Companies often offer various types of short-term promotions. The ads almost always contain fine print that says “Limited Time Offer.” Is there a specific reason why they have to do that?

It seems really unlikely to me that, if they didn’t include that disclaimer, they would just be forced to honor the offer in perpetuity. Is there a law that says they have to include that?

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    When I've seen "Limited Time Offer," it's not part of the fine print; it's one of the most conspicuous things in the ad. They want it to be as obvious as possible that it's limited-time, so people will rush to buy before the sale ends instead of waiting, taking their time to decide whether it's worth purchasing, and possibly choosing not to. Regardless of legal issues, it's in the company's best interest for customers to know that the offer is not perpetual.
    – Someone
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 22:01

3 Answers 3


Is there a legal reason why many advertisements say “Limited Time Offer”?

Sometimes, especially where the advertisement specifies the deadline. This would help defeating a claim of unfair and misleading practices that customers might pursue apropos of an open-ended offer.

An offer triggers the offeree's power of acceptance. Lapse of time --whether reasonable or specified by the offeror-- and revocation by the offeror are two permissible methods for termination of that power. See Restatement (Second) of Contracts at §§ 36, 41. By specifying a deadline, the offeror preempts both the question of fact as to what constitutes reasonable time under the circumstances, Id. at 41(2), and an argument that revocation of the offer was so arbitrary that it took customers by surprise.

Is there a law that says they have to include that?

No. The decision mostly depends on the offeror's marketing preferences and the litigation risks associated to making an open-ended offer.



"Limited Time Offer" is a marketing term, not a legal one, and is intended to create a sense of urgency in the target audience.


When the offer takes the form of a coupon, part of the motivation is a function of financial accounting concerns for firms that use accrual basis accounting.

When a coupon has an expiration date, the allowance on the corporate books for coupons potentially redeemed in the future ends on that date. But, if the coupon has no expiration date, then the accountants have to make a reasonable estimate of how many coupons from that series will be redeemed each year, basically in perpetuity.

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