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In AU, Dodgy Dell Deal Faces Consumer Backlash

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the you-advertised-it-now-honor-it dept.

Businesses 173

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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173 comments

hi i'm a spammer (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783651)

hi just testing if i can use slashdot to spam my website.

thanks.

Attn: kdawson - please do your job (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784311)

From TFA:

Dell backs down over drive pricing
By Jesse Hogan
August 18, 2005 - 4:24PM

WTF?!?

Who thinks that an article that is over 3 years old is "News for Nerds, Stuff That Matters"?

Re:Attn: kdawson - please do your job (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784373)

Have you girded your loins yet? As you know, Joe Biden, hand selected prophet of the one, has told us to gird our loins. This is necessary for HIM to ascend to the whitehouse.

There's been some confusion as to whether this refers to castration (eunuch) or total nullification. I didn't want to take any chances, so I went with total nullification. Keep in mind that we will be rewarded when HE ascends to the whitehouse.

Too good to be true? (5, Insightful)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783653)

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?

Re:Too good to be true? (5, Funny)

Desipis (775282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783683)

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

Here in Oz we routinely get ads for rug stores with 90% off.

Re:Too good to be true? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783707)

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!

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783875)

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.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783893)

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.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784175)

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 Italy, and Dell costs WAY less than Apple for the same specs.)

Re:Too good to be true? (2, Informative)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784843)

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 not to cannibalize their own sales so they likely set their prices comparable. (The XPS brand use to be a direct competitor to Alienware) So, you should be able to cheaper "gaming" PC's. Regular PC's? Dell does offer great price points in comparison.

I still love my XPS system. It's been running like a champ and only had one problem when we experienced flooding. Though, that was 100% covered by Dell since I dropped a couple hundred more for the accidental damage service, given I tend to move around a lot. Best service I ever had, though, you definitely have to pay for it to get it from Dell. My Inspiron 8100's service was another story that could rank up their will "Dell Hell".

Re:Too good to be true? (3, Funny)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784173)

Dell is cheaper than Sun and IBM? Wow, what an endorsement.

Re:Too good to be true? (1, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784367)

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

Re:Too good to be true? (4, Informative)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Too good to be true? (5, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784255)

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.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784393)

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?

Re:Too good to be true? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784481)

You buy a $400 Acer laptop at wal-mart, then are surprised when its a hunk of shit?

Really cheap, wal-mart, acer. Maybe you thought three wrongs would make a right?

Re:Too good to be true? (1, Offtopic)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784501)

Well, three rights make a left...

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783715)

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:Too good to be true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783811)

Is there a similar day to our Black Friday?

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving .... I've seen 200$ laptops before netbooks

Considering the netbook idea was started by asus and the eeepc was released mid October and was sold out for at least five months, I doubt you saw a lot of deals on netbooks during black friday.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783953)

Before netbooks. He saw laptops sold for $200 before netbooks existed.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784261)

Thanks for actually noticing ^_^

Yeah, I thought about trying to get a hold of one, but they were 1GHz, 256MB ram, and 1 minute battery life (heh well, more like 1 hour). And the stores that sold them had perhaps 2-4 at best... When there's a hundred people in line waiting for opening, good luck getting one.

Re:Too good to be true? (2, Informative)

a.ameri (665846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783899)

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.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784269)

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:Too good to be true? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784685)

Not in *all* major cities. Perth, being still stuck in 1950, doesn't allow shops to open the day after Christmas.

Re:Too good to be true? (0, Offtopic)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783957)

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

Its kinda catchy.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

Yacoby (1295064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784169)

Here in Oz we routinely get ads for rug stores with 90% off.
Where they charge you full price and give you 10% of the rug?

Re:Too good to be true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784615)

Yes, but they're closing down! FINAL OFFER!

Re:Too good to be true? (4, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783737)

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?

Re:Too good to be true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784539)

the interesting point is: is the online shrinkwrap walid? and if it is valid, from what page you could consider it valid?

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784545)

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 be wrong :).

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

throbber (72924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783923)

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:Too good to be true? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783961)

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

Re:Too good to be true? (5, Informative)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Too good to be true? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784435)

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 has been a breach of the trade practices act.

