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eBuyer Mispricing Issues

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    Originally posted this in Chat forum, but someone said I should try here too.

    I spotted a misprice on the eBuyer website 8 days ago on the Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook T4210 (115813) priced at £1.33 when it should've been £1400! I ordered one, just for a laugh to see what would happen.

    I understand that it was just an invite to treat and not a binding contract. I got an email from eBuyer promptly telling me the item was now out of stock - looking on the site, they had fixed the price. I forgot to cancel the order, and just left it as it was.

    However, last night eBuyer dispatched the laptop to me and invoiced me £1.33! This morning it arrived, and I got a call from eBuyer telling me that I had to return the laptop or pay the actual price (not happening!).

    I had a look at their t+c:

    2.4 Every effort is made to ensure that prices shown on the Supplier´s website are accurate at the time you place your order. If within 14 days of accepting your order a pricing error is found in respect of any or all of the goods you have ordered, we will notify you as soon as possible detailing the mis-priced goods and offering you the option of:
    2.4.1 placing a new order at the correct price for those goods;
    2.4.2 cancelling the whole of your order; or
    2.4.3 cancelling your order for the mis-priced goods and reconfirming your order for the correctly priced goods.
    If, within 14 days of receipt of our notice to you, you have not responded by selecting one of the available options at conditions 2.4.1 to 2.4.3 above then:
    (a) if all of the goods you have ordered are found to be mis-priced, the entire order will be cancelled automatically and the Supplier will refund or re-credit you for any sum you have paid for those goods; or
    (b) if only some of the goods you have ordered are found to be mis-priced, our contract with you continues and we will deliver the correctly priced goods but we will not be obliged to supply you with the mis-priced goods. In these circumstances we will refund or re-credit you for any sum you have paid for the mis-priced goods.
    http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/help/...hvd190ZXJtcw==

    However, that sounds like it's for if the product hasn't yet been dispatched. If it has been sent to me, does that mean the contract with them is now complete?

    The way I see it, is that I've paid £1.33 (exc. delivery) for a laptop and eBuyer have agreed to the transaction (they've taken the money out of my account) and sent out the laptop. Now they're saying they want it back, or they want more money (£1400) from me. I want to keep it - I bought it at the advertised price, and they honoured the deal, in my eyes. To me, that's the end of the contract. If they had cancelled the order and told me that it was a mistake and not sent the laptop, I'd have been fine with that. The fact that they've sent it to me signals that the transaction has completed.

    If you buy something on the high street and walk out the shop with the, the shop assistant doesn't stop you halfway down the road and demand you pay more because they got their pricing wrong.

    Any advice on where I stand legally, guys?
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    Just tell them the order has been completed and they can't demand that you hand what is now YOUR property over to them free of charge. Offer to sell it to them at 150% of their web site's price.
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    Cheers, but I don't think I'll do that..

    I know legally that the laptop is now mine, but I also know that they're not going to let this lie. Is there some sort of legal procedure they can begin against me to get me to pay up for it? Or anything I should be aware of that they might try to pull or fob me off with?
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    Oh no it isnt. You had actual knowledge of a mistake, this is enough to vitiate the contract under Hartog v Colin and Shields. There is no consensus ad idem between the parties. The justificiation for this is that you took advantage of the offer. They probably will let you keep it for commercial efficacy reasons, but technically they could sue your ass for it back. (Or in rare circumstances vary the contract to be on the terms they objectively intended.) You spoke about how "you saw" the contract as completed, sorry pal ... the objective theory of contract underpins the law, what you believe means squat. The remedy for mistake with actual knowledge is to void the contract... which would mean that the laptop was, by no means, yours and never was.

    Having just studied mistakes in the electronic environment I am happy to see a case like this... keep us updated on what they do .

    The only jurisdiction to have directly addressed it is Singapore, and there constructive knowledge was enough on the basis of low prices etc... but here you have actually admitted it on-line, and they can use your post against you in Court you know. I would keep it until they threaten you with a suit though, because as I said if you had ordered like 100 or something they would probably really want them back, but it's only 1 so for commercial efficacy reasons they probably wont.

    Fascinating stuff!
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    yes, as lewis stated - much more eloquently than I - the fact that you KNEW it was mistakenly priced means that the contract is void. You can't take advantage of other people's mistakes like that, sorry.
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    To be honest, the more I read it the more I might say that there was no contract in the first place... or I could certainly form a cogent argument in that regard if I were them.
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    Hartog v Colin and Shields is a case where the contract hadn't been complete and the hare skins hadn't traded hands - they were still arguing over the price.

    In my case, both parties agreed to the price, and transaction was carried out in full. It was only afterwards that eBuyer noticed their error, therefore a contract was carried out. If the transaction was still in process, I'd have taken that Hartog v Colin and Shields would still be applicable, but like I said, as in that case the goods hadn't changed hands, I feel the case only applies whereby the contract hasn't been completed (i.e. goods haven't been transferred). That's what a law firm I've consulted reckon anyways.

