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Old 04-25-2004, 09:43 PM   #1
Question Legal Issue Of Selling To A Minor

Before I start, let me say our policy is to not sell knowingly to a minor without their parent's consent.

My question is: What are the legal ramifications of selling to a minor?

I've heard the argument that children cannot enter into a contract legally. If so what is the difference between buying a pet reptile and buying a hamburger at McDonalds for a minor? (I mean legally, I understand the difference when it comes to responsibility of care etc).
Old 04-26-2004, 08:19 PM   #2
The BoidSmith
From EBay’s User Agreement
Welcome to eBay Inc.'s User Agreement. This Agreement describes the terms and conditions applicable to your use of our services at http://www.phyisical and our general principles of our International affiliates. If you have any questions, please refer to our User Agreement

We may amend this Agreement at any time by posting the amended terms on our site. Except as stated below, all amended terms shall automatically be effective 30 days after they are initially posted on our site. This Agreement may not be otherwise amended except in a writing signed by you and Phyisical Revelation Inc. This agreement is effective on June 14, 2001 for new registering users
1. Membership Eligibility.
Our services are available only to individuals who can form legally binding contracts under applicable law. Without limiting the foregoing, our services are not available to minors or to temporarily or indefinitely suspended Physical Revelation Inc members. If you do not qualify, please do not use our services. Further, your Phyisical Revelation Inc account (including feedback) and User Id may not be transferred or sold to another party.
From Law Glossary:

An entity with legal rights and existence including the ability to sue and be sued, to sign contracts, to receive gifts, to appear in court either by themselves or by lawyer and, generally, other powers incidental to the full expression of the entity in law. Individuals are "persons" in law unless they are minors or under some kind of other incapacity such as a court finding of mental incapacity. Many laws give certain powers to "persons" which, in almost all instances, includes business organizations that have been formally registered such as partnerships, corporations or associations.
From both quotes I understand minors can't get into a legal binding contract.

Old 04-26-2004, 08:56 PM   #3
If so what is the difference between buying a pet reptile and buying a hamburger at McDonalds for a minor?
Ok then answer the above. Isn't the purchase of a burger an agreement (contract) between two parties to exchange a product for money (legal tender)? While the time frame may be more drawn out in an internet purchase the fundamental process is the same.
Old 04-26-2004, 09:09 PM   #4
Cheryl Marchek AKA JM
I listen to those court TV shows sometimes and I think I heard that a minor can only enter into a legally binding contract for life neccessities~ IE~ food, shelter, utilities......
Old 04-27-2004, 04:23 PM   #5
Let me through this scenario at you.

Teenager (Let's say 13 years old) goes into Target (or any major department store) and purchases a video game (for sake of argument let's say it's an educational game so we don't digress into discussions on violence or fun games ). Price of video game was comparable to a corn snake w/ shipping.

Return policy of the store is that the product can be returned for a full refund providing it's not opened (as then you can copy the game). This is standard for software packages at retail locations.

Above mentioned teenager goes home and plays video game instead of doing chores. Mom come home and is upset. Takes the game back to the store stating that her child cannot be sold the game because they can not enter into a contract. Legally does she have a leg to stand on?

Note: I understand the store would probably agree to a refund on a customer service point (who wants Mrs Soccer Mom screaming at them all day long?) but I am curious to the legal ramifications.
Old 04-27-2004, 08:31 PM   #6
The BoidSmith

I don't know the answer to your questions. In reality I don't even know if it is "black or white" either. But with the way things are going with the lawsuits and McDonalds I can see a few years from now the following conversation: customer"A Big Mac and a small drink please" employee "May I see your picture ID please"?
Old 04-27-2004, 08:59 PM   #7

Quarter Pounder with Cheese $2.15 + Liability Insurance = $43.49
Old 04-28-2004, 10:06 AM   #8
No kidding.
Now, if it is in the TOS of a website (say, like reptibid--or if I put it in my TOS) and a kid makes a purchase anyways--wouldnt the responsibility go to the parent? Or could the website still be in trouble because we did not get an ID. So, what, make them scan id's and email them to you prior to sale, LOL?
This is definitely an issue we need to find out about.
Old 04-28-2004, 07:49 PM   #9
The BoidSmith
Now, if it is in the TOS of a website (say, like reptibid--or if I put it in my TOS) and a kid makes a purchase anyways--wouldnt the responsibility go to the parent? Or could the website still be in trouble because we did not get an ID. So, what, make them scan id's and email them to you prior to sale, LOL?

In places where minors are not allowed it is responsibility of the owners to check the IDs (let's say for example places where alohol is being sold). In those instances they can even loose their license. The penalty is not that severe however if the owner of the place in question was tricked or mislead in any way by the minor.

By the way. I'm not 50. I'm 13, and you sold me a gecko!
Old 04-30-2004, 12:17 PM   #10
The BoidSmith
The following may shed some light into the minor’s issue:


Q. May anyone enter into a contract?
A. No. In order to make an enforceable contact, people have to be able to understand what they're
doing. That requires both maturity and mental capacity. Without both of these, one party could be at
a disadvantage in the bargaining process, which could invalidate the contract.
Q. What determines enough maturity to make a contract?
A. In this sense, maturity is defined as a certain age a person reaches - regardless of whether he or
she is in fact "mature." State laws permit persons to make contracts if they have reached the age of
majority (the end of being a minor), which is usually age eighteen.

Q. Does that mean minors may not make a contract?
A. No, minors may make contracts. But courts may choose not to enforce some of them. The law
presumes that minors need to be protected from their lack of maturity, and won't allow, for example,
a Porsche salesman to exploit their naivete by enforcing a signed sales contract whose real
implications a young person is unlikely to have comprehended. Sometimes this results in minors
receiving benefits (such as goods or services) and not having to pay for them, though they would
have to return any goods still in their possession. This would apply even to minors who are
emancipated - living entirely on their own - who get involved in contractual relationships, as well as
to a minor who lives at home but is unsupervised long enough to get into a contractual fix.
Parents who give their children access to home computers hooked up to the Internet should
consider the situation that may arise if a child uses their credit card information online. This includes
information that may be stored in the computer or at a website that recognizes your home computer
and, of course, doesn't know that a minor is the actual "shopper." From the point of view of the
website owner, the parent is the customer, and you may have a hard time avoiding liability for a
contract (such as for the purchase of merchandise) that your children have entered into using your
Internet identity.
Also, a court may require a minor or the minor's parents to pay the fair market value (not
necessarily the contract price) for what courts call necessaries (what you would likely call
"necessities"). The definition of a "necessary" depends entirely on the person and the situation. It
probably will always include food and probably will never include CD's, Nintendo cartridges or
Porsches. Minors who reach full age and do not disavow their contracts may then have to comply
with all their terms. In some states, courts may require a minor to pay the fair value of goods or
services purchased under a contract that minor has disavowed.

Source: Chapter Nine Contracts and Consumer Law

I believe these addresses some of the questions we had before, particularly what is considered “necessary”.


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