[I wouldn't hold my breath on this one, they seem to like to take a hands off approach.]

In this case I think what they could get into trouble with is whats known as bait advertising.

heres a link to a story about a retailer called Harvey Norman getting into trouble for this

http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1174381.htm

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783925)

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? :)

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784111)

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.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783985)

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:Too good to be true? (2, Informative)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784205)

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.

Re:Too good to be true? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784095)

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.

Too old to be true - 2005 dateline! (0)

svunt (916464) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784253)

Too good to be recent, this story is from August, 2005. Nice one!

Slashdot should allow posts to be marked as dups. (1)

spaceturtle (687994) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784431)

This has already been pointed out half an hour ago [slashdot.org] . FYI, the second link is 2008.

Re:Too good to be true? (3, Informative)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Is 55% off unrealistic? (1)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784411)

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

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784585)

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...

Re:Too good to be true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25785027)

Nope, a few years ago there was a one-day word of mouth sale going on that had $750 off an inspiron purchase of $1500 or more. The deal was unbeatable and it was up to 50% off. The sale ended quickly, but moved over 40,000 systems.

Mmmm... this goes well... (1)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783655)

...with the Australian dollar near an all-time low.

Re:Mmmm... this goes well... (2, Informative)

HotFat (46399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784233)

Your 'All-Time' must be a pretty short time. Around 6 years ago it was 20 cents lower than it is now.

Ubuntu Offers? (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783697)

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...

Re:Ubuntu Offers? (1)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783801)

I just checked out the Mini 9 the other day, and it very much so has an Ubuntu option. Don't know about anything else though.

Of course, I checked the Japanese site (live here), and while the base computer's the same, the upgrades are all about twice as much as the equivalent US page. Guess I won't be going through Dell, after all, especially after (this) yet another fiasco.

Re:Ubuntu Offers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784039)

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

On the UK site, I just selected 'for home'/'view all products' and then 'open source PCs' from the dropdown product list.

Re:Ubuntu Offers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784509)

And on the American site, I just checked Ubuntu Linux under Operating System.

Granted, I only found one (bottom of the line) desktop and one (equally bottom of the line) laptop.

Re:Ubuntu Offers? (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784865)

Yeah - I found them too. A while back I was browsing though the site and was aiming a bit higher than those that offer Ubuntu as an OS.

Is it just me or do Dell not take their Ubuntu offers seriously?

i used to recommend , but now i will never again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783699)

As I write this, I am trying to make a call on my 24/7 , next business day business support package.

My Dell 9400 has crashed (just stopped working, screen goes crazy).

I have so far been on hold for over 50 minutes. Some guy verified me and just put me in queue.

(I have screen shots as I am using SKYPE).

On my other line, I call now and I am told they are closed and only available within a set of times. So if you have a 24/7 warranty, that means I have been ripped off, as you can't make a call 24/7. I notice the other countries can (and I have used them).

I used to rave about dell support which was the only BUSINESS reason to buy them, now I will just buy anywhere if there is not difference between them and others.... just another area DELL AU are not holding up their commitments.

Just as you can't polish a turd... (0, Offtopic)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783723)

...you can't trick me into buying Dell's shit. 55% off? They could be giving it away and i still wouldn't bite.

Tonight on ACA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783739)

This sounds like a tabloid current affairs headline...

"Dodgy Dell Deal Faces Dole Bludging Single Mum over Consumer Backlash in Shady Backroom Deal"

In the news at 10.... (2, Funny)

darinfp (907671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783759)

Global financial crisis worse than thought

Dell hardware cheap, but there may be some fine print

Paris Hilton shows her bits accidentally

My experience (4, Interesting)

Circlotron (764156) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:My experience (1)

zblack_eagle (971870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783803)

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.

Re:My experience (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783859)

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 (3, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Depends (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783779)

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 proceeded to remove the PC from your shopping cart, the printer would still have the reduced price. Same outcome.

Not True as per English Contract law (3, Informative)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783841)

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.

Re:Not True as per English Contract law (3, Interesting)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783947)

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.

Re:Not True as per English Contract law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784287)

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.

