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Over the weekend I read a blog about a couple, Terry and Kevin Egerer, who wanted to purchase GPS units for their cars and were aware of approximately what one costs. The average GPS unit can run anywhere from around $100 to $600 and the Egerers were looking for a system in the $200 range.

Checking prices online, they ended up at the OfficeMax.com and to their delight (I'm sure) they found a TomTom 910 advertised for $59. At such a great price they decided to not only buy the units for their cars, but also buy them for Christmas gifts and so they ordered six.

They placed their order on Monday, payed with PayPal and by Friday the order was marked as "shipped". But, by the following Wednesday, the bombshell dropped. The Egerers received an email from OfficeMax stating that the units were priced incorrectly and the order would be canceled.

The price for the TomTom 910 (item number 21092577) runs around $390 to $699 on the price-comparison Web site Pricegrabber.com.

The couple did not want the sale canceled and contacted OfficeMax, but the company stood by the cancelation email.

There were some interesting legalities noted by blogger John Schneider at LansingStateJournal.com where the original story was posted, which included the "terms of use" policy posted on OfficeMax's Web site, which reads:

"Upon OfficeMax's acceptance of a customer's order, a firm contract for the purchase and sale of the supplies will be formed between OfficeMax and the customer ...

"These terms and conditions shall not be altered or amended ... unless otherwise agreed to in a written agreement signed by both parties."

In this case, OfficeMax accepted the Egerer's order and held up the couple's money for 10 days before informing them of the mistake.

What do you think? Do you think OfficeMax should honor the sale agreement with the Egerers and ship the GPS units?

Poll: Should E-Tailers Be Required to Honor Its Advertised Prices?
1) Yes
2) No
3) Sometimes - It depends on how long the company holds your money before discovering the mistake.

Photo: Courtesy of Pricegrabber.com

April 2, 2007 at 7:45 pm

Because they bought 10, the couple probably knew it was an error. So OfficeMax should have allowed them to get 1 at the posted price, but not the other 9.

April 2, 2007 at 7:56 pm
(2) Donna Montaldo says:

I believe they bought six. Two, which they intended on buying and four for present.

April 2, 2007 at 9:15 pm
(3) Paula says:

The fact is the price was legitimately posted as $59. Whether or not they knew or suspected it may have been wrong does not have bearing. The company posted it, they legally should be held to that amount. Once they found the error, they should have corrected it and all subsequent orders would be accepted at the correct price. It was obviously an error, but it is Office Max’s error and consumers should not be held accountable for that error. I do not search out obvious pricing errors, however if I am told that the posted price is wrong as I am purchasing, I will argue. They have always honored it.

April 3, 2007 at 1:29 am
(4) Dave says:

When the order was accepted and consummated, the process was over and legally binding. Officeless is obviously not only incompetent, but an unscrupulous retailer. I hope these folks sue officeless.

April 3, 2007 at 7:09 am
(5) Robin says:

I have gotten on various websites with unbelievable deals like under $10 one way air fare but these are legit. So, it is hard to know just by price alone. Since they listed it as “shipped” but did not ship it, there should be some sort of penalty for it. Someone has to take responsibility for proofreading the websites.

April 5, 2007 at 7:08 pm
(6) BargainHunter says:

First of all, don’t most companies have fine print somewhere (as they do in their fliers and catalogues) that says “not responsible” for typographical errors” or words to that effect? This is hardly an unheard of problem.
Having said that, I think OfficeMax should compromise and sell them 3, out of the 6 they ordered, at the $59 price and chalk the loss up to good will.
The more publicity this gets, the worse OfficeMax looks — as it should.

April 16, 2007 at 5:38 pm
(7) Freddie Lomax says:

This goes way past Typographical error. The mis-posted price is a typo, the processing and finalizing of the order is another. This left the ‘Advertising’ of the website and went into the ‘Shopping Cart’ application. It processed the order, and was sent to the distribtion center for fulfillment. This price was in at least 2 to 4 different places for this to happen. I say they need to honor all sales, including mine, I ordered 3.

February 7, 2008 at 12:42 pm
(8) John says:

If I buy an item at Shaw’s Supermarket and it rings up incorrectly they give the item for free. It’s illegal to post one price and charge another. OfficeMax should honor the price as it wasn’t only wrong on the website but in their database as well.

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