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Can Websites Change Prices Once Ordered?

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 9 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Advertising Code Rights Online Sale

Q.

I've just ordered a Nintendo Wii online and when I placed my order it was advertised at £159.99. After an hour or so went by, I contacted them as I hadn't received any confirmation e-mails back from them.

They said they hadn't confirmed the order because they had just changed the price to £169.99 and were refusing to sell me the item for the advertised price when I ordered it. It is now showing the updated price of £169.99 on their website, can they do this?

(Mr Darren Kendrick, 9 October 2008)

A.

On the high street, if an item is advertised at the wrong price, the company selling the goods or services has to remove the items from the shelf. There is no obligation to 'honour' the advertised price and therefore no binding contract for sale. However, as a goodwill gesture it is not uncommon for larger companies to allow the consumer to pay for the item at it’s mislabelled lower price.

The same ‘no obligation’ principle applies to websites and online shopping stores in the UK. If the price advertised on the website turns out to be incorrect, then the seller does not have a legal commitment to complete the sale. Remember that an advertised price is not a contract of sale. It is therefore acceptable that the seller can refuse to complete the transaction if the price has changed.

It is probably right to assume that the company that you tried to purchase your games console from consider the information to have been ‘out of date’ or in the process of being updated, and was not deliberately deceptive in their advertising. The fact that no order confirmation was sent through means that the company did not accept or acknowledge a sale, and the goods remain their property. The company has the right to decline your order.

If the company you were trying to buy from was based in the UK, they will be under the regulation of the British Code of Advertising, and the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations. The British Code of Advertising “requires all forms of non-broadcast advertising to be legal decent, honest and truthful and to be prepared with a sense of responsibility to both consumers and society”.

Therefore, if you have any complaints, you can always try contacting the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in writing if you feel that the matter should be taken further. You can also try contacting Trading Standards. However, you should be aware that it is unlikely that any action will result in compensation, especially as technically the product was not sold. It is also unlikely that the advertised price was deliberately misleading, and so the likelihood of any action being taken by Trading Standards or ASA is fairly minimal.

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I ordered, paid for, and had confirmed via email with an attached invoice, a set of 4 stacking garden chairs at a cost of £166.99 from Wayfair - on 23 June. On 5 July, a box arrived containing only 1 chair.Wayfair have since informed me that this was a misunderstanding between themselves and the supplier of the chairs.One chair at £166.99 is correct, not a set of 4.They will be calling me back to see if I want to pay for the additional 3 chairs, or receive a refund for the one already delivered. According to their T&Cs, a contract exists once an email confirmation has been received, so are they not obliged to provide me with the missing 3 chairs at no extra cost?Any advice, on my consumer rights and Trading Standards etc would be gratefully received.
Noblettski - 9-Jul-18 @ 7:41 PM
Bgbgbg - Your Question:
I ordered a rug from the range yesterday for £19.99. I received my confirmation email. I then received an email saying my order had been cancelled as the item is out of stock but when I checked the website it is back in stock but now listed for £59.99. I called customer services and was told sorry and that the rug was in stock but I had to email a different department for information. My email was ignored so I called again and I’m now being told the item is out of stock, when I can see on the website that it is in stock. Do I have a right to the rug at the lower price as they have emailed me false information?

Our Response:
No, you're not entitled to the rug at the error price but you are entitled to a refund if you've already paid.
OnlineShoppingRights - 29-Jun-18 @ 3:47 PM
I ordered a rug from the range yesterday for £19.99. I received my confirmation email. I then received an email saying my order had been cancelled as the item is out of stock but when I checked the website it is back in stock but now listed for £59.99. I called customer services and was told sorry and that the rug was in stock but I had to email a different department for information. My email was ignored so I called again and I’m now being told the item is out of stock, when I can see on the website that it is in stock. Do I have a right to the rug at the lower price as they have emailed me false information?
Bgbgbg - 29-Jun-18 @ 11:05 AM
Hi I hsve preordered an item on a retailers website and paid the relevant price with a dispatch fate of later this month which as I'm not on a rush for the item was Acceptable. I now notice that the item has been reduced further with a not in stock tag line. Can I truest that the reduced price is honoured on my order?
Lb - 11-Jan-18 @ 11:53 PM
I recently purchased a game online it then turned out they had priced the item wrong. I was awaiting a download code, the order status was confirmed but then changed to cancelled. Is there anything further I can do?
Dave - 21-Dec-17 @ 10:14 AM
MM - Your Question:
I purchased a laptop yesterday online when I saw the price was £89.99 instead of £899.99. I received the obligatory email saying they had received my order. I also paid for next day delivery and received an email stating the item had been dispatched (including tracking number). Today, when I checked the status of the delivery, it said the item had been returned to sender. I have not yet received any communication from the Seller in this regard. The Sellers' terms clearly state that the contract conclusion applies once payment is made or item dispatched.Do I have any legal rights to request the item at the advertised price? They have since amended their website with a new price. Thanks

