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Are companies obliged to pay the price advertised ?



3:03 am on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I recieved a promotion email from a travel company, when I went to their site, saw the price, thought that's a good deal and sent them my form request to book dates for the price as advertised..

The reply I got was that it was a mistake, it is not that price but this price, a good bit of a difference..

I just thought it was a little outrageous, they now have my contact details, they managed to obtain the lead from their promotion, only to turn round and say that is not the price..

I'm sure I've read in the past about internet companies being forced in to paying the price they advertised, do you think there is a way I can ask the same of this company ?

It seems to me, they made an offer, I accepted that offer and that's the basis of a contract, although I know, no money was passed..

What's to stop a comapny doing just that, building up their database, just to say sorry, we made a mistake but if you really want it, it will cost you this price instead..

What annoyed me is that I told my partner that I was arranging a holiday and now that just looks stupid..

Does anyone here have any information on whether they have a legal obligation to accept the price that was offered on their site, or any suggestions on how best for me to take it forward, or are companies simply allowed to do that ?

Edit: I'm in the UK, UK company

[edited by: Lobo at 3:57 am (utc) on Mar. 24, 2009]


8:28 am on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Generally, no contract exists until money changes hands, and even then, if the price is such that you might reasonably believe that a mistake has been made, the "contract" is likely to be void (e.g. if you buy a plasma TV for 50).

Contact trading standards or consumer-direct.




8:39 am on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Worse than that I tried looking at flights on a well known UK booking engine, and after selecting the flight at a good price, and then proceeding to the start of the 'buy it' screens, the price suddenly more than doubled. I won't bother using that system again.


8:59 am on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

when you contacted the company to purchase, that was you making the offer, it is then up to them to accept the offer, no contract existed.

You may however have some recourse if they are still advertising the same deal...were they claiming that it was a mistake on the website or that you/the dates you were choosing/ something else made you ineligible?


1:34 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Unless it was deliberate - ie bait and switch - then no they don't have to honour it. Think about it from the other side - mistakes do happen and if there was a legal obligation a simple 1 character error could put a company out of business (there are whole forums full of people who jump on these sort of errors).

See a recent ecommerce thread [webmasterworld.com] to get an idea how the other half lives ;)


2:03 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

i used to work for a travel company myself before i got made redundant (the one with the big red smile), and we were hardly ever bound by the price as advertised.
we could roll it back if an obvious mistake was made, and maybe pay them a bit of compensation (but most people didn't even get that -- they had to kick up a fuss before we'd offer it).

the most outrageous thing was that we were allowed to up the price after they'd bought it -- even if it was a few weeks or months later. there was some small print in the terms which said if an airline ups their fuel surcharge, for example, then we could pass the cost on. the customer's only comeback was to cancel for a full refund.

but about your issue -- and in the companies defence -- most holiday flights are booked on a live system direct with the airline, and if they don't update the price and availability themselves at their end, then the holiday company don't generally find out until they try and purchase it. so you might be having a go at them when it's not really their fault.


2:33 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That is disappointing ... :( it was a good price and obviously they did make a mistake, I was just hoping that as it was not my mistake I could at least have some leverage to say come on, that was the price I accepted..

Not the holiday for me this year then...

I'll maybe try again, taking a different approach, perhaps they would at least give me a better offer ?


8:13 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

i doubt they'd want to lose your booking, with the way it is at the moment. they might knock a little bit off if you keep on

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