Target: Nintendo DS Lite On Sale With No Discount

Reader Colin writes us to share an email he sent to Target about their practice of marking items as “Sale”… with no actual discount. Colin writes to Target:

I’m currently in the process of shopping for a Nintendo DS, and have been keeping out for any kind of deals on the item before I buy it. Today I was in the Turnersville Target, and I noticed a big red SALE tag on the DSes. However, the price was still the usual $129.99. I asked the clerk at the electronics counter and he told me “Yeah, that just means it’s at the price in the flyer.” Quite frankly, the only word I can think of for marking an item with a SALE tag when it is not, in fact, at a sale price, is deceptive.

We thought this might have been an isolated incident in New Jersey, so we went to our local Brooklyn Target and sure enough, the Nintendo DS Lite is marked “Sale” even though there is no discount.

The Target flyer is clear about the fact that the DS is not on sale. Why is it marked “Sale” in the store? Just because it is pictured in the flyer?

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs says there are laws against offering items for “Sale” at more than the MSRP without clearly marking the tag, but make no mention of marking things “Sale” in store when they’re not discounted from the MSRP. However, the New York City Consumer Protection Law “prohibits DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES, meaning any claim or action having the potential to deceive consumers.” This may well fall under that law.

Regardless of the legality, it’s certainly not a consumer friendly practice. Not cool, Target. —MEGHANN MARCO

New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
(Photo: Meghann Marco)


Edit Your Comment

  1. jblake1 says:

    It is obviously an human error. There is nothing wrong with advertising a price on an item in the Sunday ad. Someone obviously added the Sale tab to the sign by accident.

    Cut Traget some Human Error Slack please.

  2. shaunirving says:

    Silly Consumerists!
    They’re just saying it’s FOR sale, not ON sale. :)

  3. B says:

    Ahh, but it’s not ON sale, it’s FOR sale, you see.

  4. kpbabb says:

    I used to work for Target in the electronics section, and I can tell you that this happens a lot at Target, although I think its really a mistake by the signing team that the electronics team is to lazy/under payed/busy to fix. Target has a red tag like the one shown sticking out of the price holder that reads “As Advertised” much like the top of the price label. The signing team should have used that rather than the “Sale” tag that they did use. In my old store, this is what we’d do when the price wasn’t actually any different, just in the flyer, where as when something was $0.01 off, we would use the “Sale” tag, because it was a sale. Of course, if someone asked me about it, I’d tell them straight out that yes, it really is only 1 penny off. Anyway, just my $0.02 (not stolen from unsuspecting consumers (guests) when I was working at Target)

  5. remthewanderer says:

    Turnersville and Washington Twp!!!! My home town!!!

    I purchased my Nintendo DS at this same Target. This store was one of the many targets selling the DS before the official release date.

  6. banzaiwolfe says:

    Seriously…it says As Advertised on the actual sign. Target uses As Advertised signs for anything that was shown in the weekly ad at regular price. Somebody stuck the wrong flag on the sign holder, it wasn’t Target intentionally trying to mislead people like you’re trying to say.

    Like jblake1 said, cut them some slack. I am certain that if you went to every Target store, you wouldn’t find that situation in all of them, or even most of them.

  7. Masamune says:

    Eh. Target does this sort of thing all the time. If it’s in the weekly ad (the Nintendo DS is in the ad with the Pokemon games), they’ll put up a “Sale” ticket. Not due to price, but so people shopping for stuff in the ad are instantly attracted to it or something.

    I work in their Photo Lab and in between hours of having nothing to do, often snicker at how they’ll give us tickets to mark that our pictures are on sale when they are, in fact, rarely ever on sale.

  8. Target does this all the time. Everytime I walk through the game aisle you’ll see a few games with tags on them but sold at the same price as any other day.

    I can promise you this is nothing new.

  9. GHETTO.CHiLD says:

    This is a common practice for Target. They advertise it in their circular and add tags to it in store to draw attention to the product, yet they do not lower the price. It is not human error, it is corporate mandated policy. If you notice there “sale” items will all be tagged with a 3×5 for every facing. This is how they bring you in. Watch their video game ads, I guarantee you this is the first nor the last time you will see this happen.

