A little disconnect on Sprint’s discount offer


Sprint promises Jennifer Thomas a discount, but it doesn’t come through. Can she force the phone company to honor its word?

Question: My cell phone bill is too high, and I recently contacted my carrier, Sprint, to find out if it could do any better. I told them I was thinking of switching to Verizon.

A Sprint representative, via online chat, offered a family plan with unlimited talk, unlimited text and 1GB data for $45 a month, or a 23 percent discount, because we are USAA members. That seemed like a pretty good deal.

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A little too good, it turns out.

The discount never came through. When I asked Sprint about it, a representative told me I was given “incorrect” information about the USAA discount and that only employees of USAA are eligible for a discount.

I’d like Sprint to do what it promised. Can you help me? — Jennifer Thomas, Greensboro, NC

Answer: Offers such as the one Sprint made to you are usually difficult to verify because they’re made by phone or in the store. But not yours. You had a chat transcript.

Let’s play some of that tape between you and Abigail S, the Sprint employee. Mind the English, please:

Abigail S.: I have another good news to share! I have checked that there is a 23 percent discount for all USAA members! So, congratulations!

You: Thank you. May I have the 23 percent discount if I don’t switch to
the Family plan?

Abigail S.: Yes! In fact it will be better as you will get the discount on
the Plan that has the Unlimited Data. Jen, you do not need to worry at all now.

Ah, but you did need to worry, because, apparently, a company’s written offer isn’t official until … well, I don’t know when. I’m not a lawyer, but you don’t have to be one to know that this isn’t right.

You followed up with a supervisor and appealed this to a Sprint executive. Remarkably, the answer remained the same: The discount wasn’t valid.

You know, at this point, you’d think someone at Sprint would buy a clue and give you the 23 percent off in the interests of good customer service. But that didn’t happen. You sent me a series of corporate denials, one more strident than the next. Sprint would not be moved.

Your experience makes me wonder about something else. If a company like Sprint does this for someone who has an offer in writing, then what if it’s a verbal offer? What if an employee promises you a USAA discount by phone and there’s no record of the offer? (Well, technically there’s a call transcript, but only Sprint would have access to it.)

How many employee mistakes are dismissed because they weren’t made in writing? I can’t even begin to imagine.

I contacted Sprint on your behalf. It apologized for the misunderstanding, offered to honor the discount and agreed to re-train its employees to prevent this from happening again.

Should Sprint have honored its offer?

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90 thoughts on “A little disconnect on Sprint’s discount offer

  1. So the agent was in a foreign call center and thought that any citizen of the USA would be a USAA member? That sounds about right. “Abigail” probably landed this call center job at 16 or so.

    1. How do you know that this was a foreign call center?

      True the English in the text was horrible. But have you seen how US educated teens write these days? Or how a lot of local newspaper articles read these days?

      I was a Sprint customer for many years. I never talked with anyone who was not in the US when I called. Not saying they were good a communicating, but they were definitely not offshore.

    2. Did I miss where it said foreign call center? I’m a Sprint customer and every time I’ve called it’s a US center.

  2. I can’t understand why Sprint wouldn’t honor this discount if its in writing. It’s not like its an obvious typo, fat finger type of error. Awful that Chris had to get involved to get them to make good on it. And, honestly, that’s what Sprint gets for having foreign call center employees handle the chat in a language they obviously struggle with.

    1. I’m not sure what “foreign” has to do with this (if the chat center person really even if foreign). Foreign people who speak English know the difference between “employee” and “member.” The problem here is that the chat center person is stupid, not foreign.

  3. I worked in a US based call center environment for a few years. We explored taking it offshore and one of the “selling points” was that while the agents are not going to be as accurate, the cost of correcting those mistakes was negligible to the labor savings.

    We stayed a US based call center.

  4. If the OP is still interested in lowering mobile phone costs, she may wish to look at Ting. It uses the Sprint network so any Sprint phone should work on it.

