A Saskatchewan judge has found in favour of an auction house in a case where a clerk missed adding a zero on the invoice for a tractor and only charged $1,800 for the machine. The actual bid, the judge ruled, was $18,000.
The case, heard in provincial court in Yorkton, was recently published to an online legal database.
It concerned the sale of a John Deere 4640 tractor with a front-end loader, the last item in a farm auction held in 2012 and conducted by Ukrainetz Auctioneering.
According to the ruling, the auctioneer started the bidding at $10,000 and there were bids of $15,000 and $17,500 before the final bid came in, at $18,000.
A clerk, however, typed $1,800 on the auction house computer. The error wasn't noticed when the bidder went to the cashier's office.
According to the judge, the cashier simply confirmed the invoice amount with the bidder and, since she did not work in the auction ring nor near it, assumed that the figure was accurate and the bidder took possession of the tractor.
Bidder refused to pay more
When the error was finally noticed, and the bidder was contacted, the man refused to pay the difference insisting he bought the tractor for $1,800.
But the judge didn't buy it.
During the trial, the auctioneer produced four witnesses — area farmers who were at the auction — who testified they recalled the winning bid was $18,000 for the tractor. The court also learned that a video of the auction was made but the end of the auction was not taped, due to an oversight. The judge also noted that the auction house paid out $18,000, for the tractor, to the farm couple whose items were sold.
The judge said the bidder had "seized on the mistake" and was not entitled to be "unjustly enriched".
He was ordered to pay the difference, $16,200 plus $100 for issuance of the summons, $9.40 to effect service and $517 for witness fees.