  10. Evil J, Prince of Half Truths and Lord of Low-Light Environments says:

    How is it deceptive? It says in the ad that it’s $129.99. It says on the sign that it’s $129.99. You go to the register and it says that it’s $129.99. Seems pretty consistent across the board.

    Even if you went into every store and it says “Sale” on the little tab, it doesn’t make it deceptive marketing when the price of the item is in big bold font. Discounted price is one of 6 different definitions of the word “Sale”, so, get over it.

  11. matth1jd says:

    This is a very common practice in retail. When I worked for a rather large grocery chain this happened weekly on products that simply needed to be moved out of the warehouse. Consumers rarely noticed the fact that the product was “on sale” at the normal price, but you better believe at the end of the week the 3 pallets of laundry detergent or whatever were gone. It’s just a way to move slow moving product that’s all, you just need to be smart enough to recognize it.

  12. Evil J, Prince of Half Truths and Lord of Low-Light Environments says:

    Seriously, I think people need to look up “deceptive business practice.” This would be hard to prove seeing as they tell you what the price is, and that “Sale” doesn’t mean the same thing as “On Sale.”

    Again, how it’s deceptive when the price is clearly marked, and is priced as advertised… is beyond me.

  13. nightshadowon says:

    While this may be a common practice in retail and “sale” might be on sale or for sale and no one disagrees that it was advertised, look closer at the sign… The price is valid for a certain date range. While most consumers shopping for a DS would know the standard price is $129.99, an uninformed consumer might see this as the price will change after that date range so they need to get it right now at the “sale” price. That is deceptive.

  14. joeblevins says:

    I am surprised that no one claims ‘Bait and Switch’… That claim gets overused as well.

  15. muddgirl says:

    I’ve seen this with other products at Target. I’m sure corporate was completely innocent of any thoughts of deception when they figured, “Oh, we’ll use the word SALE, which the average consumer interprets as DISCOUNTED, to mean FEATURED IN THE SUNDAY CIRCULAR.”

    And by “completely innocent of any thoughts of deception”, I really mean “fiendishly laughing as they rub their hands together in glee at their own cleverness.”

  16. cakeordeath says:

    It’s deceptive because it makes the consumer think he is getting some special deal that he couldn’t get else where.

    It could easily trick someone into buying one rather than looking elsewhere for a better offer.

  17. Skiffer says:

    Would people be this willing to defend the retailer if the article were about Wal-mart?

  18. aka Cat says:

    @Skiffer: Actually, yes. I learned decades ago that “SALE!” only promises “offered for purchase”.

  19. lindyman77 says:

    The “sale” tag in question is Target’s universally understood marker that implies discounts. This is deceiving customers into thinking the item is in fact discounted when it is not. If they simply put a red marker to draw attention that would be one thing; the fact that is says sale on it (which is the same marking used on actual discounted items elsewhere in the store) is deceptive and misleading. Target knows exactly what it is doing; they are intentionally misleading customers and using marketing tricks to sell DS’s. Other stores may do this all the time, heck Target may make this a weekly practice but that doesn’t make it right. They should be called on it by their customers to raise awareness and inform others of this so that they actually have to place it on sale. Will this happen… probably not.

  20. chinscankill says:

    Cakeordeath hit it on the head. It doesn’t help that it says “Prices valid: 4/22-4/28.”

    Obviously this is relatively minor when compared to the kinds of things we have seen stores do to trick customers into buying something, but nonetheless, it is deception.

  21. A-Rude-Hero says:

    Having worked for Target I can say that right there was a human error and the not the company. If you’ll notice the little price tag part says “As Advertised”. The little flag that says “Sale” is a seperate piece that you have to manually attach. There are also flags that say “As Advertised” so someone just stuck in the wrong one.

    The point being that “As Advertised” tags are there to help people looking for something they saw in the weekly add. It can perhaps be a little misleading at times, but it’s intent is not to mislead, rather to draw attention so as to make the sale.

  22. Evil J, Prince of Half Truths and Lord of Low-Light Environments says:

    I think that people are MORE inclined to do it to Target than Wal-Mart, actually.

