Retailers honouring pricing errors?

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Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by 0uatiOW »

There’s a post in the Bargain Hunters’ Thread about an Oris 65 purchased at Chisholm Hunter, where the price later turned out to be incorrect, and CH cancelled the order.

I remarked that there was a binding contract (a deposit was taken) and Guy @Bahnstormer_vRS replied with reference to a retailer’s T&Cs stating that they weren’t obliged to deliver the item because of a pricing error (I paraphrase).

I am not a lawyer, but many moons ago I studied English contract law, which is why I was interested in this event. This post is for discussion purposes only. It reflects my interpretation and should not be seen as me providing legal advice (which I am not qualified to give, obviously).

Rather than clog up the BHT, I’ve started a new thread. In the time it has taken me to write this, someone has replied to my point covering at least one of the points I make below. That’s rather taken the wind out of my sails but I’ve started, so I’ll finish. I explore the matter in greater detail but because it’s based on English law and not Scottish law, it doesn’t apply directly to the OPs case.

Under English law (apologies to other UK nationals - I cannot say whether this is true across the borders...), a contract is established when one party makes an offer, the other party accepts, and consideration is made (i.e. pays up). In the face of it, that seems to have taken place, and therefore, one would expect the watch to be delivered.

However, it’s not as simple as that. Under English law, an item for sale in a store, or an online store isn’t an offer in the true sense under contract law. Instead it is an “invitation to treat”, which means the customer is invited to make an offer to buy, which if accepted by the store, and consideration paid, becomes binding.

So - if the customer offers to buy an item at the advertised price (or indeed at any price), the retailer is entitled to reject the offer (no sale follows) or accept both the offer and the consideration (i.e. payment) in which case the contract is binding. The contract is not binding until the consideration is accepted, so, for example, the agreement alone is not legally binding.

If CH sent an order confirmation and took your money, then that would be their acceptance of your offer, and of the consideration, and there would now be a legally binding contract.

There does seem to be a get out of jail free card if the advertised price is clearly unrealistic - if the Oris 65 was advertised at £10 or a price that was obviously wrong, that could be claimed. In this specific case, the price wasn’t clearly unrealistic in my view.

Terms and conditions published by the retailer aren’t enforceable if they stand outside the law. Putting that into the context of this situation, if I have correctly described the necessary steps required to establish a legal contract, then the T&Cs stating that CH can cancel the order due to a pricing error aren’t enforceable.

Two further points:

CH is a Scottish company and operates under Scottish law rather than English law (as stated in the T&Cs).
Being in the right under the law only counts if you are prepared to go to court.

Finally, I checked the CH T&Cs (listed below) and they do, indeed, refer to mispricing on their website.


BUYING FROM THIS WEBSITE

By purchasing from this website you confirm that you are at least 18 years of age.

By filling in an electronic order form and submitting it to us you are making an offer to purchase from us. In doing so you confirm that the credit or debit card that is being used is your own.

We will send an email confirming your order details.

Our acceptance of your offer to purchase will result in a binding agreement between us under these Terms and Conditions.

Please note that we are under no obligation to accept your order but we would normally only refuse orders under exceptional circumstances.

These circumstances include: non-approval of payment by your credit card/debit card company; the item no longer being in stock; the item having being misrepresented or mispriced on our website.

We will contact you immediately if there is any problem with your order or unforeseen delay.
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by jtc »

In store is different to online - clicking buy and providing payment details is just authorising the vendor to process a payment. Someone at the vendor end is yet to process the order and therefore can review any pricing errors. There's really no "contract" until the order is accepted and subsequently processed & completed.

I think in a shop it's a little different, but still pricing errors don't have to be honoured.
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by 0uatiOW »

jtc wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 1:03 am
In store is different to online - clicking buy and providing payment details is just authorising the vendor to process a payment. Someone at the vendor end is yet to process the order and therefore can review any pricing errors. There's really no "contract" until the order is accepted and subsequently processed & completed.

I think in a shop it's a little different, but still pricing errors don't have to be honoured.
I accept that there’s an opportunity for the retailer to spot a pricing error before they ‘accept the order’ (e.g. at the till where the assistant spots the error). In the bricks & mortar example, the contract is binding once the payment is taken. If the seller accepts the payment, the contract is established, and if s/he decides later not to deliver the goods or services, that is a breach of contract.

In the case with CH, a part payment was taken. It’s hard to argue you didn’t accept the offer if you’ve gone ahead and taken the payment (albeit in this case, a deposit). Unless Scottish law (or a law specific to online sales) differs.

Once again, I’m interpreting the situation based on what I studied several years ago when there was no “online”, so things may have changed.
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Re: The Bargain Hunters Thread

Post by Bahnstormer_vRS »

Pertinent to post this from the Bargain Hunters thread.
A1soknownas wrote:
0uatiOW wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 11:25 pm

My orphan comment was intended as a reply to this point, so here it is. Meantime I’ll see if I can delete the original reply.

That sounds wrong. They made an offer, you accepted, you paid the consideration on your side.

Unless there’s a specific law for online orders, you have a legally-binding contract, they can’t back out unless you agree.

Is there a lawyer in the house?
Unfortunately, I think in most cases it is the other way around. He made the offer and not them.

Their website is an invitation to treat so it is like seeing something in a shop with a wrong price on and the seller then realising at the till and changing their mind. They don't have to honour it. Whilst there would have been consideration by the payment/or attempt of, they have not accepted the offer yet and have until the point of shipping to get out of it or for an actual binding agreement to be formed.

