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In AU, Dodgy Dell Deal Faces Consumer Backlash 173

Posted by kdawson
from the you-advertised-it-now-honor-it dept.
Ben Seberry writes "It appears Dell has been caught red-faced by yet another pricing mistake on their Australian website. Many customers thought they had spotted a fantastic deal when they came across a 55%-off offer. Dell later denied that this was a valid special and telephoned customers to offer them a choice of the standard price, or a cancelled order. Dell's senior manager of corporate communication came out and apologized for the mistake, promising processes would be reviewed to prevent it from happening again. In the days after the original 'incorrectly priced' offer was fixed, Dell made a different error leading to an even cheaper price being advertised. This time, on many user forums and blogs, users are debating Australian contract law as it applies to this matter — it is not as clear-cut as many originally believed."
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In AU, Dodgy Dell Deal Faces Consumer Backlash

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  • by Kokuyo (549451) on Monday November 17, 2008 @04:31AM (#25783653) Journal

    I don't know about US economic laws but in Switzerland, if something is obviously too good to be true and there has been a mistake, the company can actually declare any contracts made invalid.

    Or if it's a real life product in a real life windows with a hilariously low price, the sales people are not obligated to make the sale at that price.

    So if it's too good to be true you'll have to expect it to actually BE too good to be true.

    The tough question just is: Is 55% off unrealistic?

    • by Desipis (775282) on Monday November 17, 2008 @04:36AM (#25783683)
      The tough question just is: Is 55% off unrealistic?

      Here in Oz we routinely get ads for rug stores with 90% off.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Lets be honest - When its not a sale at Dell, its usually over priced (Especially when adding components)

        55% off old hardware sounds right to me!

        • I call bullshit on that. Dell is routinely cheaper than:

          Lenovo
          HP
          ASUS
          IBM
          Sun

          for almost anything, and hence why their hardware is occasionally a bit dodgy. The only manufacturer that is cheaper (and nastier) is Acer. *shudder*

          Disclaimer: I actually don't mind Dell, especially their servers, but they do occasionally ship you a lemon. You get what you pay for I guess.

          • by AuMatar (183847)

            I priced out some gaming machines about 6 months ago before deciding to build myself. Dell was significantly more expensive than HP and several white box vendors on every set of specs I checked out.

            • by TeXMaster (593524)
              Were the specs exactly the same? I found that spec'ing Dells to match the HP offers (something which you cannot do in reverse because HP doesn't offer customization like Dell does) results in lower prices, although the difference is not always significant. In fact, all the rest being equal, I can usually get a higher resolution monitor and 9-cells battery (as opposed to the 6-cells batteries offered by HP) for the same price.

              (Additionally, Dell and Apple seems to be the only one offering US keyboards in I

              • by Khyber (864651)

                Umm, no. Dell is overpriced just like everyone else.

                Almost every one of their systems listed online (even customizable ones) at exact specs I can build myself for 50% of the price they advertise.

                Also, my HP Laptop, compared to a Dell laptop with the exact same specs, has one neat feature and costs $300 less than the equivalent Dell - I have the option of upgrading my graphics card if I choose to.

                Dell only had that going in their old 9800 Inspiron series, when they had a full-sized AGP slot in the laptop.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Fozzyuw (950608)

              I priced out some gaming machines [...]

              Well, there you have it. Dell's gaming machines, either their high-end XPS systems or Alienware, do not qualify for their "cheap" parts. They actually use high quality parts for these machines and make you pay for it.

              I speak as a Dell XPS owner who bought there lower-end of their high-end XPS system just before they acquired Alienware and compared prices between the two. Alienware was fairly more expensive for just about the same specs at that time. Though, now that they own Alienware, they're trying no

            • by JWSmythe (446288) *

              This frequently varies.