  5. Sprint says they will re-train it’s employees, but what about the management level people who told her to buzz off? Just like when Obama claims it was low level employees, in this case it also continued up the tree.

    1. It’s always entertaining to see how certain people will use ANY excuse to bash Obama, regardless of whether the topic has anything whatsoever to do with politics.

      Topic: Vons sold me a watermelon that was rotten inside.
      Comment: “Yeah, just like the Obama administration is rotten inside.”

      Topic: A mall cop pepper-sprayed the wrong guy at a protest
      Comment: “The mall cop sure overstepped his bounds, just like Obama does every day.”

      Keepin’ it classy there, Mike Z.

      1. Truth hurts? And none of your comparisons is even close to what I was comparing. In both of my comparisons, someone higher up said that “employees” were to blame, and yet we know how that ends up.

        1. No, the truth will set you free, MikeZ. Too bad there isn’t any in your comment…at least, none that wasn’t filtered through the always-credible Faux news version of “truth”. And we all know how getting one’s…erm…”facts” from that source ends up.

          And apparently the point of my comparison examples flew right over your head. I won’t bother trying to explain.

  6. A chat transcript is not the same thing as a written offer. It’s a recording of a conversation, just like taping a phone call. It’s great for catching lies, though!

    1. A chat transcript IS a written offer thought. A representative of the company, physically writes the new offer and it’s terms in the window, which is easily saved. I feel like that’s the definition of a written offer.

      I didn’t see anything about a disclaimer in the chat window that says “Any offers provided by this paid representative are null and void pending further review.”

      1. It’s great they honored this deal and it was smart of them to do it. But it’s important to know this was not legally binding. In this case, an employee made a mistake. The special program was for USAA employees and they thought it was members. It’s the equivalent of an ad with a decimal misplaced. Those are not legally binding, either.

        1. I understand the difference between legally binding and not legally binding. But I like to come from a place where a company that has the power to vote as a person with it’s money and can deny humans health care coverage based on a companies religious beliefs, should be treated as any human is – on their word.

          How would Sprint have responded if you accidentally signed up for a plan you didn’t want and wanted to get out of? Would they say: Here is your ETF. Pay it or deal with it? What about if you accidentally had your decimal in the wrong spot and paid an extra thousand+ dollars on your bill? That’s 6 weeks to get your money back. If they accidentally refunded money to you that was $10k more than it was supposed to, you better believe someone would be at your door in half a day.

          The whole one way street of, here’s the deal – agree to our terms or get out – is crap. If their rep said it, they should stand by it. Otherwise EVERYTHING that comes out of their rep’s mouths is junk. Refunds, nonrefunds, technical service… all of it is worthless. And hey, if they don’t want to have honor, they can be a scummy company.

          But yes, legally they were acting as scum until they were shamed.

          1. And, exactly what does a companies religious beliefs have to do with this discussion at all? And, by the way, Hobby Lobby wasn’t denying anybody contraception. They wanted to deny the abortion pill. Big difference.

          2. If a company is treated as a person with religious beliefs and the ability to donate money to causes that further its’ own interests without limit acting as its’ “voice”, then it also should be taken at it’s word. As a human is expected to abide by their word, if they’re considered to be an upstanding, respected member of the community.

            Liars are liars and cannot be trusted. If they want to hide behind legalese that one of their authorized representatives made a mistake and they can’t be held accountable to what was officially communicated over an authorized method of communication, then they are a poor company with which to do business. That’s all.

        2. Why isn’t this legally binding? A customer has a reasonable expectation that a CSR is able to bind the company. The CSR made an offer (phone service as USAA rates) and the customer accepted. That is the very definition of a contract. To the extent that this contract had to be in writing (and it almost certainly did NOT have to be in writing), it plainly is in writing.

          1. Agreed. The CSR is acting as an agent of the company, especially since they can supposedly change the plans that people have.

          2. The reason why it MIGHT not be legally binding is that the CSR is an employee, but MIGHT not be an agent. It depends on what the authority of the CSR is. I suspect that the CSR has very limited power to bind the employer.

