Mexican Law Requires Businesses to Honor Displayed Prices — Even the Erroneous Ones

Over the last year, I’ve written a few articles dedicated solely to educating people about their rights under Mexico’s Consumer Protection Law (Ley de Protección al Consumidor). The goal of those articles was to help our readers avoid being overcharged or scammed by unscrupulous businesses while visiting Mexico.

The government agency tasked with investigating and enforcing the provisions of the Consumer Protection Law is the Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor, more commonly known as Profeco. They have the authority to fine, suspend or even close down a business for violations of the Consumer Protection Law.

Advertised Prices

Articles 7 and 7bis of the Consumer Protection Law require that businesses honor exhibited prices. The intent of that law is to protect consumers from deceptive and misleading advertising.

Unfortunately for many businesses, this law also applies to situations where a store employee makes an error on a sign. In such cases, Profeco will force the business to honor the price — no matter how ridiculously low it might be.

Commas and Decimal Points

Many of these ridiculously low prices are the result of an employee mistakenly putting a decimal point in the price where a comma should be.

That’s how a couple in Juarez, Mexico was able to buy a stove valued at $14,999 pesos ($833 USD)  for only $14.999 pesos ($0.83 USD). Although the store refused to honor the price, the couple filed a complaint with Profeco and the store was later forced to sell the stove for less than $1 USD.

The same thing happened at a  Coppel store located in Altamira, Mexico when an employee wrote $15.000 pesos on a 50″ television instead of $15,000 pesos. Profeco stepped in once again and the happy consumer left the store paying less than $1 USD for their new flat screen.

I think it’s important to mention that many Spanish-speaking countries actually write prices with a decimal point instead of a comma. However, Mexico is not one of them.

I guess that’s something to keep in mind if you’re a store manager in Mexico and you ask your new employee from Argentina to make your signs.

Online Advertisements

The law applies to the prices advertised on web sites as well.

Last year, Dell mistakenly advertised Alienware laptops on their web site for only $679 pesos ($37.72 USD). The computers are valued at over $40,000 pesos ($2,222 USD) and hundreds of people placed orders before the price was corrected.

Dell later made an agreement with Profeco to honor the price; however, they limited it to one computer per customer.

Seriously?

Although I wholeheartedly support enforcing consumer rights laws, there are times when I think that people take it way too far.

A recent example comes to us from Altamira, Mexico where an employee of an Arteli store placed this sign next to the Axe deodorants:

The sign says: All the Axe deodorants 96 or 112 gm $39.90 pesos.

Obviously, the sign refers to all of the different scents of Axe deodorants but one young lady took it literally and attempted to purchase all of them for that price.

When the store refused to honor the price, she turned to Profeco and they forced the store to honor the advertised price. She left the store with 235 cans of deodorant valued at almost $9,300 pesos ($513 USD).

Before you cheer for the savvy shopper who beat the system, listen to this — according to news reports, the employee responsible for the sign is being required to pay for their mistake through payroll deductions.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Although I’m considered to be very thrifty by many of my friends, I just can’t see myself taking advantage of a store owner who made an error in punctuation or syntax. For me, integrity is not a matter of whether or not I can do something; rather, whether or not I should.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul

Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years and retired at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He moved to Mexico with his wife six days later to enjoy a laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle on a tight budget.

In 2016, Paul started a blog to share information with other people who may be thinking of making the move to Mexico. The blog, Two Expats Living in Mexico (qroo.us), has been viewed over a million times and Paul’s articles appear in periodicals across Mexico.

19 Comments on "Mexican Law Requires Businesses to Honor Displayed Prices — Even the Erroneous Ones"

  1. As always thanks for another interesting article. I totally agree with you about integrity. I understand why the store would hold the employee responsible, but employees make so little here mistakes of this magnitude would be devastating. Not sure how that would be handled in the US or Canada. Seems to be a common practice here not just in stores. I’ve been told by a very dependable source that if an employee is operating a machine of any kind here and something breaks, the employee is responsible for fixing it. Again a devastating expense.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. We really hate being taken advantaged of so can’t imagine doing the same to others. Thanks for the post. 🙂

  3. Carol Klabunde | July 6, 2017 at 11:58 am | Reply

    There are always people ready to take advantage of others. Karma is real. Do unto others is always a good rule, even when dealing with a business.

