QLD Invoiced Already Received for Sony Camera - Is Transaction Considered Complete?

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DHu

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11 January 2017
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Hi all,

My father has recently been looking for a new camera. He's decided on a Sony camera. Last week (Friday), he stumbled across CameraSky which sold this camera for a significantly cheaper price - with a discount. He called me up and sent me the link and asked me to check to make sure there's no catches with the price and that this website is legit. (English isn't his first language).

I checked for him and made sure everything was fine. The price displayed was $987.90AUD. We added a few extra things and proceeded to paying. Credit card payment had a surcharge of 1.5% so he opted to do a direct bank transfer. He completed this action after he received instructions from an automated email and received an invoice along with an order number that matched his original order number.

The invoice clearly listed the price, which was $987.90, and also other things he's purchased.

Today, he called me up again and told me he had received an email from CameraSky again. This is the email below:

'Hi ,

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you. We regret to inform you that we will not be able to ship your order as originally priced. A staff of ours had used the wrong currency while updating our product prices thus causing our website to display the wrong amounts.

Rest assured that significant measures have been taken to ensure that this does not happen again. We are truly sorry about this error.

The updated price in our website for Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V Digital Camera is $1,254

Unfortunately, we won't be able to cover the price difference. You have the option to change to other models and add money or cancel the order and get a full refund. Again, our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience this has caused and we hope you will give us another chance to serve you better.



Sincerely,



CameraSky AU Team


My question is this...

1. Do sellers and retailers legally have to honour their cheapest advertised price under Australian Consumer Law?

2. In this case, it really wasn't 'multiple price tags' but it was a very simple price tag that said $987.90 and it was '30% off' but can they simply did not honour the price that was advertised?

3. He has already paid for this and has already received an invoice, I would believe the transaction is considered 'Complete' or 'Completed'. Does the seller really have the right to give him options of changing it to another model or adding money or cancelling the order to get full refund when it is simply their mistake?

Do they not need to honour it since the transaction is essentially complete?

Thanks in advance.

Cheers.
 

Rod

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27 May 2014
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Lance,

This area of law interests me and I'm unclear as to whether the ACL or common law contract applies in this situation.

If common law, the seller will be claiming a mistake by them, and the mistake is not induced or known by purchaser. This would only entitle the purchaser to refund and nominal damages.

If ACL, which provision? is it s 36, with offence in s 158?

Do you know of any case law supporting the purchaser in this situation (online selling, using wrong currency or wrongly entered price)?

I know next to nothing about equity, but assume equity is likely to be on the side of the seller.
 

Lance

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31 October 2015
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Hi Rod,

My view is that there was an absolute contract of sale between CameraSky and the gentleman's father. Being invoiced meant the transaction was finalised. I have heard of a few case's, one in particular was with regards to a Brisbane man getting a $34,000 ring for an advertised $1100. Brisbane man scores $34,000 ring for bargain price after typo on jeweller's website

I agree that ACL while protecting the consumer would likely find in favour of the seller that an error was made, but only if it was identified at or before the check out, but this transaction was processed and accepted (albeit online) so my view is as with the online ring purchase that the buyer has an absolute contract.

Sorry I don't have the link to the actual case, but I remembered reading the article. It's all very interesting how online shopping is changing things with regards consumer rights. I think businesses should realise that with the loss of that face to face sale come's significant risk.
 

Rod

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The Buttle case was interesting.

The seller did not have legal representation at NCAT.

The seller did not plead equitable relief at NCAT, though under the rules of unilateral mistake wouldn't have been granted relief unless the purchaser was acting unconscionably. Court said purchaser didn't act unconscionably (lack of proof only, I suspect he knew the real price).
Neither party pleaded justiciability under the ACL.

The appeal by the purchaser failed. Though I note that if the ring is not received by the purchaser, the matter gets relisted for damages. I'm unclear if this is refund plus nominal damages, or the real value of the ring. I suspect real value as lost profit is part of general damages.
 

Rod

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Update: Did more reading online and found that the risk to the online retailer can be mitigated through various clauses in the online terms and conditions.

Amazon is a good example where they have successfully avoided contracts due to pricing errors.

Lesson for online retailers is that they should have proper T&Cs and procedures in place else they may be liable for a contract they don't want to fulfil.
 

Lance

Well-Known Member
31 October 2015
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The Buttle case was interesting.

The seller did not have legal representation at NCAT.
The seller did not plead equitable relief at NCAT, though under the rules of unilateral mistake wouldn't have been granted relief unless the purchaser was acting unconscionably. Court said purchaser didn't act unconscionably (lack of proof only, I suspect he knew the real price).
Neither party pleaded justiciability under the ACL.

The appeal by the purchaser failed. Though I note that if the ring is not received by the purchaser, the matter gets relisted for damages. I'm unclear if this is refund plus nominal damages, or the real value of the ring. I suspect real value as lost profit is part of general damages.
I'd like to read the case if I can find time. I'm not sure how they acted unconscionably or what benefit they hoped to gain. Perhaps it was a false claim that they didn't have a ring of similar quality.

Anyway, I had a look at CamerasSky's t&c's and clause 7.4 does allow for incorrect pricing correction before shipping. Perhaps this case wouldn't have a similar outcome. Their story could well be a sound one. $987 would be roughly the US dollar value of $1254 Australian.
 

Rod

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Correction - meant to say appeal by seller failed.

re: Camera case. Tend to agree, T&Cs can overcome some pricing errors. Though Chapter 3 - Specific protections of the ACL will still have some applicability depending on the facts of each case. Can't see the ACL applying here on the limited facts we have been given.
 
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