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UK Retailer Mistakenly Sends PS Vitas, Threatens Legal Action To Get Them Back

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the ethics-vs-free-stuff dept.

Businesses 617

New submitter Retron writes "The BBC brings news that British retailer Zavvi mistakenly sent out PlayStation Vitas to people who had preordered a game called Tearaway. The company is now threatening legal action against those who have kept theirs despite a request to return them. It's unclear whether the Distance Selling Act protects consumers who have mistakenly been sent an expensive item, and forums such as Eurogamer seem divided on the issue."

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Jackpot (4)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 8 months ago | (#45665335)

I'd keep it.

Re:Jackpot (2)

melikamp (631205) | about 8 months ago | (#45665549)

IANAL, but I think if one doesn't sign for it, and there are no witnesses to receiving, then saying "I don't recall getting any playstations" should provide a solid defense.

Re:Jackpot (4, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about 8 months ago | (#45665847)

In the US if a vendor sends you an unrequested product you are allowed to keep it. The law is to protect people from bogus sales scams. No idea what the law is in the EU though.

Re:Jackpot (5, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#45665671)

"I'd keep it."

In the U.S., if you receive merchandise you did not order, there are several rules that apply. I believe these are probably the most relevant:

A) You can keep it, unless (or until) the provider requests that you return it.

B) If whoever sent it to you does request its return, they are liable for the shipping cost, and you can charge a "reasonable" storage and maintenance fees for the product while it was in your custody.

Re:Jackpot (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#45665805)

" unless (or until) the provider requests that you return it. "
false.

Re:Jackpot (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 8 months ago | (#45665843)

Wrong on so many levels, but I do know which law you are referring to. It doesn't apply in cases where you've actually ordered something and was written to put a stop to a once popular practice of sending unordered merchandise, then sending a bill weeks later; it applies in cases where no product was ordered, not cases where the wrong product was sent.

Re:Jackpot (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45665861)

it applies in cases where no product was ordered, not cases where the wrong product was sent.

Two situations similarly covered in the linked article.

and in the usa computer hacking laws can make you (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 8 months ago | (#45665831)

In the USA under the very poorly written laws having some like that can fall under the Computer Hacking and Unauthorized Access Laws.

or even the The Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act

Re:Jackpot (2)

fermion (181285) | about 8 months ago | (#45665937)

my understanding is that there used to be a pretty prevalent scam in which a firm would send something of value unsolicited and then bill the recipient. When the recipient did not pay, the firm would harrasss the recipient and do whatever nasty thing they could to get the money. If you were someone that sold stuff like that from Fingerhut, i.e. marking up just 10000%, one could get a pretty penny if even 10% of the recipients were extorted to pay.

To combat this, in the US there are laws, as cited below, that pretty much give huge right to the recipient of unsolicited merchandise. There are two exceptions. Merchandise that is sent for inspection is to be returned. For instance I used to get calls from firms that would offer to send me stuff for free and if I liked it they would then bill the company. The assumption was that the purchasing department in a moderately sized organization would pay for stuff management wanted without too much checking or hassle. The law still provides a level of protection as the merchandise can be returned and the time frame is not set in stone.

My feeling is that, at least in the US, the recipient should be protected. Look at it this way. I order a box of pens from office depot. Instead of pens, the send me a printer. It could be that someone in my office steals it. Am I then liable for the printer?

apology/thx with $30 gift cert, valid for one year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665377)

problem solved

Letter o' the Law (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665387)

Except that the law explicitly calls such items 'unconditional gifts'? I thought only Americans could be divided based on factual statements.

Re:Letter o' the Law (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665501)

Huh, and here I am, an American, thinking that it was only Americans who think they're experts on stuff they know next to nothing about, or at least present next to no supporting case for.

Just kidding, I never thought this was restricted to any subset of the human population.

Re:Letter o' the Law (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665513)

If you'd read the law, you'd see that this isn't the case. From the relevant law, which is linked to in TFA:
 
 

24.—(1) Paragraphs (2) and (3) apply if—

(a) unsolicited goods are sent to a person (“the recipient”) with a view to his acquiring them;

(b) the recipient has no reasonable cause to believe that they were sent with a view to their being acquired for the purposes of a business; and

(c) the recipient has neither agreed to acquire nor agreed to return them.

(2) The recipient may, as between himself and the sender, use, deal with or dispose of the goods as if they were an unconditional gift to him.

(3) The rights of the sender to the goods are extinguished.
 

Re:Letter o' the Law (2)

Traze (1167415) | about 8 months ago | (#45665603)

Hmm, looks like to me that section (c) would apply. So, unless the customer said they were being returned, no legal obligation to do so.

Re:Letter o' the Law (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665661)

You need sections (a), (b), AND (c) to apply.