            Depends on the specifics of the situation. Many consumer contracts state that employees cannot alter the contracts. The argument would be that the employer has a finite set of contracts and that if the 23% discount isn’t a contract that is being offered, the employee is powerless to create it.

          3. I think it’s pretty clear that the CSR has apparent authority. It is clear that the CSR has the ability to bind Sprint to *some* agreements. The customer has no way of knowing which ones. If the CSR makes an offer, it seems she’s holding herself out as having the authority, which likely puts Spring on the hook.

            As between Spring and a customer, it doesn’t really matter if Sprint has an internal policy allowing its employees to only enter into certain contracts with customers. The customer doesn’t know that policy.

          4. Agreed. I was thinking more along the lines of the current service contract that the LW has with Sprint, assuming that it is disclosed that CSR cannot make up contracts. Probably along the lines that the employees cannot alter contracts.

            And agreed, the LW should not be bound by Sprint’s internal policies, but that won’t stop them from trying 🙂

          5. I have to think about that one a little more. Assuming that she was under say a two-year contract, and that this agreement then modified that, you might be right. But, if her contract term had expired, I don’t think that would get Sprint anywhere — no altering, it would be a new contract.

            And, yes, of course, what Spring may say in litigation goes to the ends of the Earth.

      2. I suspect that depends on the state. But honestly, the difference between written and oral generally is only important when it relates to a statute of limitations.

    2. No, a chat transcript is written. it’s actually a typed conversation online. Not a transcribed telephone convo.

  7. The other thing to consider is that (and admittedly, I am not sure) USAA may refer to it’s employees as “Members” since some companies use different language to define employee. The promotion in the Sprint system may have said “Open to USAA Members” when they really mean “employees”

    I have seen Partner, Associate, Member, Crew, Cast, and Specialist all used in place of “employee” so I am sure there could be some confusion from an outside organization if they have to use the identifying title a particular company uses internally with no context.

    1. I do no business with USAA, yet I am a “member” because of past military experience in my family. I occasionally use their car rental discount codes. I just logged onto my account with them and saw no mention of a Sprint (or any other carrier) discount.

    2. To answer your questions and provide some context (with the usual disclaimer, I am not representing USAA and am just speaking from my own knowledge and experience):

      Employees here are just employees. Our customers are “members”. This comes from our core business of auto & home insurance, and how the company is structured (I think it’s called a reciprocal exchange – we are “owned” by the policyholders, not by stockholders).

      Our public website (usaa dot com) has clear and easy to find information about member discounts. I double checked and we do not currently offer member discounts for any of the phone carriers. Now, years ago we used to. If you remember the first few years of cell phones where the different carriers would pay you $$ to switch, we had a partnership with Sprint. But I think that ended about 15 years ago. I doubt that this was the source of the chat employee’s confusion.

      Regarding the employee discount, I checked our internal employee website, and interestingly I do not see that we even offer a Sprint discount to employees. That doesn’t necessarily mean there is not one, but it’s weird that they have the discounts listed for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile but not Sprint. Even if the OP was an employee, she couldn’t just get it via the chat. You have to prove you work here. For example, go into one of the stores and present your employee ID. The chat employee needs some retraining.

      1. Thank you very much for clearing this up. As I said, I was not sure what the internal terminology for “employee” was @ USAA. I was simply trying to explain another possible avenue for misunderstanding that is becoming all too commonplace in corporate America today.

  8. I had T-mobile do the same thing to me but they weren’t going to let me out of our contract either. An email to an executive got us out of the contract and on our way to a different company.

  9. Thank goodness you had the chat! If their employee is giving you wrong info, then they need to stand up and honor what the employee said. As Chris said, had you not had it in writing it would have been he said/she said – but not in this case. Great job making sure you covered your bases!

    1. I save chat transcripts, and record calls. Virginia is a one-party notification jurisdiction, so I notify myself that I’m recording the call. For good measure, I repeat their blather “This call will be recorded for quality assurance.” They say “That’s correct.” I say “That’s correct.” I notified THEM that the call was gonna be recorded [passive voice!], but I didn’t specify that I was gonna do it.

