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Seeking advice re: negative UK retailer experience.


Motty
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G'day All, 

 

I couldn't really see anywhere else more suited to this, so I hope it's ok here. 

 

I'm in Australia and looking for advice or thoughts about an issue I am currently having with an online UK retailer.

 

A week and a half ago I found that a UK Retailer was advertising a specific (rare) kit that I wanted. I sent an email asking if they were definitely in stock and how many. The reply was, Yes, in stock and a few left.

That weekend I placed an order for three (two for me, one for a mate). The order went through fine, money was charged. All good.

A day or so later I get a notification that my order has been cancelled, saying, Sorry, but somehow our system was faulty and we don't actually have any left. Money refunded.

I asked how this had happened seeing as I specifically checked before ordering. But, basically, they said our stock system didn't register them properly and we're fixing it. They also said they expected a restock in the future.

But things started to look a bit Suss. While looking into it further, I also found that they have an ebay shop where the same kit was still listed as "1 left". I tried ordering from the site again and the system would now only let me put 1 into the basket. But, when I went to see if I could still get that 1, the postage rate had changed. When I ordered 3 previously, the postage was 30 Pounds. (total), but when I went back to see if I could even order 1 (after they had "fixed their system"), the postage was now nearly 80 pounds for 1! They didn't answer my email asking If it was still possible to buy 1 and why the postage rate had changed.

Then, this weekend just gone, I see that their ebay shop shows "6 available"! The thing is, this was a one-off release, earlier this year Only available by pre-order from the manufacturer (retailers included) and never reissued. So they couldn't have had a restock.

And, when I went back to the shop, I could now put 3 in the cart again, but, again, the postage was now 110 pounds!

So I believe the issue is really that their system screwed up and might have charged me the wrong postage but, rather than admit that, they lied about not having any stock.

 

Their latest email, which arrived as I was typing this, still insists that they're having issues with their system and that they don't have any stock. But the ebay page still showing "6 available" (which would be an issue with ebay if they don't actually have what they're advertising) and the sudden change in postage rates makes me *highly* suspicious of this. They're also insisting that new stock is on the way next month.

I believe they should have supplied the kits as, any error in their system was not my fault, and they've since lied about it.

I've got screen shots of my order refund which shows the original postage and another of three in the cart afterwards showing the higher rate. I've also got a shot of their ebay page saying "6 available" as well as the emails saying it's about stock, not postage.

 

What are your thoughts on their behaviour? Am I entitled to demand the goods be supplied at the original rates? Do I have a case to make a formal complaint against them in the UK?

 

Thanks for any advice you may have.

 

Cheers,

Motty.

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33 minutes ago, Motty said:

Am I entitled to demand the goods be supplied at the original rates? Do I have a case to make a formal complaint against them in the UK?

 

 

I'm afraid you're not entitled to anything. Retailers in the UK are not obliged to sell at the stickered/advertised price. If you've received a full refund that's the end of the matter. If you feel you've been a victim of discrimination, that might be grounds for a complaint, but I think that would have to be on the basis of something defined in the Equality Act (race, religion, gender, etc.)

 

Jon

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7 hours ago, Jon Bryon said:

Retailers in the UK are not obliged to sell at the stickered/advertised price.

Nor anywhere else, I believe.  The advertised price is never treated as a commitment - in legal terms it's an "invitation to treat".  The price is fixed only when you and the seller agree it, which happens at the moment the sale is completed.

 

If you got all your money back - assuming you handed any over - you've lost nothing and your best bet is just to avoid this retailer in future.  The way you describe their postage rates and stock levels fluctuating suggests it might be worth having a word with eBay, or even with the relevant trading standards office in the UK.  But they could have a reasonable explanation - if someone told me their IT system was screwing everything up I'd always be prepared believe them - and it might not go anywhere.

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I believe there are laws against displaying an incorrect price in a shop. You have to honour the displayed price.  I've no idea whether they apply to online sales.

 

Even if the law is on your side, what do you think are the chances of mounting a successful challenge for a small amount from the far side of the world?  As my father would have said: "Life is too short for such things."

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I think the "deciding-issue" here is that the discrepancy is with the shipping-charge and not the price of the item. If this company had advertised the kit at, say, £30.00 and afterwards told you that it should been £70.00, then that would be illegal under UK law, as it's "false advertising". 

 

To be honest, I have no idea if there are any applicable laws relating to international-shipping charges (I suspect there may not be). The originally quoted shipping-charge of £30.00 is just not realistic, to be frank. No kit could be sent from the UK to Australia for such a low charge, particularly considering how shipping-charges have mushroomed enormously in the last three years. Someone posted me a small (A5) set of decals, from Canada to the UK, recently. That cost about Canadian $8.00 and it was flat and weighed almost nothing.   

 

I'm sorry that you missed out on a kit you were very keen to buy. The saving-grace is that the company issued you with a full refund, as I'm sure you realize.  Hopefully, the kit-makers will decide to produce a second run of the model. It sounds like the kit proved extremely popular and this might influence their decision to produce some more. 

