SEATTLE — A Going Out of Business (GOB) Sale is not something people usually want to consider. However, if necessary, it is important to do it right.
The Consumer Protection Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office (AGO) enforces the state Consumer Protection Act (CPA), RCW 19.86, that prohibits unfair or deceptive business practices.
A violation of the GOB Sales law, RCW 19.178, is a violation of the CPA. The AGO has legal authority to file a consumer protection lawsuit against businesses that don’t comply.
A violator may be subject to:
- Civil penalties (up to $2,000 per violation);
- Court ordered injunctions;
- Repayment to consumers;
- Gross misdemeanor; and
- Payment to the state for its legal costs.
The AGO encourages business owners to pay attention to the requirements of the GOB Sales law to avoid these penalties.
Important requirements of the GOB Sales law include:
- Duration -- GOB Sales are limited to 60 days;
- Advertising -- All advertising and signs must include the beginning and ending dates of the sale. Advertising may not begin more than 14 days before the sale;
- Notice -- A notice must be recorded with the county auditor in each county where a store that is closing is located;
- Inventory -- Before recording a notice with the county auditor, a seller must either make an inventory list of the merchandise to be sold, or compile all the purchase orders made within the prior 30 days; and
- Prohibition -- It is prohibited to bring new inventory in that is ordered less than 30 days prior to the beginning of the GOB Sale.
A GOB Sale implies good deals and better savings for consumers. In addition to penalties, the AGO asks businesses to consider how improper GOB Sales marketing hurts other businesses.