Let's say I have found a site where you can buy some products. The site follows a typical shop flow, e.g. a shopping cart and a checkout.
Now we assume that the developer made a bad decission and calculates the total amount on the client side and does not validate it any further on the server side, this amount is than passed to an online payment service.
Now let's say we edit this total amount to something different then the original amount, as an example 0.01€, and pay this amount via the payment service and receive the products. Later on the site owner notices the difference and tries to sue you, what would be the outcome most likely? (keeping the ethical aspect out)

Different country's have different laws so I share my thoughts with you from the german view (Other countrys welcome!):
As far as I know to have a valid contract both sides have to give a "willing declaration" (Willenserklärung) following the pattern

Offer + Acceptance = Contract

So is a dynamically calculated price shown on your screen a valid offer you accept by submitting the digital form?
Also one could argue that editing the field and sending it to the server makes it a completely new offer (stating what you're willing to pay) to the company and since they redirect you to the payment service without further notice they accept it.
I would say this falls under an implied acceptance (Stillschweigende Annahme):

Offer + Direct payment without further exchange = Receipt of Products (eg in a store)

To set some boundaries let's say that the amount is shown as Text and not in a editable input box and the amount send to the server in some way hidden on the client.

I don't know much about legals so feel free to ask if you need any other information

  • On the face of it, this resembles a restaurant customer crossing out the schnitzel list price on a menu, writing in a lower figure, handing it back to the waiter, and ordering that: it isn't really a counteroffer.
    – user6726
    Jun 3, 2016 at 18:37
  • However the waiter would deny that 'offer', in this case you go to the 'online waiter' and show him your offer (or at least we can assume the server checks it) and get a redirect to the payment service to fulfill our side of the contract
    – Kimmax
    Jun 3, 2016 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


My thinking is that there was no meeting of the minds, thus no acceptance.

( I can see that shipping the goods implies acceptance, however I understand that acceptance implies a meeting of the minds - and there would have been subterfuge to modify the return page with the lower amount - thus at the moment of apparent acceptance there was no actual acceptance)

I doubt you would have a case against the other party criminally, but quite possibly in a civil court.


I agree with @davidgo when he says:

My thinking is that there was no meeting of the minds, thus no acceptance.

It follows that there would be no contract which means no contractural redress by either party i.e. The courts are powerless to intervene using contract law so the status quo remains: you keep the goods they keep the money.

In common law jurisdictions there may be equitable remedies, I am thinking of the doctrine of unjust enrichment among others.

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