My job was to promote something in a grocery store. I happened to cross paths with someone from the bakery and they asked if I wanted a pizza to draw interest in my permission. I said ok. After the pizza was made someone else from the store said I had to pay for the pizza. Legally speaking must I have paid for the pizza? Who would have the authority to decide if it's free or not? Must they have told me the cost prior to giving it to me (and it being consumed)? Conversely there's an expectation when getting something from a store that you need to pay for it. For example if you didn't see a price tag on something you probably wouldn't assume it's free.

A similar situation was my friend in school went on a trip with debate team. The club failed to get a discount and asked him to pay more than they originally charged. He refused. Was this legal?

  • 4
    "...if I wanted a pizza to draw interest in my permission." What does this mean? Promotion? Jul 21 '19 at 22:09
  • @BlueDogRanch yes promotion
    – abc555
    Mar 15 at 7:22

Canadian law defines "theft" thus:

Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent

(to deprive the owner, pledge as security, mess it up)

In this case, you accepted what seemed to be an offer of a free pizza, so if you took and consumed the pizza you did so with a colorable claim of right and without fraud. Perhaps you misunderstood, but it is not a crime to misunderstand another person's intent. They could sue you for the cost of the pizza (assuming that you took it and did not pay), in which case the question would be whether whatever they said to you could reasonably be interpreted as an offer of a free pizza (if not, pay for the pizza). As an advertising stunt, this would not be unusual.

However, if they fix the pizza but then demand money before handing over the pizza, you now know that you have no right to the pizza (if you abscond with the pizza in that circumstance, it would be theft). You may of course pay for the pizza, but you can also not pay and not take the pizza. Again, they could sue you, and in this case your defense would be that there was no contract (no agreement).

An important question would be how reasonable it is to believe that you were offered a free pizza. People are offered "free" steak dinners all the time (at the cost of sitting through a sales pitch), so that is a reasonable belief. If a Lexus yacht salesman appears to be offering you a free $5M yacht, it is not reasonable to think that this is an ordinary advertising stunt, if you're not a celebrity.

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