A class action certified in March 2009 against Best Buy for a class of New York consumers who were denied valid price matches under Best Buy’s advertised “Price Match Guarantee” will go to trial in federal court starting April 17, 2012, according to the judge overseeing the case.
The class is comprised of New York residents who, from January 10, 2002, to the present, made a purchase at Best Buy and within thirty (30) days after the purchase (14 days for computers, monitors, notebook computers, printers, camcorders, digital cameras and radar detectors) presented a lower price from a competitor of Best Buy for the product purchased and were denied the price match request. The Court certified the class of New York residents in March 2009.
According to the plaintiffs, despite Best Buy’s Price Match Guarantee, which it advertises in stores, on flyers, and through television and newspaper advertisements, Best Buy has an internal policy designed to discourage or deny valid price matches, particularly those which shoppers try to make based on cheaper prices at competitive warehouse stores, or where the competitor’s price for the product is five percent (5%) or less of the Best Buy mark-up. Plaintiffs allege that Best Buy uses a bonus structure which incentivizes its employees to deny price matches.
Price matches may be good for sales, but they cut into the margin of Best Buy substantially, so the company attempts to limit or curtail margin erosion from the practice by denying valid price matches. The claims asserted are violations of New York Consumer Fraud Act, General Business Law (“GBL”) §349, and unjust enrichment.
Despite the defendant’s multiple attempts to decertify the class, the Court reconfirmed certification of the New York consumer class and has set a jury trial date for January 23, 2012. If plaintiffs prevail, New York residents denied a valid price match would have a potential claim.
In addition, the Court certified an injunction class, thus allowing the plaintiffs to obtain an injunction of the deceptive practice, a remedy expressly allowed if the jury finds that Best Buy violated New York’s GBL §349. Under the statute, each injured class member could also receive $50 per person if they cannot demonstrate their actual damages.
Gary S. Graifman
of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C.
of Chestnut Ridge, NY
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David Stellings and Daniel Seltz
of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
of New York, NY