Re:Letter o' the Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665679)

See those semicolons and that period? They're functioning as commas, to increase clarity. That "and" at the end of (b) is a big hint that you need all three. Back to grammar school with you!

Re:Letter o' the Law (3, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 8 months ago | (#45666023)

Now how about (a) and (b) which would also have to be true since the word used is "and".

Re:Letter o' the Law (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665731)

If people weren't divided on 'factual' statements then we wouldn't have lawyers.

Re:Letter o' the Law (3, Informative)

BronsCon (927697) | about 8 months ago | (#45665879)

Here in the US, in order to be considered an "unconditional gift", the shipment must be unsolicited, not just incorrect. An solicited, but incorrect shipment can be recovered by the sender in the US.

Customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665413)

The customer is always right.

A US perspective (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#45665421)

I don't want to live in world where the end party is responsible for the errors of a company. Assuming the end party didn't intentionally commit fraud.

Otherwise we end up back to a point where companies would just send stuff out and demand payment.

Re:A US perspective (3, Informative)

stinerman (812158) | about 8 months ago | (#45665487)

In the United States getting stuff in the mail unsolicited is considered a gift and is not required to be returned...for the exact reason you specified; I can mail everyone on my block an Ubuntu cd and then claim they owe me $10 for accepting it.

I don't know if a shipping error counts as being unsolicited, but I don't think the company would have any recourse. IANAL.

Re:A US perspective (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#45665507)

Yep, I know. I remember when the US post office used to advertise that, with an Eskimo getting a oscillating fan.

And this would count.

Re:A US perspective (1, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#45665721)

"In the United States getting stuff in the mail unsolicited is considered a gift and is not required to be returned...for the exact reason you specified; I can mail everyone on my block an Ubuntu cd and then claim they owe me $10 for accepting it."

That's not quite true. You are not required to pay for un-ordered merchandise, but you are required by law to return the product if they request it. However, they are responsible for the shipping cost, and you can charge them a "reasonable" storage and maintenance feel for the period of time the product was in your custody.

For that reason, companies do not usually request their products back. It's just not worth their while. And what constitutes a "reasonable" fee can only be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Re:A US perspective (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#45665833)

"but you are required by law to return the product if they request it. "
no, you are not.
from USPS( http://about.usps.com/publications/pub300a/pub300a_tech_021.htm [usps.com] ) bolding done by me:
A company sends you a gift in the mail — a tie, a good luck charm, or a key chain. You didn’t order the gift. What do you do? Many people will feel guilty and pay for the gift. But you don’t have to. What you do with the merchandise is entirely up to you.

If you have not opened the package, mark it “Return to Sender.” The Postal Service will send it back at no charge to you.
If you open the package and don’t like what you find, throw it away.
If you open the package and like what you find, keep it — free. This is a rare instance where “finders, keepers” applies unconditionally.
Whatever you do, don’t pay for it — and don’t get conned if the sender follows up with a phone call or visit. By law, unsolicited merchandise is yours to keep.

Re:A US perspective (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#45665975)

Yes...but is an incorrectly filled order a gift or a goof? You could claim it was an unasked gift, combined with a completely separate unfulfilled order. Good luck with that.

Re:A US perspective (1, Informative)

BronsCon (927697) | about 8 months ago | (#45665901)

Placing an order is soliciting a shipment, an incorrect shipment is not unsolicited, therefore, you would not be allowed to keep the errantly-shipped PS Vita in the US. Google for the laws, because I'm too lazy to do your research for you, but they're pretty clear on what constitutes an unsolicited shipment.

Re:A US perspective (1)

amorsen (7485) | about 8 months ago | (#45665811)

Well, you live in such a world, whether you like it or not.

If the recipient honestly believes they were the victim of the company trying to get them to pay for something they did not order, they have a chance to keep the item. How many of the recipients believe that?

Re:A US perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665889)

They're not being made responsible for the error. They're being made responsible for not stealing when someone else makes an error and tries to correct it at no cost to the individual.

If I drop a £20 note, you can't pick it up and say "I'm not responsible for your error". Same here.

No doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665441)

There is all ready a law staying if its a genuine mistake then you have no right to keep it. Though you may have a case to say come and collect it within 6(?) months or else it mine through the unsolicated goods law

Re:No doubt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665527)

There should be no such law. It's too ripe for abuse and fraud.

Good look Zavvi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665475)

Good luck Zavvi proving to a court that these people have a Vita instead of the game :) Just your records yes?

"Nope I got what I ordered thanks, I've got my confirmation of order right here.

Oh proof? sorry, I sold it to a bloke in the pub. Yes of course I have a Vita, I ordered the game didn't I?"

