What are a seller’s rights if a purchaser backs out of a sale?

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What are a seller’s rights if a purchaser backs out of a sale?

I sell chi-pups in MO. A woman from IL wanted to buy a listed male puppy. She asked if he was “all white”. I replied, “No he is white and cream”. I asked her if she had been to the site or read the health guarantee etc. She said she hadn’t and handed me off to her “boss” (literally). In the end, I explained the process (signed copy of guarantee, vet check, rabies. etc) and agreed to meet her in IL. We arrived and she changed her mind  ,telling me she thought he’s be “snow white”. Health certificates and vet visits are non-transferable plus fuel. Can I bill her for the money that I’m out?

Asked on May 8, 2011 under Business Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Legally, you may well be able to bill her under at least one of two theories:

1) It's possible--depending on exactly what was said--that an oral or verbal agreement was formed for her to buy the puppy; if that's the case, then if she breached that agreement, you could sue her.

2) Even if there was no agreement actually formed, if you reasonably relied, to your detriment (i.e. spent money) on her assertion that she would buy the puppy, that may be enough to hold her liable under the theory of promissory estoppel.

The problem is, if she or her boss won't pay voluntarily when you bill them, you'd have to sue if you want the money, which may well not be cost effective. Good luck.


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