Online TV deal too good to be true


READERS’ FORUM:Have your say

A reader was on the Arnotts website recently pricing televisions when he found a 42” model for €1,498. According to the site it had a discount of €1,400. “A TV for €98? Where could I go wrong? So I put in my Laser card details, expecting to be told the order could not be processed due to a pricing error but no, it went through. I got a confirmation e-mail a few minutes later with an order number,” he writes.

He “kept checking the tracking of the order on their web page and it said the order was processed and waiting for a delivery date. Later that evening I got an e-mail saying they had made an error in pricing and my order was cancelled.”

The incident has left him curious. “Since Arnotts never took any money from my account but did issue the order number, do they have to honour the order or are they completely within their rights to cancel it? I’ve mentioned this to a couple of my friends and no-one has any idea where they stand if they see something for one price and then are told the price is a mistake.”

The answer is short and simple. Arnotts was not under any obligation to process the order because money had not changed hands – in a virtual sense – so there was no contract in place. Stores, both online and off, do not have to honour a price displayed because in law, it is an invitation to treat rather than a price fixed in stone. If a price is wrong, consumers cannot expect to profit from the genuine mistakes of a retailer.

Costly communication breakdown from the AA

David Greene recently decided to cancel his AA membership as it was costing “a rather expensive €27.16 monthly”. He has been with the AA for about four years and has paid monthly by direct debit. ”Imagine my dismay when I rang up to cancel and was told that the contract runs until the end of March 2011”. He says he was told that when the AA sends out annual renewals “the small print states that you are entering into a 12-month contract unless you cancel within a couple of weeks. To say I was incredulous would be an understatement. Even a mobile phone contract enters a monthly rolling contract after the initial 12 or 18 months is up.” He also enquired about dropping his monthly contract to the basic service for the remainder of his term. “However, I was told that as the direct debit had already been set up they were unable to reduce the monthly payment. This titbit of information was rather interesting considering they can easily add extra services onto your account without any problems.” We contacted the AA to see what it had to say. A spokesman said that it had always charged an annual fee but did allow people to spread it over 12 months if they pay by direct debit. Members are actually given 90 days from the start of their new contract to cancel it after which they would be locked in for the remainder of the 12-month period.

More praise for Amazon

Last week we featured a good news item on online retailer after it replaced a reader’s broken Kindle e-reader quickly and without a quibble. Within minutes of the item appearing in print and online we were bombarded with a chorus of “Shut up! That’s awesome” (the catchphrase of the Irish winter) from readers who wanted us to highlight their stories of Amazon’s awesomeness.

First up was Cillian Daly. He only had his Kindle for three weeks when it suffered an unfortunate fall at the hands of his mammy. A third of the screen was damaged and it was effectively unreadable. “The next day I rang Amazon, had a pleasant conversation with tech support and within three days, I had a brand new e-reader. They even processed the refund on the shipping for the return of the broken Kindle while the unit was in transit back to them.” He was doubly pleased because he was terrified it would take weeks if not months to get a replacement due to the popularity of the device and he was set to go on holidays two weeks after the incident so all the books he’d bought for the trip would have been wasted. “However, I got an e-mail the following morning telling me my replacement had shipped. I can’t recall this kind of service from an Irish company.” Then there was Gary Hoban who had an experience with his Kindle which was “almost identical”. He points out that “in one of the e-mails passing between us, the company described itself as ‘striving to become the world’s most customer-centric company’. It’s getting there,” he writes. “Irish companies, please copy.”