              Years ago, we wanted to build a couple nice database machines. Quad Opteron 848, when they had just been released, running a 64 bit Linux distro. I researched parts, put together my list, and presented it to the bosses. One of the bosses had a hardon for Dell, so we took my proposed configuration and sent it over to a Dell rep. They came back with a 32 bit machine for something like 400% of my price. I then sent him over my list with prices on it and

          • by LordLucless (582312) on Monday November 17, 2008 @06:36AM (#25784173)
            Dell is cheaper than Sun and IBM? Wow, what an endorsement.
            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by Fred_A (10934)

              Not only that but it used to be cheaper than Silicon Graphics and Cray too !

          • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Monday November 17, 2008 @06:39AM (#25784185)

            And you pay for what you get. All my dells (all laptops, all inspirons, all 3 of them) have died within a year of my buying them, and every month or so after that. To be fair, i always got the warranty so for medium-low reliability it works great: every time it breaks, Dell fixes it in a few days.

            Eventually I got sick of a few days downtime very month or so on my primary system and just forked over the cash for a thinkpad.

            It was a wise decision. I still see TPs around from six or seven years ago, still in working condition.

            Then again, my usage profile is...nontypical. I don't drop it but I do carry it from place to place a lot. I wouldn't say I abuse it, but I do use it quite a bit. Inspiron is consumer grade, thinkpad is corporate grade.

            Dell desktops, on the other hand, I've never been disappointed by.

            • by AvitarX (172628) <me.brandywinehundred@org> on Monday November 17, 2008 @06:53AM (#25784255) Journal
              All of the consumer lines (I have owned) from every company have disappointed me.

              This includes Macbooks, HPs, Dells, and IBMs.

              Pretty consistently the business lines are decent, but you pay an extra couple hundred (worth it) spec for spec often.
            • by Johnno74 (252399)

              Thats because you brought inspirons. As you said, inspiron is consumer grade. They are the cheapest, nastiest laptops dell can make.

              Dell do make professional laptops - try a latitude or a precision. They cost more, they have fewer flashy features, and they are much more solid.

              I've still got a P3 latitude that I brought in 2001, its the most reliable computer of any sort I've ever had.

            • I have boght 20 Dell laptops (Inspirons and Vostros) in the last 3 years.

              One I use myself daily, cahnging locations at least 4 times a day.

              Only one has failed, backlight would switch off when screen moved, caused by a trapped wire to the Fluro. Fixed that this morning ironically.

              That said, the Dells are bigger and heavier than their HP/IBM rivals.

              The Latitudes are the better Dells, and the older Precision laptops were pretty good.

            • by mjwx (966435)

              And you pay for what you get. All my dells (all laptops, all inspirons, all 3 of them) have died within a year of my buying them, and every month or so after that.

              There's your problem. It's consumer grade. Get the Latitude of Precision lines instead, you pay a bit more but its worth it (plus Latitude support support isn't in India, its in Singapore which means you can understand the person you're calling).

              Also avoid the XPS series like the plauge, we've had three here and all three have been completely

          • My fiancee and I wanted a cheap laptop option for the end of our college days, and picked up the $400 Acer special at WalMart. Two of them, one for each of us.

            Two years later, their screens have both died, their hard drives were on the way out, and their batteries are both half dead.

            Do they manufacture these fucking flaws in or what?

            • by JWSmythe (446288) * <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Monday November 17, 2008 @12:20PM (#25787879) Homepage Journal

              I would normally say "it's an Acer", but if you do a little research, you'll find something interesting about WalMart products. Virtually every product in WalMart, is made specifically for WalMart. They are made slightly cheaper so WalMart can lower the final cost and always undercut their competition.

                  I found this out with Sony HandCams. One place I worked had about a dozen of them for live web broadcasting (make assumptions, you're probably right). Two broke, so we went to a Sony authorized repair shop. He looked at them, or more specifically at the model, and heard our complaint. He then told us "I can't fix that". He wasn't trying to be difficult, so he explained that this model was a WalMart model. The broken component was something that breaks very quickly. He can't get replacements for it. If it had been another model from another retail outlet, he would have been more than happy to fix it, but it probably wouldn't have broken anyways.

