A British man has been ordered by a German court to pay damages of almost £12,000 after he cancelled the sale of a vintage Studer A80 tape recorder on eBay.
According to The Mirror, Mike Godden, a retired music studio manager, listed the machine with a starting price of 99p, and bids rose to £1,380. However, he says he pulled the listing with eight days of the auction remaining when he realised that the classic reel-to-reel hardware was faulty.
Godden then started to receive messages from the German man who had placed the highest bid before the listing was removed. He demanded that the machine be shipped to him.
Believing that eBay’s rules allowed him to cancel the auction because he did so more than 12 hours away from its finish time, Godden initially ignored the request. However, the eBay bidder then took legal action, and the case ended up in a German Regional Court.
Here, it was ruled that the so-called Rome I Regulation - an EU contract law that came into force in 1980 and which is still recognised in the UK after Brexit - meant that the contract between two parties was binding, even though the auction was ended early.
As a result, Godden was ordered to pay the German man £7,551, rising to £11,600 when factoring in legal fees and costs. This is to cover the cost of the bidder buying an equivalent tape recorder; Studer A80’s can sell for thousands on the second-hand market.
Godden is now attempting to recoup his losses from eBay, who told the Mirror in a statement: “We discourage sellers from ending auctions early, as listing an item and accepting bids from potential buyers creates a contractual obligation to sell the item.
“However, we understand sellers may occasionally need to cancel an auction and there are legitimate reasons for them to do so, including if the item is lost or broken. If they do end an auction early, sellers need to make sure they have proof of a legitimate reason.”