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Invoices and consumer rights
October 21, 2009 3:43 PM   Subscribe

IANALFilter: What legal rights does having an invoice grant a buyer?

If a buyer has a invoice that has all the things an invoice should have - order number, items, quantities, prices, payment method, etc - is the seller obliged to honour the invoice at that price? Or can the seller 'retract' the sale?
posted by Neale to Shopping (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I am a lawyer, however I am not your lawyer.

The answer here is unfortunately, it depends. We would need to know what more the buyer has done to evidence its acceptance of the deal between the buyer and seller. Has the buyer actually made payment? Has the buyer reasonably relied on seller's promises (if any) to its detriment?

This wikipedia article should help you understand the situation.
posted by dbolll at 4:02 PM on October 21, 2009


This may depend on the law where you are, and (if different) where the seller is. If you are still in Australia, then my long-ago U.S. commercial law memories may be of even less import.

IIRC, between businesses, an invoice may be relied upon as a binding contract if it has at least item, quantity and price information. However, between a business and a consumer, it may not so function.

If you're trying to get stuff cheap because a business screwed up and sent you an invoice with an incorrect price, you may be disappointed. OTOH, if you can establish that you offered to pay $X and the business confirmed the deal with the invoice, or that you asked to purchase Widgets and the business offered to sell them to you for $X each, then you may be able to force them to do so. Keep in mind that forcing someone to honor a contract is often expensive and time-consuming, perhaps to a greater degree than warranted by the terms of the contract.

IANYL, TINLA.
posted by spacewrench at 4:04 PM on October 21, 2009


We would need to know what more the buyer has done to evidence its acceptance of the deal between the buyer and seller. Has the buyer actually made payment? Has the buyer reasonably relied on seller's promises (if any) to its detriment?

The buyer made a payment. The payment was later returned to the buyer.

The buyer has seen a price increase in the items since the retraction of the sale.
posted by Neale at 4:18 PM on October 21, 2009


Oh god, nightmares of 2nd year contracts coming back here.

Spacewrench pretty much has it - it depends and it's probably not cost-effective. Goods, services and real estate are all treated differently and are often treated differently depending on the economic relationship between the parties (consumer-business; business-business; etc..), so it depends (i.e., buyers can often demand "specific performance" of real estate purchase contracts, but generally not in the case of goods - unless.....). Many more details and specifics needed. IANYL; TINLA.

(Now I remember why my contracts flow chart covered two sheets - and both sides at that).
posted by webhund at 4:31 PM on October 21, 2009


I am also a lawyer. I am also not your lawyer. You seem to be in Australia. I am not an Australian lawyer. Onward!

In the US, it doesn't take much to form a contract for goods -- and contra Spacewrench above the consumer/merchant thing doesn't really come into play here.

Yours sounds like a fairly complicated situation, what with payments being returned (why?) and prices going up and buyers showing up again at your door. Not a situation many lawyers would care to comment on on the basis of an askme post. As general matters (of US law) one party does not get to cancel a contract unilaterally. So no, a seller cannot simply "retract" a contract once made. On the other hand, if the contract was called off by both parties, a buyer can't resurrect it by showing up with the invoice.

It irritates me when lawyers waffle in public like this, but your situation (at least given your minimalist description of it) seems to merit the standard: it depends.
posted by lex mercatoria at 7:06 PM on October 21, 2009


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