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  • FIRST POST
    • Former MSE Wendy
    • By Former MSE Wendy 1st Jul 08, 1:50 PM
    • 868Posts
    • 1,782Thanks
    Former MSE Wendy
    MONEY MORAL DILEMMA: Should Alan give the laptop back?
    • #1
    • 1st Jul 08, 1:50 PM
    MONEY MORAL DILEMMA: Should Alan give the laptop back? 1st Jul 08 at 1:50 PM
    Thanks to MoneySaver Ben Clay for this idea and here's this week's hypothetical situation for you to cogitate on:

    Should Alan give the laptop back?


    Alan went into a shop to buy a laptop, and instead of it ringing up at £399 it was just £3.99. He spotted this at the check-out and was aware of the error but keep schtum. After he'd paid, the manager came up and admited, that the laptop was legally his, but it was an obvious error by a trainee cashier on his first day.

    Click reply to have your say.

    Previous MMDs:
    Should you foot the bill?
    Would you ask for new shoes?

    Thanks to MoneySaver Ben Clay who came up with this in the nerdy note discussion from last week.

    This Forum Tip was included in MoneySavingExpert's weekly email

    Don't miss out on new deals, loopholes, and vouchers

    Last edited by MSE Martin; 01-07-2008 at 9:41 PM.
Page 13
    • A.Jones
    • By A.Jones 3rd Jul 08, 3:04 PM
    • 506 Posts
    • 441 Thanks
    A.Jones
    There are many threads like this on MSE:

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?p=11880345#post11880345

    informing people of mis-prices scanning at the tills.

    Tesco Internet Phone FF128.. 1pence.. I thought I was on to a winner here with an out of date sel of 17/06/08.. priced @ £29.xx - £19.xx.. but when I scanned it.. it came up at 1p .. I naturally took all 6 & bought them.. Girl on the till (No self scan) was gobsmacked, so I just gave her a story of stuff I've had for 1p & its Tescos way of getting rid of stuff... I then found another 1 mixed in with new stock in another store & bought that aswell.. This is old stock so make sure you pick up the FF128 with £5.00 free call time included.. Barcode... 5051140246693..

    This is clearly the same - a much cheaper price than advertised coming up when scanned, and paying that price, deceiving the cashier - so that is theft. That means that, not only is this website advertising ways of stealing by deception, it is allowing posts informing you which goods you can do this on and where. So is Martin Lewis also breaking the law by publishing information that makes him an accomplice to theft?
    • robpw2
    • By robpw2 3rd Jul 08, 3:55 PM
    • 12,646 Posts
    • 26,389 Thanks
    robpw2
    It is not theft if the till scans it at that price and the store agree to sell it at that price then that is the price you pay . You are entering into a contract at the till. If it was reduced at the till to 349.00 then not one person would suggest its theft you just happened to get a bargain . its only beacue the suggestion that it was 3.99 that people are bringing in theft and fraud.
    the manager aggreed that the gentleman was entitled to the product at the price he paid so there is another reason its not theft . The gentleman was not intending to deprive anyone if this laptop as he was intending to purchase anyway wether he paid 1p for it or 1000 for it was still a purchase.

    MArtin lewis is not breaking the law he is not telling anyone to decieve the cashier he is simpl advertising whre bargain can be found and when things are availible.


    Slimming world start 28/01/2012 starting weight 21st 2.5lb current weight 17st 9-total loss 3st 7.5lb
    Slimmer of the month February , March ,April
  • boxoffireworks
    It is not theft if the till scans it at that price and the store agree to sell it at that price then that is the price you pay . You are entering into a contract at the till. If it was reduced at the till to 349.00 then not one person would suggest its theft you just happened to get a bargain . its only beacue the suggestion that it was 3.99 that people are bringing in theft and fraud.
    Originally posted by robpw2
    I don't think you've read the previous posts - it's nothing to do with the contract at the tills. s1 Theft Act 1968.
    • A.Jones
    • By A.Jones 3rd Jul 08, 4:05 PM
    • 506 Posts
    • 441 Thanks
    A.Jones
    I don't think you've read the previous posts - it's nothing to do with the contract at the tills. s1 Theft Act 1968.
    Originally posted by boxoffireworks
    So if it is nothing to do with the price that is scanned and accepted at the tills, a number of the threads on this site are not only (possibly) morally wrong but are telling people how to break the law, and where and on what products. I have shown one such article above.