Obviously it's totally immoral to do that, but that's exactly what many *will* do and there's nothing Zavvi can do about it, it's their word against the customer.

Re:Good look Zavvi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665615)

Friend of mine works in a service shop/retailer. They log and track all serial numbers for all devices sold, and they exercise especial care to track high value merchandise. I think it'd be fairly easy to prove which models of your stock got sent out to whom.

Re:Good look Zavvi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665797)

...and they already admit that they make mistakes with orders. So it's not like it's improbable that they believe they sent a PlayStation when they should have sent a game and have actually sent the game.

Gray area? Not in the US (2, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 8 months ago | (#45665479)

I do not know what UK laws are in this area, but I do know that US laws specifically state that unsolicited merchandise is legally considered a gift [usps.com] . Think about it: if things didn't work this way, you could wind up being billed (and having your credit report dinged) for "debts" you never agreed to! Alternatively, if companies could get away with sending you more expensive merchandise than you actually ordered and then billing you for it (or demanding, after the fact, that you take the time and trouble to send it back to them), then you'd be opening the door to merchants committing all kinds of bait-and-switch scams.

This seems to have been a genuine accident, and sucks for Zavvi, but they should not be allowed to threaten or instigate any legal action against the receivers. Even demanding the recipients mail it back with postage paid by the company is still requiring them to perform unpaid work (packaging, driving to the post office, etc.) for something they didn't do and aren't responsible for.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (3, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | about 8 months ago | (#45665581)

Thing is these, things were not "unsolicited". The person ordered one thing (a game called Tearaway) and through an obvious database mistake received something of higher value (a PS Vita Tearaway bundle). It's not like the consoles just turned up out of the blue. I expect the retailer is well within their rights to demand the item to be returned even if they are responsible for paying the postage to have them returned.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#45665659)

Anything you didn't ask for is unsolicited by definition.
dumb ass.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (0, Flamebait)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | about 8 months ago | (#45665685)

When I need mod points - I don't have them.

That's a well deserved "dumb ass" if I ever saw one.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (5, Funny)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#45665723)

Anything you didn't ask for is unsolicited by definition.
dumb ass.

This is literally why I come to Slashdot. Nothing warms my heart like an unsolicited insult. I'm all smiling inside.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#45665969)

"This is literally why I come to Slashdot. Nothing warms my heart like an unsolicited insult."

Especially when it is delivered to the wrong person (cymbal crash).

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665759)

They solicited merchandise and the wrong stuff was shipped. That's not the legal definition of unsolicited merchandise. These laws are designed to prevent fraud, not punish people for mistakes. Here's what the FTC says [ftc.gov]

Q. What should I do if the unordered merchandise I received was the result of an honest shipping error?

A. Write the seller and offer to return the merchandise, provided the seller pays for postage and handling. Give the seller a specific and reasonable amount of time (say 30 days) to pick up the merchandise or arrange to have it returned at no expense to you. Tell the seller that you reserve the right to keep the merchandise or dispose of it after the specified time has passed.

Keeping something you know belongs to someone else is theft.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (3, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#45665835)

"Anything you didn't ask for is unsolicited by definition.

dumb ass."

Nope. Wrong. DrXym's comment is correct.

There is a difference between "unsolicited merchandise", and a mistake on a legitimate order. Unsolicited merchandise (regardless of the literal meaning of "unsolicited") is something that was sent to you out of the blue, i.e., you had no contact with the sender and weren't expecting anything at all.

Mistakes on legitimate merchandise orders are something entirely different. You DID order something. You DID expect something to be delivered. It was just the wrong thing.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665851)

You're confusing common English and Legalese. There is a law (and this is UK law, not US law) defining what an unconditional gift it. It may even be unsolicited, but that doesn't make it an unconditional gift under UK law unless three very specific conditions are all simultaneously met. See elsewhere in the comments for the law.

Dumbass.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (4, Insightful)

Lendrick (314723) | about 8 months ago | (#45665725)

It sounds to me like the retailer would not only be out of luck on the consoles, but would still owe people their games.

If I received a Vita in the mail from a retailer, this being the Holiday season, my first assumption would be that someone gave me a Vita, not that the retailer sent it to me accidentally. At that point, I'd probably buy some games for it and start using it. If the retailer then demanded it back, not only have I spent money buying games for it, I now have to spend the extra time packaging it to return it (and possibly the money, too). I don't owe them that inconvenience just because they sent me the wrong thing, and furthermore, they still owe me a game.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (1)

Sancho (17056) | about 8 months ago | (#45666073)

I wouldn't give money to Sony, even if the Vita was free. But your point is taken :)

I think that what they sent out was a bundle which included the purchased game, so the retailer probably owes them nothing.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665749)

yes "unsolicited" if the offer was for a "legally unencumbered" unit which was NOT what was received

"strings attached" was not part of the contract

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (3, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | about 8 months ago | (#45665763)

Back around the dot-com boom, lots of really good deals (re: obvious mistakes, like a 17" monitor for $50) would show up on e-commerce sites. These deals would get passed around, orders would skyrocket, the company would void the orders, and people would whine and moan about the company not holding up their end of the bargain. Eventually, terms of use began including this reserved right to void orders due to pricing mistakes, even if that right needn't be explicitly reserved.

