Obligations of seller if price is wrong?

  video 13:17 03 Jan 2003
  video 13:17 03 Jan 2003

Having checked over the phone with a company the price of an aticle, I've noticed that it was cheaper (£100 less) on their website and passed command (just in case). I know this is a mistake but can they refuse to deliver?


  cherria 13:23 03 Jan 2003

I'm not sure I entirely understand your question but a seller cannot be held to an advertised price.

An advertised price is what is called "an invitation to treat" in law it is not an offer to sell the goods at that price.

You them make them an offer to buy the goods at that price and they are entitled to accept or decline your offer.

If on the other hand, your offer is accepted (maybe you have a confirmation e-mail or letter) then the contract is binding on both parties and they cannot refuse to deliver.

  €dstow 13:26 03 Jan 2003

The prices you see are an offer to sell there is no contract between you and the seller and just as you can refuse to buy, he can refuse to sell. If a contract has been made and agreed (usually in writing for valuable items) the price on the contract is binding. If it's a few decimal points wrong either way in yours or his favour well, hard luck either to you or him.


  recap 13:34 03 Jan 2003

To add to the above from cherria & €dstow video, you tend to find that on the Internet the prices are generally lower than the high street price, even if it is the same company.

  skeletal 13:38 03 Jan 2003

Last year I bought a lawn mower from a large DIY chain at a good price. They said it would be delivered within a week. Two weeks later no joy because they said they no longer stocked the mower, but they said they would give me a refund. I checked with trading standards and they said that, providing they offered me my money back, there was nothing I could do.

As I couldn’t face another court battle, and as this time I could get my money back easily, this is what I did.

I remain a bit puzzled because I know there was the famous case of some digital cameras being offered for sale too cheaply, but in the end they did have to provide them to the purchasers at the reduced price.

I guess the devil is in the detail, and if a particular circumstance is worth fighting for, a court is the final arbiter.


  €dstow 13:42 03 Jan 2003

In the case of the digital cameras, Kodak sent out an email confirmation of order with the price on it (= contract).


  northamuk 13:44 03 Jan 2003

The difference is, if I rember correctly, that Kodak sent confirming emails to those who ordered at the incorrect price, thus creating a contract which they were forced to honour.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 13:51 03 Jan 2003

The Kodak camera saga. of which one example is lurking in my drawer,was slightly different. The ONLY reason that people were able to buy them for £100 was that they were sent a confirmation email stating that the price would be charged to their credit cards but MORE importantly, the email made it clear that there was a contract betwen seller and purchaser. If the contract had not been made clear, in spite of them 'accepting' the £100 offer methinks the outcome would have been different.

The other point that helped was that the price was not beyond the realms of possibility as 'special web offer' was clearly emblazonned on the site. The company that mistakenly priced a 32" TV at £3 obviously had no obligaton to provide the goods.

It is suprising to note that many people complain that they are being ripped off by companies yet seem to be at one with ripping companies off when a price is clearly wrong.

Just to précis a lot of legal waffle; a price is only an offer or a starting point. Your offer is only accepted when the contract (aka till receipt) is pressed into your hand and money has been exchanged.

However if the price is obviously ga-ga...New Bentley Continental for £2 inc VAT..even if the salesman accepts your cash and gives you a receipt (he could be in cahoots with you ;-) ) a court may deem that the price was too low for a £225k car and was therefore a cumulative mistake, ruling that the car had better be returned PDQ.


  cherria 13:52 03 Jan 2003


Actualy, you were entitled to insist that the DIY store provide you with an equivalent model for the same price as they had entered into a contract with you which they then broke.

Trading standards probably suggested a refund as the easiest option as big stores are always refusing to abide by the Sale of goods act as they know that the average punter will never take them to court.

  cherria 14:02 03 Jan 2003

Any Lawyers out there?

Your Bently example is actually not true. The court will never rule on whether consideration is sufficient. If the sales person (an agent of the company) accepts your £2 offer that contract is binding end of story. It is the responsibility of the seller to ensure they are receiving adequate consideration for goods.

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