Legal Nature of Hints as "Changes and Errors Reserved" and "Pictures Similar"

Upon application of Bundesverband der Verbraucherzentralen und Verbraucherverbände (Federation of German Consumer Organization) the Federal Court of Justice had to decide on a case where the discussion was on whether or not such hints "All prices incl. VAT! (Alle Preise inkl. MwSt!)" or "Changes and Errors reserved (Änderungen und Irrtümer vorbehalten.)" or "changes and errors reserved (Änderungen und Irrtümer vorbehalten.)" similar hints were on many different pages of the catalog. The court decided on February 4, 2009 (re VIII ZR 32/08).


To make a long story short: A consumer bought a phone with the tariff option of "Data 30" for which the vendor's catalog showed "incl. 100 MB surfing volume". Another offer was for "Data 150" with 150 MB traffic included. The consumer not only double but even triple checked this actually evident mistake only to be confirmed that the tariff "Data 30" included 100 MB surfing volume. After the contract was closed, it did turn out the tariff was wrongly advertised. This consumer then wanted to revoke the contract. After sum fussing and with help of his local Verbraucherzentrale, the provider gave in, revoked the contract, and gave the consumer a credit notice.

Now Federation of German Consumer Organization took this case as an example and demanded from the provider to sign a declaration of cease and forbearance such unfair competition and lastly to come up with the legal costs. Since the provider did not comply, this institution sought legal recourse on the hints "Changes and Errors reserved (Änderungen und Irrtümer vorbehalten.)" and their legal relevance. The court held that such hint was not to be forbidden because it has nothing to do with a contract. Looking at it from a near to life perspective such warning cannot be considered as standard terms and conditions but as advertisement to attract the interest of the potential customer. A binding contractual stipulation is determined by the intention that it is to be part of the contract. The warning on errors cannot be considered as such.


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