    People can infer whatever they want from a single word, it doesn’t make it deceptive.

    Now, if they said something like “15% off” and it was MSRP, then that’s deceptive business practice.

    Saying “Buy THIS!” isn’t deceptive, it’s advertising.

    And seriously…

    Is this THAT big of a deal? C’mon.

    You REALLY would purchase a DS because it has a red sign on it, and ignore the big bold letters that say the price?

    Like I said before, it says the price on the sign, the price on the ad, and that’s the price you pay at the register. Seems pretty consistent.

  23. dbeahn says:

    Anyone that would buy into this needs my “Double your IQ in 30 days or no money back!” program…

  24. Evil J, Prince of Half Truths and Lord of Low-Light Environments says:

    They do have little yellow tags that say “As Advertised”.

    That being said, seriously, are you guys kidding me? You’d pay more attention to a little red tag when the price of the item is in BIG BOLD BLACK LETTERS?

    You would say “hey, this is for sale, I’ll buy it with no regard for its price?” Gimme a break.

    This is exactly the reason that there have to be warning and caution labels on anything, because most people love to have an excuse not to be responsible for thinking for themselves. “There wasn’t a sign that told me NOT to stick my hand under the lawnmower so it’s not my fault.”

    Like I said, the word “Sale” has 6 definitions, and only one of them implies discount without the word “On” in front of it. The price on the sign is the same price as in the ad that’s the same price that you pay at the register.

  25. hop says:

    the sign reads “sale” ends saturday…..does that mean the price goes…up…down or sidways???????????

  26. exkon says:

    Amazon does this on video games once in awhile too.

    I was looking for a game once, and I knew the developers were just selling it for $39.99 everywhere.

    So I go check Amazon to see if they have a deal and what do you know? They do!!

    Marked down from $49.99 to $39.99. I was like, WTF? That’s the same price everywhere!

  27. Evil J, Prince of Half Truths and Lord of Low-Light Environments says:

    Y’know, it seems like since the rise of the blog and “Web 2.0” that everyone expects advertising to just go out the window. I mean, companies get raked over the coals constantly for trying to sell products… whether it’s Sony being “arrogant” in their advertising, or this kind of thing…

    I missed the memo when advertising is supposed to be unbiased, and not attempt to move merchandise. Did Cocacola come out with a new slogan that says “Better than drinking piss” or Volkswagen start a campaign for the Jetta that says “Not a CERTAIN Death Trap?”

  28. Raanne says:

    I used to work at Penney’s in the signing department, and yes, the same issue was there. This is human error all the way.

    The dates are there (at least in the case of Penney’s) to let the signing department know when the sign should be taken down. Note – after that date it is no longer “as advertised”, since there will be a new ad, so the sign is no longer acurate, even if the price is the same.

  29. ShadowFalls says:

    I think the point here is that even though it says As Advertised, it has the part that says “Prices valid: 4/22-4/28”

    With that in mind, does that mean at the beginning of the next week, the $129.99 price tag is no longer valid and it must be cheaper than that? Sounds like false advertising regardless of which way you look at it.

  30. Echodork says:

    Retailers can’t increase the price of merchandise with the intention of offering it “on sale” at or above MSRP. So Target can’t up the price of their DS to $139.99 with the intention of offering it “on sale” at $129.99.

    That isn’t what they did here, but the idea is still the same. I don’t know what the law is for situations like this, and honestly, I don’t really care. Legal or illegal, legitimate or not, it’s still a pretty questionable thing to do. Thankfully, as a consumer, I can make purchasing decisions based on my own opinion of a company regardless of their adherence to the letter of the law :)

  31. spamsonite says:

    I work at Sears and they do like to make customers aware of items featured in the ads, but they do it different than Target. Items in the ad that are actually on sale at a reduced price get a red and white “Sale” sign. Items just featured in the ad, that aren’t actually reduced price, get a red or red and white sign that says “As Advertised.” This makes it possible to differentiate. Some people are annoyed by it though. Many people have come in looking for the item they saw “On sale.” When they see it isn’t actually a reduced price, just featured in the ad for what it costs, they change their mind.