After all, by ensuring the money is returned neither party is materially disadvantaged - but one rightly frustrated!

Boring I know :)
It clarify/confirms the online purchase arrangement nicely.


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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by jtc »

0uatiOW wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 1:29 am
If the seller accepts the payment, the contract is established, and if s/he decides later not to deliver the goods or services, that is a breach of contract.
That's the point - payment isn't taken when you complete the checkout process online. It's taken when the order is completed. No contract exists until the order is accepted.
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Re: The Bargain Hunters Thread

Post by StrappedUp »

Bahnstormer_vRS wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 9:01 am
Pertinent to post this from the Bargain Hunters thread.
A1soknownas wrote: Unfortunately, I think in most cases it is the other way around. He made the offer and not them.

Their website is an invitation to treat so it is like seeing something in a shop with a wrong price on and the seller then realising at the till and changing their mind. They don't have to honour it. Whilst there would have been consideration by the payment/or attempt of, they have not accepted the offer yet and have until the point of shipping to get out of it or for an actual binding agreement to be formed.

After all, by ensuring the money is returned neither party is materially disadvantaged - but one rightly frustrated!

Boring I know :)
It clarify/confirms the online purchase arrangement nicely.


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But what if that person had applied and been accepted for the finance arrangement? If a credit search/application is undertaken, is that not seen as a negative (if only slight) and all for nothing it would seem.

Again, I have no idea if the above can be erased/reversed or whether it is even recorded until it's the order is complete (ie. delivered).
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by BobMunro »

jtc wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 9:41 am
0uatiOW wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 1:29 am
If the seller accepts the payment, the contract is established, and if s/he decides later not to deliver the goods or services, that is a breach of contract.
That's the point - payment isn't taken when you complete the checkout process online. It's taken when the order is completed. No contract exists until the order is accepted.
100% correct. It will be (or should be) in the terms and conditions on the seller's website that 'processing a payment does not constitute the acceptance of an offer'.

Even without said term the principle of an unconscionable contract applies i.e. that the contract, if indeed it exists (see above), is so one-sided that it is unfair to one party and therefore unenforceable under law.
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by It'sAliveJim »

In summary, **** happens and better luck next time :lol:
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by Fat-Sam »

With regards to the in-store side of things- I was under the impression that stores had the right to refuse entry to certain people or refuse to serve people and could ask someone to leave the store.

I.e. if you got shirty/technical with them about a pricing error they could ask you to leave (and proceed to change/correct the price on the item)
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by exHowfener »

In summary, **** happens and better luck next time
Doesn't there also have to be an "intention to create legal relations", which wouldn't be created through a mistake. Therefore above comment applies. :thumbup:
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by JAFO »

I think in practice there is little you can do. I assume the retailer has made a mistake, and does not want to complete the order. Some would complete the order out if goodwill, but some may not. For what it's worth, I tried to buy a Montblanc watch from Chisholm Hunter, but they wouldn't budge on their sale price. In the end I bought it for a lot less from Jomashop. I would have met them in the middle somewhere, but there was no deal.

I am not a lawyer, but I think the remedy would be to buy the watch elsewhere, and then take action against the retailer for the loss you have suffered, ie the extra amount you have had to pay. There's no guarantee you will win though. I imagine large retailers have carefully drafted T&C's to cover this sort of thing.
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by jtc »

JAFO wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:57 pm
take action against the retailer for the loss you have suffered, ie the extra amount you have had to pay.
Imagine buying a car from a dealership then going to another dealership to take them to court for the extra money you've paid the first dealer ... it doesn't happen.
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by Gripper »

It was me that posted about the price glitches on the Chisholm Hunter website and intended purchase of the Oris Divers 65.

I wouldn't have minded, mistakes happen, but I more or less pointed out to them on live chat that the price didn't look right but the person I was chatting to insisted on making a few phone calls which resulted in them agreeing to honour the price advertised, and me receiving an email from the manager of the Glasgow branch confirming my order and the price. So they had enough of a chance to realise there was a possible pricing error. The fact that it was still at this price the following morning obviously resulted in a lot more people placing orders only to receive cancellation calls on Monday.

Not good customer service or for their reputation.
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by what-time-is-it »

CW did it to me once, on a Jumping Hour that from memory was 55% off - received an email the following day saying a pricing error on the website, very sorry, can't be honoured but we can do it for another £150 - told them no.

2 weeks later, same model listed in a sale at 60% off - bought it, waited a week, nothing, chased it and then told out of stock. :clap: :lol: :thumbdown:
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Re: Retailers honouring pricing errors?

Post by Viognier »

Gripper wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 3:06 pm
It was me that posted about the price glitches on the Chisholm Hunter website and intended purchase of the Oris Divers 65.

I wouldn't have minded, mistakes happen, but I more or less pointed out to them on live chat that the price didn't look right but the person I was chatting to insisted on making a few phone calls which resulted in them agreeing to honour the price advertised, and me receiving an email from the manager of the Glasgow branch confirming my order and the price. So they had enough of a chance to realise there was a possible pricing error. The fact that it was still at this price the following morning obviously resulted in a lot more people placing orders only to receive cancellation calls on Monday.

Not good customer service or for their reputation.
Given those details that would be the last time i would ever deal with Chisholm Hunter for anything.

Hugely offside on their part. Email from Branch Manager after your query AND confirming the price = must honour sale for Gripper
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