  10. “No, the offer expired. It was under no obligation.”

    Okay Chris. I know the survey questions are meant to spark debate, but this option makes no sense at all. How could the offer be expired when she accepted it at the time it was made?

    1. I agree…the OP was offered a rate that was only available to USAA employees NOT members…the offer never expired because there was never a 23% discount for USAA members.

      The question should be like “No, a company is not required to honor a pricing error.”

  11. “When I asked Sprint about it, a representative told me I was given “incorrect” information about the USAA discount and that only employees of USAA are eligible for a discount.”

    The OP was given the wrong discount…the discount was for only employees of USAA not members.

    Sprint should give the OP the discount since it was in writing; their employee made a mistake; etc.

    On a side note, I see somewhat of a conflict between Chris’s stance that travel providers should not honor ‘fat-finger’ rates but it seems that Chris was expecting Sprint to honor this mistake. Most of the ‘fat-finger’ rates are more than 23% discount but where do you draw the line.

    To me, if you ‘published’ a pricefarerateetc, you need to honor it even if it is a mistake because you are responsible for checking it, double checking it, etc.

    1. In Chris’ defense, fat-fingered rates are generally 100% obvious to everyone except the morally challenged. Sorry. I said it. Had the CSR said, oh, we can give you a 99% percent discount in perpetuity, that would be the equivalent of a fat-fingered rate, and I doubt if Chris would expect Spring to honor it.

  12. This is a tough one for me. While I expect a company to keep it’s word, I don’t expect a company to be obligated to honor a mistake either. If it were my company, and my employee made a small mistake, I would honor it as a sign of good will in most cases. But if a company has a contract with another company offering a discounts to its employees and someone accidentally said members of said company would get the discount, I am not sure if I would honor it since it’s not something we actually offer. People make mistakes, just because it was written down doesn’t mean it is now a contract. If I were Sprint, I would honor it for a certain time period or look for a similar discount for which the OP does qualify, but I don’t fault Sprint at all for not wanting to honor a mistake and if I were the OP, I would not have pursued it having learned it was a mistake. If the Sprint rep had said “We will give you 23% off to not leave” I would feel very strongly that they have to honor it, but since they found a discount, but it turned out they were not eligible for it, I find it much harder to hold them to it.

    1. When you’re acting as an agent of the company there isn’t really an “employee mistake.” It’s a company mistake. Customer service agents are acting as an agent, and the company has a legal obligation to honor it (unless of course it’s somehow grossly negligent or criminal) .

      1. That is not 100% accurate. While you address the legal 101 concept of apparent authority, there are many requirements before the employees mistake would become a contractual obligation of the company.

      2. That isn’t true in most cases. The law recognizes that mistakes happen. Publish an ad saying a car is $79.99 instead of $7999 and you aren’t forced to sell the car for that. They weren’t obligated to give an employee discount to somebody who wasn’t an employee. Nice (and smart) that they did, but they were not obligated to do so.

        1. I would think there is a distinction between a true fat finger mistake (misplaced decimal) and giving the customer incorrect information. In this case, there was really no harm to the customer that I can tell. But if she had locked herself into a new contract with AT&T thinking she had a discount when she really didn’t, and was not able to contract with Verizon, then maybe.

        2. That’s because an advertisement is considered an invitation to make an offer, not an offer itself. I don’t think that’s a reasonable view of what the CSR did here. It was an offer, which OP accepted.

          1. As emanon256 and Joe mentioned, there are many defenses to contract formation in this case

        3. Yeah… The mistake has to be a pretty obvious mistake (like the car example). In this case, there was no indication she wasn’t entitled to the discount… I think this is one case sprint would be on the hook.

