If a potential buyer bids 1 € in an eBay offer with the note: “Price 1 €”, this does not lead to an effective purchase contract, if there is obviously an oversight and actually not a buy-it-now offer should be submitted, but an auction was intended. The interested party is then not entitled to damages in the amount of the sum to be paid for a comparable vehicle, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main clarified.

The defendant offered on the Internet auction platform eBay a BMW 318d, first registration April 2011, mileage 172,000 km. After detailed description of the vehicle and the equipment it said: “Price: € 1.00” as well as: “Vehicle must be picked up within three days of auction end – by the highest bidder and paid in cash on site …, immediate purchase offers are welcome.”

The plaintiff bid €1.00 and – automatically – was awarded the contract. Before the regular end of the auction, the defendant ended the auction and pointed out to the plaintiff that the price of € 1.00 had been meant as a starting price and not as a buy-it-now price.

The plaintiff is now seeking damages of a good €13,000, which he believes he would have to pay for a comparable vehicle. The landgericht dismissed the action. The appeal against this decision was also unsuccessful before the Higher Regional Court. The plaintiff was not entitled to damages, the OLG also confirmed.

The defendant had offered a vehicle worth at least € 12,000.00. From the overall context of the sales offer it is clear “that the indication “Price: € 1.00″, which in itself stands for a buy-it-now offer, is an oversight and that the seller – in this case the defendant – wants to auction the vehicle, but not sell it for € 1.00.”

This interpretation of the defendant’s declaration of intent according to the recipient’s horizon was unambiguous here. The defendant did not have to accept that he had made a mistake when entering his offer (submission for immediate purchase), since it was clear from the context that an auction had been intended.

In any case, assuming a valid purchase agreement, the defendant would have effectively challenged his declaration of intent. He had immediately explained to the plaintiff that the price had been meant as a starting price, not as a buy-it-now price, and had therefore aborted the transaction.

The judgment of the district court is final after the plaintiff withdrew his appeal in response to the reference order.

 

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