  32. web_man_dan says:

    As a former Target employee I can say that the part that states “As Advertised” is part of the tag. This is just to show that it is an advertised price/product, NOT to lead the guest (Target slang for customer”)into thinking it is at a reduced price. The “Sale” portion is an addition piece placed behind the tag (that is human error). Occasionaly, the price of a product is lower in different regions (adjusted due to shipping and local taxes) and then you may see a lower price with a sale tag.

  33. bluwapadoo says:

    But it’s not the manufacture’s suggested price so it is on sale, even if it is the same price as they have been selling it. It really depends on the baseline you are comparing the prices to.

    Also, if you make too big of a deal about it they could just RAISE the price next week and claim that is was a sale this week, even if the price had been the same the previous weeks. Just like letting a tax cut end is a de facto tax increase.

  34. rbb says:

    Ever look at the Sunday supplement ads for Lowes and Home Depot? Very few of the items are actually on sale.

  35. Husher says:

    you would have to be stupid not to get that deal!

  36. Xiatter says:

    You know, I was at a Lansing, MI Target yesterday and they had the same half-circle “Sale” sign on their DS rack.

    For a second I thought it was actually on sale. Like I forgot the price was higher and just thought it should have been 129.99, anyway.

    I don’t like that they do that. Con people into thinking they are saving money? Sure it’s not above price, but for shame, Target.

  37. Buran says:

    @jblake1: Once is an accident. Twice, at two totally separate locations MIGHT be a coincidence. Three is a scam.

  38. jayntampa says:

    It’s deceptive that since it clearly says SALE through Saturday, a possibly uninformed shopper would believe that, after Saturday, the price would go up — so, if you don’t buy it now, you won’t save any money.

    This isn’t directed at gamers, rather general consumers.

    It’s isn’t human error. This is a normal Target strategy, I’ve seen it in stores from CA to FL (where I live). Whether it’s illegal or not, that’s another question.

  39. ShadowFalls says:


    Except you forget one thing, the MSRP of a Nintendo DS Lite is $129.99
    If they upped the price to anything higher at any time, they would be breaking the law.

    Also to point out, no game console or hand held will ever go on sale unless Black Friday comes around. The only store to even discount the old Nintendo DS models was Walmart, this was after the DS Lite was released, no other store lowered their prices. Though one big difference, Walmart had alot of units to sell, should be the same when the Xbox 360 Core units get phased out.

    I think the point here is the way Target goes about it. Sure this won’t fool the educated consumer, but if you are just a parent looking for a birthday gift, Pretty signs such as “Sale” fool them into believing they are saving money.

    I think personally though, no store should advertise things that are not on sale, or at least do not directly relate to something that is. For example, many stores like to advertise the Nintendo Wii. The Wii is not on sale, nor are stores going to have it when you get there, it makes it seem to a consumer there are large quantities of an item which just isn’t true. These are just deceptive tactics, plain and simple.

  40. fillerbunny9 says:

    this is not the first time I have seen this kinda thing at Target. I was there a week ago and the PS3 was “on sale” for $599.99.

    kinda sad, really, as this is a bit decpetive if you don’t know your MSRPs.

  41. ChrisDoom says:

    I was a Target employee for over a year and a half and I can tell you that this is not some sort of conspiracy. That sale tab should not have been added to the “as advertised” sign. It was either put there by accident or as a result of improper training. There is pretty much no formal training what so ever at Target and you are just left to pick up things from other employees as you go so it’s entirely possible that everyone at this store thinks a “sale” tab is supposed to be attached to the “as advertised” signs as well as the “sale” signs but there was no order from the corporation to do so.

    My other theory of what happened that is probably less likely is that those “sale” tab are extremely easy to remove and insert and could have been put there by one of the many teens and pre-teens who have nothing better to do than hang out at target. (I’m serious, kids just hang around the store for hours because there have no where else to go and sometimes pull little harmless “pranks” like this)

    It’s all a mistake not a conspiracy.

  42. teh1337pwnZorz says:

    @ EvilJ:
    If you would take the time to observe the picture a little better and not get your panties in such a bunch, you would realize that the sign actually reads, “Sale through Saturday.” As well as, “Prices Valid: 4/22 – 4/28.” As well as something along the lines of “sale prices automatically registered at checkout.”

