This question is already answered here for the US but I'm wondering about the same case in Ireland. (apologies if this is a duplicate but I wasn't sure what to do in this case)

My wife and I were attempting to buy a vacuum cleaner in an electronics shop which was advertised on special offer at €270. The salesman made a point of explaining what a good deal it was given the reduced price. However, when we went to buy it, the salesman found out that the offer had ended the previous day, that they had neglected to take down the signs (which didn't feature an offer end date), and it actually cost something like €350. I attempted to argue that since the price was advertised at €270 and that's what we agreed on that he had to sell it for that price, but he said that while people think that's the case, it's not a legal requirement.

My question is, is it?

  • What, precisely, do you mean by "that's what we agreed on?". If you agreed (in the legal sense of the word) then the price is binding. For that to happen both sides need to have agreed (technically, one side offers and the other side accepts). But the mere fact of the price being advertised isn't an offer, it is an invitation to treat. A quick Google check suggests to me that that is applicable in Ireland too.
    – JBentley
    Sep 16, 2021 at 14:08
  • "What, precisely, do you mean by "that's what we agreed on?"" - he told us the price (€270), indicating the Special Offer sign by the product, and we (after discussion and looking at other products) said "OK, we'll take it".
    – komodosp
    Sep 16, 2021 at 15:02
  • That is problematic then. Him telling you the price is probably just confirming the fact of the invitation to treat on the sign unless it was clear from his words and conduct that he was offering to sell it to you at that price. Merely telling you the price probably isn't enough in which case your "ok we'll take it" is the offer and his refusal is the rejection. I suspect this is a situation where only a court can give you a definitive answer as it will entirely depend on the construction of what the parties said and did.
    – JBentley
    Sep 16, 2021 at 15:09
  • I don't know the specifics of ireland, but in many european countries, a price tag is an offer, and the price is binding for the shop - if the tag is attached to a product or visible in a display window. It may not be binding if the price was only in an advertisement sheet. There's one exception: The offer contains an obvious and severe error (e.g. a wrong decimal point). Whether an ended special offer is an obvious error would probably really need a court decision.
    – PMF
    Sep 16, 2021 at 18:30

3 Answers 3



If the price advertised is not honoured by the business and you are asked to pay a higher price, you do not have an automatic right to buy the item at the special offer or sale price. As long as the shop or business tells you before you pay that the higher price applies, you have the option to either buy it at the higher price or decide not to. However, the shop or business may be in breach of consumer law in relation to misleading advertising.

The prosecution (or not) of the misleading advertising is the government’s task, not yours.

This is a common formulation across Common Law jurisdictions as it a codification of the historic common law position. An advertised price is not an offer capable of acceptance, it is an invitation to treat. That is, it is an invitation for you to make them an offer and the price that is likely to be accepted.

It is overlaid with later developments in consumer protection surrounding false advertising and misleading and deceptive conduct.



A price tag, in an of itself, is normally not an offer. There are good reasons for this. For example 100 people may look at a price tag. If it were to be treated as an offer to the world then 100 people could accept that offer and the shop would be contractually obliged to supply 100 of the items when, perhaps, it only has 10 in stock. To avoid this absurdity a price tag is not an offer.

This does not necessarily mean that the price tag is irrelevant. If the shop and customer agree a sale, and no other price is mentioned before agreement, then the contractually binding sale agreement will incorporate the price on the tag.

Exactly when a contract comes into existence depends on the exact sequence of events. It could be just before payment is made or it might be a little while before payment is made. For example if you go into the shop and say "can I have one of those, please" you are making an offer. And when the shopkeeper says "certainly sir" picks one up, and wraps it up for you, at that point there is acceptance and so a binding contract to buy the goods at the price stated on the price tag comes into existence. This is before the shopkeeper says "and how would you like to pay".

On the other hand if, without saying anything, you pick up the goods, place them on the counter together with the exact amount of money in cash, then the contract comes into existence when the shopkeeper indicates acceptance by picking up the money and saying "thank you". So in this particular case acceptance and payment happen at virtually the same time.

Legal SE cannot offer legal advice so I am not saying what the result in your particular circumstances is (more information about exactly what was said and done and when would be needed in any event) but you can see that a key point is whether a binding contract of sale had already come into existence before the salesman queried the price.


The situation: Either the shop made a genuine mistake, or it is unfair trading practices (bait and switch). You can’t prove it.

However, you can take a photo, leave, and return two hours later. If it was a genuine mistake then it should be fixed. If the offer is still there, you can insist on the price. Otherwise you have now proof that it wasn’t a mistake and go to the authorities.

And if the offer was valid yesterday then I assume selling to you for yesterday’s price doesn’t cause any hardship to the store.

  • If the offer was valid yesterday, it doesn't have to be valid today: Buying during the validity of the offer is a condition for the special price.
    – Trish
    Oct 23, 2021 at 23:48
  • Trish, if a $100 item is incorrectly marked as $10, then the store suffers if they have to sell it for $10. If the $100 item was marked correctly at $80 yesterday, then the store obviously accepted yesterday that people would get it for $80. So the store will not suffer any hardship if they have to sell for $80 today, so they will be much more likely to hand it over for the lower price to avoid an argument, and will likely be financially better off if you buy it for $80 instead of not. buying at all.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 21, 2022 at 9:02
  • That is not a legal argument. If they had a pricetag "80$*" with * meaning "Durig promotion till [date]" that doesn't entitle anyone to get that price on [date+1].
    – Trish
    Jul 21, 2022 at 9:50

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