Deceptive Ad

Here's another example of a retailer creating a misleading display for their product. It's not technically a lie, but it certainly could confuse a shopper who didn't pay close attention. The image has been circulating around the internet recently. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I first saw it.

Related Post: Deceptive Sign.

Update: The image was first posted on, emailed to them by "William" who saw it at a Toys R Us. (Though I figured out that I first saw it via this reddit link, which didn't offer any explanatory details.)


Posted on Mon Dec 03, 2007


Pretty clever. Illegal in the UK, mind, but still pretty clever.
Posted by Renquist  in  Glasgow, Scotland  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  10:40 AM
Maybe an automated generated sign?
Posted by Kisho  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  11:16 AM
It looks like it may have been a typo, when I worked at Sears a while ago we'd often get weird signs adding to a price instead of subtracting. When making a sign (especially a custom one) you would select the item on a computer and then put the reduction in. The computer automatically reduces the price of the item by the amount you type in. Sometimes, especially with newer people, they would put a '-' before the reduction thinking this was necessary to create a reduction when it actually has the opposite effect, and the sign that printed out would look exactly like this one. (except it wouldn't show the original price when it is raised).
Posted by Rich  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  11:50 AM
I'm also thinking it's automatically generated. I think it's a mistake and not meant to be intentionally misleading. Apparently they need to code 'if newprice > oldprice then printsign=false'. Even Walmart (or not so 'even') is notorious for not paying attention to higher prices on their 'Rollback' signs.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  11:55 AM
It was originally posted up on the Consumerist.

Saw your post linked to from Boing Boing today.
Posted by William  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  12:28 PM
You should pass this on to, it's a blog about hideous programming errors and they have a special section called Error'd devoted to signs and posters that got messed up by software bugs.

My favourite was the chocolate raisins which listed their ingredients as SELECT * FROM etc.
Posted by Ogsy  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  12:39 PM
well, i doubt its a mistake because at the bottom it explains that the original price was $10 less.
Posted by steven Lewis  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  05:04 PM
It probably is a mistake.
The original price WAS $249.99 as the sign clearly shows.

Whoever entered the item for a discount probably typed -10 instead of 10 and the computer printed teh only logical thing:
249.99 - (-10) = $259.99
Posted by Armand Asante  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  07:33 PM
Step One: Be smarter than the computer
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  08:36 PM
This looks more like inadequate error checking coupled with a poorly-trained employee rather than a deliberate attempt to raise the price. Add to it a moron who didn't notice that the sign came out stupid.

A few months ago I found a clearance sign that reduced the product $0.
Posted by Loren Pechtel  on  Tue Dec 04, 2007  at  09:33 AM
A client of mine once sent the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (which is now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) an application that had no filing fee, so, naturally, he didn't enclose any payment. The INS mailed back the application with a letter saying it was being rejected because the applicant had not enclosed the correct fee of "$0.00."
Posted by Big Gary  on  Tue Dec 04, 2007  at  11:47 AM
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