It gets worse still. When you consider that the consumer's act of accepting the offer and Dell's reply with the "corrected" price could be seen by some as a "bait and switch" tactic or "bait advertising" as covered by the Trade Practices Act (or the Sale of Goods Act, I can never remember which)

Re:Not True as per English Contract law (1)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784499)

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

Re:Not True as per English Contract law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784059)

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.

This is so utterly wrong that I am dumbstruck. If you're going to be spouting what looks like law, make sure you're actually telling the truth.

'Boots Cash Chemists' says you're utterly, utterly wrong. You are 180 degrees out of phase with the law and 55 years behind the times.

Re:Not True as per English Contract law (2, Interesting)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784171)

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" the money then the store "accept" the deal.

So I think what grandparent said is true, if Dell didn't accept the money (by processing the credit card I suppose), it should be considered "accepted" in current understandings. Whether or not the court will make a new case about "automatic processing" does not consider as an "acceptance" is another issue.

English law is revelant how? (1)

svunt (916464) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784239)

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

Re:English law is revelant how? (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784565)

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.

Re:English law is revelant how? (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784769)

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.

Re:Not True as per English Contract law (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784349)

Your information is out of date.

A short time ago the law was changed to allow any retail service the right to refuse service for any reason without notice. Dell are within their rights to cancel these orders as the contracts are only completed when the product is dispatched and the funds are debited from the customer.

In all fairness my feeling is that Dell should honour these orders as a happy customer is a customer that returns.

Re:Not True as per English Contract law (1)

csrster (861411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784629)

Do you mean it becomes a contract when the payment is accepted by the advertiser? If so, I wonder what constitutes "accepting payment" in an electronic transaction. Is there relevant case law?

Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783791)

Just because some stinges can't accept that this is the real world, doesn't mean Dell is super evil...

Makes me think of a story... (3, Interesting)

snicho99 (984884) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783799)

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.

$0.00 not binding according to our Lawyer. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784089)

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.

Re:Makes me think of a story... (1)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784123)

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.

Re:Makes me think of a story... (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784829)

You didn't get a good deal, you should've gotten the nickel a burger deal they had back 50 years ago.

ah good old Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783829)

I scored $400 off my 30" dell when I ordered it through Dell's website from Australia. They honored the agreement when I bought it even though their website had screwed up and had doubled the $200 off offer to $400. I am a pleased customer and would shop at Dell again.

Sometimes right, sometimes wrong.. (5, Insightful)

Orphaze (243436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783845)

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.

Re:Sometimes right, sometimes wrong.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783901)

According to the blogs and forums, many of them transfered money to dell by netbank.

Also it doesnt look like anyone can contact dell to speak about their order. So at this stage, they can't get their money back.

Re:Sometimes right, sometimes wrong.. (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783993)

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:Sometimes right, sometimes wrong.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784199)

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.

Re:Sometimes right, sometimes wrong.. (1)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784513)

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!

Look at the Date on the Story, Guys (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784119)

August 18, 2005.

And this is news?

Re:Look at the Date on the Story, Guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784337)

Click on the "Apologized" link: http://apcmag.com/Content.aspx?id=3192

Its recent within a week.

Advertised price isn't directly binding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784289)

The advertised price is an invitation for a potential buyer to
make an offer for the goods. If the retailer accepts the offer,
then a contract has been executed.

There are sets of laws that address mistakes, fraud and/or
deception by either party leading up to the moment that the
contract is executed; these may result in the contract being
invalidated.

--remains

Latitude D-Series (2, Informative)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784347)

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 gotten more pissed at Dell as of late. I sell their computers because of their excellent NBD warranties with prosupport. but god damn this kind of simple shit has been pissing me off.

Dell Makes Lots Of "Mistakes" (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784371)

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 Amex over the phone, and the guy was perfectly content to sell me the system for less than half price. The system just shipped yesterday (on Sunday?!) and should be here by this Thursday.

Was this a mistake, or a "mistake"?

Re:Dell Makes Lots Of "Mistakes" (1)

nawcom (941663) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784533)

One day, I was window shopping Dell's web site for a Mini 9 (Inspiron 910), setting up a tricked-out system. Was this a mistake, or a "mistake"?

It's a mistake to expect a "tricked-out system" from an Inspiron 910. Just my opinion. :-P

This happened in Chile, twice this year (5, Informative)

diethelm (35652) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Welcome to 2005, enjoy the news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784439)

It's good to know that Slashdot is now only three years behind on stories.

