Phone fans thought they had the deal of a lifetime this weekend when Argos offered the Nokia Lumia 800 for a mere £120. It quickly turned out to be a mistake -- but what are your rights in such a situation?
Argos made the gaffe on Saturday, and the eye-popping £300 saving was spotted by bargain-hunters at hotukdeals. News of the deal spread like wildfire, with This Is Money reporting that 167,332 people checked out the Argos listing for the 800 over the weekend. How many of those actually placed an order is unclear -- but Argos has confirmed they won't be getting their cheap phone after all.
Like most things that look too good to be true, it wasn't. Argos apologised and is issuing refunds to those who laid down some cash.
The catalogue-based shop said, "Due to an error, the incorrect price for the Nokia Lumia 800 was published on argos.co.uk for a limited period on Saturday 21 January 2012. Argos has since removed the incorrect information from its website and sincerely apologises for this genuine mistake.
"Argos is in the process of contacting all affected customers and a full refund will be paid."
But hang on: everybody knows that when a cheap price is listed in a shop or online, the shop is legally bound to sell you the item at that price, right? Wrong -- that's an urban myth, sadly.
Consumer blog Bitterwallet tackles this very subject, explaining why retailers don't have to honour misprices. Legally speaking, offering an item at a certain price is an "invitation to treat", and not an "offer to sell".
Even when the retailer takes your money it hasn't formed a contract with you -- that only happens when the item is dispatched to you. So at any point up until the item is actually sent, the retailer can cancel the transaction and refund your money.
Sometimes a retailer will honour the accidental price for the PR value, but it's under no legal obligation to do so.
The Lumia 800 usually costs upwards of £400.
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