Now a company has made a mistake further into the interaction with their customer--a mistake in delivery. I wonder if we will start to see terms of use/purchase including an obligation to return erroneous deliveries.

I genuinely think that the demarcation of responsibility should be after the item is shipped. You shouldn't place an onus, however small, on a customer to correct your mistake. In a more perfect world, people would be willing to take on such a slight burden as shipping an item back. However, the world is an imperfect place. Screws fall out all the time. We don't always treat others as we would like to be treated, whether due to laziness or greed.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#45665905)

" I wonder if we will start to see terms of use/purchase including an obligation to return erroneous deliveries."

Sigh. This is already covered in the law. I will repeat it for everybody's benefit.

First, this is not "unsolicited merchandise", because you did order something. So it's not a "gift" (as it would be if it were truly "unsolicited").

Second, even though it is not a "gift", you you are not required to pay for it, and you can keep it... unless the company specifically requests that you return it.

Third, if they do request it back, they are responsible for the shipping and you can charge them a "reasonable" storage fee for the time it was in your custody.

Fourth, I am not positive but I do not think "terms of service" can override this law.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45666033)

UK, not US. Damn Yanks.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (3, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | about 8 months ago | (#45666059)

Sigh

Oh how horrible for you.

First, this is not "unsolicited merchandise", because you did order something. So it's not a "gift" (as it would be if it were truly "unsolicited").

Is this so clear-cut? The law says it is: "merchandise mailed without the prior expressed request or consent of the recipient." It does not seem to differentiate mistakes. That is, none of these people ordered a Vita bundle--they ordered something different. Therefore the merchandise of a Vita bundle was mailed without prior request or consent. What was requested was a particular game.

Unless there is prior case law, I don't think anyone can really say whether the particular order (or an identical one taking place in the US) would qualify as "mailed without prior expressed request."

I'm referencing http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title39/html/USCODE-2011-title39-partIV-chap30-sec3009.htm [gpo.gov] which doesn't have any obligation to the recipient--and expressly says so: "Any merchandise mailed in violation of subsection (a) of this section, or within the exceptions contained therein, may be treated as a gift by the recipient, who shall have the right to retain, use, discard, or dispose of it in any manner he sees fit without any obligation whatsoever to the sender"

Nothing in this code indicates that you can charge for storage should you return the item, either.

Is there a different law I'm unfamiliar with that you're referring to?

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (1)

tranquilidad (1994300) | about 8 months ago | (#45665789)

Living in the US I may or may not keep the Vita depending on how much future business I wanted to do with the company and probably some other vague emotion I happened to be feeling at that particular moment. I would look at my returning the product about the same as returning too much change given to me at a cash register - I generally return that stuff. If the company threatened legal action then they could just fuck off. I don't take to kindly to a company screwing up and then threatening me because of their error.

However, whether or not I kept it, I would demand that I receive the product I did order or a refund.

If I ordered product A and paid for product A I expect to receive product A whether or not the company sent me a different product I didn't order.

Re:Gray area? Not in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45666053)

Think about it: if things didn't work this way, you could wind up being billed (and having your credit report dinged) for "debts" you never agreed to!

There would be another possibility of considering the unsolicited merchandise as lost property with no attached requirement of paying for it. The payment transfers the ownership, shipping to arbitrary place doesn't. Since the property is not part of a business transaction with the receiver, the sender pays for the retrieval of the property. The gift interpretation does protect the interest of a less fortunate or capable consumer of course.

Dumb Mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665485)

They should be legally required to take responsibility for their action.
They have accidentally transferred ownership of the devices.
They have no right to sue someone else for their own mistake.

Own up, deal with it, and learn from your mistakes instead of making the situation even worse.

Re:Dumb Mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665777)

This is UK law, and they DO have a right. Look further up in the comments for the relevant law. In order for it to be considered an unconditional gift, it needs to satisfy three conditions, (a), (b), and (c). Note that (a), (b), and (c) are elements of a list in a single sentence, joined with an AND, not an or.

Keep it (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 8 months ago | (#45665493)

In the US, you are allowed to keep anything you are sent as an "unsolicited gift".
Don't know about the UK.
(The reason for this is that before the law, companies would send people stuff they didn't order and then demand payment... often many times more than the stuff was worth... just another scummy business practice.)

