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When a Price is Reduced After Your Deposit is Paid

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 6 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
When A Price Is Reduced After Your Deposit Is Paid

Retailers are desperate to get our custom at the moment and most of the time this works in the consumer's favour, as sales are springing up all over the place and prices seem to be dropping. Instant credit and good deals are the order of the day, and for a small deposit you can secure anything from a new sofa to a complete kitchen or bathroom.

Unfortunately, it can also work against you. If you are one of the unlucky people who agrees to buy an expensive item at a non-sale price, puts down the deposit but then realises that the item has been reduced in the sale, it can leave you spitting feathers. But is there anything you can do legally?

Contract Law

The straightforward answer to the question is that contract law says "No." When you buy goods, under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act there are four principles you need to be aware of. The first principle is called the 'Invitation to Treat'.

Invitation to Treat

An Invitation to Treat is, simply put, the advertised price of the goods, whether on a sticker, in a newspaper or poster or online. It's not part of the contract - which confuses some people who believe that an advertised price is legally binding. Although it may be described as a 'Special Offer' a sale price is not an offer at all, under contract law.

The Offer and Consideration

The next principle is the offer. Let's say you spot a sofa you really like at £1000. You decide to buy it - and then make the seller an 'offer' of that price. The seller accepts this offer (acceptance.) Then, you hand over a deposit of £100 and the seller agrees to supply you with the sofa on an agreed date. This is 'consideration' from both of you, where goods or services change hands for money or 'other consideration.' You now have a completed contract - you have agreed to purchase the sofa and they have agreed to supply it...at the price agreed at the time.

If the Price Goes Down

If you pass the shop a week later, and spot the very same sofa in a sale with 50 per cent off, legally you don't have any right to demand the sofa for less. After all, you agreed to buy it for £1000. You can ask the manager if, given that the sofa hasn't been delivered to you yet and all you've paid is the deposit, he will consider giving you your sofa at the same price it is now being advertised for.

If he is a very nice manager, he or she might say that under the circumstances the shop will knock 50 per cent off of the price for you. The important thing is that they are not obliged to. So be nice! If they stand their ground, you might think you have the upper hand by saying that you'll cancel the contract and look elsewhere. Unfortunately, you don't have the right to do that, and if you force the issue it could put you in breach of contract. At best the retailer can keep your deposit to cover 'out of pocket expenses' and at worst they could attempt to force the performance of the contract - that is make you accept the sofa. In the case of an item that's ready made, it's less likely to happen - but if you are having an item made to your specification, they may well try to either force you to accept the goods or sue you for breach of contract if you refuse.

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[Add a Comment]
We bought a table from M&S- it was advertised as 30% off. Now, before it has been delivered it is being advertised at 40% off which is £40 less than we paid If I cancel my order M&S say they will charge £50 Is there anything we can do?
Jellybean21 - 6-Oct-17 @ 9:14 PM
On 30th December 2016 we ordered a suite with m and s and paid just over £3100 it had 20% off at the time which is m and s normal discount.We have not received the suite it is due for delivery on 23rd March ( payment has been taken from our credit card).Is there anything we can do, we havesaved so long and now it's almost £800 cheaper, us there anything we can do.
Jennywren - 22-Jan-17 @ 10:02 PM
Hi, went to purchase a new car. Paid a deposit and when I got home checked the figures. I had signed a contract with them in the excitement of a new car but there was no manager signature at the bottom. They had over charged me about £3000. I went back the next day and questioned the cost. They then checked the calculations and reduced the price by £4000 (1k less than I think I should be paying) I asked if this was correct and they double checked and said it was correct. I signed the contract and it had a managers signature on it. 2 hours later Iget a call asking me to return as they had realised their mistake. Should I play the extra 1k.l?Car to be picked up in 6 weeks.
Np - 15-Jan-17 @ 11:22 PM
Kelbels - Your Question:
We are purchasing a pram and was told that prices were increasing in the new year but if we bought now we would get it at the lower price. So on checking with 2 staff members in store and a conversation on the phone we returned and agreed to purchase the pram for £699. We paid a 50% deposit of the order total and received a receipt and completed order form with all the details and outstanding amount. Today we received a phone call from the manager saying that the price has gone up and they can no longer supply at that price and we need to pay and additional £150. Does this put them in breach of contract?

