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back to article Accidental discounts land Apple in NZ's Disputes Tribunal

Apple is in trouble over pricing again – this time, however, because an apparent e-store glitch let a New Zealander whack together a $NZ1,600 order for $NZ35. Adam Crouchley, a 'Wordpress developer, SM advisor and Radio Announcer on Hashtag Radio', according to his LinkedIn profile, told El Reg, as we followed up a report by …

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Facepalm

You're disputing it wrong

That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

If its too good to be true....

It usually is.

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WTF?

He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

This guy must be new to the internet. Companies stopped honouring pricing mistakes on websites a long long time ago...

Seriously. I couldn't get a Chinese knockoff iPod skin on eBay for $0.83, never mind Twelve South accessories off the Apple website.

Did he receive an order confirmation from Apple?

http://store.apple.com/nz/open/salespolicies#placingyourorder

5.7 Information contained on the Apple Store Web Site constitutes an invitation to treat. No such information constitutes an offer by us to supply any Products.

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FAIL

Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

> Did he receive an order confirmation from Apple?

Did you miss the bit about him phoning up Apple and asking them if they would honour the price and them saying yes?

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Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

According to this article, yes.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/7898719/Waikato-man-takes-on-Apple

" Soon after he placed the order he said he received an email saying some of the goods had been shipped, and then other emails to confirm the order had been processed and his credit card charged.

'Two or three days later they came back and said the order's been cancelled because there was a problem with the price.'

They told him they would honour the part of the order they had already shipped, but later managed to intercept the courier package. "

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Holmes

Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

Apple can put what they like in their ToS, as can any company, doesn't mean they're legitimate. A lot of terms are usually there to scare off the terminally dumb. Think about the number of companies that try to indemnify themselves against death caused my negligence even though they're automatically illegal terms on every single country on the planet I've ever checked - including the USA.

Certainly in UK law you've made an offer and it's been accepted when they send you a receipt/you've paid, much less when they've sent the thing out the door and had to jump up and down on the courier to get it back (which I'd happy describe as theft on the part of Apple/The Courier because the items no longer belong to either party - they're yours and under the duty of care of the courier - frankly, though you probably wouldn't be able to make that stick in court in any but the most sensible of countries).

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Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

I can't see the courier idea being legitimate. Apple would be the customer of the Courier and has contracted the courier to provide a service. Apple then decided to cancel or change that service. I can't see how the goods automatically belong to the customer just because they are in the Couriers possession.

I'm not saying that the customer isn't entitled to those goods by contract law or other law that is applicable in the antipodes he may well be. Just saying that intercepting the courier would be theft, unless of course the courier had been initiated by the customer (however still not theft, just the courier might be liable for giving the goods back).

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Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

Just saying that intercepting the courier would be theft -> Just saying that intercepting the courier wouldn't be theft

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Anonymous Coward

Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

The key term would be that which refers to passing of title to the goods.

If the term says that title passes when payment has been made/accepted/cleared by the bank, then the goods being transported by the courier are his.

On the other hand the courier is contracted to deliver by Apple and so delivery is at Apple's say-so.

And this is why it takes a court to figure out if the goods now back in Apple's hands are his or not.

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Thumb Down

Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

"which I'd happy describe as theft on the part of Apple/The Courier because the items no longer belong to either party - they're yours and under the duty of care of the courier"

No. You talk to any courier company and they will tell you the sender owns the parcel up to the point where it's delivered. The courier neither knows nor cares what is inside the parcel or who the owner might be. They paid the courier to deliver a parcel and have paid for a specific type of delivery, eg one time only attempt with a certain time to retain it at the depot for it to be collected, or they may have paid for two or more delivery attempts followed by a few days at the depot. If delivery attempts fail and it's not collected within a certain timeframe, it's returned to the customer ie the sender.

Disclaimer: I don't work for any courier company but have dealt with many over the years on an almost daily basis. I also know that some drivers are wankers and/or have wankers for bosses who give drivers unrealistic delivery targets.