Our Response:
If the item had already been dispatched a contract might have existed. It's worth seeking legal advice if you want to pursue this.
OnlineShoppingRights - 20-Dec-17 @ 3:32 PM
Rob - Your Question:
I have ordered a scooter for my son from an online retailer who was advertising a “save up to 70% Winter Clearance”. The scooter had a 69% reduction.I paid for the scooter via PayPal. I received an emailed invoice containing my name, address, order number, order details, payment details and delivery timescale promise.The company has just cancelled my order. Their terms and conditions state that:"When confirmation of order is received, this is to indicate that we have received your order. It does not indicate that a contract exists between us. We will indicate acceptance of your order, and hence a contract between us, when we send you an invoice".Having sent me an invoice and thereby forming a contract of sale, are they legally able to cancel my order because of “a pricing error on the website due to human error”?Cheers

Our Response:
If their terms and conditions say a contract exists when an invoice is sent, and you've been sent an invoice, then they have breached the contract if they do not fulfil it.
OnlineShoppingRights - 20-Dec-17 @ 2:14 PM
I purchased a laptop yesterday online when I saw the price was £89.99 instead of £899.99. I received the obligatory email saying they had received my order. I also paid for next day delivery and received an email stating the item had been dispatched (including tracking number). Today, when I checked the status of the delivery, it said the item had been returned to sender. I have not yet received any communication from the Seller in this regard. The Sellers' terms clearly state that the contract conclusion applies once payment is made or item dispatched. Do I have any legal rights to request the item at the advertised price? They have since amended their website with a new price. Thanks
MM - 20-Dec-17 @ 11:09 AM
I have ordered a scooter for my son from an online retailer who was advertising a “save up to 70% Winter Clearance”. The scooter had a 69% reduction.I paid for the scooter via PayPal. I received an emailed invoice containing my name, address, order number, order details, payment details and delivery timescale promise.The company has just cancelled my order. Their terms and conditions state that:"When confirmation of order is received, this is to indicate that we have received your order. It does not indicate that a contract exists between us. We will indicate acceptance of your order, and hence a contract between us, when we send you an invoice".Having sent me an invoice and thereby forming a contract of sale, are they legally able to cancel my order because of a pricing error on the website due to human error”?Cheers
Rob - 19-Dec-17 @ 9:41 PM
Oli - Your Question:
I found an iPhone advertised at a significantly lower price than normal with a well known online retailer. I completed checkout and received my confirmation email quoting the lower price.When a week later no goods arrived I contacted the retailer to be advised the order had been cancelled due to a technical listing error and a batch of these were withdrawn. They have offered £20 goodwill compensation. Can I insist they honour the original order and fulfill at the lower price? Or has a contract not been entered into until shipment of the goods?

Our Response:
No, you can't demand they honour the price, you're correct in that most retailers view the contract as being in place once the goods are dispatched. To be fair to your retailer, many wouldn't bother to givea good will gesture or apology either!
OnlineShoppingRights - 15-Dec-17 @ 3:43 PM
I found an iPhone advertised at a significantly lower price than normal with a well known online retailer. I completed checkout and received my confirmation email quoting the lower price. When a week later no goods arrived I contacted the retailer to be advised the order had been cancelled due to a technical listing error and a batch of these were withdrawn. They have offered £20 goodwill compensation. Can I insist they honour the original order and fulfill at the lower price? Or has a contract not been entered into until shipment of the goods?
Oli - 13-Dec-17 @ 1:42 PM
Strider - Your Question:
I recently purchased an expensive tap online for around £30 but it clearly should have been around £400 as that is what others were selling it for. I paid and they accepted payment then I received an email saying please accept this as confirmation an re stating the low price of £30. At this point I feel they were legally obliged to supply it. Today I received an invoice which just showed a credit and a note that this was due to pricing error. Clearly they messed up and are hoping I go away. I don't want hassle but legally, surely they have to provide the item now. What do you think?

