Tower Hobbies $600 Goof

A friend was surfing Tower a last week and saw the O.S. .91 four stroke, fuel injected, listed for $1.69! He knew it had to be a
mistake (a $600 plus engine), but he tried clicking on it anyway. It went into his cart at the same price, so he checked out with it...and his credit card was charged just the $1.69 plus shipping. He tracked the package all week, then saw it had reached his local post office today, but Tower reached out and had the Post Office return the package before it was delivered to his door. He spoke to a sales rep because the tracking info showed that it had been returned to sender due "undeliverable address". They told him that a mistake had been made on their Website. Well, he figured it was worth a try. Neither of us knew that a package could be recalled like that. Too bad he did not live closer to the originating shipping point. I imagine a few of them must have been delivered.
Do you think he has grounds for breach of contract? : ) What happens to those who got delivery already? Do they get to keep it, or get sent to a collection agency? Anyone know of someone who got to keep one? Quite a story!
Tom
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There was this old guy in Scotland. He was walking past a liquor shop and he spotted a bottle of whisky for one penny (sort of like a cent). He went into the shop and asked for the bottle for one penny. The owner said no, he had made a mistake with the sign, and it should have been one pound. So the guy called the local policeman and the cop told the shop owner he had to sell the whisky for one penny. The shop owner was really annoyed but did what the cop told him to do.
The guy and the cop went round the corner and proceeded to drink the whisky. The cop said, " I liked the look on his face when I told him to sell you the whisky for one penny". The guy said, "just wait till I take the empty back and ask for the deposit on the bottle".

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In most states, if you advertize something at a certain price, you have to sell it to anyone who asks until a correction is posted. The laws also take into account obvious errors such as this. Anyone who bought them would likely have to either return them or fork over the cash.
-- Paul McIntosh http://www.rc-bearings.com

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While my knowledge of the law is limited, I would have thought that once the parcel was in the hands of the postal service, only the the person to whom it was addressed could claim it - barring events such as being undeliverable.
I would have thought you would have a claim against the postal service if they returned it without attempting to deliver it.
An urban legend perhaps?
David
Paul McIntosh wrote:

-- If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat?
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That's what I'm thinking.
It seems more likely to me that they would just 'ding' his credit card for the extra funds.

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take
I remember a while back Kodak offered a digi camera for 0.01. They did honour the 300 or so that were sold before the error was changed but I remember a discussion on this after HP made the same error and didn't honour the orders. The company was not obliged to sell at that price because no contract had been entered into.
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to
honour
The "something for nothing" crowd are always looking for a personal gain at someone else's expense.
I'm not referring to any of the posters or Tower Hobbies. Just stating a fact.
Ed Cregger
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Ed, You hit it on the head. I also just love those folks that do not understand civil contract law and criminal law. Contracts are civil matters and all the court would do is put each party back to their standing before the Contract. Customer gets his money and store keeps item. Since this already has happen - Tower has item and customer has credit card charge credited back eveyone is back to their original point. Unless we are talking about a life giving drug the court is not going to give zip about the mental pain the customer has from not getting something for next to nothing by a store's honest mistake. As for criminal or regulatory fine, Tower made a blunder on their web page with no intent to defraud. Companies print retractions all the time for errors in magazine and newspaper ads. The law does not shaft companies for honest mistakes.
Sorry, but the car dealer does not have to sell you a new car for $400 dollars because the typo in the newspaper missed the two zero's behind it to make it $40,000.
Sorry, but your wife does not get to keep the mink coat that was given to her by mistake by the lay-away clerk when she went to pick up ski jacket she had on lay-away.
Sorry, but the bank does not have to deduct the two house payments you still owe that the computer error droped off on the last statement and the bank corrected on the next one.
Sorry, but that $100,000 that was in error reported in your bank account is not yours and yes you will have to pay back any of it you spent.
I doubt if any of the "Something for Nothing" crowd would hand over their property worth a few hundred or thousands of dollars for a few bucks if the newspaper screwed up their for sale ad. If they say they would they are saints, idiots, or fibbing. I have yet to meet a saint in that crowd.
Yes, sometimes companies eat those kind of errors for PR reason's but that does not mean that they are obligated to do so.
Bob Ruth

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On 25 Jun 2004 01:15:07 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (BobAndVickey) wrote:

And the sign on the rear of a gravel truck: "Stay back 200 feet. I do not pay for windshields." You can't read that sign from 200 feet.