    So is Martin Lewis breaking the law by allowing lists of mispriced items that can be had for tiny fractions of the advertised price to be published on his website, thus aiding people to break the law?
    Last edited by A.Jones; 03-07-2008 at 4:08 PM.
  • boxoffireworks
    I give up.
    • robpw2
    • By robpw2 3rd Jul 08, 4:20 PM
    • 12,646 Posts
    • 26,389 Thanks
    robpw2
    boxoffireworks when you go to the till you enter a contract with the store. whatever price the store wishes to sell you a profuct at is up to the store and if you agree to the price thats up to you.

    If you went into tesco and they were selling a laptop for 340.00 etc and you then went to argos and exactly the same laptop was 34.99 would that be stealing as you know the laptop is worth 10 times as much no , would you be defrauding the store no


    Slimming world start 28/01/2012 starting weight 21st 2.5lb current weight 17st 9-total loss 3st 7.5lb
    Slimmer of the month February , March ,April
  • steam dan
    Taking advantage of other people's mistakes.
    This post is basically about taking advantage of someone's mistake. How is this different to searching ebay with misspelt brand names in the hope of stumbling on a Sonny television instead of a Sony, and snapping it up a very, very low price? This is something that Martin Lewis has actively encouraged. Those arguing on moral grounds that he should return the laptop would presumably email the ebay seller and tell them about their mistake rather than snap up a bargain.
    • robpw2
    • By robpw2 3rd Jul 08, 4:32 PM
    • 12,646 Posts
    • 26,389 Thanks
    robpw2
    i agree with dan
    everyone claims to have morals etc but if it happened to them how many people would honestly speak out .

    I did when hotel chocolat gave me 20.oo change for a 20 note when i had bought 5.oo worth chocolate i went and told them but i think if it had been me with laptop i may not have been so honest


    Slimming world start 28/01/2012 starting weight 21st 2.5lb current weight 17st 9-total loss 3st 7.5lb
    Slimmer of the month February , March ,April
    • A.Jones
    • By A.Jones 3rd Jul 08, 4:33 PM
    • 506 Posts
    • 441 Thanks
    A.Jones
    Could the lawyer tell us what happens online.

    If you look at Currys website T&C, they have:
    IMPORTANT: We try very hard to ensure that all information on this site is accurate. However, just occasionally, an error can occur. If we discover an error in the price or description of a product you have ordered, we may cancel your order at any time up to the point we send you the product(s) (even if you have received your order confirmation email). We will contact you where we become aware of an error and ask whether you wish to continue with your order at the correct price or cancel it. If we do cancel your order, you will receive a full refund of any charges paid in advance.

    The bold is mine, not Currys.

    And on John Lewis:
    Order acceptance and the completion of the contract between you and us will take place on the despatch to you of the Products ordered unless we have notified you that we do not accept your order


    So for both these, the contract is completed at the time of dispatch - similar to the handing over of the goods in store. So if these online stores notice a pricing mistake after they have completed the contract and dispatched the goods, is it still theft if I knew they were mispriced? If I refuse to pay the difference, am I breaking the law if I refuse to return the goods or allow them access to collect the goods?

