Offers v. Preliminary Negotiations

Describe two of any of the following, current catalogs, advertisements, classified advertisements, and direct mail advertisements, that you have received or seen and indicate which ones are Offers and which ones represent Preliminary Negotiations. (See below.) VALIDITY OF PARTICULAR KINDS OF OFFERS A. Offer made in jest: An offer which the offeree knows or should know is made in jest is not a valid offer. Thus even if it is “accepted,” no contract is created. B. Preliminary negotiations: If a party who desires to contract solicits bids, this solicitation is not an offer, and cannot be accepted. Instead, it merely serves as a basis for preliminary negotiations. (Example: A says, “I would like to sell my house for at least $100,000.” This is almost certainly a solicitation of bids, rather than an offer, so B cannot “accept” by saying, “Here’s my check for $100,000.”) C. Advertisements: Most advertisements appearing in newspapers, store windows, etc., are not offers to sell. This is because they do not contain sufficient words of commitment to sell. (Example: A circular stating, “Men’s jackets, $26 each,” would not be an offer to sell jackets at that price, because it is too vague regarding quantity, duration, etc.) 1. Specific terms: But if the advertisement contains specific words of commitment, especially a promise to sell a particular number of units, then it may be an offer. (Example: “100 men’s jackets at $26 apiece, first come first served starting Saturday,” is so specific that it probably is an offer.) 2. Words of commitment: Look for words of commitment — these suggest an offer. (Example: “Send three box tops plus $1.95 for your free cotton T-shirt,” is an offer even though it is also an advertisement; this is because the advertiser is committing himself to take certain action in response to the consumer’s action.) D. Auctions: When an item is put up for auction, this is usually not an offer, but is rather a solicitation of offers (bids) from the audience. So unless the sale is expressly said to be “without reserve,” the auctioneer may withdraw the goods from the sale even after the start of bidding.

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