Re:Keep it (1, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 8 months ago | (#45665653)

Except there was nothing unsolicited about this incident. The customers initiated the transaction by ordering a game. The company screwed up filling those orders. It has no relation to the "scummy business practice" example you provide.

Re:Keep it (3, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | about 8 months ago | (#45665745)

Customer ordered one thing, company sent another thing and is now threatening them with legal action and fines... sounds scummy to me.
The company should just admit they made a mistake and politely request a return... however, if the customer doesn't want to return it, they don't have to. Company made a mistake and is now acting scummy. Company made a mistake and it will cost them... consequences.
People are always saying the consumers need to be responsible and suffer consequences... this should apply to companies also.

Re:Keep it (4, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45665899)

The company should just admit they made a mistake and politely request a return...

They did try that first. The customer (singular, that we know of, so far) failed to respond.

[Games blog Dark Zero] published a "final notice" letter sent to one [emphasis mine] Zavvi customer who had originally ordered a copy of the platform game Tearaway.

"As you are aware, as a result of a technical error, you were not sent Tearaway (priced at approximately £19.99) and instead were sent a PS Vita (priced at approximately £169.99). This was an error on our part and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused you," it said.
Tearaway Affected customers had only expected to receive the game Tearaway

"We have tried to contact you on numerous occasions [emphasis mine] to give you the opportunity to return this item to us (at our cost and no inconvenience to yourself), but to date you have refused to do so.

At this point I'd say the company are reasonable in assuming this guy just wants to keep the Vita despite having no claim to it.

Send them back and get over it. (5, Insightful)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 8 months ago | (#45665517)

Mistakes happen. They weren't expecting them so it shouldn't be too heartbreaking to return them. I'll probably get flamed for this, but you have to be one self-entitled little twerp to expect to be able to keep it. As long as Zawi pays for shipping they have every right to want them back. If you mistakenly shipped something expensive to the wrong address, would you be miffed if they refused to return it? Who wouldn't?

Re:Send them back and get over it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665623)

As long as Zawi pays for shipping they have absolutely no right according to the law to want them back.

FTFY!

Re:Send them back and get over it. (5, Insightful)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 8 months ago | (#45665683)

I don't give a flying crap because this isn't about the law. It's about common decency. You would be cursing said law instead of citing it if the same thing had happened to you.

Re:Send them back and get over it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45666037)

If someone 'accidentally' sends you four million ICMP echo packets per minute, are you required through common decency to respond to them?

Re:Send them back and get over it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665913)

You're still wrong, because this is UK law, not US law. In the UK, they DO have a right to demand them back, unless three specific conditions are all met at the same time. Look up in the comments for the law.

Re:Send them back and get over it. (2)

Sancho (17056) | about 8 months ago | (#45665637)

It even sounds like the company was willing arrange to collect the item from the recipient--unless that terminology is slang that could mean "we'll collect it after you've sent it."

I really hate having to mail packages, and the idea that some company can put such an item on my to-do list (mistakenly or not) bothers me. I'd probably do it, but I'd be grumpy about it, and I sure as hell wouldn't make it a priority.

Re:Send them back and get over it. (3, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 8 months ago | (#45665655)

So you think Zawi should have to compensate the people for their time, gas and other expenses to ship the product back?

What if they have to drive 4 miles and spend an hour of their time to drop it off for shipping? Or conversely they have to take a day off work to wait for the delivery truck to pick it up?

Re:Send them back and get over it. (3, Insightful)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 8 months ago | (#45665781)

I didn't realize that it was such a soul-crushing, career destroying endeavor to slap a return label on something and drop it off; or to make a 5-minute phone call to arrange a pickup at a convenient time, which it sounds like Zawi was willing to do. I'm sorry but you really seem to be grasping at straws.

Re:Send them back and get over it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665967)

"A convenient time"? Maybe in the UK they're nicer, but in the US you'll be lucky to get a four hour window. Plus I'd have to pay for the return packaging, and the label, and the tape.

Re:Send them back and get over it. (3, Insightful)

ewhenn (647989) | about 8 months ago | (#45665995)

Yeah, it is a big deal. I work two jobs, 65-70 hours a week. The little spare time I have is *very* precious to me. Also, I usually get my mail when I get home from work... at 1 AM. Why the hell should I have to take off of work and lose pay or give them some of my free time because they screwed up? If they're willing to pick it up at my convenience, they can stop by at 2 AM on Sunday morning, otherwise they can F off.