                  We had saved $50/ea on them. If I recall correctly even though they were simply sitting on tripods, attached by RCA cable to digitizers, 90% of them had some sort of failure within a year. I took one of the few surviving ones, just because we retired all of them. I left it charging on my desk, and one day it just started opening the tape door on it's own. I could close it, and sometime in the next few days it would just open it like someone hit the eject button.

                  If you want something that will survive, don't buy it at WalMart, even if it looks just like the item being sold somewhere else, and only has a very subtle variation on the model number. WalMart makes their money selling crap at a price lower than the other stores can sell their slightly better crap. They know when it breaks, you will probably go back to WalMart and buy another one, blaming the manufacturer, not WalMart business practices.

                  Read this story about Snapper discontinuing business with WalMart [fastcompany.com]

                  or this Business Week piece on lower quality Walmart products [businessweek.com]

              • by badasscat (563442)

                While I don't doubt that Wal-Mart has products specially made for it, I doubt that's the case with the Acer laptops in question. I have never seen an Acer laptop for sale anywhere (including Wal-Mart) that didn't look exactly the same as Acer laptops sold everywhere else.

                And I bought one myself sold by CompUSA. Now, this particular *configuration* that I bought was made only for CompUSA and that may be true at Wal-Mart as well. But the laptop itself was just a regular Acer that just happened to have a pa

                • I have never seen an Acer laptop for sale anywhere (including Wal-Mart) that didn't look exactly the same as Acer laptops sold everywhere else.

                  Well, that's the thing. It looks the same. Can you tell whether they used solid state or electrolitic caps? 800mhz memory or 600mhz? A CPU fan that cost them $1.99 or $.99?

                  Long story short, my Acer laptop died after 18 months. The power connector broke, physically broke. Around the same time, the lid cracked at the hinge.

                  That's worse than my e-machine. ;) The plastic's cracked around the hinge, but that's merely cosmetic. Otherwise it's still solid. Had loads of problems with the HP machine that preceded it - actually ended up opening it to resolder the power connector.

                  The moral of the story is that Acer laptops are cheap pieces of shit.

                  I'll take your word on it. I guess 'You get what you pay for' applies here. Al

      • Is there a similar day to our Black Friday?

        Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving (last Thursday in November) in which darn near every business has crazy rock-bottom deals. I've seen 200$ laptops before netbooks, free computer equipment, and god knows what other stuff.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by a.ameri (665846) *
          The equivalent in Australia would be the Boxing Day [wikipedia.org] (the day after Christmas). Especially the boxing day morning. There are long queues outside any retail shop in all major cities. Usually everything is sold out by midday. I lived in UK for a while and it's even bigger than the sale they have over there. Reading the Wikipedia page, it seems like the same phenomenon exists in Canada and South Africa as well, so it must have been a British Empire thing.
          • Yeah, we also have the rush to the stores the day after Christmas too. We also have the "Christmas Season" rush that happens on the day after Thanksgiving. Many retailers make note that is the beginning of the "Christmas Season".

            Same phenomenon too of crazy lines, rude people and rock bottom sales.

        • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

          by Missing_dc (1074809)

          Hey creepy, you know there is a song named after you by Zombie Girl?

          Its kinda catchy.

    • by aussie_a (778472) on Monday November 17, 2008 @04:45AM (#25783737) Journal

      So they get to continue to falsely advertise as much as they want, as long as the discount is low enough?

      Now first time, sure its a mistake. Second time though? And only days later. They didn't double check and make sure it was right?

      • by Kokuyo (549451)

        Well, after they've been made aware of the wrong price, they can no longer claim that it was a mistake, see? Then this price becomes legitimate and they have to sell the stuff at that price.

        SO... as long as, in good faith, a price cannot possibly be for real, you have no claim to the item at said price. But once made aware of the price tag, not changing it immediately would, in good faith again, be a sign that the price must be correct.

        Remember, though, that IANAL. It's just how I understand it here. I may

      • Even if they're not liable in contract they may well have breached the Trade Practices Act, which prohibits misleading or deceptive conduct in Trade or Commerce.

