Merchant VAT Error

I received the email below after I had paid for and arranged shipping of a case from a well known and widely respected supplier:

"After a recent internal audit, we have realised that your invoice no. xxx, was incorrect.

The case of xxx Magnums, indicated that the price for the Case was xxx, which was correct.

However, it was coded as a VAT inclusive price. It should have been a VAT Exclusive price. It does mean that attached is an additional invoice, I’m afraid, to correct the price paid for the case. Our apologies once again."


I understand it may be a genuine error on their behalf and I can walk away from the purchase and ask for a refund, but I also paid for it in good faith at the price displayed.

Would welcome any thoughts and wonder if anything similar has happened to one of you. Thanks in advance
 
It sounds like a genuine error. My personal point of view would be that where the goods haven't already been sent (ie it's not completely retrospective) it's just not right to expect the merchant to swallow the loss. We all make mistakes. I am sure some will disagree!
 
Certainly an arrogant tone to it, para 2 says the price was correct and then they mealy mouthed refer to a coding error……

It’s a simple one to answer,

Would you have bought the wine at 20% more

How much business have you done with them and do you wish to deal with them again

tbh Unless it was a company I’d done a lot of business with and wanted to in the future, in which case I’d expect a bit more humility and apology in the email (or better still a personal call), I’d ask for a refund and “name and shame”.

Plus if I ever ordered from them again I’d alwaysbe wondering if they were going to pop another 20% on later.

I’d get my refund walk away and never deal with them again.
 
Location
London
If the price advertised was silent as to the VAT then I think you might be able to enforce it without paying the VAT, as the law deems VAT to be included unless stated to the contrary.
 
I'd check on wine-searcher to see who else carries it and what the prices are first. If I could get it cheaper elsewhere I'd ask for the refund and order it that way.
 
Would you have bought the wine at 20% more?
I think that is the only question here, and since you can walk away and ask for a refund if you wouldn't have, and assuming that they will pay collection costs, then if you wouldn't have then just send it back, it seeming fortunate that you haven't drunk it already. You probably could make a case that you are exempt from the charge but I wouldn't bother. It is far from the worst transaction error of which I have heard.
The most annoying error I recall was from quite a large investment oriented merchant from whom I had ordered 6 magnums of Girardin Clos De La Roche 1998. Bottles rather than magnums arrived and when I contacted them they were sorry but the magnums were actually bottles and seemed rather miffed when I asked for them to be collected.
 

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
If payment has been accepted then I think you're legally entitled to delivery of goods. Then there's everything else said above!

Personally I think any merchant with a bit of class would eat the loss and pay more attention in future.

I am not sure this is correct. I remember there was a test case for a company (cannot remember details) who had inadvertantly listed a television set at £1.99 instead of £199.00 year ago. Dozens of people placed orders for it, but newspaper reports did say that the company had no obligation to fulfill the orders, and they didn't.

I'm certainly not an expert in consumer law, but it always stuck in my mind because until then I had believed that what you wrote was true. I don't *think* it is if a genuine pricing mistake has been made.
 
I would expect that too, but it depends what it is-if it's a case of Leroy Musigny then the VAT might represent their entire annual operating profit.

Yes, agreed, but then you could argue a merchant making that kind of error is not likely to survive for long.

I am not sure this is correct. I remember there was a test case for a company (cannot remember details) who had inadvertantly listed a television set at £1.99 instead of £199.00 year ago. Dozens of people placed orders for it, but newspaper reports did say that the company had no obligation to fulfill the orders, and they didn't.

I'm certainly not an expert in consumer law, but it always stuck in my mind because until then I had believed that what you wrote was true. I don't *think* it is if a genuine pricing mistake has been made.

Every case (apologies) on its own merits - there is a big difference between a clear pricing error at 1% of intended price and one sixth below intended price. Guy says he paid for it in good faith at the displayed price, a credible argument. Saying you thought a telly at £1.99 was priced correctly, not so much.
 
Really appreciate your thoughts, in answer to some of the questions...

It's (unfortunately) not a case of Leroy Musigny, rather a circa £500 (ex VAT!) 6 pack of claret in Magnum.
It's priced in line with Wine Searcher, the added VAT pushes it to the high side of their range - but not too significantly
I might not have purchased at the new cost (but was looking forward to drinking it)
"E & OE" not stated on the invoice
I don't buy from them regularly, but have spent circa £2K with them over the last 18 months

I understand mistakes happen and am not looking for a confrontation / retribution, however, I think I would have preferred a call to discuss the issue personally rather than an email with a further invoice (marked for same day payment).

Will sleep on it and make a decision tomorrow.