    PS. I have also asked MSE Martin and/or Wendy to comment on the legal aspects here - it is clearly necessary as a number of people, including me, think it is not illegal to accept a low price scanned at the till in store and would not return the goods once the payment has been made. If this is a legal matter, and not just a moral matter as in the first post, then this should be made clearer. In fact, the first post seems to indicate that the law is on the side of the buyer of the laptop.
    Last edited by A.Jones; 03-07-2008 at 4:36 PM.
  • moleonthemove
    It is possible that the difference in two scenarios being debated, is one of deliberate deception, i.e switching price labels, etc. or merely remaining silent when a staff member makes a mistake. There is no requirement in law to speak out, if a mistake is made and a transaction completed, the loser is the one making the error. In the case of wrongly programmed tills, the fault is with the store, not the obligation on a customer to offer a sum greater than that being asked.
    I have been fortunate on a couple of occasions to purchase items that had been displayed at a price that seemed a bargain. I had no problem with making the purchase. I was not to know this had been a mistake, as far as I was concerned I had a bargain.
    • A.Jones
    • By A.Jones 3rd Jul 08, 6:12 PM
    • 506 Posts
    • 441 Thanks
    A.Jones
    It is possible that the difference in two scenarios being debated, is one of deliberate deception, i.e switching price labels, etc. or merely remaining silent when a staff member makes a mistake. There is no requirement in law to speak out, if a mistake is made and a transaction completed, the loser is the one making the error.
    Originally posted by moleonthemove
    I think it is fairly clear that here the buyer has not tampered with the item in any way to change it's price - it has come up as 3.99 at the till. It is not clear whether this is because of a database error (in which case both the trainee and the programmer has made a mistake) or the trainee read the price label incorrectly and charged just 3.99 instead of 399.
  • sluggy1967
    When can theft ever be morally right?
    Originally posted by boxoffireworks
    Again, I ask the question, because some here have suggested this DOES happen; can employers legally deduct mistakes from their employees wages?
  • therichnessinside
    It'd be immoral to keep it, stealing really - But I'd be ever so tempted seeing as it's (surprisingly) legal... I hope I'd give it back, and hope I'd have the sense to ask for a nice freebie of some sort. But maybe I'd be over-tempted. I hope not as it would be thieving really wouldn't it. And I'd be very concerned about the poor trainee who made the boob. He's just a little person like me. Think I wouldn't sleep that night, or more than 1 night...
  • foo361
    The new cashier made an honest mistake. The purchaser went into the shop prepared to pay the asking price. I would pay the full price but suggest that maybe a free laptop bag or software package might in order as a gesture of good will.
    • scotbruce
    • By scotbruce 3rd Jul 08, 10:43 PM
    • 27 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    scotbruce
    Again, I ask the question, because some here have suggested this DOES happen; can employers legally deduct mistakes from their employees wages?
    Originally posted by sluggy1967
    Basically no, unless it's in your contract.

    Even if it is is in your contract, if you're a retail worker, he can only deduct a maximum of 10% of any one wage slip at a time to make up a shortfall of a cash or stock shortage.

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Employees/Pay/DG_10027228

    "What can be deducted from your pay?

    Your employer is not allowed to make a deduction from your pay unless:
    • your contract says they can - and your employer has given you a written copy of the part of the contract which says so, or a written explanation of it, before making the deduction
    • it is required or authorised by law, such as income tax, national insurance or student loan repayments
    • you have agreed in writing to a deduction before the conduct takes place for which your employer proposes to make a deduction


    If you were overpaid on a previous occasion then these rules do not apply. Your employer will often be allowed to recover the overpayment. You should speak to a lawyer, an Acas advisor (Labour Relations Agency in Northern Ireland) or a Citizens Advice Bureau advisor for more information about how and when you might be able to prevent your employer from taking back an overpayment.
    Other situations where the rules don't apply include if you took part in industrial action or if a deduction is made under a court order. Whatever the situation, your employer must still comply with the terms of your contract.
    If you haven't been paid at all, this counts as a deduction from your pay of all the pay due to you.
    The right to protection from unauthorised deductions from pay covers anyone who is classed as a worker. 'Worker' has a specific legal meaning - check if you are unsure of you employment status.

    Retail work

    If you do retail work (for example, if you work in a shop) you have extra protection. Your employer is not allowed to take more than 10 per cent of your gross wages from your take-home pay on any individual payday to make up the shortfall from a cash or stock shortage. If this isn't enough your employer can continue to take money from your wages on subsequent paydays, but not more than 10 per cent on a single payday. If you leave the job, your employer can take the full amount owed.
    You can complain to an Employment Tribunal if your employer does not follow these rules."
    • inkypinky999
    • By inkypinky999 3rd Jul 08, 10:52 PM
    • 162 Posts
    • 85 Thanks
    inkypinky999
    Well 399 is Retail price the producer would have got it at far cheaper rate so it is not much of a loss for the store.

    Secondaly if the store expects to earn profits from there customers at 30-40% margins, then they should also be able to absord these losses, which have happened because of their own mistake.

    Morally, the person should return the laptop but he should be offered the same at 0% profit by the manager.