    2. Sprint should honor the price for one or two years…the length of a typical cell phone contract.

      I have commented about this in the past. I had a sales rep that didn’t follow the company’s process about generating a proposal. He told a client that the price of a system (software, hardware and services) was $ 20,000. The client that the price was low so they added money to their capital expenditure request that they sent to their parent company in Japan. We received a PO from the client that was $ 84,000 short of the actual price.

      In the proposal as well as the contractagreement, it states that all contracts, agreements, etc. are subject to approval by the company before they are accepted. We could have referred to that statement and told the client but as a publicly traded company and a company of integrity, we honored the price that the sales rep provided. We told the client that the pricing was a mistake and we asked the client to sign an agreement of not disclosing the price as well as not expecting this pricing on future orders (we were lucky that this order was only for one dispensing room).

      It was over a 70% discount…we lost money on that project. The client ended up placing 4+ additional orders so we were able to spread that loss over the various orders.

    3. Right, it’s not a contract based on the fact that it’s written down. It’s a contract based on the fact that there was an offer, an acceptance and consideration paid.

      1. I disagree. A CSR stating that a certain population is eligible for a discount to which they are not eligible, does not in itself make a contract. The OP allready had a contract with the company. Being offered a discount based on certain requirements on an exiting contract (Even if month to month) does not constitute an offer. It also doesn’t pass the reasonableness test to assume a CSR can contract on
        behalf of a company, nor is it ever implied that they can. There was no consideration as they OP didn’t pay to enter into a contract, they were already paying based on their existing agreement, and accepting a discount doesn’t create a new contract unless one is specified. Most importantly, there is no intention. The OP and CSR would both have to have the express intention of signing a legally binding contract. Intention is often neglected when people try to make contracts where none exists.

        The CSR stated a discount would be applied based on a contractual discount their company had with another company, and was incorrect in their statement, the costumer was not in fact eligible. They simply said they would apply a discount, and it turned out they were mistaken about the eligibility. It’s the right thing to do for the company to honor it, but it is not a legal contract.

        1. “It also doesn’t pass the reasonableness test to assume a CSR can contract on behalf of a company, nor is it ever implied that they can.”

          –You’re kidding, right? CSRs contract on behalf of phone companies all the time. For example, CSRs offer $X rate in exchange for a contract extension all the time. Are you really saying that every time I’ve ever extended my cell phone (or cable) with a CSR on the phone, there was no enforceable contract. Good luck with that in court.

          “There was no consideration as they OP didn’t pay to enter into a contract”

          — Again, you’re kidding, right? There was definitely consideration here, although we don’t have enough info to know what it was. If she was on a month-to-month, the consideration was agreeing to continue to use sprint/forbearing cancelling her Sprint service. If she was under a long term contract, she almost certainly agreed to some kind of extension to get this rate. If neither of these things, or something similar, is true (which is basically impossible because Sprint would never offer a deal without getting something in return), then perhaps there was no consideration.

          “Most importantly, there is no intention. The OP and CSR would both have to have the express intention of signing a legally binding contract.”

          –No, at least not in any state I’ve ever dealt with. Subjective intention of the parties is irrelevant. Intention is measured based on an objective look at their actions. The offer and acceptance here demonstrate an intention by both the CSR as Sprint’s rep and the customer to enter into a contract.

          You get a C-minus on your law school exam. You display a basic understanding of the legal issues, but do not properly understand their nuanced elements and incorrectly apply them to the facts.

          1. No, I am not kidding. Who are you to give me a law exam? I was never taking your law exam, nor did I come here for a legal exam. I have been doing contract based work for 17 years, have worked with two primary attorneys the whole time, and have recently been assisting a company I used to work with in a legal contract battle concerning another company and a vendor. I stand by my statements. If you disagree, then I have no problem with that and will not grade you on it, as that is quite rude and insulting.

            Regarding your first statement, CSR’s can apply pre-exisiting contracts on behalf of the company, it is not reasonable to assume that they can make up contracts on the spot, nor to assume they can alter contracts.

            Regarding your second statement, there was still no consideration that we know of, so I can’t assume there was. If the OP renewed the contract then we would, if the OP didn’t have a term contract, they can still leave, so there is no consideration.