    • by throbber (72924)

      In Australia the retailer is obliged to honour any published price, even if the price is a mistake or a typo in the printing of a catalogue. Failure to do so will leave the retailer liable to legal action if enough people raise complaints to the ACCC.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is wrong. Retractions/corrections are routinely published in Australian newspapers. No one is obliged to do anything in these situations.

        • by Khyber (864651)

          Whomever modded you up is dead wrong. I just talked to a pal of mine in the AUS, and if you paid for something at the advertised price - there can be NO RETRACTION. The sale was made, the card or bank account is charged, or cash taken. End of deal. Deliver or face a violation of contract. The ACCC will handle this nonsense if enough people complain.

      • by Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) on Monday November 17, 2008 @06:15AM (#25784085)

        Actually the laws governing this are state determined by state government legistlation.

        In NSW (where I live) it _used_ to be the case that retailers were obliged to sell at the advertised price, this was changed a decade or so ago.

        Unfortunately, the consumer protection laws were comletely watered down; I can see the argument for a mistake in an advertisment, but the laws covering warranties are now effectively non-existent. If you have a problem during the warranty period the retailer can pass-the-buck onto the manufacturer or distributer and of course when they inevitably turn out to be in another state or country the only recourse you have is to file a civil suit.

        I found this out the hard way, and was told by the NSW dept of consumer affairs (or whatever they call themselves these days) that they were unable to do anything other than contact the retailer on my behalf, the retailer told them to get stuffed, so they said the only way forward was to sue.

        In Australia the retailer is obliged to honour any published price, even if the price is a mistake or a typo in the printing of a catalogue. Failure to do so will leave the retailer liable to legal action if enough people raise complaints to the ACCC.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In Australia the retailer is obliged to honour any published price, even if the price is a mistake or a typo in the printing of a catalogue. Failure to do so will leave the retailer liable to legal action if enough people raise complaints to the ACCC.

        Not correct.

        In most states in Australia the retailer can honor the published price or withdraw the item from sale.

        If there has been a mistake in the publishing of the price the retailer would be expected to advertise a correction notice in say a newspaper and also have the notice at the point of sale.

        heres a link to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website (ACCC) explaining.

        http://www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/322984

        the ACCC will step in if enough people complain and there ha

    • by caluml (551744)

      I don't know about US economic laws but in Switzerland, if something is obviously too good to be true and there has been a mistake, the company can actually declare any contracts made invalid.

      When I started with my current (UK) employer, I had a fairly standard probation period. The salary on that contract was £XX,000 per hour. I think they owe me about £19m pounds. More with the 7 years of interest that they've accumulated too. I've often wondered about the "...but it was **obviously** wrong" defence. What's the point of a contract if, if there is something wrong, you can just annul it?
      Any UK lawyers want to try it, no win, no fee? :)

      • by Sobrique (543255)
        I'm fairly sure UK law includes a 'reasonableness' test, and that a contract that is considered 'unreasonable' cannot be enforced.

        But you have to make the case in the court of law as to why that's the case.

      • It's called rectification. If your employer can prove that it was the common intention of the parties that the contract actually just be $XX per hour (or whatever it was supposed to be), and that the mistake was the result of a typographical error or similar, then a Court will give effect to the intention not the words of the contract.

    • by Kneo24 (688412)

      You can't get away with that in the U.S. If you advertise something as one price, and some sort of agreement is already made, i.e. you paid for it, it has to be honored.

      It happens all the time, especially at gas pumps. They make it 20 cents a gallon instead of $2.00 a gallon. They have to eat whatever losses they incurred during that time and fix their mistake so it doesn't happen in the future.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Not precisely. When you buy from Dell, it's not a purchase it's a "sales contract". The laws you mention govern implicit contracts, eg posting a sign, money for product, etc. Dell explicitely states in the contract you sign at purcahse that they have the right to cancel it if it was found to be in error.

      • by badasscat (563442)

        You can't get away with that in the U.S. If you advertise something as one price, and some sort of agreement is already made, i.e. you paid for it, it has to be honored.

        If you paid for it, yes, then the price must be honored.

