Ad Alert

Pottery Barn Kids

E-commerce site changes pricing tactics in response to a inquiry into back-to-school deals.

For parents with school-aged children, it was a long spring of remote learning. The adjustment away from in-person instruction wasn’t easy for kids, either. And while remote learning is likely here to stay in some capacity, some schools are reopening this fall. That means back-to-school shopping.

When it comes to backpacks, Pottery Barn Kids has a vast collection. However, as recently as Wednesday, the prices consumers saw on the website could have led them to believe they could get a better deal than was actually available.

For example, prompted by a tip from a consumer, found this ballerina-themed backpack advertised on the Pottery Barn Kids website with a price range of $21-$47.

It wasn’t until consumers clicked on the item and scrolled down the next page that they discovered that it was a lunchbox with the same print as the backpack that cost $21. The price of the backpack? The highest price shown: $47.

In response to an inquiry by, Pottery Barn Kids noted that a promotion on the homepage for 20-60 percent off backpacks and lunchboxes links to the page with the above listing.

“If a customer comes from the promotion on the homepage for backpacks and lunchboxes, they would understand the description is for a variety of products,” the company said in an emailed statement.

The company, however, acknowledged that there are other ways to get to the page (such as entering “backpacks” into the search box at the top of the homepage or clicking “backpacks” in the drop-down menu).

Given that consumers who visit the backpacks section of the website may only be interested in — wait for it — backpacks, the company has updated its price ranges to remove lunchboxes from the equation (here’s a before and after).

As a result, price ranges have narrowed (one backpack went from $21-$63 to $39-$63) and in some cases there is no price range anymore. For example, the ballerina-themed backpack is now accurately priced at $47.

But if you want your backpack to look like the ones pictured – i.e., with your child’s name or initials on it — it costs an additional $12 on top of the prices shown.

On a related note, Pottery Barn Kids was among the Williams-Sonoma brands a 2019 investigation found being marketed by the e-commerce giant with deceptive made in the USA claims. Ten months after filed a complaint with the FTC, the agency filed an administrative action against Williams-Sonoma, leading the company to agree to pay $1 million and to stop making false U.S.-origin claims about its products.

Find more of our back-to-school coverage here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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