Our Response:
No, because a contract was not in place, they do not have to honour the price that was mistakenly advertised. They should refund you your money - not give you a credit note. Many retailers consider a contract is not in place until an order is fulfilled (i.e goods are dispatched).
OnlineShoppingRights - 3-Oct-17 @ 3:46 PM
I recently purchased an expensive tap online for around £30 but it clearly should have been around £400 as that is what others were selling it for. I paid and they accepted payment then I received an email saying please accept this as confirmation an re stating the low price of £30. At this point I feel they were legally obliged to supply it. Today I received an invoice which just showed a credit and a note that this was due to pricing error. Clearly they messed up and are hoping I go away. I don't want hassle but legally, surely they have to provide the item now. What do you think?
Strider - 2-Oct-17 @ 3:46 PM
I ordered a case of 3 wine through amazon, paid and got order confirmation. When the goods arrived there was only 1 bottle. I emailed the vendor through the correct route via amazon who said it was a mistake and they won't send any more. Can they do that?
Wardy - 3-Dec-16 @ 9:51 PM
Jo - Your Question:
Hi, I payed and placed an order on line for an electric fire on Black Friday 2016. I received an email confirming payment but no email with regards to delivery.After waiting several working days, I rang the company. I was advised they would get back to me. After waiting a day. I phoned again and was told they would enquire and get back to me. I later received an email explaining that the item had been wrongly priced due to human error. I was very understanding and appreciated the honesty. I rang them up to discuss the matter and explained that I understood and not to worry. I could not afford the payment update and the person said she would personally go to the warehouse, take some photos and send them to me of suitable alternatives. After waiting several hours, I received 4 photos with no information about the products. I rang once again to enquire about energy output ect, and decided to choose 1 of the fires. I asked before placing the order, could she send me confirmation of the fire details. Several hours later, I received an email advising me of the price-£250 more! So disappointing. I had explained that I could not afford much more than I had already spent and that I had already freecycled my current fire! Now, when I have once again rang, the person dealing with me is busy and will contact me later. What are my rights?

Our Response:
You should be given an immediate refund for this as it was the retailer's mistake.
OnlineShoppingRights - 1-Dec-16 @ 2:45 PM
Hi, I payed and placed an order on line for an electric fire on Black Friday 2016. I received an email confirming payment but no email with regards to delivery. After waiting several working days, I rang the company. I was advised they would get back to me. After waiting a day. I phoned again and was told they would enquire and get back to me. I later received an email explaining that the item had been wrongly priced due to human error. I was very understanding and appreciated the honesty. I rang them up to discuss the matter and explained that I understood and not to worry. I could not afford the payment update and the person said she would personally go to the warehouse, take some photos and send them to me of suitable alternatives. After waiting several hours, I received 4 photos with no information about the products. I rang once again to enquire about energy output ect, and decided to choose 1 of the fires. I asked before placing the order, could she send me confirmation of the fire details. Several hours later, I received an email advising me of the price-£250 more! So disappointing. I had explained that I could not afford much more than I had already spent and that I had already freecycled my current fire! Now, when I have once again rang, the person dealing with me is busy and will contact me later. What are my rights?
Jo - 1-Dec-16 @ 9:22 AM
Hi I ordered a nursery furniture set advertised at 188 I paid for it and awaited its arrival But never heard anything so emailed them they advised me I would receive this in two weeks I was contacted by the supplier telling me I could receive the cot and the rest next week but I asked for it altogether I have been told today that it was priced wrong and now I have to pay more to receive it what can I do!!
Mand - 28-Jul-16 @ 6:34 PM
Jaq - Your Question:
I have been sent an email from Victoria bathrooms with a SALE price for a bathroom set of £119.95 I have looked for this specific set and o. The picture the set is approx ?400 plus because this email has been sent directly to me can I insist on the set at the special SALE price I have contacted them and await a reply Thank You

Our Response:
You need to establish whether it's a mistake or whether it only applies for a limited time etc. If you feel this is misleading marketing, you might consider reporting them to the Advertising Standards Authority
OnlineShoppingRights - 25-May-16 @ 10:15 AM
I have been sent an email from Victoria bathrooms with a SALE price for a bathroom set of £119.95 I have looked for this specific set and o. The picture the set is approx ?400 plus because this email has been sent directly to me can I insist on the set at the special SALE price I have contacted them and await a reply Thank You
Jaq - 24-May-16 @ 9:28 AM
I have ordered 4 tyres online for a reduced price. I have received a confirmation email with the correct sum. The next day the supplier has sent me an email with tracking information and a confirmation again but the price went up nearly 3 times. The tyres came this morning but I have refused to take them so they went back with the courier.I have contacted the company selling them and they said there was an error on website and the prices where wrong. They have cancelled the order. Can I claim those tyres at the price I had the confirmation for?
Seb - 11-Apr-16 @ 11:22 AM
hutz - Your Question:
I ordered some stuff on a Black Friday Deal. I paid for it, received a confirmation email for both the order and the payment. I went back in to the company to check delivery address the next day and the order had disappeared. When I rang the company they had no order confirmation, I emailed them mine and the chap then found a print out of mine but no electronic copy.Now the person I spoke to said they order was removed due to a pricing error. I was not informed and they still have my payment. My big gripe is that under normal circumstances I would have questioned the price, however due to these items been advertised on a Black Friday Deal Page of their site I am furious.Will this come under a mistake in advertising or a misleading advert?