        However, if you have not yet paid for it, ie. you submitted an order online but have not been charged, then the retailer is under no obligation to honor the price.

        This all goes back to the FTC's "mail order rule" which has been in effect since before the internet. This rule was origina

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here in Italy the law is totally different. If you make a mistake and advice a product at a ridicolous low price then you are obliged by law to sell it at that price. It does not happens often but I have made very good deals appealing to the law.

    • by houghi (78078) on Monday November 17, 2008 @06:59AM (#25784271)

      The same applies in Belgium. If it is obviously a human error, then there is no deal. This can happen if you forgot a 0 at the end and the car is only 10% of the value. It must however be blatantly obvious. e.g. a car for 5.000 instead of the standard 50.000 is obvious.

      55% would not be seen as obvious and in Belgium they would be forced to deliver the PC at that price. There are sometimes PCs that are end of stock and can be had had reduced prices. Also you can not sell at a loss in Belgium unless it is the sales period, which is fixed.

      Here you must even have a reasonable stock of said items. So you can not say 2EUR for this PC and then only have 1 PC just so you hope people will buy something else. This is what you get in a communist country where the law in principle sides with the people not the companies.

    • Well in Germany we have the same law but it must be an obvious and honest mistake like a moved decimal point or reversed digits.

      i.E. advertising a 55% off when you meant a 5.5% off. Or â150 you meant â1500 (that would be a 90% discount).

      Mind you, with the current "SALE - SALE" Zeitgeist I don't think 55% off is unrealistic and I think in Germany and Switzerland Dell would have to bite the bullet here.

      Martin

    • by omeomi (675045)
      It is similar in the US, though many companies do tend to honor mislabeled prices, as long as the difference isn't too ridiculous. This story, however, concerns Australian law...
    • by jopsen (885607)
      I think in Denmark you can be charged with a thing called misleading or deceiving marketing. I'd suppose a company repetitively advertising with the wrong prices would at some point face charges.
  • ...with the Australian dollar near an all-time low.

  • Was this on any machines running Ubuntu?

    Btw, what happened to the Dell+Ubuntu offers that I can no longer find on their site?

    Or am I looking in the wrong place...

  • Global financial crisis worse than thought

    Dell hardware cheap, but there may be some fine print

    Paris Hilton shows her bits accidentally

  • My experience (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Circlotron (764156) on Monday November 17, 2008 @04:53AM (#25783775)
    I live in Melbourne, Australia. A well known consumer test magazine here, Choice, said about 20 years ago that an advertised or store-posted price was only "an invitation to enter into a contract of sale" and was not binding on the seller. That said, it is fairly common for most larger shops to give you the item at the advertised price when it is incorrect (i.e low). I once got six pieces of wood from a hardware shop that were marked at $4 each instead of $11 each. They pointed this out to me at the checkout and after checking that the rest of their stock was also marked at this price (not just mine ;-) ) gave it to me at this low price anyway.
    • IANAL

      Common Law contract law that advertising something as being for sale is an invitation to treat, which doesn't put any obligation on the seller to provide anything.

      In Australia selling stuff generally comes under the Trade Practices Act, or in the cases where the Federal Government cannot legislate, individual state Fair Trading laws.

      • by wisty (1335733)
        INAL, sale of goods laws (which may vary from state to state), and TPA both apply. These laws are very harsh against bait advertising. Also, since it varies by state, Dell might have to fork up in some states.
    • Re:My experience (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 17, 2008 @06:05AM (#25784051)
      Its called 'invitation to treat', and exists right up until the point at which money is taken, but neither party is obligated to enter into a purchase contract - after that point (money taken), it gets legally more complicated and the 'obviously wrong' defence comes into play.
    • by PitaBred (632671)

      I've had companies do that, but they usually go change the price right afterwards. I would have walked out if they didn't give me the product at the price (buying stuff takes two parties to agree to the price), but since they did that, they earned a much more regular customer. Service matters.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      I live in Melbourne, Australia. A well known consumer test magazine here, Choice, said about 20 years ago that an advertised or store-posted price was only "an invitation to enter into a contract of sale" and was not binding on the seller.