            Regarding your third statement, I don’t see how you could ever enforce a contract without intention. If so, then I would go up the the mountains every weekend and give a foot rub to every person I hear say, “I would pay $1,000 for a foot rub right now.” Which oddly, I hear a lot of people say. I don’t see how the “There is a 23% discount…” in any way implies “intention” that they are entering into a contract, in fact sprints actual customer contract to which all customers agree states:

            Discount amounts may vary and are subject to corporate contract and ongoing eligibility/enrollment criteria.

            . Therefor, the terms of the contract the OP has state that they may not be eligible for such discounts.

          2. “CSR’s can apply pre-exisiting contracts on behalf of the company, it is not reasonable to assume that they can make up contracts on the spot, nor to assume they can alter contracts.”

            — You may well be right that the CSR didn’t have the authority to make the offer she made, but that’s irrelevant. She made the offer. OP had no way of knowing that it wasn’t a real offer.

            “if the OP didn’t have a term contract, they can still leave, so there is no consideration.”

            –wrong. Agreeing to continue a relationship–even without an obligation to stay for a definite period of time–is clearly consideration. She agreed to pay Sprint for one more month based on the offered discount. That’s a very basic form of consideration.

            “I don’t see how you could ever enforce a contract without intention.”

            –again, I agree that intention may be an element required for a contract (though it is not in all states). But element is measured objectively based on the actions of the parties. There’s a huge difference between: “Q: So, I I can get the 23% discount? A: yes” and “I’d give $1,000 for a foot massage.” Objectively, one looks like an actual manifestation of intention, the other does not.

            “Discount amounts may vary and are subject to corporate contract and ongoing eligibility/enrollment criteria.”

            –I don’t see the relevance of this. Sure, she might not be eligible for some discounts. But the CSR offered this discount and she accepted. (Arguably, actually, she offered to continue her service in exchange for the discount, and the CSR accepted, but that’s not critical here.)

            Finally, pardon me if the law school exam description of your response offended you. That was not my intention. But I do think it’s worth making clear to the readers here that your legal analysis only scratches the surface of the law, doesn’t address the nuance in the law and does not properly apply the law to the facts. If people follow your perspective here, they are going to find themselves unexpectedly in a contract when they think they are not.

          3. There is no point in bothering to discuss this with you any further as it is clear we disagree and both believe we are correct based on our own facts and experiences that we both believe to be true. As I have stated that I have done contract work for many years, and negotiated and amended many contracts with many clients, work with lawyers, and and working on a lawsuit over a contract, thus my experience with contract law. However I am not a lawyer, and never went to law school and fully disclose this. However, to educate the readers as you state that I am not addressing the nuance in the law and not properly applying the law to the facts, may I ask where you got your law degree and what type of law you practice, or what your experience is in contract law?

          4. Berkeley law. Been practicing about 10 years. Litigated dozens of cases involving contract disputes. Drafted more contracts than I can count.

            To be fair, I do think there’s some room here to nitpick whether the language of the chat constituted an offer or an invitation to make an offer. But, even if it’s an invitation, the customer’s response sure looks like an offer and the CSR’s response to that an acceptance. Obliviously, a jury might disagree with me — so perhaps in court this could end up as a no offer/acceptance scenario.

          5. Thank you. I appreciate it. You can grade me again and clearly have more experience in the matter than I do and I appreciate your perspective. I guess it really is very nuanced. I haven’t had to go into all of the nuances with my contracts and the one dispute I am helping my old company with is my only ever contact dispute. I have had many instances where employees say something that can’t be done, and while the clients ask for it, they understand that it can’t be done.

          6. I want to apologize again for the sarcasm in my original response. You obviously have a reasonable understanding of contract law. In probably 7 out of 10 cases, you know more than enough to completely understand the contract dispute. Somewhat ironically (since the basic issue (discount or no discount?) in this case is so simple), this case involves a lot more nuance than the average case. Cheers.