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Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

As far as I know there's a pretty much universal set of regulations that deals with exactly this kind of situation.

The Seller is de-facto owner of the product until the customer has actually signed off for delivery, and is allowed to delay or even cancel shipment of the product as long as the financial transaction has not cleared.

The case of misprinted/incorrect prices on a website or dead-tree brochure is *specifically* made as an example in all the stuff I've ever read about it. The fact that some underpaid/outsourced/clueless idort stated that the obviously incorrect price would be honoured is essentially invalid, as customer service *never* clears financial transactions, certainly not at first-line level. Any supervisor of said idort should, and 99% likely *would*, have cleared up the situation, and escalated the issue to Sales --> IT to Get Prices Fixed NAO! PLZ!

There's obviously shoddy work done on several levels in this situation, but *legally* Apple is quite in it's right to intercept the shipment, as long as they *immedeately* wired the refund that goes with order cancellation.

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Flame

Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

It makes no difference whether you're doing business through the internet or a bricks and morter shop in NZ. You must follow the Consumer Guarantees Act, which says (among other things) that you must honour the advertised price. If the advertised price is a mistake, tough. Apple will lose this.

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Re: He Was Hoping To Get $89 Worth Of Stuff For $0.83 - Really?

You'd be wrong. It's called FOB origin.

"FOB origin means the consignee is taking ownership prior to shipping and is responsible for freight payments."

--http://www.ehow.com/info_8284356_freight-delivery-terms.html

It could be "free" shipping, and the company could be the one paying for it from their accounts, and STILL be FOB origin. In which case this would be theft.

The issue is, I think Apple US is FOB destination. He could still have a case, but at that point it's not theft.

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FAIL

Normally I'm a bit hesitant when comes to "pricing mistakes", though I generally fall on the side of the customer (customers get boned over screw ups all time, so it's only fair companies need to eat it as well), but in this case it seems like a clear open and shut case of Apple buggering it up.

He asked them if it was the right price, they said yes, they should definitely honor that price.

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Anonymous Coward

He made the same mistake over and over again. He should have ordered the goods, kept quiet and see what happens. After you get the goods, you can alert Apple, not before you received the goods.

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Anonymous Coward

Under NZ Statute, the Contractual Mistakes Act 1979 would allow Apple to cancel the sale as the price was obviously wrong and not fair consideration for the value of the goods. However because he clarified this with Apple's own contact centre, he could have a case providing he has sufficient evidence. If he had ordered more than he required, then he would have a less robust case. And with regard the value limit of cases that can be heard in the Tribunal, I think it is now $15000, or $25000 with agreement from both parties to the dispute.

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So can this tribunal force Apple to sell him $1600 worth of accessories for $35?

It's pretty obvious he didn't buy $1600 worth of Apple cases as an end user, but rather to resell them for a quick buck.

Perhaps the Reg can tell us from the chat logs they've seen whether or not the guy went through each individual item's price with the CSR to ensure they were all correct? Or did he just ask the CSR if all prices on the website were up to date?

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Anonymous Coward

"It's pretty obvious he didn't buy $1600 worth of Apple cases as an end user,"

$1600 is about 3 cases isn't it?

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Anonymous Coward

"It's pretty obvious he didn't buy $1600 worth of Apple cases as an end user, but rather to resell them for a quick buck."

Alleging that he only purchased them to sell for "a quick buck" when he stated "he bought only what he needed for his business." is purely an assumption, especially since we have no idea what his business is other than what is mentioned by his LinkedIn profile. Is he the lead of a Wordpress development team? Did he buy these for them? etc. etc.

What we know is he did confirm the price twice with Apple, once via online chat and once via a phone call. He gave them plenty of opportunity to refuse the sale, instead they waited until he was expecting the products - which could now arrive after the congratulatory ceremony for the release of their latest Wordpress plugin - but alas, I'm making things up too now.

