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Argos £3 TV fiasco provokes test-case lawsuit

Vultures circle hapless retailer (lawyers, not The Register)

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A ground breaking case in Internet law is on the cards today, as an unhappy customer is to sue retail giant Argos over the erroneous £3 TV offer on its web site. The legal position of either party in the case is not entirely clear, as there are no precedents relating to sales online. The disgruntled customer who is bringing the case happens to be an employee of London based law firm Taylor Joynson Garrett. In a statement, the firm said: "Yesterday, Argos offered a Sony television for sale over its Web site for £3. One of the people who ordered a TV was a Taylor Joynson Garrett employee. Having placed the order using the on-line form over the Web site, the employee received an on-line confirmation of that order. We believe that our employee has a reasonable case that there is an enforceable contract between her and Argos for the sale of a Sony Nicam TV as described in the Web site for the price of £3." Regulators and enforcers The Advertising Standards Authority says it is watching the case with great interest. A spokesman for the organisation said: "This case is interesting because it will help determine where an advertisment ends and where a virtual shop front begins. It will define our area of jurisdiction more clearly." The key element in the case is whether or not Argos had a contract for sale with its customers. Ken Searle, the chief trading standards officer for the Milton Keynes area, said: "If we assume that it works in the same way as a high street transaction, then Argos is within its rights not to fulfill the orders. An offer to purchase must be accepted by the seller before there is a contract for sale. I would imagine that the same principle applies to the Internet. However, if any party received confirmation of the order, then that might constitute a contract, and Argos would be obliged to fulfill it." Rotten luck for Argos then, that it was a lawyer who did receive an email confirmation for his or her order. Terry Duddy, Argos' chief executive said his company did have some great offers, a TV for £3 was clearly not one of them. The company says it has apologised for the error to each customer, and explained that the orders cannot be accepted. A spokesman said: "We are advised by our lawyers that this is in accordance with our legal obligations and that it is normal practice where an error of this kind has been made." ® Related stories So who's going to make a £3 TV options market? Argos ups price of Sony TV to £3,299.99 Argos welshes on three quid TV Net 'offer' Tune into Cash Register and turn on to our daily Net Finance News

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