      The problem is that with online sales, the sale (a contract) takes place when payment is made. The most obvious point of payment is when the buyer enters in the credit card details and the site displays "order placed" or somesuch. At that point, it is no longer an invi
      • Except for the minor fact that most retailers do not(and legally cannot in some places) bill your credit card until such a time as the order has shipped. Until then all you have is a sales contract.
  • In my opinion, it totally depends on how the company behaves. In the Netherlands, a flat-screen TV was advertised by a mail-order retailer for 100 euros. Many people ordered and the company proceeded to leave the advertisement online for more than a week. Despite that, the judge agreed with the retailer that they didn't need to respect the extremely low price. Later that same retailer made other errors. For example, when you'd order a printer with a PC, the printer would cost, say, 25 euros. When you proc
    • by freedom_india (780002) on Monday November 17, 2008 @05:14AM (#25783841) Homepage Journal

      As per English Contract Law(which australia must be following), a publicly displayed advertisement for a product/service displaying a price for the same becomes a contract when it is accepted by anyone who pays for the same product/service to the advertiser.
      In short, Dell has signed a contract with each one of the paying customers to provide the advertised product at advertised price.
      If Dell fails to do so, it is in violation of the applicable contract law and as such the counter-party to the contract may sue Dell for violation and subsequent consequential damages.
      The fact that Dell claims it is a mistake is not relevant and is not the customers' responsibility.
      All a customer has to do is to swear in front of a magistrate or sign a letter thathe acted in "Good faith" that the advertisement was genuine.
      Dell Customers Australia: If you have placed the order, do NOT back out and accept a refund. Write to Dell to fulfill its contract and threaten it with a lawsuit. Am sure 200 lawsuits in 200 courts is not a small matter for Dell.
      The law is on your side for a change.

      • a product/service displaying a price for the same becomes a contract when it is accepted by anyone who pays for the same product/service to the advertiser.

        I guess it all hangs on whether Dell accepted the money from the consumers at the time of ordering, or if it was to be debited when the goods shipped.

        • All that needs to have happened is for Dell to have accepted "consideration" - in other words, a promise and means to pay, whether now or later. If they did so, which I imagine they did, then there will likley be a contract in force at that point.

          55% off would NOT normally be considered unreasonable or an "obviuous" mistake - such as something priced at £0.02 instead of £200

        • by Kjella (173770)

          I guess it all hangs on whether Dell accepted the money from the consumers at the time of ordering, or if it was to be debited when the goods shipped.

          I think of the statement you quoted as "When is a contract established, if no contract is written?" If you signed a contract, it's damn well a contract even if noone's paid yet. In this sense, most e-tailers walk a very thin line with "order confirmation". It contains the quantity and location of goods to be shipped, costs with shipping and handling, usually estimated delivery time and very much looks like a contract to me. It is certainly very different from merely acknowledging that a contract offer has b

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          I guess it all hangs on whether Dell accepted the money from the consumers at the time of ordering, or if it was to be debited when the goods shipped.

          I would argue that taking the credit card number is taking the money. When they process it, when they batch their transactions, when they make a bank run to deposit if someone pays cash is irrelevant. The consumer gave the means of payment at the time the order was "accepted" or "processed" or whatever. There is no more action by the consumer after that p
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sam0737 (648914)

        What? From what I have learned - Hong Kong law, which is still based on English Contract Law...

        Advertisement is not an "offer." (Made by a case in 18xx IIRC).
        The case was something like someone saw a product advertisement on newspapers, then go to the store but unfortunately the product went out of stock. The customer sue the store for not able to fulfill the contract, even if the customer can pay to accept it.

        The case was held that advertisement does not consider as an offer. It's the customer who "offer"

        • A Public advt is an open offer that becomes a contract once accepted by the other party.
          Examples abound for it like when an Englishman offered BP400 for his wallet and then demurred when it was found by someone.
          The court ordered this joker to pay the amount as offered.
          A promise is not a contract unless its for money on demand.
          An offer becomes a contract on acceptance.