    In Reality : Guess what, this will not happen.
    • hundredk
    • By hundredk 3rd Jul 08, 11:21 PM
    • 1,062 Posts
    • 976 Thanks
    hundredk
    I'd keep it - they are not so quick to approach you when technical support is needed.

    I once bought several pack of expensive wall tiles from a large chain store expecting to pay 220 and the packs scanned at 1p each - total 11p. The supervisor came and said it was a pricing error but they could not override what the till charged and therefore OK to pay 11p. I said I'd have some more and was told the rest would be withdrawn from sale until the price was changed.
    • xadoc
    • By xadoc 4th Jul 08, 12:32 AM
    • 142 Posts
    • 158 Thanks
    xadoc
    Wow, how worrying that people employed in the field cannot agree on what appears to be such a simple legal question.

    ... Most undergraduate criminal law exam papers have a question along these lines...
    Originally posted by Attlee
    But this does not make it a simple legal question!

    Quite the contrary - if it were simple you could hardly be expected to write a 3 hour paper on it! Exams are about showing process and reasoning, and are not necessarily about getting a 'correct' answer (though where there is one it usually helps). Sometimes there is no correct answer.

    I am not discussing the 'morality' here, as that is a fluid concept and is why there can be discussion on the topic. Clearly, as different people here are asserting that their morals are the 'right' ones (well, they would, wouldn't they!).

    If everyone thought the same way what a boring place the world would be!

    But morality aside (and the fact that the manager already thinks the laptop legally belongs to Alan), we do have on our hands an interesting discussion about legality...

    I may be wrong, but the people saying this is theft are not arguing that it is not a legally binding contract... they just say it is also theft...

    The British Legal System is highly developed. Maybe I'm naïve and ill-informed - but I do not believe that the contract could be legally binding in Civil Law AND a Criminal Offence at the same time!

    So perhaps it is relevant to look at whether the contract is valid.

    I'm not going to go into the contract, it's already been said more than once; Sale of Goods Act etc.I believe that legally, in Contract Law terms the the shop agreed to the purchase at the price the till rang up and consented to Alan taking the goods, issued a receipt etc.

    So, if it is a legally binding contract, that is proof enough that a Criminal Offence has not been committed! Theft cannot take place where the owner has consented to the transaction, and for the contract to be valid it must have taken place with consent of both parties.

    QED.

    For those of you quoting s1 of the Theft Act, perhaps you should read further... there is a very good reason why Acts go on past the first sentence, and why the Act in subsequent sections goes on to define the pertinent words of that first section.

    And for those of you saying your view of the law is enshrined in Case Law, perhaps you should consider citing the actual case law than just saying it exists... apologies, but proof and quotes from judgements are so much more compelling than your say so (and get you more points in that exam we mentioned earlier...)
    Last edited by xadoc; 04-07-2008 at 12:37 AM. Reason: typo correction
  • Sally87
    I don't really understand the need for the big argument over whther it's legal or not - the whole point is it's a moral dillema, and something isn't neccessarily moral just because it's legal.

    I'd definitely give it back if I hadn't realised up to that point - it's not like I'm losing out on anything, I'd be getting a laptop for 399, which is what I'd gone in there for.

    It doesn't matter whether it's a big store or little, whether the service is good, etc. - this isn't about their morals, it's about mine and mine don't change depending on who I'm dealing with!

    A good way to decide whether something is right or not is to think what the world would be like if everyone behaved the same way. Frankly, if everyone was a self-serving and unforgiving as some people on this thread, it would be a horrible place to live.
  • AngryTank
    When i had my first real job in Mark's and Spencer's I was working on the menswear department. I started working there about 6 weeks before Christmas. Over the next few weeks I sold dozen's of mens suits carefully scanning the jacket and putting it into a suit bag with the trousers that came with it, that is until one day a woman buying a suit for her son pointed something out to me. The trousers and jacket are paid for as seperate items, so all the customers i'd served up until that point had been getting FREE trousers with thier jackets. I tell you this story so that you can see it's perfectly believable for a newbie sales assistant to make a grave error.

    Now then would I pay up for that laptop? No. If the item has been sold and the manager says it's legally mine i'd keep it. The store will have no problem writing off the loss off 400 (even a small one would cope with this one off).
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