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Kodak wriggles after camera cock-up

Readers angry as firm welches on cheap snappers

PC Advisor readers have found themselves embroiled in what could become a precedent-setting palaver for online retailers.

Kodak was caught on the hop on 31 December when it mistakenly advertised a £329 3Mp (megapixel) digital camera — the DX3700 — on Shop@Kodak for just £100.

Impressed by the offer, several PC Advisor readers placed their orders and promptly received emails from Kodak confirming the transaction for the agreed price.

Reader David Shackleton received his confirmatory email after placing his order on Sunday, urging him to keep the message as a receipt of purchase.

But when Kodak discovered its mistake yesterday morning, it emailed customers informing them that the offer of sale no longer stood.

"In this instance, notwithstanding you having received a confirmation of receipt of your order, we must decline to accept your offer to purchase the DX3700 digital camera package at the incorrect price of £100, and we have ceased any further processing of your order," read the email.

According to consumer law experts, however, Kodak could find itself in hot water over its mistake.

Though all retailers are legally entitled to use pricing as an invitation to treat, they are obliged to supply a product at the agreed price once a contract with the customer has been established.

It will be interesting to see if the courts will regard a confirmatory email as a legally binding contract.

Kodak may also find it difficult to argue that the advertised price was obviously a mistake in the usual 'too-good-to-be-true' fashion.

While companies like Argos have been able to back out of supplying goods at mistakenly advertised prices — such as colour TVs for just £3 — it could be argued that in the price-slashing world of computer peripherals, snapping up a 3Mp digital camera for £100 isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

In a broadcast on Radio 5 this afternoon, a spokesman for Kodak denied that the confirmatory email sent out to customers constituted a legally binding contract.

He also claimed that only 25 genuine orders had actually been placed for the product and that the original mistake had been rectified within 12 hours, blaming cached pages caused by bookmarking.

PC Advisor is urging affected readers to keep up the pressure on Kodak. According to a spokesman for the Consumers Association the case is "worth testing in court".

Find out what PC Advisor readers are saying about this story, the original confirmatory email from Kodak and action being taken by forum visitors here.


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