Store promises rain check, can't deliver

You see a good sale advertised, only to find the store is sold out. So should you expect a rain check?

January 17, 2011 7:01:48 PM PST
It's a common experience among shoppers. You see a good sale advertised, only to find the store is sold out. So should you expect a rain check? A woman in Rodeo became frustrated after a store manager promised a rain check, but couldn't deliver.

Rose Trainer is an avid television viewer, so getting a big screen TV has been on her wish list for a long time. Then she saw an ad from Fry's for a 52 inch 3D television at a savings of $2,100.

"That's what all the things I knew I wanted in a TV," she said.

So she rushed to Fry's, only to find out the TV she wanted was sold out and they told her to try again tomorrow. Tomorrow came, but the new shipment had not arrived. Her frustration grew.

"I'm the first one here. I know I want this TV. I was told to come back this morning. I took the day off work and They said, 'sorry, you just have to be here when it comes in,'" Trainer said.

She told her story to a manager and he scribbled the words rain check on the ad itself and told her to take it back to the manager of the TV department, but he refused to give her one.

"Federal law requires that grocers offer rain checks in the event that they run out of items, unless they had a reasonable supply, or to offer a comparable item at the same price. But for big box stores, it's not generally required," Joe Ridout from Consumer Action said.

Still, many stores will give you a rain check even if not required, but that's uncommon on big sales.

"For extraordinary sales, like a door busters or loss leaders such as $300 laptops, often on the front page they'll say quantities limited to four per store or six per store," Ridout said.

But there was no such disclaimer on the Fry's ad, and California requires that stores stock what's expected to be a reasonable demand. Fry's declined to tell 7 On Your Side how many of the sale televisions it had for sale. But it agreed to sell Rose the television at the sales price.

Fry's said, "It regrets any inconvenience or miscommunication which Ms. Trainer experienced, and we are pleased we were able to provide her with the television she wished to purchase at the sales price."

"I think the store did actually go the extra mile for this woman," Ridout said.

"I was very excited because I never thought I was going to get the TV and you know, if Channel 7 hadn't called, I know I wouldn't have gotten the TV," Trainer said.

The bottom line is that stores have varying policies on rain checks and the best thing to do is to get familiar with them.