The provision of the offer – In this stage, the individual who would like to enter into the contract with the seller, would go into the seller’s premises and show interest in buying the product. The potential buyer would make a statement to the seller, which is the ‘statement of the offer’. The seller may or may not accept all or part of the offer, but may also bargain with the potential buyer in order to keep their interests focused. The seller can refuse the contract for whatever reason.
This is ensured only if the items displayed are considered to be invitation to offers rather than offers themselves. Both the parties need to have a mutual understanding for the contract to work. They need also to have a close idea of the area in which the contract would be dealing with. For example, if the contract is about selling or buying land, both the parties need to have an idea of the real estate issues (such as the market value of the land, legal issues, etc), for the contract to be successful (Out Law, 2008, Larson, 2003).
Acceptance – Once the offer is placed by one party, it should be accepted by the other party. It is important to remember, that not all offers should be accepted. Some parties may find the terms of the offer as unacceptable and may further want to bargain on the terms and conditions. The other party should be clear with the terms and conditions of the contract and should not find any issue confusing. The acceptance of the offer needs to be communicated to the other party, for the contract to get working (Out Law, 2008, Larson, 2003).
Both the parties would have to ensure that the terms and conditions of the contract (mentioned in the contract document) would be met. Meeting with the terms and conditions is contractually binding. When the dealer is selling his products to the buyer, all the seller’s terms and conditions should be made known to the buyer and agreed upon. In the same way, the buyer would have to make known his terms and conditions to the seller, which have to be agreed by the seller.
During any process, whether online or offline, the terms and conditions would have to be presented as a separate page, and has to be accepted by both the parties either in the form of signature or clicking on the agree button, before the contract is fulfilled. It is also important to remember that a counter-offer presented is not considered as an acceptance to the offer, but as a rejection (Out Law, 2008, Larson, 2003). To ensure that the online contracts are hassle free, merchants may have a separate process to ensure that the terms and conditions of the contract are known to the buyer and do not create any issue.
One way of doing this is to have a link for the terms and conditions. The buyer would have to click on this link in order to view the details of the terms and conditions. During the ordering process, the buyer would have to tick the ‘Agree with terms and conditions’. Once this link is ticked, the customer can go ahead with the contract. It is important for all the contracts to have the customer aware of the terms and conditions, and at the same time make the terms and conditions available to the customer. Some of the online merchants utilise Java-script validation forms during the order process.
If the user has turned off the Java-script on his system, then without clicking the “Agree with terms and conditions’ box, the order would be completed and hence the contract cannot be validated. Even if the user does not tick this box, the order would be completed. Hence, it would legally ideal for the online merchants not to have a Java-script page during the ordering process (Out Law, 2008, Larson, 2003). During an online contract process, an automated receipt process is usually followed to ensure that the buyer is informed of the acceptance of the contract by the seller.
However, if an error has occurred in the pricing or if limited products are made by the seller, then such an automated response process would be causing a lot of inconveniences. The customer has to be specifically informed that the automated response is not acceptance of the contract, but just that the order has been received by the seller. The automated response should clearly mention to the buyer that the seller would have to check the order before final acceptance has been performed. This entire process need to be clearly mentioned in the terms and conditions (Out Law, 2008,).