Dell give away too good deals all the time... (1)

Stu101 (1031686) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784515)

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 nothing dell won't give you. Just the other day Dell gave us a $50,000 blade setup for free, on the hope we would buy some more high spec blades of em (we are totally a HP shop server wise, but desktop is a different story)

Dell pulled the same crap in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784553)

I haven't bought one thing from Dell since they refused to honour several deal prices on their Canadian website.

Not only incompetence, but then they can't even be ethical or honest about it.

Why must big business so often be evil?

The same in Brazil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784559)

This happened in Brazil in the past. And the Dell's site is also a big mess, with wrong offerings (e.g. things they don't sell here but they are in the site), wrong pricing, etc.

In Brazil, buying a Dell equipment thriugh the internet does not work. The best way, and yet far from accetable, is buying through phone. But sales reps are really bad trained.

I should be the CEO of a large company (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784595)

How hard is it to hire a couple of interns to go through every price online every day to see if they're reasonable? Logically you can't force a company to make a money losing deal, no matter how wrong they were, just like nobody can force you to sell your house for a dollar. But a multi-billion dollar company should know better.

Same thing happened in Chile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784661)

The same thing happened a few months ago in Chile. Dell's site offered laptops that used to cost about $500 at no more than $120; many customers (hundreds) ordered them, and then Dell backed off on the offer, saying it was a mistake. A couple of weeks later, it happened again, and they again called it a mistake and offered their customers a measly 15% off of the original price. And two months later... it happened yet again. Three times in three months (this time with desktop computers). The problem for them is that by chilean law, they are obliged to sell the laptops at the publicized price; but Dell has many lawyers... Some custumers sued anyway, so we'll see what happens.

More info here:
http://www.yocomprenotebookdella77lukas.org

Anon because I can't log in here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784841)

I think the Kodak case set the president in the UK.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2864461.stm

It all depends on how the confirmation email is worded and as stated before if the price is obviously a mistake or could be considered a legitimate special offer price.

In the Kodak case it was £329 camera on offer at £100 which Kodak had to stand by in the end.

first Popst (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784877)

Propaganda a8d

Not that it really matters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25785007)

But here in Japan, here's the deal, at least as online sales go.

Advertiser puts up product with discount, possibly making a typo where "9% off" turned into "99% off". According to contract law, there is no contract until the seller responds to the customer's purchase request with an affirmative response, which closes the deal. This is why Japanese retailers make sure that their autoresponders do NOT confirm a sales, they just said "we just received your order for XXXX. We will get back to you when final order calculations are confirmed."

This is, honestly, fair enough in my opinion. The day of the internet did bring about instant shopping gratification by being able to "buy now", but stupid typos have been around as long as the printing press and printed marketing material has been around. Maybe even longer! (Merchant signs come to mind.) In the printing industry in Japan, just every once in a while there is a terrible typo in the type setting, that isn't caught until the actual advertisement leaflet has been sent out in newspapers to over 100,000 subscribers. Things equivalent to a fancy diamond ring being sold at a cut-throat price of "100,000 yen" when it was suppose to be "1,000,000 yen". A stupid mistake, but these things seem to get through multiple proof reads from time to time.

Well, here's what they used to do. They didn't HAVE to sell the product at that price because there was no contractual obligation until someone actually visited the store, and the clerk actually sold it for that amount. But. Simply saying "sorry, typo!" was considered to be terribly rude of the merchant. In these sorts of cases, the item in question would usually be in limited supply, so the printing company that made the mistake would get all their employees to line up from the night before, in front of the store, and first thing when doors open they would all go out to purchase the product, only later to sell it back at the same price. Silly if you ask me, but this way they managed to "sell as advertised". Once in a while, maybe 1 person may get ahead of them. In that case it was tough luck, with 1 lucky, smiling customer.

Note that this was also a way to avoid being (unlikely) attacked by the authorities for being a false advertiser, which is an entirely different deal than contract law. But, in Japan, common sense seems to rule the law, more than the explicit wording of the law itself. (Note that this has occasional ill effects, and is not perfect in any way.)

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