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as much as i know, if u see something with a certain price tag, u have right to buy it for that price, no matter what anyone says. i bought an usb lan card for $3, real price was $30, got it...payed it... not my fault. that's what they advertised, that's what i bought. it doesn't matter what real price is, u r buying it for the price listed! period!
--
Druel

WiFiHr.org
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Well son then you don't know much on this topic. By the way that bargain key board you have there is missing a few letter and the shift does not work. Thanks for the input and I suggest you read more on this topic and get a new keyboard.
Bob Ruth
PS. feel free to post a witty response, I ill et u hab te lst wrd. :-)

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I recall a local news story about someone attempting to purchase a car with nothing but discount coupons. The would be buyer claimed the ad didn't limit the number of coupons per transaction. When it went to litigation, the judge threw the case out.
Alan Harriman

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One wonders - if they overcharged would they still want to have it back?
8^)
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From the Tower Hobby website:
"All prices, pictures and descriptions on this site and all other Tower Hobbies publications are subject to change. Tower Hobbies maintains no responsibility for inadvertent errors. In the event of typographical errors on our site or in our publications, Tower Hobbies reserves the right to cancel or refuse orders at its sole discretion. Please contact us within 30 days regarding price or promotion discrepancies"
Sorry!

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| From the Tower Hobby website: | | "All prices, pictures and descriptions on this site and all other Tower | Hobbies publications are subject to change. Tower Hobbies maintains no | responsibility for inadvertent errors. In the event of typographical errors | on our site or in our publications, Tower Hobbies reserves the right to | cancel or refuse orders at its sole discretion. Please contact us within 30 | days regarding price or promotion discrepancies" | | Sorry!
And the local grocery story has a sign up in the parking lot that reads
NOT LIABLE FOR DAMAGE DONE TO CARS BY GROCERY CARTS
or something like that. But just because there's a sign that says it, that doesn't make it true. (But if the sign makes a few people `eat it' rather than trying to collect from the store, then it's made money for the store -- even if it's not true.)
Similarly, just because they put up something on their web site, it doesn't make it true.
As for them reaching out and having the post office return the package, I've never heard of that happening before -- I'm amazed that they could do that. I guess next time you should do next day air :)
Generally, the law is that a vendor has to honor their advertised prices -- but the law usually also allows for errors. Once you've clicked on `buy' and your credit card has been changed, you've got a legal contract of some sort going on there, but if Tower then cancelled the order, well, you've got three options -- 1) try and convince them to reinstate it `to make the customer happy', 2) sue them, or 3) chalk it up to experience. To succeed at #2 (if it actually goes to court) you'll need to convince the judge that it was false advertising rather than just a mistake. If the $600 engine was $459 and all over their flyer, maybe. But at $1.69, good luck! And of course, it'll cost more to sue over it than it's worth.
Ultimately, posession is 9/10ths of the law or so. If they do sell you the engine for $1.69 and you get it, then they may ask for it back once they catch their mistake. They could sue you if you refused, and they might even win, but it would cost more than $600 to do so and so they'll probably just eat it.
In any event, it was obviously a mistake on Tower's part and not something dishonest, so the honest thing to do would be to call them and let them know. They'd probably give you a gift certificate or something for your trouble.
--
Doug McLaren, snipped-for-privacy@frenzy.com
Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever.
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Your post documents the incompetence at Tower Hobbies, and the dishonesty of your "friend".
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A few years back a internet company offered a computer monitor for a really low price on their website and hundreds of people ordered the monitor. They only shipped out a few before they caught their mistake but would not honor any of the ones that had ordered the units but did not ship. They even charged a number of credit cards and then refunded the money. They were sued for breach of contract and lost. They ended up paying a huge amount of money to those that ordered the units. Even though Tower says that they can rufuse to sell you something but when they sell it to you and it leaves their warehouse then it should be yours even at a such a low price. Here is a good link about such incidents and what happend. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/02/24/MN142313.DTL If I was your friend I would be contacting both Tower and the Post office because of this incident. John