    Does this mean that on Saturday, 4/28, target will officially pull the Nintendo DS off of their shelves? I think not.

    You say the word “sale” in this picture merely means FOR sale and not ON sale. Yet when I read “Sale through Saturday,” I and any other reasonably thinking human being can only assume that this item is ON sale through Saturday and not FOR sale through Saturday. Like I stated before, I truly do not believe that target will be discontinuing the sale of the DS on Saturday.

    You asked the question, “Is it really that big of a deal?” Well, considering that you are the only person on this page with multiple posts and you, by far, have the longest posts of anyone (other than myself of course), I ask you Mister Target Defender Man, is it really THAT big of a deal? Apparently to you it is.

    I just can’t stand to see you getting so worked up over something so stupid because I personally couldn’t care less about what target claims is on sale or for sale because any person in their right mind who shops at target for anything, especially videogames is a complete moron. So please do us all a favor and just save your stupid comments when you feel so passionate about something so idiotic.

  43. bossco says:

    A smart consumerist would know a good price for the product they wanted, regardless of what sign the retailer puts on the shelf. When I buy electronics, I always look at all the ads and on ebay and on the retailer internet stores. On the plus side, I noticed that the Nintendo Wii is actually in my local sites, though no cheaper than the regaular price. Nobody complains that 4 months after Xmas, Nintendo actually has had enough of their product available for “normal” people like me who don’t want to get yanked on Ebay for 2 or 3 times the retail price.

  44. mathew says:

    Target do this here in Texas too, with video games. I’ve seen games from the PS2 “Greatest Hits” selection with SALE tags on, when they’re at MSRP ($19.99).

  45. gs2 says:

    Reminds me of Robinsons May. They were fined $400,000 by the State of New York last year for having items endlessly on “sale” when in fact they were never sold at the “regular” price.

  46. Jayzilla says:

    I usta work at Radio Shack and they did that kinda stuff all the time. Like ALL THE TIME.

  47. SonicReducer says:

    You people are all morons and as annoying as guests I see everyday at target. I work Electronics as a team lead currently at Target. Listen close kids As Advertised means hey dude we have it check it out. Sale means hey it’s on sale as in cheaper. Now I know the picture says As Advertised On Sale, but you have to realize to poor bastard that put that sign up had to come in at 5 Am on Sunday to do this. Not to mention he also had to “sleeve” a gazillion signs for ink cartridges this week. Also the “bubbles” which is what we call the little sale hangy thing in the pic also run out and the bastard put a sale one on because the as ad bubbles were all out. Thinking no one would care or if they did he could easily explain. So yeah stop being jerks and to make it all better this SUNDAY nationwide at all Targets you can get a Wii at 8 am sharp. Got the memo on Saturday and received shipment yesterday 30 plus at my target alone.

  48. ShadowFalls says:


    That is not even the beginning of it, I have seen some places sell Greatest Hits games for more than that, Gamestop comes to mind. Also have seen Gamestop sell items that say “Not For Resale” on them, can’t have a MSRP on something you aren’t supposed to be selling.

  49. rbb says:


    Sonic –

    Are thos Wiis going to be tagged “As Advertised” or “On Sale?” ;^)

    Might be worth considering if I can find a sheet of plexiglass to put in front of the widescreen (wouldn’t want to add another case study to

  50. Kawaii-e says:

    Here in Switzerland, Migros, something like Wal-Mart, only smaller and friendlier, did something similar, only with Lego boxsets and marketing them as SALE, but with MSRP. It got into national Television and the SALE was stopped.

    @SonicReducer: Do you want to imply that your costumers are too stupid to notice? Better no bubble as a false one.

    And about the poor bastard, he’s not the only one to start at 5AM in the morning at Sundays, I do that do, sometimes (more like 3AM, but doesn’t matter).

  51. anacoluthia says:

    I have been seeing crap like this for years. I first noticed it in grocery stores, where “Price Drop!” signs were placed next to items on which the price was actually higher than it had been previously.