Thanks - further thoughts welcomed.
 
Personally if there was no inconvenience other than not getting the price you wanted, and nothing been delivered, I wouldn't try and hold them to it, would seem like poor form to me, legally entitled or no.

Mistakes happen.
 
Pricing law is a shambles due to Governments passing law that has more holes in it that a Gruyere cheese.

As for the TV that Tom refers to there is civil law and criminal law. The 1.99 price is an invitation to treat, me waving my credit card at them is an offer to purchase but then they can decline and not accept the offer to purchase. So no contract.
If the 1.99 price is displayed and they say we won't sell to you at 1.99 but we will at 199 then they are breaching criminal law for which they could be prosecuted. However there is a defence, to the offence, if they say it was a mistake and they have taken all due diligence and exercised all reasonable precautions (based on the actual facts of the case).

Re Guy's wine, if I understand the facts correctly, he saw a price, offered the money and they took it. The contract is concluded and they should honour it at that price. Yes it seems like a genuine mistake so whether it is worth having a fall out about it depends on whether Guy might continue to do business with them. If he plans to best to keep relations cordial otherwise take one's business elsewhere. They haven't handled it well though.
 

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
Every case (apologies) on its own merits - there is a big difference between a clear pricing error at 1% of intended price and one sixth below intended price. Guy says he paid for it in good faith at the displayed price, a credible argument. Saying you thought a telly at £1.99 was priced correctly, not so much.

Phil, but I was only referring to your statement on the legal position. That will be black or white, whether the price was 1% or 99% of what it should have been I suspect. Edited in light of John posting at the same time as me - that's assuming my reading of the law is correct, which as John points out, seems rather complicated.
 
I read that the wine hadn’t been delivered and wouldn’t myself try to get the wine delivered without paying more (not worth the hassle tbh).

As per my original post it’s the tone and utter lack of class displayed that gybs me.
 
Is it a salesman you're dealing with or a manager/director? If the former, it might be worth escalating it to someone who has the authority and/or nous to realise the error is theirs and swallow the price difference. But - as I think the wine has not yet shipped - it depends how much you want the wine. If you really want it, and the 120% price is acceptable, then it's just a matter of paying their second invoice.

Though I think really they would need to cancel their first invoice (as it incorrectly includes VAT), and then reissue a correct invoice. Otherwise their next auditor will want to know why it looks like they've collected two lots of VATon the same sale.

I'd be tempted just to ask innocently if them accepting your order and taking your money didn't form a contract.
I thought (I think someone has already said this) that prices shown for retail sales are expected to include VAT. Has everything else you've bought included VAT? How would their customers ever know if the advertised prices included tax or not?

I hope you don't get a retrospective invoice on your previous purchases!
 
I would be inclined not to make a battle out of it based on the fact it seems like a genuine error. Even if/when there is legal basis to challenging I tend to find the litigious one a bit of a disappointing approach which ultimately leads to poorer (in what is to me a moral sense, whatever that actually means) behaviour from all parties.

Out of interest, was it from a merchant that offers DP and IB sales? Seems only VAT was missing rather than duty too?
 
Really appreciate your thoughts, in answer to some of the questions...

It's (unfortunately) not a case of Leroy Musigny, rather a circa £500 (ex VAT!) 6 pack of claret in Magnum.
It's priced in line with Wine Searcher, the added VAT pushes it to the high side of their range - but not too significantly
I might not have purchased at the new cost (but was looking forward to drinking it)
"E & OE" not stated on the invoice
I don't buy from them regularly, but have spent circa £2K with them over the last 18 months

I understand mistakes happen and am not looking for a confrontation / retribution, however, I think I would have preferred a call to discuss the issue personally rather than an email with a further invoice (marked for same day payment).

Will sleep on it and make a decision tomorrow.

Thanks - further thoughts welcomed.
You have just answered my first question. You have an invoice. Does that state the vat included as part of the price ? how long ago did you purchase the items and are they already delivered ?
If it’s not a merchant you have done a lot of business with or have looked after you in the past, then I’d be tempted to hold and keep them to the agreement of such an invoice and agreed contract / price. For me a lot would depend on who it was and how well I valued the relationship, though they should be thinking the same thing.
 
As this is a thread very much about the detail I feel I have to point out that Gruyere cheese is not notably holey.
Odd that - because although the stuff I buy is nearly always unholey, sometimes it is holey!
1627717140567.png
Emmental is pretty much holier than that...
1627717210847.png

"What makes Swiss cheese “holey” is additional bacteria called Propionibacterium freudenrichii subspecies shermaniiP. shermanii for short."
 
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