          • by sam0737 (648914)

            Examples abound for it like when an Englishman offered BP400 for his wallet and then demurred when it was found by someone.

            What you said is another story, which is also true.

            What I said is that there is definitely another case made for newspaper advertisement, and the price tag on the store shelf - which says they are not "offer".

      • Why on Earth must Australia be following English Contract Law? We've had our own set of statutes for quite some time now.
        • by jabuzz (182671)

          They might not, but this follows out of English Common law, which all most all ex. empire countries use (New Zealand being the obviously different one).

          Heck even the USA follows English Common law and they left some 230+ years ago in a revolution.

          It is not an unreasonable assumption to make.

        • by Detritus (11846)
          Here in Maryland, our legal system is based on the English common law, as it existed on the 4th of July, 1776. Says so right in the state constitution. A local lawyer got the bright idea of making a motion to decide a case by "trial by combat", which was still part of English common law in 1776. Unfortunately, he chickened out. I would have liked to have seen the judge's reaction to the motion.
  • by snicho99 (984884) on Monday November 17, 2008 @05:03AM (#25783799) Homepage
    A little off topic perhaps... but it make's me think of a story a friend told me once:

    Hungry Jacks (Australian version of Burger King) once had a promotion going where if you asked for "Two for One" they gave you two Whoppers (a kind of inedible burger) for the price of one. The only catch was that someone at the marketing company forgot to assign an end date to the promo on all the advertising material. Consequently even now - many years later, Hungry Jacks' still has to honor the "Two for One" deal.

    Me and a friend called BS on his story, and he was quite insistent that it was real. We were just on our way from one bar to another at the time (a little inebriated perhaps) so we went into a Hungry Jacks store to test his theory. He ordered a Whopper as a "Two for One", and sure enough they gave it to him!

    Mind you by the time he got to the front of the queue he had 16 drunk football (australian rules) players chanting "Two for one" so perhaps they just gave it to him to make us leave....

    But if it was *genuine* makes you think that maybe us australians are pretty serious about keeping companies honest about their marketing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Once we advertised a service, we created the ad before we decided on the price. Long story short, it ended up being advertised as $0.00. Our lawyer informed that the advert was not binding. IANAL and YMMV ofcourse.

    • But if it was *genuine* makes you think that maybe us australians are pretty serious about keeping companies honest about their marketing.

      Oh please! Cut the jingoistic crap! We are no better or worse than anyone else when it comes to keeping politicians/companies/marketing/sales droids honest.

      Individuals will either stand up for whatever they feel they are entitled to, or they will be obedient little sheeple.

  • by Orphaze (243436) on Monday November 17, 2008 @05:14AM (#25783845) Homepage

    I think whether or not this is wrong depends entirely on whether or not money as changed hands at the time the error is noticed.

    For instance, we would not consider a car dealership to be contractually bound to sell cars for $3000 a piece if a typo caused a zero to be left off the price in an advertisement. An advertisement or coupon simply does not constitute a contract.

    In that same vein, I would argue that making an internet purchase is not a contract as well, or rather, at least not initially. Giving a company your credit information and clicking "Purchase" is not the same as handing another person cash and shaking hands, as that credit information must first be authorized and processed before money is actually transferred. Until that is done, the transaction (and hence, contract) has not been completed, and you the consumer aren't entitled to anything. Consequently, if an error is found at this stage, I see nothing wrong with a company cancelling the order in question.

    If money is transferred, that is a whole different ball of wax. The deal is then done, and a business should be held to whatever price they stated. At that point they have taken your money, depriving you the use of it for anything else, and it is not acceptable for them to cancel the order simply because of their incompetence, anymore than they can call you up a month later and demand more money for an item you already purchased.

    • by Kneo24 (688412)
      Generally speaking, CC transactions tend to go through pretty fast online, unless it's the weekend. Then for whatever reason it's a little slower. So it virtually is like handing your money over upon the purchase.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For instance, we would not consider a car dealership to be contractually bound to sell cars for $3000 a piece if a typo caused a zero to be left off the price in an advertisement. An advertisement or coupon simply does not constitute a contract.