    EDIT: A second law firm has confirmed this for me now. As the money as left my account and I've received the goods, they can't void the contract as it has been completed. The only way to void it is via mutual consent.
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    It should be pretty obvious that the price was wrong. Had it been advertised for £1,200, it would be a different situation. You say you ordered it 'for a laugh' - so you knew that the price could not be right. Agree terms for covering the return postage with ebuyer.
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    Woah hold on a second... what sort of law firms are these? They are so so wrong! You can void a contract for unilateral mistake on those facts.

    Hartog may be on those facts, but it remains the locus classicus on unilateral mistakes in contract... if you think a contract can only be voided by mutual consent, go to court with those law firms and just see what happens... Execution of the contract makes zero difference - it can still be voided by the same doctrines as before.
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    Ooh I'm rubbish at contract, but this is fascinating

    Love to know what happens...


    PS - to the OP. Which law firms have you consulted, and how? Did you have a 30min free appointment or something? Have you heard anything more from Ebay?
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    ^ Yeah, keep us up-to-date. I'm interested now.
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    Just say you ordered it and thought the price was correct - don't say you thought it was a mistake

    I certainly wouldn't give it back without a fight!
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    See, e.g., http://www.ed-u.com/online-price-mistakes.htm

    In your situation, the price is so ridiculously low compared to the real price that you really are unlikely to get anywhere.
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    (Original post by Praddles)
    Hartog v Colin and Shields is a case where the contract hadn't been complete and the hare skins hadn't traded hands - they were still arguing over the price.

    In my case, both parties agreed to the price, and transaction was carried out in full. It was only afterwards that eBuyer noticed their error, therefore a contract was carried out. If the transaction was still in process, I'd have taken that Hartog v Colin and Shields would still be applicable, but like I said, as in that case the goods hadn't changed hands, I feel the case only applies whereby the contract hasn't been completed (i.e. goods haven't been transferred). That's what a law firm I've consulted reckon anyways.

    EDIT: A second law firm has confirmed this for me now. As the money as left my account and I've received the goods, they can't void the contract as it has been completed. The only way to void it is via mutual consent.
    I simply don't believe that two law firms have told you this. If they did, why did I never come up against such chimps when I was practising? The whole point of the law of mistake is that it can act to make a completed contract void.
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    I am by no means a legal expert, but I have been reading through all the links you have sent and quite a few others, including a lot of stuff about mistakes in contract law and all I can find is examples where the contract is voidable only after the contract has been made but before the actual performance (which in this case, if I understand correctly, is the delivery/dispatch of the item) has been done. So please post an example where the case went as far as where the item bought has been delivered and it still was voided.

    As far as I can see, after they dispatched the item (and it came to Praddles) it is now his. Sure, the company can sue him and maybe the judge would see that he gained too much out of this deal, but in the eyes of law this contract is now complete and the laptop is his.

    Nina
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    I'm baffled about this too... if a contract has been filled - how can they call it back in?

    As I understood it a court will not look into the adequacy of the "value" of consideration... they only look into the presence of the fundamental elements - i.e. the courts will not rescue anyone from a bad bargain... words my contract lecturer has used frequently...

    If they had picked this up BEFORE completing the contract then I appreciate the concept of mistake BEOFRE A CONTRACT IS COMPLETED - but afterwards??????
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    Under English law a contract which is vitiated for unilateral mistake can only be void, not voidable. If it could be voidable then if you sold it third party rights could be taken into account in deciding the remedy. However, even if only voidable rescission would be the most likely remedy on the original contract anyway which would place you in no better position than if it had been voided in the first place! Either way, you can't keep it. But trust us when we say - the contract can definitely be voided here.

    They won't rescue a bad bargain, you are right, but they will rescue where unconscionable conduct takes advantage of a mistake which they knew about. With a price this low, so called "Nelsonian Knowledge" (closing your eyes to the obvious) can be used to imply actual knowledge. Trust me, this contract can easily be voided. Voiding puts it as if it was never formed - therefore you retrun the laptop, they return the money... what's the problem with that?

    The whole point of thie contract being void ab initio at common law is that, in fact, the laptop never was his - he took advantage of a mistake which he knew, and courts will not sanction this.

    If you don't believe me, as I said - go to court with these "law firms".
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    (Original post by the kitty)
    I am by no means a legal expert
    But Chalks, CWTF and to an undergrad extent, Lewisy-Boy, are. Listen to them!
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    You get + rep for that statement... the recognition I deserve! Not that my 5000 word research paper on this very subject (and 1200 words of footnotes) are in any way responsible...

    Failed to rep, apparently I need to spread some more around first... I think I +ve repped you about a month ago, retarded. Good job it's the thought that counts.
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    I don't mean to say you guys don't know about these things, I am sure you know more than I do!

    I am just trying to understand this. What if the product was something consumable? Say a cake or ballet tickets. (Sorry Praddles )

    He got the cake or the tickets, thought they were his and ate the cake or saw the show. Surely he wouldn't be liable to pay the full price back? I get what you are trying to say Lewisy-boy, that the there was no contract in the first place and therefore it should be void, but at some point they decided to honor it anyway by sending the product, surely that would mean that the contract therefore does exist?

    And if it does exist, therefore there must be a point in it when the contract is complete and the product is his. All the things about unilateral mistakes I have read seem to say that it is a very hazy area..

    Nina

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Updated: December 1, 2006
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