          7. I agree with you… I’ve also been practicing 10 years… We must have graduated around the same time 🙂

          8. Query. off subject

            California has a statute wherein a written contract can be formed by an e-mail exchange. Do you know if a chat transcript qualifies?

          9. I don’t know. The statute is, I believe, a codification of case law, so I’d assume that, however the statute is interpreted, the case law could be adaptable to include internet chats. There would certainly not be any principled reason to exclude them. (As you suggest, I don’t think that’s relevant here because there’s no reason that this contract had to be in writing, although it could affect the statute of limitations for a lawsuit.)

          10. Subjective intention of the parties is irrelevant
            Actually it is in contract formation unless specifically disclaimed by an integration clause thus invoking the prohibition against parole evidence. Contracts 101.

          11. No, sir. An integration clause prevents the court from looking at other documents or communications to determine the scope of the contract, i.e., what the contract means. As to whether or not there is a contract, subjective intent is irrelevant — only objective intent as measured by the conduct of the parties is relevant to the question of formation. I hope you don’t teach Contracts 101.

          12. I respectfully disagree.

            When you can show that there was no “meeting of the minds” that is a defense to the contract formation. Not the best defense, but one that is colorable.

            For example, the old law school adage,

            Person A: I’m so hungry, I’ll give you $1000 for your steak right now
            Person B: I accept, here’s a steak

            Well, presumably person A didn’t really mean it, and B knew it, no meeting of the minds and thus no contract was formed.

            And welcome to the forum. Multiple attorneys should make for lively discussions.

          13. Your hypo is correct, but your conclusion is not. Objectively, in the absence of more information, nobody would offer $1,000 for a steak, thus the conclusion that there is no contract. On the other hand, let’s modify your hypo, but add in the fact that cows are in extremely short supply and steak is really, really expensive. Then, then, objectively, there is a contract. (The objective implication of both hypos is actually a question of fact, so I acknowledge that a jury could theoretically come out the other way in both of these scenarios.) In either scenario, you’re looking at objective intent, though, not subjective intent.

          14. Once again, I must disagree. If Person A in my hypo admitted under oath that he was serious about the offer, and person B believed him to be serious, then a contract would have been formed. Subjective intent.

            Put differently

            IF A and B are serious about the offer a contract is formed, regardless of further circumstances.

            If A is not serious and B knows that A is not serious, a contract is not formed.

            The objective criteria only comes into place is the subjective state is unknown, e.g. A is not serious, but B reasonably believed that A was serious. But if B has actual knowledge, that will be dispositive.

        2. But think of this; what’s to stop a company from just changing the policy bc they don’t like the discount anymore. In theory, there could be a discount for members, but sprint doesn’t want to honor it anymore (and in this case, indont think there ever was that offer… I’m just saying it COULD happen). If a company offers something like this they either need to honor it OR let the person out of the contract.

          1. Sadly you are exactly right. The contract lets them do just that. Take away the discount without letting the person out. There is nothing to stop them other than the fact that they have other contracts with companies that allow for the discount.

  13. Sprint was going to retrain its employees. Who is going to retrain the Sprint Executive mentioned in the story?

    It is not just retraining, it is the desired corporate image that Sprint should be reviewing.

  14. Organizations are responsible for the actions and negotiations of their agents, under the doctrine of implied authority.

  15. What REALLY surprised me is that Sprint didn’t try to turn right around after their denial and say, “Oh, BTW, before we discovered you’re not eligible for the discount, we extended your contract another two years, AS A CONVENIENCE”

    1. I’m surprised they didn’t, it won’t be long until a recorded message before you get to talk to anyone states that your call will be recorded AND your contract will be extended by 2 years for talking to a representative.

  16. Interesting side note about written offers. I recently purchased a used vehicle from a dealer and had the salesman write down everything on the sales agreement. However I have been told that for the dealership to honor that written ‘offer’ it must be signed by a supervisor, a sales agent is not good enough. It looks like “get it in writing” may not be good enough anymore.

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