    Basically, they think we’re fools who’ll be so attracted to getting that elusive deal that we’ll abandon common sense. And, for the most part, I have to assume they are right, otherwise how could they still be getting away with these practices?

  52. LowerHouseMember says:

    I am another [former] Target Electronics Team Member and for some reason I feel compelled to reiterate that there is absolutely, positively, NO corporate conspiracy here. This was a poor minimum-wage employee either not noticing or not caring that the wrong tab was placed in together with the sign.

    Sloppy, yes, but they’re not trying to screw you in this particular case. If you’re going to hate on Target hate them for not adequately training their employees and treating them like crap.

  53. sr105 says:

    The Fred Meyer grocery store in Washington state used to do one better than this. They would take something like a lamp, for example, that retailed normally for $10 and put it on sale for $9. Then they would remark the tag to read:

    Sale $9
    Regular price $15
    40% off

    Often, the stockers were too lazy to remove the old tag and all you had to do was lift the sale tag to see the lie.

  54. Evil J, Prince of Half Truths and Lord of Low-Light Environments says:

    You know, part of me wants to go ahead and get pissed about you calling me a moron and an idiot, but then I realize that you have “leet-speak” in your handle, and therefore automatically lose a lot of creedance with me.

    I’m not worked up about this being a “Target” thing, but an advertising thing in general, and yes, a “we don’t want to have to think for ourselves” kind of thing. People bitch CONSTANTLY on the net about having to use their brains, and automatically assume that having to do so is an inference that a company is 1) Dishonest and 2) Evil.

    It’s stupid. You can talk about “reasonable” human beings, but, dammit, you can’t read the price? How stupid are you if you’re going to BUY something because a little red tag with ONE word on it makes you THINK it’s cheaper than normal? C’mon. Get over it, it’s advertising, and all these people who are acting like Target is telling you that it’s 50% off when it’s the same price it is anywhere else.

    It really does remind me of all the people who will sue companies into putting warning labels for things that SHOULD be common sense, and yes, that does piss me off, and it should piss off any reasonable person. This SERIOUSLY reminds me of the little warning stickers on lawnmowers that say “Don’t stick your hand under here or you’ll get hurt” because you know someone stuck their hand under there, lost some fingers, and sued saying “Well, I had no idea that if I stuck my hand into a rotating blade that bad things might occur.”

    It’s just further indication of the idiocy of the American populous, and the demand that people keep making for everyone to spell everything out for them and if that doesn’t happen, it means that they’re being decieved. How does that NOT piss you off if you have an ounce of brains or common sense?

  55. graventy says:

    Man, you guys are some serious conspiracy theorists. Put your tin foil hats away, people.

    The flag was a simple mistake. Generally, when a store runs out of As Advertised flags, they’ll use Sale flags instead of none. There’s no conspiracy, and any fool who doesn’t notice the price of what they’re buying, sale or not, deserves to pay regular price.

    The sign has dates because that’s when the sign comes down. Who knows what the price will be after 4/28? If it’s advertised again next week, the sign will be replaced with another As Ad sign. Most likely, it won’t be in the Ad, and therefore won’t have a sign.

    This isn’t rocket science, people. And if you’re upset about Target’s Ad Advertised system, well, from the comments above it’s clear that lots of businesses do this.

  56. I used to work at Fry’s Electronics as a salesman. They would do this stuff every week. However, rather than just advertising items that weren’t actually being discounted in price, they would use those items so we could bait and switch them, as directed by management.

    Example: they would put “iPod 80GB, $349” in the ad… or even drop it by a tiny amount, so it would be $344 ($5 off). Then our “suggested” upgrade would be a competing Creative product and we were expected to “upsell” the customer into the Creative, since it was not on the ad.

    Our commissions would always drop on the ad items to motivate us. Using the example of the iPod vs. Creative product, we would get $0 or even negative commission on the iPod (even though often times the customer was paying regular price or even MORE than the competing non-ad item) and then we would get a $5 or $7 commission on the Creative item.

