Typosontheinternet

06 June 2003

Jim Runsten





A typo on Telia's webshop did not bind the company to sell mobile phones at a price which was one tenth of the correct price.

The Swedish National Board for Consumer Complaints (ARN) is an independent, public body. ARN´s main task is to try consumer disputes quickly and cheaply. ARN's sessions are chaired by a lawyer (who has to be experienced as a judge). In addition to the chairman, four expert members, who are specialists in the branch of trade in question, normally participate. There should be an equal number of representatives of consumer and trading interests on both sides. The decisions are drawn up as recommendations and are not legally binding. In spite of that most traders (approx. 75 %) do comply with ARN´s recommendations. It is not possible to appeal against ARN's decisions. However, nothing prevents the parties bringing the case to a court of law.

Between 11 October – 14 October 2002, Telia advertised the sale of mobile phones on its webshop, without subscription, for SEK 297. The correct price should have been SEK 2,997.

Approximately 2,500 persons ordered the mobile phone through the webshop at the offered price during this period. As soon as Telia became aware of the typo, Telia sent a letter to the consumers having ordered the mobile phone stating that there had been a typo and that Telia would not sell the mobile phone to the lower price.

According to the Swedish Contracts Act, Section 32, any person that provides a statement of intent which, as a result of a typographical error or mistake on his part, imparts a different meaning than the one intended, such person shall not be bound by statement of intent if the party to whom it was addressed realised, or should have realised, the mistake.

In its decision ARN stated that consumers today are well aware that the price of a mobile phone is dependant upon if the mobile phone is sold with or without a subscription. On Telia's webshop the consumer was able to view the prices for the mobile phone with different subscriptions periods (all being higher or the same as the price without a subscription) as well as without a subscription. Furthermore, the indicated price, without subscription, was apparently much lower than it should have been according to ARN, which means that the consumers should have realised that the offered price was a mistake. Telia was therefore not bound to sell the mobile phones in accordance with its offering.
Important - The information in this article is provided subject to the disclaimer. The law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly.