Part of me wants to vent but another part wants to warn about unethical and possibly illegal business practices.
On January 14th, I purchased Magic:The Gathering cards through Alter Reality Games’s website. The website claimed there were four in stock and so I bought all four. The total cost was about $28 and I paid through PayPal. A day later, I received a refund of my purchase with the explanation “Item was sold in the store before I was able to delete them off inventory.”
Suspicious, I contacted the store by phone on Monday and asked the clerk who answered if they had the particular Magic cards I had previously tried to purchase. He said yes, they were four of them in the store.
“How much are they selling for?”
He quoted a price that was double what the website currently stated.
“And do you know if you’ve sold any recently?”
He said he didn’t think they had.
So I contacted the owner of Alter Reality Games and told him what I discovered and requested that he honor our original contract.
His reply in full
So now the price has tripled! And he admits that he in fact had some in stock the entire time. But he still will not honor the sale, nor give me a “raincheck” on the purchase as the Ohio Revised Code specifically requires of him.
Basically he wanted to break a contract, keep the cards for himself and sell them at a higher price all while (potentially) breaking the law and screwing over a customer.
And yes, I’ve filed an official complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. But I wanted to send a warning out on the internet as well that I don’t trust the owner of Alter Reality Games.
Yeah, but it doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to back out of a legally binding contract just because you think there’s a better offer off on the horizon, which is exactly what he did. And, as a vendor, you don’t get to advertise that you’re selling a particular product and then refuse to sell it unless the customer pays 3x the stated price. His website still lists the card as $4.95.
This is SO standard practice for a lot of places. M:tG is an oddly cutthroat business. I think everybody’s waiting for the bottom to fall out of their little false economy, like, any second now. So they’re willing to ruthlessly fuck you in the ass at any opportunity.
I guess I’m an optimist. I think there’s a chance that, if enough people report it, he’ll have to change something. Heck, it sounds like it wouldn’t cost us anything to buy one, get the sale canceled, and be able to report it. (if it doesn’t get canceled, we could have Ender buy the cards back.)
I just wish I had $5 to my name and a credit/debit card. I’m not going to sit around and say “Illegal stuff happens all the time, so there’s no point in doing anything about it.” You think that might be why it happens all the time?
IANAL, but I believe all you can do about this kind of breach of contract is sue for damages, except that if someone just declined to sell you something, it’s probably going to be tricky to demonstrate that any damage has occurred, unles maybe the item in question was a kidney machine or something.
I don’t think the law is going to force the seller to honour the contract, because that’s pretty much equivalent to seizure of the goods (but remember, IANAL)
This sort of thing happens all the time on eBay when a listing ends below the price the seller had hoped for (I’ve not heard of many cases like yours where it happened with direct web sales though).
At least on eBay you can neg their ass and get them a non-performing seller strike.