$69 iPad too good to be true

$69 iPad too good to be true

The Sears website offered the tech bargain of the decade: a 16GB iPad 2 for just $69. And wouldn’t you know, it turned out to be an error.

The listing on the site was actually placed by a third-party retailer using the Sears Marketplace service which, as with Amazon’s service of the same name, involves Sears processing the payment and order, in return for a cut of the purchase price.

While the iPad in question was only the Wi-Fi model, the price was still too good to be true. Sears explained:

Unfortunately, today one of the Marketplace third party sellers told us that they mistakenly posted incorrect pricing on two Apple iPad models on the Marketplace portion of the website. If you purchased either of these products recently, your order has been cancelled and your account will be credited. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Naturally it’s led to a lot of press comment, consumer reaction, and the views of amateur lawyers. My favorite so far is a CNN report which had a quote from a disappointed would-be customer who wanted to buy the iPad for a son who has Asperger’s syndrome and wanted the device for his homework. I’m not entirely sure of the relevance of that: surely you could have written the same story with a quote from a disappointed would-be customer who planned to use the device to watch (non-Flash based) content of a questionable nature?

From a legal perspective, what matters is the precise stage at which Sears cancelled the order. Contrary to many of the responses on Sears’ Facebook page, a company is under no obligation to honor advertised prices. (It may be in trouble under local laws for false advertising, but that doesn’t govern the contractual relationship with customers.)

This is because an advertisement with a price is not technically an offer to sell, but rather what’s known as an “invitation to contract” in the US and an “invitation to treat” in many other countries. This means it’s the customer who makes the first formal step in the contract agreement by offering to buy, with the retailer than completing the deal by accepting that offer. (The advertised price is merely an indication of the price the customer should offer.)

With online ordering, the point at which the retailer is considered to have formally accepted the offer depends on its terms and conditions. The usual set-up, as appears to be the case here, is that the retailer retains the right to cancel the deal over a pricing error until the transaction is complete: that is, not only has the money been collected, but the goods delivered.

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10 Responses to $69 iPad too good to be true

  1. As a huge fan of GEEKSARESEXY.NET – I do not like this quote one bit. I have a son with Autism and from research I am discovering that the IPAD's can be a valuable tool. Especially for school work, in reading this, the author does not have much knowledge of the Autism Spectrum and should be more aware of what they are saying. IMHO

    They wrote – "My favorite so far is a CNN report which had a quote from a disappointed would-be customer who wanted to buy the iPad for a son who has Asperger’s syndrome and wanted the device for his homework. I’m not entirely sure of the relevance of that: surely you could have written the same story with a quote from a disappointed would-be customer who planned to use the device to watch (non-Flash based) content of a questionable nature?"

    • No one is downplaying this unfortunate condition or that such technology would could be of benefit. I took it as the media looking to sensationalize the story by tugging at your heart by mentioning this boy with Asperger's. What does Autism or Asperger's have to do with the story? They can still buy their son an iPad, just not at the extremely low price that was an error.

  2. To clarify, I wasn't commenting on whether or not the iPad is useful for a person with Asperger's syndrome – as you mention, I'm sure it would be.

    My point was that this isn't relevant to either the moral or legal question of whether Sears should "honor" the pricing error, and that it comes across as if CNN have deliberately picked this customer to quote to try to make Sears look bad.

    • I am not bashing here and I can see both sides, but when it came to quoting someone, I think a little more tack could have been used, yes I know this is how the news works but even then…sensitivity and tack goes along way. That being said, it doesnt matter if someone has Asperger's Syndrome or Prader Willie Syndrome, when it comes to someone or someone's loved one that has been dx with any form or MHMR or Mental Disability, CNN should NEVER have used it within their article. That is just poor judgement on their part for I am sure that they could of found another way to report on the advertising error without using someone's words when referring to their loved one.
      Remember I am not judging nor bashing here…just saying that poor judgement was used is all.

  3. I just find it ironic that my sidebar and bottom ads both are for sites advertising iPads at $13.79 and $23.74.

  4. As an adult with Asperger I understood perfectly what the OP was getting at. And it was nothing more than trying to play the "guilt" card for their news story.
    I'm more PO'd at CNN for having to add that to the story.

  5. In Norway the price of the advertizements has to be honoured no matter what …the other month we managed to get 2 massive turkeys for the equivalent of US$ 4.60 because of an error.

  6. It could be free and I still wouldn't buy it. I refuse to support that company with a single dime of my money while they actively sue the crap out of companies instead of oh I don't know….oh yah that's right innovate. I mean patent on the term App Store….really? Go after Google's OEM's instead of them….really? Apple can get bent.

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