The Blind Alley, Custom Drapery and Window Covering Specialists serving Bellevue, Washington and the Greater Seattle area since 1984.


We are frequently asked by customers "What is the "discount" at which you are selling?"

This usually comes up after they have seen an advertisement or a website claiming 60%, 75% or even 80% off of custom blinds like this:

Phony Discount Ad

We do not use this type of "discount" advertising or marketing as it is designed to deceive the customer into believing that they must act now to take advantage of this huge "sale discount". The reality is that the product is not "on sale" at all. The discounted price is the regular, everyday price.

We've even recently seen Yellow Page ads with discounts of 80% and more. Yellow Page ads are good for a year! Obviously the inflated List Prices referred to in such ads are totally deceptive.

Additionally, the greatest "discount" does not guarantee the lowest price! Even on brand name products, as retailers often make up their own suggested retail prices. Or the manufacturer may publish 2 or 3 "suggested retail" price lists, so retailers can choose which "discount" best suits their advertising needs.

So you may find that a retailer offering 50% off actually has the same or lower net prices compared to an offer of 60% or 70% off at another retailer.

The Office of the Attorney General of the State of Washington has determined that this type of "discount" advertising is illegal!

They have filed suit against several companies that have used this type of advertising and fines have been levied against others.

In a letter to retailers (dated October 25, 1985) they state:

"Discount advertising, in and of itself, is not deceptive. It is only when the discount is illusory that the practice becomes illegal. Unfortunately, in the window blinds industry, it has reached that point."

"The problems with this type of advertising stem from the fact that the manufacturer's list price, which is used as a base price for demonstrating the "savings", is rarely, if ever, the price charged."

"The manufacturer's list price, therefore, is an illusory base price which only serves to inflate the so-called savings. The customer thinks he or she is getting a huge savings when, in fact the regular selling price is the "discount" or "60% off" price.

Here is a clipping from a Bellevue, WA newspaper showing legal action successfully taken against J.C. Penney Co.:

J.C. Penney Lawsuit and Fine

The Federal Trade Commission rule regarding discounting and sales is pretty simple. A discount or sale must be a real reduction from the regular selling price of the goods in question. The regular selling price must be offered for more than 50% of a year and substantial sales must occur at the regular price. In other words it cannot be so grossly inflated so that no actual sales occur at the regular price level.

If a sale or discount exceeds 30 consecutive days it becomes the new regular price and all references to "sale" or "discount" must be stopped.

Have you purchased blinds or shades or carpet, etc at 60%, 70% or 80% off only to find that the next month and the next and the next and so on the same discounts are offered? Under the law the dealer owes you the same discount off the price you paid that was advertised the following month. You are due a refund of 60%, 70% or 80%! Interesting theory isn't it?

Similar actions have been taken in other states including California, Texas and Minnesota.  Unfortunately, the wheels of justice move forward ever so slowly. This exact type of illegal advertising is still going on in many localities and on the Internet.

According to the January 1999 issue of Consumer Reports:

New York City has created new regulations against such rip-off tactics:

A "regular" price must have been in effect for at least 14 days before the sale.

If a store has been selling an item at a discount price for more than 30 days, that becomes the "regular" price.

If a store uses a high "offering price" to benchmark its discount--rather than a lower price many customers actually paid--the ad must say so prominently.

A bogus bargain is a "sale" price of up to 70 percent off, based on an inflated 'regular" price that few people actually pay.

A perpetual sale is a so-called "reduction" that's really the everyday price.

As a consumer you need to be aware of these practices. Do not shop by "discounts". Choose the product you want and then get several estimates. Be sure to compare the quality of the product and service offered and the reputation of the company with which you decide to do business.

Remember: it is not how much you "save" but how much you actually spend that really matters.

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