 

I agree that it's very possible they have been lying to you. If that's the case, they deserve to go out of business. Complete transparency and honesty between the customer and supplier are essential.   

 

All the best. 

 

Chris. 

Edited by spruecutter96
Amending some information.
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Yes, I tend to agree with the above just from the pragmatic perspective, if you've managed to get your money back, I'd leave it there and call it a mess well avoided! Whatever the reason be it honest mistake, technical faults or something more nefarious, it sounds like the retailer has given you ample evidence of unreliability, and trying to do further business with them seems doomed to failure or at least very risky. As people have said, I don't think there's much hope of anything involving 'demand' or 'formal complaint' both because of the relatively trivial nature of the transaction, and the added international complexity. Overall it seems a lot of potential hassle for just a model kit; and I suspect that there is a distance between what is 'technically right' and what is 'sensible'.

 

On a side note, I know I've had, and I'm sure many of us have had instances of finding rare kits available from overseas retailers, only to find that they were only available in so far as 'sure! we could get it from our suppliers but oh wait no sorry'. It would not surprise me if this was the case here, given what you've said about the nature of the kit release. 

 

Apologies if this is unhelpful, best of luck with it!

Andy

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G'day All,

 

Thanks for your comments and suggestions.

 

To possibly clarify a couple of points.

 

The price of the kit itself has not been the issue. That has remained consistent.

 

Yes, money was actually debited from my account but, yes, there was also a full refund. No issues there.

 

I understand that I'm probably giving it more concern than it's really worth. I just find it offensive that they're (I believe) lying to me about why they won't fulfil my original order.

 

It's not as though it was an absolute bargain either, as the landed-price was right in the ballpark of what I would expect to have to pay for that kit.

Also, if taken at their word that they genuinely have no stock, even now, as I type this, they still have the same kit advertised on ebay as "6 available" a week and a half after telling me they had none. 

 

They're a fairly well-known name too from what I see, Not some dodgy fly-by-night operation.

 

Anyway, again, thanks for your all feedback. All valid points.

 

Cheers,

Motty.

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, spruecutter96 said:

The originally quoted shipping-charge of £30.00 is just not realistic, to be frank. No kit could be sent from the UK to Australia for such a low charge, particularly considering how shipping-charges have mushroomed enormously in the last three years. Someone posted me a small (A5) set of decals, from Canada to the UK, recently. That cost about Canadian $8.00 and it was flat and weighed almost nothing.   

I beg to differ. While not Australia, in my experience, extensive. ;) :D post to New Zealand is usually very close to if not the same as post to Australia & I have had any number of orders from the UK to here for considerably less that £30.00. Kingkits will send a kit or 2 for their standard shipping price of £9.50 or little more. The Big H's last parcel to me, 2 kits & about 5 sheets of decals was £19.10. MJW sent two kits just the other week for £22.00 tracked. Post via ebay global shipping is just bloody fatuous & I've won't use it, I'd rather got without.

Steve.

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10 hours ago, 3DStewart said:

I believe there are laws against displaying an incorrect price in a shop. You have to honour the displayed price. 

 

I'm 99.9% sure this is an urban myth, as per Pigsty's comment above. I also don't believe it would be covered by 'false advertising' as it doesn't allow for a technical, innocent or malicious mistake. Do you have a link to any legislation?

 

Thanks

 

Jon

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2 hours ago, Black Knight said:

If a shop offers to sell you something and agrees to sell it then they must sell at their displayed price, but they are not obliged to sell the item at all.

 

 

Can you provide some legal legislation to back this up? The CA guidance would indicate it's not correct: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/somethings-gone-wrong-with-a-purchase/if-something-is-advertised-at-the-wrong-price/#:~:text=If you take an item,one on the price tag. I think Tesco dealt with it as they did as a matter of customer service, not legal responsibility. 

 

It turns out that @Motty may have grounds for a legal complaint since he purchased online and funds had already changed hands. This may constitute a contract as per the CA advice above, but they state individual advice would need to be sought. 

 

Jon

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2 hours ago, Jon Bryon said:

I'm 99.9% sure this is an urban myth, as per Pigsty's comment above. I also don't believe it would be covered by 'false advertising' as it doesn't allow for a technical, innocent or malicious mistake. Do you have a link to any legislation?

 

The Price Marking Order 1999 requires accurate price labels for retail sales, which must include VAT.  Whether this applies on-line I don't know, and it doesn't apply to advertisements.  General guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/product-labelling-the-law

Failure to comply can result in prosecution by Trading Standards. I don't know whether the customer has any remedy against the retailer, other than the threat of reporting them to Trading Standards if they don't honour the displayed price.

I've certainly had retailers reduce checkout prices to what's labelled on the shelves when challenged. In one case by £50!

 

 

 

Edited by 3DStewart
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16 hours ago, 3DStewart said:

I believe there are laws against displaying an incorrect price in a shop. You have to honour the displayed price. 