Re:Send them back and get over it. (3, Interesting)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 8 months ago | (#45666105)

It would be a perfectly reasonable response to tell them "it is too inconvenient for me to ship it back to you; you come pick it up." What is not reasonable is to try to profit from somebody else's honest mistake -- a mistake that doesn't harm you -- at their expense. That's what this is really about, and the arguments over legality, or inconvenience, are just an attempt at avoiding that.

Re:Send them back and get over it. (1)

Lendrick (314723) | about 8 months ago | (#45665739)

What if they (reasonably) believed it was a gift from someone else and have already purchased games for it?

Re:Send them back and get over it. (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45665925)

I don't think it would be reasonable to believe that.

As a US citizen in Europe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665523)

I've lived in Germany for a while now, and I've noticed a few things about the laws. In America, I took it for granted that ideally, laws are supposed to be based off of a core set of principles, from which the rest are logically derived, and if any lower law violates them, they are invalidated. Yes, there are problems because of human idiocy and it takes a long time to invalidate bad laws sometimes, but overall, the system isn't so bad. At least compared to Germany, and from what I can tell, the rest of Europe. There is no logical consistency. Laws are made based off of what people just felt like at the time, with no consideration for whether or not they contradict some other laws in a fundamental way. Overall America's system is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better, even if it isn't running very well right now.

Re:As a US citizen in Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665775)

I've lived in Germany for a while now ... Overall America's system is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better

Support the country you live in, or live in the country you support.

Greed, pure and simple (4, Insightful)

enoz (1181117) | about 8 months ago | (#45665525)

If the situation was reserved, say the customers received £19.99 Tearaway after ordering a £169.99 PS Vita, they would be fighting to return it.

The customers received an item that was worth more than what they paid, and are simply being greedy.

Re:Greed, pure and simple (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#45665553)

no, The would be fighting to get what they ordered. It's the companies responsibility not the consumers.

Re:Greed, pure and simple (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665619)

I'd also say that if the value of the item was the same, but not what the recipient ordered, they'd be doing everything in their power to get the correct item shipped on the sender's dime (appropriately so). And, if the value of the item was not too high, the sender would probably tell them to keep the mistaken shipment and sorry for the hassle. But only a greedy, selfish person would refuse to send the mistaken item back after the sender shipped the correct item out... I can see it now: "I never received the item I ordered, will you send it to me?" while they're holding the item they didn't order in their hands. That's stealing, plain and simple. Don't try to justify it.

Re:Greed, pure and simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665621)

No. It's about getting lucky and placing fault/blame/consequences where they belong, which is completely with the retailer. Greed would be deliberately trying to create a fraudulent order with the intent of profit. There is greed here alright, but it's not from the customers.

It is not your property. (4, Informative)

DM9290 (797337) | about 8 months ago | (#45665531)

As a general rule you are not the owner of property sent to you in error.

If someone _deliberately_ sends unsolicited property to you, then the usual rule is this is presumptively a gift.

If someone _accidentally_ sends property to you then the usual rule is that ownership is not transferred automatically.

However if you reasonably assumed it was a gift then you might have lost it or sold it thinking it was your own, and since the error was not yours, you would not be liable. On the other hand, it is unreasonable to think a store would send you a video game system for no reason. And a reasonable person who orders something from a store, and recieves the wrong product would first suspect an error on the stores part. If you contact the store and they say "nope it is a gift!" then you can keep it.

Re:It is not your property. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665569)

A person receiving unsolicited goods they know to have received by mistake has a duty to care for them and make arrangements to return them, and only then is their duty disposed of. The same law covers when something is considered a gift:
 
 

24.—(1) Paragraphs (2) and (3) apply if—

(a) unsolicited goods are sent to a person (“the recipient”) with a view to his acquiring them;

(b) the recipient has no reasonable cause to believe that they were sent with a view to their being acquired for the purposes of a business; and

(c) the recipient has neither agreed to acquire nor agreed to return them.

(2) The recipient may, as between himself and the sender, use, deal with or dispose of the goods as if they were an unconditional gift to him.

(3) The rights of the sender to the goods are extinguished.

Re:It is not your property. (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#45665591)

~~~~~~~~
http://about.usps.com/publications/pub300a/pub300a_tech_021.htm [usps.com]
A company sends you a gift in the mail — a tie, a good luck charm, or a key chain. You didn’t order the gift. What do you do? Many people will feel guilty and pay for the gift. But you don’t have to. What you do with the merchandise is entirely up to you.

If you have not opened the package, mark it “Return to Sender.” The Postal Service will send it back at no charge to you.
If you open the package and don’t like what you find, throw it away.
If you open the package and like what you find, keep it — free. This is a rare instance where “finders, keepers” applies unconditionally.
Whatever you do, don’t pay for it — and don’t get conned if the sender follows up with a phone call or visit. By law, unsolicited merchandise is yours to keep.
~~~~~~~~~
Gift - something bestowed or acquired without being sought or earned by the receiver.

