Isn't there any commerce rules for the price you agree to being the price you pay?
Or does caveat emptor only work one way?
The Australian tech retailer Dick Smith unexpectedly gave its New Zealand online customers a massive discount when its ecommerce system failed and allowed transactions to be processed for zero dollars. Delighted customers yesterday reported their booty stashes via Twitter, with one buying a 27inch iMac for free but charged NZ$ …
I'm pretty sure that there an out along the lines of there being a 'reasonable expectation that this is the legitimate price'.
'Free' product, especially major purchases, wouldn't meet that expectation, particularly if the site weren't making some big song and dance about the 'bargins'.
In Australian, it would depends on where the failure occurred.
If the item was advertised at (say) $25 and you were charged $0, then I believe the company can request you to either cancel the order or pay the advertised price.
If, on the other hand, the problem was that the on-line store advertised the item at $0 and this is what you paid for it then (as I understand Australian Consumer Law) you would be within your right to demand delivery at the advertised price. Let's hope you kept records of the page with the cheap price, though.
NZ Consumer Law may be different.
My experience of price advertising in New Zealand is that either the law in this area, or the enforcement of it, is woefully inadequate.
It is not uncommon to have goods in a [bricks and mortar] store entirely unmarked - you have no idea how much those goods are going to cost you until you get to the check-out. Similarly, often stores have a habit of putting price labels on shelf edge-strips which appear to related to the products displayed on those shelves but which upon (much) closer scrutiny actually relate to some other product - quite often not on those shelves at all.
Online stores also - especially those "daily deals" sites - have a tendency to inflate "ERP" (Estimated Retail Price - more accurately "EFRP" - Entirely FICTIONAL Retail Price) and mislead consumers into believing they are making savings that they in fact are not.
Just yesterday, one such site was advertising refurb Apple MacBook's at a "$300 saving" on the ERP of $1899, at just $1599. One problem: $1899 was the price of those units when brand new. A refurb model - identical to that being offered by the deal site - can be bought *today* not for $1599 but $1527 from the official Apple refurb store. The "deal" didn't "save" the consumer $300, but would actually COST the consumer $72 MORE than if they bought at the ACTUAL retail price for an Apple refurb model.
To add insult to injury, the daily deal site was offering only 6 mth warranty, where the official Apple refurb store provides a full 12 month warranty !!
I have no doubt that the same lax approach to consumer protection w.r.t price advertising in NZ will provide sufficient wriggle room for Dick Smith to squirm their way out of this one.
An obvious mistake may be an obvious mistake - but equally a consumer visiting an operational and functioning online retail store should not be expected to first make a decision as to whether or not that web site is in fact functioning correctly before conducting a transaction.
This case may be an extreme example, but I do not think that should exempt it. There must be some responsibility on the part of the web site owner/operator to ensure that they do not release/activate a web site that contains such errors. Indeed, when the mistakes are SO obvious as this one was, it beggars belief that the changes were allowed to go live - clearly whatever testing Dick Smiths does is wholly inadequate, raising the question of what other mistakes - possibly to the *detriment* of consumers - have slipped through in the past.
Holding retailers obligated to uphold pricing when such mistakes occur seems to me to be a very effective mechanism for ensuring self regulation if the official bodies cannot be bothered/don't have the resources to regulate such things pro-actively themselves.
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