Can a retailer cancel a pre-order even after it has been fully paid?

UPDATED: Dec 23, 2012

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Can a retailer cancel a pre-order even after it has been fully paid?

Is purchasing something in this manner a contract? What if the buyer finds adventagous for the order to be continued because this deal cannot be found elsewhere, any recourse?

Asked on December 23, 2012 under General Practice, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, the retailer may not cancel the order after it has been paid unless--

1) The terms of sale (that is, the terms, whether in a formal agreement, on the website or other marketing materials, etc.) pursuant to which the buyer purchased the item specifically give the retailer the right to cancel--and the retailer follows the procedures outlined in those materials for doing so, which would include returning the payment, unless there was clear notice before the buyer placed the order that he/she could lose some or all of the money in this circumstance.

2) The item is no longer available to the retailer--the law allows a contract or agreement to be voided for impossibility, if there is simply no way to honor or fulfill it. Because the transaction is voided, the retailer must return the money.

3) The transaction becomes legally impossibility, due to a change in the law (e.g. say the buyer were buying an assault weapon, but the buyer's state outlawed them before it could ship)--again, the buyer's money would have to be returned.

4) It is discovered that the buyer committed fraud, or knowingly misrepresented some material or important fact, to get the retailer to engage in the transaction; fraud allows the other party to rescind the agreement, which again would involve returning the money.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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