At what point does an online order become contract

  Someone_Else 10:33 29 Apr 2003

At what point does an online order become a contract?

I made a couple of purchases last week online, from very well known high street retailers, both have taken the money from my credit card, now both seem to be having difficulty fulfilling the orders. I bought during a promotion and purchased the products for roughly half the price avaliable elsewhere. As they have taken my money do we now have a contract?

Your advice would be much appreciated.


  TimC 10:53 29 Apr 2003

I'm not so sure.

Look at their terms and conditions - remember the Amazon mistake recently - many online retailers don't enter into a contract until they have despatched the goods - some retailers also hold off taking the money until that point as well, but not all clearly.

Do remember, even if you didn't read those lengthy terms and conditions, you most likely agreed to them, in completing your order.

OK, here goes
First there needs to be an invitation to treat. That is the advertisement on the website. There then has to be an offer to purchase, that is where you decide to buy the item at the advertised price. There needs to be an intention to create legal relations, in so much as this is expected to create rights and obligations on each party, such as you are expected to pay and they are expected to deliver, there then has to be an acceptance of your offer such as an email confirming the transaction and fiunally there must be "consideration" which is a detriment to you in exchange for the promise of the contract being fulfilled. As they have charged your credit card then this is satisfied.

As to the terms and conditions it depends on when you are given the chance to read them - they must be incorporated into the agreement before you commit yourself. If they are not then they will not be applicable. For examply, a check box to say that you have read the T & C's will be deemed suffcient for you to have accepted them.

In very rare cases will the T & C's allow a comapny to back out of a contract once they have debited your card and the above are present. It really will depend on what they say and the circumstances of the case.

  Someone_Else 11:20 29 Apr 2003

The terms and conditions are below, but surely taking my money is accepting my order?

"Looking after our customers
Our terms and conditions comply with UK legislation, including the Distance Selling Regulations and are designed to ensure that all of our customers can shop easily and with confidence with Dixons. Please print and keep a copy for reference.

All prices are in £ sterling inclusive of VAT and exclusive of delivery and installation charges. Delivery charges can be found at "Delivery" accessible from the Customer Service Menu. You may pay by any major credit card or debit card. Prices, offers and products are subject to availability and may change.

Accepting orders and security
When you place an order we will treat it as an offer to buy. We will send an e-mail (first e-mail) to confirm receipt. If we accept your order, we will send you a confirmation e-mail (second e-mail) with your order number, at which point we make a legal contract with you. However, we will be entitled to refuse to accept your order if we feel it necessary, in which case we will e-mail you as soon as we can to let you know.
In deciding whether to accept your order we may use the information you have given to us, or we already hold about you, or which we receive from any enquiry we may make with Experian Limited, to confirm your identity. Experian will check any details we disclose to them against any database (public or private) to which they have access and will keep a record of that check. Experian will also retain this information and may use it in the future to assist other companies with identity verification. This assists us to protect you and us from fraudulent transactions. More details of the steps we take to offer our customers security can be found by going to our Customer Service Menu and clicking on "Security Issues".
If we decline your offer on security grounds we may contact you to seek an alternative payment method or to advise you of the location of your nearest store.

Age Requirements
If you order a product where a minimum age requirement is indicated, by ordering you confirm you are of the required age.

Delivery is restricted to the United Kingdom. Delivery must be to the address at which your credit or debit card is registered. All deliveries must be signed for and you should keep your receipt. Delivery times and more details about delivery can be found in the 'Delivery' section accessible from the Customer Service Menu.
Although we do everything we can to meet delivery times described in that section, delivery times may be affected by factors beyond our control and therefore cannot be guaranteed.

Cancellations and Returns
All products: You may normally cancel your purchase provided you notify us either before or within 14 days after delivery. Your product may be returned to a Dixons store or collected from the delivery address free of charge. If another method of return is used you will be responsible for the costs.
Faulty within 28 days: If there is a fault with your product (or other defect with your order), you may return the product to us within 28 days of delivery for a replacement or refund. This does not apply to faults caused by accident, neglect or misuse.
Fault after more than 28 days: If your product develops a fault after more than 28 days, it will normally be covered by a minimum 1 year guarantee.
(To see full details of our cancellation and returns policies see the section entitled Returns Policy).

Sales on the web site are governed by English law and you agree to submit any dispute to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts. All orders are subject to these terms and conditions and no amendments will be accepted by us.
These terms and conditions only cover the Dixons web site. Any links within this site to other web sites are not covered by this policy and we accept no responsibility or liability for the content of the web sites which are not under our control.
These terms and conditions do not affect your legal rights.
Dixons is a trading name of DSG Retail Limited, Maylands Avenue, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 7TG.

Web site terms of use
We do not guarantee that this web site will be compatible with all customers' PCs.
DSG Retail Limited owns the copyright in all materials on this site, which may be used, downloaded, copied, reproduced, republished, posted, broadcast, transmitted or linked only for your own personal and non-commercial use. You agree not to adapt, alter or create any derivative work from any material on this site, or to restrict or inhibit the use or enjoyment of this site by anyone else.
It is not permitted to create any link to this web site without our prior written consent. "

  TimC 11:35 29 Apr 2003

Interestingly it doesn't say at which point the financial transaction will take place.

Did you receive both e-mails, or any e-mails, you don't actually say.

If you have your order reference number it might be worth calling them with your query?

  TimC 11:38 29 Apr 2003

I've just read the Sony Int DVD writer thread in the helproom - it seems from the 2nd post, that Dabs also take the money before they can fulfil the order - as that poster has cancelled and is now waiting 30 days for a refund.

Seems a nice way for companies to raise some interest free cash?

  Someone_Else 11:52 29 Apr 2003

I only received I email, confirming items, price and order number.

The annoying thing is, other companies were running the same easter promotion and I could have bought them there, now if I buy them elsewhere it will cost me about an extra £240.00

Ok lets go right back to the basics if we can -

What exactly has happened? You say that you received one email, what other communications have you received that makes you think that they are having "difficulty" in fulfilling your order?

Have they now actually rejected your order?

As per the terms above, I would say that as soon as you get the second email then there is an enforceable contract - they cannot then use the Expeirian stuff to wriggle out of it unlss you are in some way at fault and not "bona Fide".

The relevant sction is "If we accept your order, we will send you a confirmation e-mail (second e-mail) with your order number, at which point we make a legal contract with you. However, we will be entitled to refuse to accept your order if we feel it necessary, in which case we will e-mail you as soon as we can to let you know"

You actually say that you have received the order number? In that case and especially as your card has been debited I would argue that you do have a contract and they cannot, once accepted by providing the order number, reneage on it!

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