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When are real dollars different from advertised dollars?

Kinda like what cellphone carriers do, when they charge you a REAL $60* a month for your contract, and include "$800" worth of calls.

They just leave out the bit that says each of the $800 dollars is equivalent to about $16 REAL dollars per 30 second block of talk time.

Perhaps there should be a Real/Pretend Dollar conversion rate stated on each website?

(*) Just to make my point, I'm purely making up the numbers, but evidently, so are Apple...

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Huh.

I had always thought that the charge on the credit card was the accepted price and cannot be cancelled easily by either party without triggering all kinds of interesting processes. I doubt it matters if he contacted Apple; the big question is was he already dinged on his credit card or not before the order cancelled. (He obviously was or they wouldn't have shipped.)

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Re: Huh.

@ben edwards: Maybe you didn't read the post above mine. New Zealand has a thing called the "Contractual Mistakes Act 1979", so Apple could argue that the mistake wasn't noticed until after the payment was made.

What you know about UK or US consumer law doesn't really apply to a country on the other side of the globe...

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Boffin

Re: Huh.

So under this law, at what point does the mistake no longer be a mistake. Acceptance of monies, shipping goods , delivery of goods, acceptance of goods, end of goods warranty?

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Re: at what point does the mistake no longer be a mistake

Excellent point!!!!

If this person would have walked into a brick and mortar location, purchased the same items at the same price and walked out to his car; would the store employees have been legally allowed to run out, an forcibly remove those paid for items from his possession?

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Vic
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Re: Huh.

> New Zealand has a thing called the "Contractual Mistakes Act 1979"

It does. It's a short Act - only 6 pages. Well worth a read. Most importantly, this Act empowers courts, not individuals, to effect changes to contracts after they have been agreed.

> Apple could argue that the mistake wasn't noticed until after the payment was made.

They'd almost certainly fall foul of Section 6(2)(b), since they were made aware of the prices and still accepted them.

[Sorry - I can't quote the section as this machine seems to have decided not to allow me to C&P today...]

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't think there's any requirement to fulfill the order even if they take the money; they only have to offer it at the correct price or a refund.

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Anonymous Coward

You have no idea what you are talking about,

so why do you expect that anyone would care what you "think"?

You are fundamentally wrong.

Before making such statements it might be a good idea to at least have some basic grasp of contract law.

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Childcatcher

Sale of Goods act

He offered to treat.

They accepted his offer (then took his money and shipped the goods showing intent to honour the contract as formed).

End of story, legally.

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Stop

Re: Sale of Goods act

Pretty much. If he has an electronic receipt (in pdf form, with the Apple logo at the top) showing the items at the marked-down price, then it is going to make it hard for Apple to dispute the transaction in court. They're probably going to lose more money in legal fees than they "saved" by intercepting the courier.

Money would be better spent on cleaning up the algorithms that calculated the discounts in the first place.

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Re: Sale of Goods act

So you're an expert on New Zealand contract law then?

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Re: Sale of Goods act

AH Pointless Document Format - even I could make him a PDF receipt. I'm not saying that he shouldn't get the items apple seems to have promised him but to expect an easily reproduced format to provide proof is a bit like expecting apple to honour the agreement without somehow javascripting the word honour into another universe.

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Anonymous Coward

Electronic documents are indeed acceptable in court

Regardless of what file type they happen to be.

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Until its in you hands you are undoubtedly not the owner even if the money has been taken from your account.No ifs no buts and no cool points for trying to pull a fast one.

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So by that logic you can ship drugsanonymously and if they are intercepted the receiver isn't liable as they don't own them til they arrive?

I'm wondering, if you buy something and it never arrives would the company that sent the item have to send another (if they still own it until it arrives) as most companies give you the option for delivery insurance which says to me the customer owns the item when it's delivered as they're the ones paying the insurance...

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