Gifts don't have to be intentional

The way to go. (1)

Xeno man (1614779) | about 8 months ago | (#45665539)

The best thing for Zawi to do is probably just call it a loss. They have done the chest thumping and legal threats and probably have gotten most units back. Going to court would probably cost more time and money than the value of the PS. Offer anyone that did send their units back a gift card to reward honesty for a decent amount so no one would think that they would have been better off keeping the PS. The next step is getting your shit together so that it doesn't happen again.

Re:The way to go. (3, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | about 8 months ago | (#45665601)

The best thing for Zawi to do is probably just call it a loss. They have done the chest thumping and legal threats and probably have gotten most units back. Going to court would probably cost more time and money than the value of the PS. Offer anyone that did send their units back a gift card to reward honesty for a decent amount so no one would think that they would have been better off keeping the PS. The next step is getting your shit together so that it doesn't happen again.

Well, gosh, that'd just make me feel like an idiot if I was one of those that hadn't returned the items. At this point, I think they're past the point of no return - best course would have been to silent about the missing units, show due diligence in re-acquiring product, and move on, but now that they've complained about it won't people wonder what happened?

Who would...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665565)

Who'd want a Vita anyway. If someone put a dog turd in my letterbox I'd throw it back at them.

However, if they aren't paying for postage I'd just toss it in the bin.

Right is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665571)

The right thing for the retailer to do is to say, "We are idiots, sorry, let us make this right with a discount." If they have not done so, they are clearly asshats.

The right thing for the customer to do is to send back the console in a prepaid box provided by the retailer and, if the retailer has offered them no compense, cancel their purchase of the game. Any customer who instead holds on to their ill-gotten gains, is clearly an asshat.

Here in the US... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665585)

If you order something from a company, and they ship you the wrong thing, you AREN'T entitled to keep it. The company has to pay to ship it back to them, and, depending on their policies, either fully refund (including original shipping) the cost of your product, or ship (at their expense) the originally ordered product to you.

You're NOT entitled to something you didn't order and received solely as a result of a shipping mistake.

However, if a company intentionally ships to you something where there was no order (i.e. unsolicited receipt), it is considered a GIFT, and the company cannot ask for it back. Note that mistakes by the shipping companies don't fall into this category - it has to be the original company that shipped it specifically addressed to you. Mistakes by the shipping company fall into the first category - i.e. you are legally bound to return the item if asked.

That is:

1. You order A from a company. They send you B. You legally must return B to the company if they ask for it, but the company has to pay all shipping costs, and still owes you either a full refund for A, or must ship you A at their expense.

2. You don't order A from anyone, but some company ships you it anyway. It's yours, free of charge, and the company can't ask for it back, or demand payment.

3. You don't order A from anyone, but FedEx accidentally mis-ships it to you, instead of the addressee on the package. You can't keep it, and must give it back to FedEx when they come calling. Neither FedEx nor the original company can demand you to ship it back to them, though.

In this particular case, here in the US, the company would be entirely legally correct in demanding the merchandise back, as it fits case #1 above.

Used to work like this... (1)

Jerry Atrick (2461566) | about 8 months ago | (#45665597)

The law used to be that you couldn't refuse to return mistaken deliveries BUT you didn't need to actively do it. It was sufficient to say 'come collect it', give a reasonable deadline and wait. If they missed the deadline and you didn't play hide&seek you got to keep it.

I doubt distance selling regs has changed that.

UK Law is clear (3, Insightful)

timmyf2371 (586051) | about 8 months ago | (#45665691)

UK law is clear in that ownership has not transferred to the recipients and that the items should be returned.

I think in this type of situation, it's a reasonable expectation that the recipient should return the PS Vita too. They paid £19.99 and got sent a completely different item; it isn't as if the PS Vita was priced at £19.99 in error and the company mistakenly fulfilled the order.

Sadly, I see similar situations happen all the time. Companies make a mistake with their pricing online and don't fulfil the order and the people who thought they were getting a 40" TV for £50 start talking about their "right" to buy it for that price.

It's an obvious mistake by the retailer and if their customers are being uncooperative then they have every right to pursue the legal avenue. Let's turn it around a bit: if the customers had asked to return the game they bought and accidentally sent a PS Vita to the company, would the customers be arguing that their mistake represented an "unsolicited gift"?

Re:UK Law is clear (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#45665863)

"UK law is clear in that ownership has not transferred to the recipients and that the items should be returned."

Citation?

