Online auction company refusing to sell property after contract signed

January 26, 2012 17:53 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

Can a real estate auction company refuse to sell a property in an online "absolute auction" after the hammer falls, even though the contract was signed by the buyer and funds and contracts were sent by the specified time frame?

Consumer Ed says: 

Typically, an auction suggests that the seller is inviting bidders to make offers, which may be accepted or rejected.  Usually the seller has reserved the right to accept or reject the bid, or set a minimum price the bidder must meet.  Unless otherwise specified, all auctions are presumed to be like this. 

However, a seller can announce the sale is to be “without reserve”, which means the auction is an offer to sell to the highest bidder regardless of price.  This is also referred to as an “absolute auction.”  In this case, once the auction has opened to bids, the seller cannot withdraw the property nor reject the highest bid, because the seller is essentially promising to sell the property to the highest bidder once a bid has been made.  Unless there were special terms of acceptance that were clearly disclosed before the start of the auction, the seller cannot withdraw the property from the sale after a bid.

In any event, precise facts need to be nailed down, and you should contact an attorney to discuss your rights and options against the real estate auction company.

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Changing a contract after you've signed it

December 21, 2011 00:00 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed: 

My husband signed a contract for replacing our flooring that did not include the dates of service, payment schedule or whether the company would be responsible for disposing of the old flooring. They have not started the work yet. Can I change the contract before they start?

Consumer Ed says: 

This is a legal question, so the first thing you need to do is consult with an attorney about your rights in this situation. You should be aware, however, that unlike some states, Georgia does not require home improvement providers to include in their contracts the price of their services, the start and completion dates, and all work that is to be performed.  If your contract does not contain those specifics, it could give you a legitimate basis for asking your contractor to clarify those terms in writing.  If the contractor refuses to do so, you may have to stick with what the current contract says, (unless an extreme circumstance occurs, e.g. the contractor breaches a crucial term of the contract or delays beginning or completing the work for an unreasonable amount of time).  Assuming your contractor does agree to make the requested changes, ask him to add an additional section to the contract that addresses the changes and be sure you and the contractor both sign that addendum.

In the future, before entering into any kind of service agreement, you should read it carefully to make sure that its important terms are very clear.  Be sure that you fully understand your obligations and the obligations of the other party.  If you don't understand the contract, or if you have any questions, have an attorney review and explain the contract to you before you sign it.

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Ticket refund for rescheduled NASCAR race

October 6, 2011 17:07 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

I recently purchased a ticket for a NASCAR race in Atlanta.  The race was rained out on the scheduled day of the event (Sunday).  The race was rescheduled for the following Tuesday.  I and many people were unable to attend due to work and kids in school.  When I purchased my tickets from the box office there was no mention that the tickets were non-refundable or could not be exchanged in the event of rain.  There was also no mention of this policy when I picked my tickets up at Will Call or on the paper I signed for receipt.  It was on the tickets, but by then it would have been too late since they had already charged my credit card.  I also checked the website which made no mention of their policy.  Is there a law that protects the consumer in such circumstances?

Consumer Ed says: 

Georgia law does not require ticket providers to issue refunds when events need to be rescheduled.  Any refund or rescheduling policies are governed by the terms and conditions of the ticket provider or the venue itself.  If you purchased your ticket through a ticket broker such as Ticketmaster, that broker is required by law to disclose all relevant terms and conditions, including refund policies, and to provide a full refund to the ticket purchaser if the event is cancelled and not rescheduled. 

Atlanta Motor Speedway provides information regarding its rules and regulations, which can be accessed at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/visitors/rules/.  On the website, the Speedway states that there will be no refunds for any postponement of an event, and that the tickets purchased will be honored on the date that the event is rescheduled.  The website further states that there will be no refunds or exchanges allowed for any reason.  Other ticket brokers’ websites have very similar provisions.

So, before you purchase your ticket for an event, you should always ask the ticket provider and event venue about the terms and conditions of the ticket purchase (these terms and conditions are often found on the provider’s website or on the ticket itself).  The terms of use found on a website where tickets are purchased or on the tickets themselves are considered binding contracts, so the ticket purchaser would be required to adhere to those terms.  If there are no provisions in the seller’s terms and conditions that entitle you to a refund in the event of a cancellation or a rescheduling that you cannot attend, you unfortunately have no recourse.

If you believe a ticket broker failed to comply with the disclosure requirements, you should contact the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission at (404) 656-2868 or by visiting www.sos.ga.gov/gaec/.

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