    This was especially irritating with laptops, where we would tell customers one week that the best laptop we had was a Fujitsu, because it carried a $40 commission on it, but then the next week that same laptop would be on sale and it would have a $0 commission, so we would tell people that the Toshiba one was better. Unfortunately, without commission, you were making minimum wage, so it was hard to be honest and forthright with customers becuase management had orders from on high to promote certain items and actually PREVENT people from buying ad items. Most of the time it was the salespeople who would pay for this practice, since any commissions we earned were taken away when people returned items. So they’d put some really shitty items on sale, we’d sell them like crazy and then sometimes weeks later we would have that money taken out of our checks because the customer returned it.

    One of the worst things they used to do was put an item in the ad like a brand-new Sony Vaio and then the “suggested” upgrade would be a refurbished HP. The customer could “save tons of money and get a similar computer!” But many times those sales would wind up alienating customers to the point where they would never want to come back. One guy I sold a refurbished HP to had to return it FOUR times and each time we would give him another one to take home… in each case, the machines were DOA. But hey, we got $15 commission on those as opposed to $2 on the “sale” Sony Vaio that was at regular price. Had the guy bought the Sony when it was NOT in the ad, I’d have gotten $20-25 commission instead of $2 (or $15 on the refurbished HP).

    These practices are ultimately what is truly wrong with retail stores and what drives a lot of consumers to shop online. Know what a “deal” really is before you walk into the store, especially when it’s a store where the salespeople are either commission-based or earning very low wages (the Target stores in my area – Silicon Valley – pay $8/hour to start… sometimes even less).

  57. radioboy says:

    To everyone pointing out that it is human error, the same tag is on the same sign in a store in NY, NJ and I believe someone said in FL.

    You really expect me to belive the sign maker in every one of those stores put the same wrong sign on the same merchandise?

  58. Charmander says:

    On the red sign, it says “SALE – through Saturday.” and in smaller print “Sale prices are automatically registered at checkstand.” Then it gives a date as to when this “sale” price is valid.

    Only, there’s no sale price. Deceptive!

  59. Josh Smith says:

    Welcome to retail anywhere!

    We had this going on all the time when I worked at Kmart. Its all about signage and uninformed consumers.

  60. shdwsclan says:

    I worked at a store, and someone priced a computer at 9999.99 from corporate..

  61. banzaiwolfe says:


    Whether you believe it or not, that is the issue.

    It’s just ridiculous that people can’t accept human error as the cause for this. As Advertised signs are supposed to have As Advertised flags. Target doesn’t send instructions to stores saying “Hey, stick a Sale flag on this As Advertised sign for us”

    What I can’t believe, is how many people on this thread are still freaking out about this after a proper explanation was posted.

  62. LowerHouseMember says:


    When an old sign was taken down at the store I worked at, the white sheet that indicated the item and the price was removed from the sign holder, but nobody ever took out the side tabs (they were rather firmly stuck in there).

    Empty signs were stored in boxes by the color of their side tab. A yellow box for both “Price Cut” and “Temporary Price Cut”, a blue box for “Free Gift Card” and other special offers, and a red box for both “Sale” and “As Advertised”.

    So when it came time to make new signs for the weekly ad, people just reached into the red sign box and grabbed a handful of the sign holders with the red tabs already stuck in there. Which was a random mix of both “Sale” and “As Advertised” tabs. And as previously mentioned, barely anybody knew the difference or cared enough to change it.

    I can’t imagine it’s much different at other Targets. Again, no corporate conspiracy. Just poorly trained workers.

  63. j.miller says:

    I stumbled across a very similar situation over the weekend at a local Michaels while shopping with a friend.

    Many items, mainly those in bins, were marked as “sale” but displayed identical before and sale prices on the signs.

    Catches your attention from afar, but up close you realize there’s no bargain.

  64. tgtTL says:

    Yeah, that balloon that says Sale, should actually say “As Advertised,” but if this store is anything like mine, the guests/team members pull things down and the balloons are thrown away. SO, they’re either DA’s and didn’t realize what they put up or they didn’t actually have any of the “As Advertised” balloons left, both of which are very common. Also, try getting anyone in charge of ordering to actually get you the supplies you need to do your job, you will be beat with the expense binder saying that the store is over budget.

