If a retail business makes a mistake on a contract and it’s in the favor of the customer, does the business have to abide by the contract?

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If a retail business makes a mistake on a contract and it’s in the favor of the customer, does the business have to abide by the contract?

Is it legally binding?

Asked on October 27, 2015 under Business Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the nature of the mistake. If somone agrees to a deal that, on reflection, is unfavorable, he is held to it as long as all the terms were clear and internally consistent. So say a business agrees to sell a refrigerator for $2,000 when their break even on it is really $2,200--they are held to it, because while they made a bad choice, it was still their choice, and the law does not protect people from making bad choices. 
However, the law also does not enforce obvious typos; rather, it enforces what the intention of the contract was. So if from the rest of the contract, it is clear that a line that said "amount paid so far" should have read "amount unpaid so far" and there was just a typo (the prefix "un" dropped out), the court will enforce that contract as if it had been written correctly.


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