This situation began with Zavvi sending customers who had pre-ordered Tearaway, a Vita title, the console bundle which contained the game in error. It was a huge mistake by Zavvi, but quite a fortunate one for those customers. The situation escalated last week when it emerged Zavvi had sent threatening letters to those same people demanding the return of the Vitas.
Now Jas Purewal, writer behind the site Gamer Law, has looked at the issue and has found that Zavvi were likely in the legal right to do so, though it should have been handled better. The confusion about the situation came from a misinterpretation of the Unsolicited Goods & Services Act of 1971, and the Distance Selling Regulations, which states a company cannot demand payment or the return of an item if it was received unsolicited.
However, Jas has pointed out that the goods sent to the customers weren’t unsolicited. The customers had solicited the business of Zavvi and due to an error of the company’s part the wrong item had been sent. This means that customers had been “unjustly enriched” according to legal terms, and in effect were obligated to return the item.
However whether it was worth Zavvi doing this due to the massive public backlash is another story. After all I’ve seen people say they won’t use the company again due to the threatening tone of the letter, despite the mistake being theirs. It may have been better for Zavvi to admit the mistake and write it off as a lesson, offering better training for staff, instead of laying the blame on the customer.
So Zavvi were in the legal right, but it probably wasn’t worth the PR nightmare.