If a sign is posted that a business will charge you a fee but they don’t bring your attention to it, are you legally obligated to pay it?

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If a sign is posted that a business will charge you a fee but they don’t bring your attention to it, are you legally obligated to pay it?

I have been shopping at the same wig shop since I was 19, I’m now 45. After trying on quite a few wigs I ordered one. After getting home though I decided it really wasn’t the one I wanted and decided to cancel the order. The lady who owned the shop said that I would have to pay a consultation fee of $35 since I tried on more than 2 wigs and didn’t purchase one. Never at any time did she mention while helping me that she had started charging this fee. I don’t know if she has a sign posted anywhere in her store. Am I legally obligated to pay this fee I new nothing about ahead of time?

Asked on May 1, 2017 under Business Law, Utah

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

So long as the sign was of a size and type to be easily read and understood and placed in a prominent place (i.e. one reasonably likley to be seen by a customer), then store personnel need not have expressly pointed it out to you. If however, it was a small sign and/or placed in an area wherit hard to be seen, then you may have a claim. Bottom line, your actual knowledge of the policy it not the issue but rather whether your reasonably could be expected to see it and be able to read it. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If it is posted someplace in the store where a customer would reasonably be expected to see it, the customer can be held to the policy even if she did not in fact see the sign and even without the store employee/owner specifically calling it out to the customer. The issue is not your actual knowledge of the policy but whether your reasonably could be expected to see it; if someone reasonably could be aware of a policy, the law does not let them claim ignorance as a defense. So the issue will be where was sign placed? How large was it? How clear where the terms on it? There is no hard-and-fast rule--it is a subjective determination--but as stated, the issue whether a customer would reasonably be expected to have seen it.


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