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"> If I was your friend I would be contacting both Tower and the Post office

I doubt my friend wants to push it that far. He was seeing how far it would go(and perhaps a "something for nothing" type), I don't know. If it was me I would not have tried in the first place. It was obviously a big mistake on Tower's part. I was more intrigued by his story as it relates to the fine point of the legal question (remembering contracts in a business law class I took over 35 years ago), and the return of the item at the post office. A lot of legal water under the bridge, and the privatization of the PO since then.
Thanks for all the replies,
Tom
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Did you read the article you posted a link to?
"Some e-tailers feel obliged to deliver on their blunders; others cancel delivery. With no clear legal precedent yet, the Better Business Bureau Online will institute new standards next month that will, in many cases, require participating online merchants who make Web errors to honor even absurdly low posted prices. "
There is no statement that any of the example companies have lost a lawsuit in court. The BBB Online is not a law making nor regulatory agency of any goverment. It is a voluntary business organization. Therefore the only thing that will happen is that any business that does not agree with their guidlines will not be able to show the BBBO stamp of approval, whopee do! I doubt that will slow down people ordering from Tower if they don't have the BBBO seal of approval.
All the article says is that because of the internet speed, ad errors create hundred's to thousands of people trying to take advantage of them instead of a few. That the example large companies decided to honor stupid mistakes for PR reasons does not indicate that they could not win in court against the weasles.
The only court case attempted listed was in regard to bait and switch which has always been an actionable activity. There was no listing of cases where a company lost where the company has an honest error in pricing. I doubt if they would have won in court. "Bait and switch requires proving that a company knowingly offers a product which they have a very limited supply or no supply of at a given low price in an attempt to draw in customers and then selling them same product or another product at a higher price. You have to prove it was done on purpose and not an error in an ad. Settling out of court does not prove guilt. The company lawyers and accountants may have concluded it was cheaper to pay-off a bunch of weasles then to defend the case in court. Happens all the time. Do we waste millions to defend a case we can win or do we pay off a few hundred thousand dollars to a bunch of weasles? depending on the number of weasles and the PR somtimes the answere is yes or no. So round up enough fellow weasles to jump on an honest mistake and file a class action, you might get an out of court settlement. Or you could spend a lot of money in lawyers and get nothing if the company decides to stand their ground.
"Until the FTC or the courts set clear guidelines for liability, most Web pricing disputes will be decided based not on legalities but on public relations."
This key quote above sums it up. Tower has decided that the minor negative PR is worth not giving away their products on an ad error. I say good for them. Let the weasles win and nobody will be willing to have online stores if a simple honest error will cost them thousands of dollars. I don't think the legal system is going to let the weasles win simply because the net causes them to jump on honest errors by the thousands instead of half a dozen a newspaper ad error generates.
Bob Ruth

/24/MN142313.DTL
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| "Some e-tailers feel obliged to deliver on their blunders; others | cancel delivery. With no clear legal precedent yet, the Better | Business Bureau Online will institute new standards next month that | will, in many cases, require participating online merchants who make | Web errors to honor even absurdly low posted prices. "
Note that the Better Business Bureau has no `teeth'. They cannot force anybody to do anything.
Some companies will go to great lengths to make sure the BBB is happy with them, but if they don't want to, the BBB can't do anything to do them other than list bad things about them -- but very few people check with the BBB first.
And if the BBB does things that are very unpopular with merchants, they'll just stop being BBB members and that'll be the end of the BBB because the merchants will stop sending them money.
The BBB works for the merchants, not for the customers.
And to make a quick comment to another post in this same thread, but from a different user --
| It seems more likely to me that they would just 'ding' his credit card | for the extra funds.
They can't do that. The transaction is over when your credit card has been charged and you have an engine in your hands.
--
Doug McLaren, snipped-for-privacy@frenzy.com
When I die, I want to donate my body to science fiction.
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