 

Being required to display the correct price and being obliged to honour that price are two completely separate things. E.g. "Despite it being a criminal offence, if an item has been marked incorrectly with the wrong price, e.g. the shelf label says £1.50 but the item scans at £1.80, you cannot demand that the retailer sells you the item at the lower price. If a business regularly prices items incorrectly, this may be something Trading Standards Service will want to investigate." https://advice.consumercouncil.org.uk/directory/prices

 

"If the seller prices a product with the wrong price in error, you can't insist on buying it for the displayed price unless the transaction has already been completed. The seller must nevertheless take immediate steps to correct the mistake." https://www.mylawyer.co.uk/advertisement-of-price-a-A76076D34191/

 

1 hour ago, 3DStewart said:

 

The Price Marking Order 1999 requires accurate price labels for retail sales, which must include VAT.  Whether this applies on-line I don't know, and it doesn't apply to advertisements.  General guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/product-labelling-the-law

Failure to comply can result in prosecution by Trading Standards. I don't know whether the customer has any remedy against the retailer, other than the threat of reporting them to Trading Standards if they don't honour the displayed price.

I've certainly had retailers reduce checkout prices to what's labelled on the shelves when challenged. In one case by £50!

 

It's clear the consumer doesn't have a right to demand the product be sold at the label price, but can complain to Trading Standards. I work in law enforcement and would be gobsmacked if Trading Standards did anything unless the mispricing was systemic (i.e. shown to be a practice rather than a mistake), such as this example: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/news/article/562/trading_standards_warn_traders_over_dual-pricing_practices

 

I too complain when checkout prices are greater than the labelled price and I expect the store to honour the label, but I don't have a right to that. I expect them to do it as a matter of customer service.

 

Jon

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17 hours ago, 3DStewart said:

I believe there are laws against displaying an incorrect price in a shop. You have to honour the displayed price.  I've no idea whether they apply to online sales.

I appreciate Motty's concern relates to the postage costs, but in terms of contract law, Pigsty is correct - displaying a price on an item in a shop is classed legally as 'an invitation to treat' (negotiate).

 

You can offer a lower price but the seller has no obligation to accept it. Beware however, English case-law also shows that as soon as you make a counter-offer (ie suggest a lower price), the the buyer is no longer obliged to sell it to you at the original sticker price. (a counter-offer negates the previous offer).

 

Example:

Buyer - ' I see you have that kit for sale at £40. I'll offer you £30'

Seller - 'I'm not prepared to sell it to you at that price'

Buyer - 'OK, I'll buy it at £40'

Seller - 'I'm sorry but the kit is no longer available at £40, how about £45?'

 

offer and counter-offer

 

John

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On 10/31/2022 at 7:59 PM, pigsty said:

Nor anywhere else, I believe. 

As an addition to the above post by John:

jurisdictions that do NOT work largely by case law such as those on the mainland (because of those pesky Romans) definitely have other rules. 

Dutch civil law (which handles sale agreements* ) does have strong customer protection in this matter - only when you as a consumer can reasonably suspect that a price is incorrect does the obligation to proceed with the sale become shaky.

For example: electronic devices worth 999 monetary units that are priced 10 or 20% lower than normal can be presumed reasonable and the retailer will have to deliver on that sale. 
That same device priced at 99 mu would be an obvious error and not subject to the terms of sale

 

*interesting bit: sale agreements consist of two parts, the financial  transaction, and the transfer of ownership (leveringsovereenkomst). 

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In Australia we have Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and there is several ways that the price is addressed.  it is illegal to sell at a higher than marked/displayed price (the offence is based on the sale). IfI buy a product with multiple prices and am charged the higher price,  have a receipt, then the offence has occurred, then action can be taken.  However the seller can withdraw the item from sale prior to the sale taking place and correct the error (which is reasonable). Unless they have a stated policy (eg many supermarkets sell at first item free then all others at the lower price). In Mottys case, it still is covered by ACL and could fall under ‘take payment and non supply’. Even  though a refund was processed, it wasn’t at his request. And in Australia, ACL covers all sales internationally (except for a couple of exclusions) but can’t be enforced outside Australia. But sounds good when politicians/executive management in Govt agencies want to impress people.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I worked at a well known high street booksellers some time ago. We would honour incorrect pricing for the goodwill, unless it was something ridiculously wrong, or we suspected that a customer (not necessarily the one trying to make the purchase) had swapped price tags, which happens a lot. In that case we would say "I am withdrawing this item from sale" and that was the end of that. There was never a legal obligation to sell at the labelled price.

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I could take a guess at who this retailer was but won't. if it is the one I'm thinking off at least twice I've seen great offers for kits on eBay where they cancelled the sale after I made the purchase with the excuse that it was a mistake in their systems and they didn't have the kit. Also had problems at their online store with it recognising the free postage threshold which I am a sucker for, ended up not buying anything, their loss.

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