  4. Paul, we were “scammed” last month in Cancun, not by a small mom and pop store or street vendor, but by an American based company at the airport. As we were heading home from our recent vacation from the CUN airport, after going through security we decided to get a bite to eat. We went into the Guy Fieri’s Kitchen restaurant and ordered burgers and cokes. The waiter asked if we wanted a can or glass with unlimited refills. We chose the refill option. When the bill came, it was $36 more than expected and when we questioned the waiter he then told us that we had purchased 3 “souvenir” glasses for $9 each!! We were pissed, but what do you do at this point? Let the buyer beware.

  5. Chantal Lessard | July 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Reply

    it never cease to amaze me to hear these stories about Gringos taking advantage of a store clerk when they were fully prepared to pay for the stove and TV asking price when they walk in the store . Is it any wonder that at time they also the Mexicans take advantage of you and run away with you purse or cell phone , What goes around comes around .

  6. Anne Glennie | July 6, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Reply

    Really enjoy your blog, and your videos are terrific Paul! Thanks for doing those. I’m wondering about rent amounts. I understand that all prices are supposed to be posted in pesos, so when I’m on sites like Airbnb, and Longtermlettings I often find myself wondering how much I’d be charged if I could pay in pesos. I suppose since we book online, and pay with a credit card, it isn’t an option. Any input on the subject? Thanks again!

  7. According to a post i just read that deodorant may not have been such a bargain since the product contains harmful chemicals that play havoc with hormones! karma is a bitch!

  8. I think it kind of follows the USA example of the clerk who puts in the wrong “payment received” and gives too much change. If the customer notices and doesn’t speak up, it’s the same as stealing. I’m sure he would speak up if short changed. just a thought

    • The difference in Mexico is that the government steps in and enforces the price created by human error. In the U.S., you would have to go to go to civil court to make such a claim.

  9. Patricia Armstrong | July 6, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Reply

    Another great article Paul, always look forward to you’re emails. I do agree I could never do that to these people as they work for next to nothing and we r fortunate to get to live in paradise..

  10. Another good subject post!

    I myself, have been overcharged in Mexico – when I go to the cashier and the price is different from the shelf label price. Next time, I will say something.

  11. Regarding the post from “Anne Glennie” (Julio 6) about Airbnb and currency pricing:

    You have to go into your Airbnb profile and edit your profile.

    To get to this menu easily, go into your Airbnb profile, select “Notification,” next, select “Text Message Settings,” then select the “Change Phone Numbers” URL, and there you can select your “Preferred Currency” for pricing via a drop-down menu.

    Recently, I had to change my phone number on Airbnb and voila, there this drop-down menu was.

  12. Whoa, correction to my above post about changing ‘currency preference’ in Airbnb and I cannot delete my post either.
    Obviously, to edit your Airbnb profile, you select “Edit.”
    The other longer explanation was about changing your contact phone number, as I had to change my contact number recently.
    My apologies; I should have proof-read my post beforehand. LOL

  13. grantmasterflash2000 | July 8, 2017 at 11:50 am | Reply

    It’s theft. Let’s just call it what it is.

  14. Paul, I’d be curious to learn if you have more details about what Profeco considers, “advertising”. I was just looking at one of the Facebook groups for Playa, and found someone advertising an apartment for $795,000 (no indication of currency). You can probably guess the rest. I was thinking, “what does $45K USD buy?” (the rough exchange rate to MXN), but when I looked up the location, the property was a beachfront penthouse, a few blocks from the ferry terminal. I’m sure they meant USD. I wouldn’t feel right making a claim to buy it based on the official Mexican currency, but that doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t.

    In the USA, asking prices for real estate are not considered a binding offer to sell, but more an invitation to accept offers from prospective buyers. Is real property treated any differently by Profeco when enforcing advertised pricing rules?

    • I’ve never seen any cases where Profeco got involved in real estate sales or advertising. It is an interesting question though.

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