Our Response:
Yes they are in breach of contract. If you've have the paperwork with the outstanding amount and you've already paid the deposit then the retailers must stand by this. If they refuse, take it trading standards or citizens' advice.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 16-Nov-16 @ 11:28 AM
We are purchasing a pram and was told that prices were increasing in the new year but if we bought now we would get it at the lower price. So on checking with 2 staff members in store and a conversation on the phone we returned and agreed to purchase the pram for £699. We paid a 50% deposit of the order total and received a receipt and completed order form with all the details and outstanding amount. Today we received a phone call from the manager saying that the price has gone up and they can no longer supply at that price and we need to pay and additional £150. Does this put them in breach of contract?
Kelbels - 15-Nov-16 @ 3:38 PM
Jenny- Your Question:
Hi I recently rang up to view a puppy for sale at £1200 went and viewed the puppy and they asked for a £200 deposit which we paid, nothing more was said on the price and we arranged to pick up puppy when she was ready to leave the mother. Between us ringing to view and us paying the deposit the advert had changed to £1400. Where do I stand? Surely if they didn't inform us the advert had changed and the price had increased we should get the puppy for the advertised price we rang up about? Thanks

Our Response:
Surely when you paid the deposit you were given (or asked about)the amount due? Just because the advert has changed doesn't mean your price to the owner has changed. Have you spoken to them? Do you have a copy of the orignal advert?
ConsumerRightsExpert - 6-Oct-16 @ 12:03 PM
Hi I recently rang up to view a puppy for sale at £1200 went and viewed the puppy and they asked for a £200 deposit which we paid, nothing more was said on the price and we arranged to pick up puppy when she was ready to leave the mother. Between us ringing to view and us paying the deposit the advert had changed to £1400. Where do I stand? Surely if they didn't inform us the advert had changed and the price had increased we should get the puppy for the advertised price we rang up about? Thanks
Jenny - 4-Oct-16 @ 9:25 PM
Carbuyer - Your Question:
A VW dealership advertised a Golf for sale. I test drove it and agreed to pay the price. They took a deposit from me and emailed a confirmation of the price. They are now saying it was a mistake and are advertising the car for £3000 more. What are my rights, please?

Our Response:
If they've already taken a deposit from you then you can claim for breach of contract.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 18-Jul-16 @ 10:52 AM
A VW dealership advertised a Golf for sale. I test drove it and agreed to pay the price. They took a deposit from me and emailed a confirmation of the price. They are now saying it was a mistake and are advertising the car for £3000 more. What are my rights, please?
Carbuyer - 16-Jul-16 @ 8:38 AM
Payed £229 for a week with hoseasons went on the site couple of hours later 3pm and the price has been dropped by £64. Should they be able to change the price two hours later in the same day? Where do i stand in getting the difference back?
dazza - 1-Jul-16 @ 5:49 PM
Hi I booked and paid for a lodge to celebrate my sisters birthday in November fot a weekend in January. The cost was £1989 on another holiday site (Hoseasons) it has been reduced by £690 for the same lodge on the same weekend. If I cancel my booking I will not get my money back do I have any rights/come back.
Joni - 7-Jan-16 @ 11:15 AM
I purchased a TV from Currys 2 and a half weeks ago and notice that the same item has had a reduction in price. Where do I stand when going back to ask for the money back? Also, if they refuse, could I not purchase the new TV at the lower price and then request a refund with the old receipt? Thanks
Gillygilly - 18-Dec-15 @ 11:13 PM
@nettles - do you have the receipt?
ConsumerRightsExpert - 31-Mar-15 @ 2:51 PM
I had a soupmaker bought for me for £79.90 for a present which I am going to Exchange. However I have noticed it has been reduced by £20.00. What will I be able to Exchamge for something else .will it be the original price of £79.99 or the reduced price. It was purchased 2 weeks ago
Nettles - 28-Mar-15 @ 3:53 PM
@Ricky Herts. In accepting your deposit, the company has in effect accepted your 'offer' so a contract is in place. They have broken the contract by increasing the price but they've offered you your deposit back. In this case it's probably not worth the effort of arguing. You could ask them for a discount against an alternative purchase as a good will gesture? Or try insisting that they sell you the watch at the agreed price. Take legal advice before deciding to do the latter.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 3-Feb-15 @ 11:05 AM
Two months ago I placed a deposit with an online retailer for a luxury watch. They told me it would take 4-6 weeks. This time has now passed. They have now told me that the manufacturer has increased the price and they don't know much how much by so they are cancelling my order and returning my deposit. What are my rights? I placed a deposit for an item at an agreed price. Are they not legally obliged to provide me with that item at the price agreed?
RickyHerts - 30-Jan-15 @ 12:01 PM
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