Re:UK Law is clear (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665985)

Jeebus are you dense. This is UK law, AND the relevant law has been posted repeatedly in the comments (twice at least so far). You need to meet three specific conditions, listed in a single sentence, joined by an AND. The law was clearly written to handle this issue, because the goods were not sent "with a view to his receiving them"--it was a mistake. You'd need to show that they intended to send them to the recipients.
 
 

24.—(1) Paragraphs (2) and (3) apply if—

(a) unsolicited goods are sent to a person (“the recipient”) with a view to his acquiring them;

(b) the recipient has no reasonable cause to believe that they were sent with a view to their being acquired for the purposes of a business; and

(c) the recipient has neither agreed to acquire nor agreed to return them.

(2) The recipient may, as between himself and the sender, use, deal with or dispose of the goods as if they were an unconditional gift to him.

(3) The rights of the sender to the goods are extinguished.

Those semicolons indicate a list. That AND means you need to meet ALL the items in the list. You'd make a lousy programmer, lawyer, or anything requiring reading comprehension.

In the UK and Canada they now belong to buyer (-1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 8 months ago | (#45665699)

Money was accepted for a contracted purchase item.

If the seller sent it early, that is not a problem for the buyer, who completed the contract on receipt of the item once the money had cleared.

Tough for the sellers.

Yes, I know serfs in the US have no rights as consumers, but most of the world doesn't treat citizens as chattel like we do.

Re:In the UK and Canada they now belong to buyer (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 8 months ago | (#45665849)

Err - no.
Money was accepted for an item to be sent to the buyer.
A different item was sent to the buyer.

The first contract has not yet been fulfilled, and the item actually delivered was a delivery in error.
As the delivery in error was not an intended delivery (the law specifically regulates spamming random products to addresses that diddn't order them - in that case they get to keep it) they have to return it.

Re:In the UK and Canada they now belong to buyer (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45666009)

In the UK and Canada they now belong to buyer

No, they don't.

Contract says? (1)

eriklou (1027240) | about 8 months ago | (#45665701)

"The DSRs do not require the customer to return the goods but if the contract says the customer must return them and they do not, you can charge them for the direct cost of recovery."

Pulled from the http://dshub.tradingstandards.gov.uk/Explained [tradingstandards.gov.uk] (Distance selling regulations)

Re:Contract says? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45666013)

That's referring to the recovery/return of customer-cancelled orders.

Re:Contract says? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45666079)

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/54

17 Property passes when intended to pass.

(1)Where there is a contract for the sale of specific or ascertained goods the property in them is transferred to the buyer at such time as the parties to the contract intend it to be transferred.
(2)For the purpose of ascertaining the intention of the parties regard shall be had to the terms of the contract, the conduct of the parties and the circumstances of the case.

Re:Contract says? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45666097)

That's only an explanatory guide, not a law, and it oversimplifies. The actual law in question is much more explicit, requiring three specific conditions to be simultaneously met. Note how it's three conditions, joined using an AND, in one single sentence.
 
 

24.—(1) Paragraphs (2) and (3) apply if—

(a) unsolicited goods are sent to a person (“the recipient”) with a view to his acquiring them;

(b) the recipient has no reasonable cause to believe that they were sent with a view to their being acquired for the purposes of a business; and

(c) the recipient has neither agreed to acquire nor agreed to return them.

(2) The recipient may, as between himself and the sender, use, deal with or dispose of the goods as if they were an unconditional gift to him.

(3) The rights of the sender to the goods are extinguished.

Not too bright. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665753)

Company fucked up. And instead of trying to minimize the damage they've gone full retard into pissing people off and involving lawyers.
Theres now no way that company can come out ahead in this. They fucked up. And compounded that fuckup with being tools.

Would you want to do business with such a company? Selling a non unique product you can obtain plenty of other places?

Nope.

Way to go zawi. Jumped in with both feet.
Instead of just taking the loss and making sure that doesn't happen in the future..
You're now going to lose many times more than that loss now and in the future. Permenant damage for a temp mistake. WTG.

Idiots.

keep the unsolicited merchandise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45665783)

a prerelease unit not yet public was not what the customer ordered

the customer ordered a retail unit

they can just keep it

Big Mistake on the Companies Part (1)

RandomAvatar (2487198) | about 8 months ago | (#45665837)

Personally, unless it was a crippling blow to the company, I would have made a big fuss about how anyone that received them could keep them as gifts. It would not only reflect well on the company, but depending on how well they advertised it, and how well news agencies covered it, it could create a massive boost to sales while people order tons of items while hoping for another error to happen.

Re:Big Mistake on the Companies Part (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45665961)

Personally, unless it was a crippling blow to the company, I would have made a big fuss about how anyone that received them could keep them as gifts.

Except there is no right to keep them as gifts in this case. The contact (shipment) was erroneous, but not unsolicited.

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