It looks as though I'm sunkSkip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
A yachtsman, it is said, is truly happy only twice: the day he buys his boat and then the day he sells it. Except, probably, in Jakob Kauder's case. Who's Jakob Kauder? He's a sailor from the Rhine River city of Porz, Germany. Or was ... before he decided to put his used Jeanneau Sun Way up for sale on AllesAuktion. an Internet site where people offer everything from construction machinery to their stamp collections. According to news reports, Kauder hoped for a return in the vicinity of $17,000 for his 21-footer, which sleeps four people. But here's what the buyer got it for: $30.43. That's not a misprint. In his haste, Kauder neglected to specify a "reserve price," or what he'd accept as a minimum bid. Ultimately, he realized his mistake and tried to pull the boat back, claiming there were "errors" and "technical problems" on the website. Alas, he was too late. And when the winning bidder took him to court, it ruled that, indeed, there had been a sale and it was legally binding. Or, as a spokesman for the court in Cologne put it: "The standard laws of business transactions also apply to Internet auctions." A panel of judges did offer Kauder a way to keep his Sun Way, however: by paying the buyer the same amount in damages that he'd hoped to make from the sale. Yep, $17,000. At this point, his only source of satisfaction may be that since northern Germany is deep into autumn, the buyer is fast running out of opportunities to take his prize for a sail before the weather becomes too cold.