Our Response:
As this is a mistake, you should receive a refund. There is not much esle you can do unless you think the company was deliberately misleading people by promoting prices for non-existent items or incorrect prices in order to persuade people to buy at a different price.
OnlineShoppingRights - 1-Dec-15 @ 12:27 PM
I ordered some stuff on a Black Friday Deal...I paid for it, received a confirmation email for both the order and the payment.I went back in to the company to check delivery address the next day and the order had disappeared.When i rang the company they had no order confirmation, i emailed them mine and the chap then found a print out of mine but no electronic copy. Now the person i spoke to said they order was removed due to a pricing error.I was not informed and they still have my payment. My big gripe is that under normal circumstances i would have questioned the price, however due to these items been advertised on a Black Friday Deal Page of their site i am furious. Will this come under a mistake in advertising or a misleading advert?
hutz - 30-Nov-15 @ 10:35 AM
istar - Your Question:
Hello, I would be very grateful if you can give me an advice: I booked accommodation , paid both the deposit and the rest of the price and got the authomatised confirmation in between the payments. The company refuses to honor the price stating that it was a pricing error, and it really could be. They want ME to cancel my booking. I wrote them several times and they only say that I can accept the new price (many times higher) OR cancel on my side. Can they force me to cancel? Why don´t they just cancel it on their side, which allows them their TaC?

Our Response:
You should just cancel it from your side if that's what they require.
OnlineShoppingRights - 5-Nov-15 @ 1:54 PM
Hello, I would be very grateful if you can give me an advice: I booked accommodation , paid both the deposit and the rest of the price and got the authomatised confirmation in between the payments. The company refuses to honor the price stating that it was a pricing error, and it really could be. They want ME to cancel my booking. I wrote them several times and they only say that I can accept the new price (many times higher) OR cancel on my side. Can they force me to cancel? Why don´t they just cancel it on their side, which allows them their TaC?
istar - 5-Nov-15 @ 8:25 AM
Ryan - Your Question:
My partner purchased a car seat from mothercare online. Made payment, received confirmation email and a delivery date. The second following evening we received an email saying that they have cancelled the order due to an error in pricing online and we should see their t&c etc. checked them and they are contradicting. Where do we stand?

Our Response:
We don't have the Mothercare Terms and Conditions but in general the trader is under no obligation to sell you the product at the mistakenly publicised price in cases like this.
OnlineShoppingRights - 18-Aug-15 @ 1:55 PM
My partner purchased a car seat from mothercare online. Made payment, received confirmation email and a delivery date. The second following evening we received an email saying that they have cancelled the order due to an error in pricing online and we should see their t&c etc. checked them and they are contradicting. Where do we stand?
Ryan - 17-Aug-15 @ 10:08 PM
@richard. If the company has advertised a single traveller holiday atcertain price but then say the price is not accurate because of a single person supplement you would have a good cause to complain. Misleading information like this can be followed up and prevented by both Trading Standards and the Advertising Standards Authority.
OnlineShoppingRights - 2-Jun-15 @ 2:31 PM
I wanted to book a holiday online for one person for £2594. Got a message to ring office as no flights available.This message was for every date I tried.I rang and was told the holiday was over £3000.I was told this was due to the single supplement but the online price was given for a single traveller and was higher then if I entered two people.One week later I entered my details again and got the same result. Do the company have to honor the online price given that they have had a week to change the details online.
richard - 31-May-15 @ 11:32 AM
I the same as the post before bought the Samsung tab from very in the "black friday" sales. They have taken the money from by bank account but cancelled the order saying that they will only reinstate it if I pay an extra £150 otherwise I can opt for a refund which will take 10 working days. I know that if a genuine price mistake was made they are under no obligation to honour it but I truly believe it was either a ploy to generate buzz around their sale and get people to buy other goods or to entice people to open credit accounts to pay for it. I after numerous attempts managed to pay using a debit card instead of using the "open a credit account" option page it kept taking me to, only to find out today they still opened a credit account in my name!
chelle63p - 30-Nov-13 @ 10:35 PM
Hi I ordered a galaxy tab 3 from very in there black Friday lightning deal at £129 ,got an email confirming and then got an email with tracking number which I checked saying order accepted and was being delivered on the 5th of December .I then received a telephone call this morning saying the price was wrong and should have been £269 but they would take off £20 could you please tell me what my rights are.
tarab - 30-Nov-13 @ 12:14 PM
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