Followed by John McAfee

He’s followed by John McAfee - that tells a big part of the story!

Reading the thread - this guy seems a total troll … and possibly a liar? oh, sorry he admitted to being a journalist already (that’s probably a bit harsh …)


but …

It is refreshing to see how many people call him out for what he is.

I hope Tori gets her holiday …


Did you overlook “tosser”?


I can’t read the pricing tag, so I am assuming it lists the Oral B toothbrush in the descriptor field.

Let’s assume this occurred here in Oz and Oral B was on the ticket… The business should have sold it at the price displayed, and immediately taken the ticket off. That way they keep the customer happy, and only lose on one item.

If the pricing label said ‘display’ on the discriptor, perhaps they could have given him the display minus the toothbrush? Oral B could have easily replaced the display. One of our dentists was given a dummy Oral B toothbrush and clear acrylic teeth with a range of heads by Oral B to promote the product.

When the business didn’t sell it to him at the displayed price, the customer should have complained about the business and not the staff member individually, and certainly not pilloried the staff member.

On the face of it, the customer was annoyed he didn’t get something for nothing. Calling the Police… really? What a waste of their time. Threatening to litigate over a toothbrush… obviously he has too much time on his hands.

I think the matter was badly handled from both sides.


Consumer issues aside, that to me is the serious issue and I agree, you’ve hit the nail on the head - this is about the company, not the staff member - let the company deal with the staff member if they have in any way done the wrong thing. How sad that so much is personalised through social media. How sad that social media is really neither social, nor is it media …

Overall, this left me with a very bad impression of the complainant, and no bad impression at all really of the staff member or the company - especially after reading the complainants twitter feed … I do worry for the staff member in some ways, people who do the hard yards can often be way more fragile than is realised - that tough external layer betrays a lot sometimes. I speak from experience - for what it is worth - some assumptions made here, your mileage may vary, contents may settle, etc etc …

No, I’ll admit that even more elaborate descriptions sprung to mind, but I was trying really hard to contain it all :slight_smile:


Who cares? The outrage machine will do what it wants and taking a view from half a world away with inadequate information does not contribute one little bit. Silly events like this would never be heard of before social media and that’s probably where the whole thing should be left. Slow news day.

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The word “petty” springs to mind.


Indeed! So often social media seems the deafening voice of irrelevance …

Also indeed :slight_smile: as does the term ‘grandstanding’ … on a grandstand made from toothpicks …


The law of Offer and Acceptance is pretty simple here. By presenting it to the cashier, you are making an OFFER to buy the product. The cashier is not obliged to ACCEPT that offer. Many think that the Offer is made by the store, i.e. offering to sell the product, with the buyer accepting that offer. That’s not the case.
What an individual store might do as practise may be different.


Welcome @Fantana
This being your first post I’m sorry to disagree with you :slightly_smiling_face:

I think that the purpose of a store is to sell: They are the ones offering goods for sale. The customer can accept or decline the offer, that’s done by buying or not buying.

About the mistake on the price tag in the US:
I’ve had a manager in Myer letting me buy an item of clothing at the ridiculous price that the price tag showed, even after I offered to pay the right amount, because they said that the mistake was from their part.
And one at Katie’s apologising that a mistake had been made on the docket and the real price was $10 more, if I wanted to buy.
Stores can set the pricing, but they exist only to sell if they wish to stay in business.

It seems that the holes in his teeth have now spread to his head.

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I agree with this, however, the first post on the ozbargain forum makes a compelling argument that the seller can decide not to sell…

While the ACCC deals with pricing, it is silent where a genuine mistake is made and whether the seller must honour the price in such circumstances…

Choice has also covered similar information to the ACCC but is also silent for this particular example if it occurred in Australia…

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Contract law says that Fantana is correct. You have made a common mistake.

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Mr Bumble said it well: ‘ Then the law is an ass’.
I understand that shops have rights in regards to pricing etc., but I have never
walked in any shop which was not offering goods for sale, and in Au I have never bargained or offered to buy at a price other than the price the seller was offering the goods for. I tried in countries were it’s common to make an offer, always unsuccessfully :wink:

No it’s not. It is more a history lesson based on tradition and precedents and interpretation and legal debate and high court rulings, and …

What ever that is it resembles no known one animal. It’s form might best be found in the supporting characters of a Starwars movie. It is also mimicked by the unintelligible language used by these aliens. Importantly the apparent complexity and ambiguity of the law is critical to it’s effective and reliable and considered operation. At least if you are a lawyer. :wink:

Generally shops displaying goods with a marketing docket or price are not making an offer to sell as already pointed out. It is an “invitation to treat”, for those bored with their breakfast or keen on a career in marketing or the law.


My apologies to the humble Asinus
It didn’t deserve the comparison. :wink:

I’m sorry, what does that actually mean?:thinking:

I’m no legal expert.
Simplistically, as suggested previously by @Fantana, goods on display for sale are not considered an “offer by the store to sell” subject to “acceptance of the offer” by the shopper. Otherwise on picking the goods off the shelf the shopper is bound to the purchase. There is a long case history that explains why this is so and why in general legal precedent considers the display of goods an “invitation to treat”. This defers the offer to buy by the customer and acceptance of the offer by the store to the point of sale.

A long answer.

The reference no20 in the Wikipedia item to English common law is of relevance in explaining the distinction further.

And just to confuse, Australian consumer laws add their own variations in respect of the nature of the agreement reached upon the sale of any goods or services.


The ‘Invitation to Treat’ aspect of contract law was developed through English common law as a means of protecting the consumer against unreasonable practices by sellers. Acts of Parliament like the Sale of Goods acts gave statutory confirmation of the common law of contracts.

Three requirements: The buyer makes an offer to have a contract with the seller for a good or a service. If the offer is accepted by the buyer, then the good/service is exchanged with due consideration (ie money) by the buyer. The contract is completed.