  65. Trackback says:

    Hey Bank of America! Your ATM Gave Me A Fake $20 Wealth Junkie (who has a blog) received a fake $20 on a routine ATM trip, and didn’t know it was fake until a Costco employee informed him. He brought it back to the bank and they apologized. What is a Secured Credit Card?

  66. XianZhuXuande says:

    This is not uncommon many major retail stores.
    Check your weekly ads. Look for game systems and Apple products. You will see items that are on ‘sale’ with MSRP prices almost every time.

  67. ObtuseGoose says:

    @nightshadowon: you got it exactly right

    I love Target as much as the next guy, but they need to stop doing this. The sale sign wasn’t a human error. I see this every week when I go to Target. You’d think they could afford to put all the items on sale in their weekly flyer, instead of the As Advertised (retail price) crap. It really IS deceptive when you stick a sale sign next to the item, which implies that it’s going up in price next week.

  68. banzaiwolfe says:

    “The sale sign wasn’t a human error”

    No? Even though the paper signs are sent from headquarters (Which very obviously say As Advertised) and they are separated and put in plastic sign holders at store level? If you see that often, the store managers aren’t paying enough attention to that process. If a district manager walked the store and saw it, they’d probably get reamed for it.

  69. Secularsage says:

    I managed an EB Games in the same shopping center as a Target, and people would often see the “sale” signs on fixed-price items like the DS Lite and assume that, since we were a specialty store, we were charging more.

    The honest truth of the matter is that game consoles are the same price everywhere, with RARE exception, because they are extremely low margin items for retailers; generally 1% or less. When they are offered below the MSRP, they’re generally limited to 10 or fewer items per store.

    What gets me is that people who are loyal Target shoppers seem to think they can do no wrong. Having had many friends who have worked for Target and seeing the way they run their store as a neighboring retailer, I’ll offer the observation that Target seems to be just another “big box” retailer out to crush the local competition. They have slightly better goods and service than Wal-Mart or K-Mart, but you’ll still get better stuff and better service at a specialty store, often for around the same price (or sometimes, even less!) if you wait for a sale!

  70. Jake4551 says:

    Umm, it says ON SALE TILL SATURDAY, what happens after Saturday?

  71. tigrrrt84 says:

    Wow. The actual sign says “As Advertised.” This means that the item is advertised at regular price. Just because it’s in an ad does not mean it is on sale. Some idiot just put the wrong balloon on the sign because they saw it was red and didn’t read it. Get over yourself. I am so sick of people complaining about others over their own lack of sense.

  72. JusticeJunkie says:

    While I agree that Target’s methods of advertising can certainly be misleading (undoubtedly many marketing practices are intended to make consumers think they are getting a great deal/making a wise purchase) if a person is concerned with finding the product at the lowest available price, then they would benefit from looking up the price at several retailers. Often times one finds an item “on sale” that is being sold for less than what the store usually charges, then comes to find another store which always sells the item at that price, and then can choose the company with which they’d like to do business. ;-)

  73. JusticeJunkie says:

    I’d also like to add, that on the very same ticket which says “As Advertised” it also says “prices valid 4/22-4/28” implying that after that date the item will not be available at the “Sale” price. That is not the result of human error, but slimy marketing.

  74. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a misleading practice. How many people purchase this thinking its a sale item when it is a regular price. DUH, of course its a sale item. That is what Target does, SALE THINGS!!! Regardless I have noticed this alot at alot of stores. Walmart is bad about saying they are rolling back a price, when I just bought it the week before and its still the same price with a ROLLING BACK PRICE sticker stuck to it. Most of these business do this to make money. Its our responsiblity to research and compare. and not give our money to those who practice these types of advertizing. I am looking for a few particular items for xmas. Waiting until the Black friday ads come out thinking i’d get these things cheaper, WRONG. its another scheme to get u in the door. prices have not gone down NOT 1 CENT. some have even gone up yet tell you in the ad prices only good 5 am 11am only. Stores have to think that during these hard times, its better to sale things at a smaller profit than not sale them at all.

  75. Anonymous says:

    I though that I was the only one that noticed that. They have it for sale but it’s really not on sale. Isn’t that like false advertisement and Target is suppose to have good deals too?
    It’s a shame. I agree with all the comments.