      It should still attract a penalty, though, just like any other misleading or incorrect information in an advertisement.

    • Handing over your CC details, and the website accepting them, is consideration and would normally constitute completion of a contract.

      this is exactly the same as handing a CC instore, where not all are authorised there and then - it is still consideration for the goods, which is all the is sufficient. duration is not considered in this - otherwise buy now pay later would not give a contract untill the "pay later" part!

    • by Renraku (518261)

      All the localities want their local shops to sell rather than to lose customers to online shops.

      Online shops have many advantages, one being not having to pay cashiers. Cashiers also fill the role of 'sanity check' on prices. For example if your plasma TV scans at $1, they're probably going to get a manager.

      A manager who will apologize, and maybe offer you a discount for the mistake but not down to $1.

      Online shops don't have this. Its automated. They should hold them to it. If they don't want to have t

  • Latitude D-Series (Score:2, Informative)

    by Danzigism (881294)
    This goes as a warning for those interested in the old Latitude D-series notebooks. Great machines, and Dell says they're still being sold on their website. Well, I ordered one for a client about 3 weeks ago, and was just informed last week that they are being discontinued and the particular model I ordered will not be arriving. I love how you have to wait to the last minute to find out this information. More inventory control needs to be done on their part. As a premier partner, I have slowly and surely go
  • One day, I was window shopping Dell's web site for a Mini 9 (Inspiron 910), setting up a tricked-out system. I saw that there was a $250 off coupon that was applied to that system. I immediately bought the system, stopping only to make sure that I put in all the features. I expected the order to be canceled because the coupon was for a Studio laptop and this was a Inspiron netbook. Well, the order got canceled, but because the Dell Preferred Account had issues. I called and placed the order again using my A

  • by diethelm (35652) on Monday November 17, 2008 @07:38AM (#25784419)

    This has happened here in Chile twice during 2008. In both cases Dell backed out of all sales, to great outrage. The second time it happened, I thought it was rather fishy; now that I see the same thing going on in Australia, it is starting to look like a corporate "marketing" policy.

  • Here in the uk, there is a certain website that is red hot on picking up what are obvious price mixups (moneysavingexpert.com). I once got a Dell 2400 for less than 30% of the real price. Also picked up a celeron for less than £100 all in to make a little profit. They usually honour the screwups, but the current climate must be biting hard for them to not honour it. They may well cave as the adverse publicity is worth more than a few machines at cost(ish).

    Having said that, if you spend big, there is

  • This happened to me on a $20,000 purchase from dell. They ended up sending me a free NAS and two free laptops. They also let me keep the advertised price of my purchase due to a significant delay processing the order (it was shipped then recalled). Not too shabby.
  • I wish I had saved my chat log. I had an very frustrating chat with a Dell sales associate. The price shown online was $99 for a Mini9 (at this site) [dell.com]. Too good to be true, I know, but there it was. The site wouldn't let me check out so I opened a chat window. The person helping me couldn't confirm or deny the price and promised to call or email soon. This is what I got:

    we apologize for the misinformation we are currently having error on the website. but ill make sure to let someone call you if things clear up. just log backin online to check if its still the price but i will be callig you when this is already cleared.

    No further attempts to contact me. Good to see a professional interface with the customer, huh?

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:45PM (#25791379) Homepage

    My mom worked in retail during the 1930s and 40s, eventually rising to the position of buyer in Bloomingdale's. She said that retailers were not legally bound to honor misprints, but that the policy of Bloomingdale's (and its competitors) was to honor them, without question, because they would rather take a one-time loss on a single item than lose a customer.

    This is not about the law, this is about decency and keeping promises and doing the right thing by customers.

    I know that there is currently a management fad to try to identify "bad" (i.e. lower-profit) customers, and deliberately annoy them in hope of losing them. As the bad economic times start to bite in, I think they will find that treating customers as easily-replaced disposables is not a good idea.

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