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Accidentally Received a Free PS Vita? Don't Smile Yet

Posted by Sammy Barker

Zavvi ripping up the rules

Mistakes are an unfortunate element of day-to-day life. It’s inevitable that we’ll get things wrong on a regular basis, so all that we can really do is try to learn from our slip-ups and attempt to move on. In the case of online retailer Zavvi, though, it’s hoping to recompense its errors by threatening customers with legal action. This is probably not the best public relations enhancing move that the UK-based online outlet has ever made.

The sorry incident starts with a selection of innocent consumers ordering a £19.99 copy of Tearaway for the PlayStation Vita from the online store. Some of those shoppers were sent one of the shiny new hardware bundles instead, which retails for around £149.99. That’s a costly blunder for the organisation, but the story should probably stop there. Unfortunately, as already alluded, it seems that it’s opted to threaten legal action against the abovementioned customers should the package not be returned.

“We are very sorry to inform you that due to an error in our warehouse we have dispatched the incorrect product,” an initial email noted. “We are contacting you in order for us to arrange a collection of the incorrect item which is on the way to you. If possible, please keep the parcel in its original packaging ready to hand back to the courier.” We suppose that that’s not terrible, but it gets worse.

The company sent out a second message earlier this week, which hinted that it’s willing to play hard ball. “This is our final notice to politely remind you that you did not order, or pay for, a PS Vita and if you fail to contact us by 5PM (UK time) on 10th December 2013 to arrange a convenient time for the PS Vita to be collected we reserve the right to enforce any and/or all legal remedies available to us,” it said. Ahem.

Eurogamer.net has been doing some digging on the legality of the matter, and reports that consumers may have no obligation to return goods sent out in error. As such, it seems that Zavvi is merely hoping that the vague threat of legal action will force worried shoppers to comply. In fact, What Payment even suggests that a demand to pay could be considered unlawful. However, the Citizen’s Advice does counter that in some cases you may be obliged to return mistakenly received items.

It’s a bit of a grey area, then – but we suspect that this whole story is doing little other than giving Zavvi’s image a bit of a black eye. We appreciate that there may be a substantial loss of cash here, but the parcels were sent out in error, so perhaps the retailer should just take this one on the chin and move on. These veiled threats don’t exactly paint the store in a particularly positive light, do they?

[via darkzero.co.uk, eurogamer.net]

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User Comments (13)

TreesenHauser

#1

TreesenHauser said:

Lucky customers! If I were one of them, I'd be ignoring each notice I was sent. Why should I get sued for their legitimate error?

charlesnarles

#2

charlesnarles said:

They should be apologizing to the customers for being unprofessional. Somebody's fired and his boss wants that loss recouped, but no way dude! I wonder if a single person returned it or if they compensate you for doing so. It's not stealing (or even that unscrupulous) to keep stuff that gets placed onto your property, whether or not you ordered it yourself. You can't open other peoples mail, but they sent it right to them. LOL @ Zavvi's employees and business tactics.

Squiggle55

#5

Squiggle55 said:

If i received one of these packages by mistake, I would do my research to see if I had any legal responsibility to return it. If I was in the clear, there is no way I would respond to their threats. I would be far more likely to respond to apologetic letters and an offer of a compromise such as an additional free game or something. They got some dummies working for them.

Spidernoir

#6

Spidernoir said:

Wait so THEY screw up and they are THREATENING the costumers with legal action ?

This is hilarious. I would keep it and tell them good luck with that.

WaLzgiStaff

#7

WaLzgi said:

I have no idea how UK's laws work, but they should just learn from mistakes and move on. The consumers in question could always talk to a lawyer or some legal professional

craigun

#8

craigun said:

If someone sends you something, in the states at least, it's yours to keep. Now I would have returned mine, until I got that second notice. Then I would have told them were to go and kept my new Vita! LOL, power to the people!

TasukiStaff

#9

Tasuki said:

I am not 100% here but I dont see how they can threaten you with legal action when its their mistake. Its not like you stole it from them. I know in the US if something has a mismarked price like for example an item that is $20 is marked $10 they business has to give it to you for that price. But I guess it works different in the UK. Still I wouldn't return mine until I talked to a lawyer.

Crimson_Ridley

#10

Crimson_Ridley said:

I'm pretty certain that if you recieve something that you didn't order, you can keep it as unsolicited goods or as an unconditional gift. You don't have an obligation to return it, though it would be reasonable to arrange for the company to collect it.

They cannot demand payment, but also cannot take legal action.

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/nireland/consumer_ni/consumer_common_problems_with_products_e/consumer_problems_with_delivery_e/consumer_unsolicited_goods_e/youve_received_goods_or_services_you_didnt_ask_for_distance_sales.htm

-CraZed-

#11

-CraZed- said:

I'm torn on this. On one hand I find it rude to not send back the item as you did not order nor pay for it. I know they made the mistake but "they" is a broad term as there are no name employees who create the error and it could even have been a disgruntled employee's revenge on the company etc. etc.

But on the other hand I am all about businesses doing right by its customers and not treating theme with disrespect which those follow-up letters certainly were. I also feel like this retailer could have publicly turned the mistake into free publicity by claiming it was an early Christmas present for its customers or something and just taken the loss.

FritzFrapp

#12

FritzFrapp said:

Proof of despatch does NOT mean proof of receipt. All these law students and wannabe lawyers on the likes of Eurogamer and Neogaf and not one of them appreciate this very simple fact that is obvious to every courier and postie.

As it turns out that the packages were indeed not signed for and therefore not traced. Zavvi haven't a cat in hell's chance in the courts. It's a complete non-starter.

If the customers are going to keep the Vitas they should hold firm and deny everything. Zavvi will try to huff and puff, but will be as impotent as a gelding and will end up chasing the items as lost in transit with the courier company.

If they're going to return them they should inform Zavvi that they'll be happy to stay in to wait for a courier to pick up, but will be charging a day's wages for lost work (whether they're working or not) as means of compensation. Do not fall over backwards to rectify Zavvi's foul-up and offensive 'customer service.'

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