This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
If the variance between the offer and acceptance is on some immaterial matter, it has been said that such acceptance completes the contract, at least if the offeror makes no specific objection to such variance.1 If A makes an offer to B to sell land, the abstract and deed to be furnished when the price is paid, and B asks for the abstract at once, it has been said that such variance is in a mere detail, and that the contract is complete.2 A contract was held to exist where A made an offer to B to buy, which B accepted, "if you give us time to fill," to which A replied that he wishes, "if possible he would fill at once."3 If an offer for goods refers to the "usual terms," an acceptance which specifies the quantity, price and time of delivery, but which does not refer to the terms, is sufficient.4 The actual decision in these cases is probably correct, but the reason which is given is likely to give very bad results if it is taken literally and applied according to its terms. In the cases in which this suggestion has been made the provision of the offer from which the offeree dissents may be a mere suggestion on the part of the offeror, advisory and directory rather than mandatory.5 The offeree may ask for such variance as a favor rather than insist upon it as a condition of his acceptance.6 The acceptance, construed in the light of the circumstances, may conform to the offer strictly, though not in express terms.7 But in offers for promises, if the offeror makes it clear that any term, no matter how immaterial, is really a part of his offer, he should not be compelled to acquiesce in an acceptance which may seem just as good, but which is not what he bargained for.
3 Neville v. Merchants' and Manufacturers' Mutual Ins. Co., 17 Ohio 192 [see, however, reversal in Neville v. Ins. Co., 19 Ohio 452],
1 Bushmeyer v. McGarry, 112 Ark. 373, 166 S. W. 168; Farmers' Produce Co. v. Schreiner, 48 Okla. 488, L. R. A. 1916A, 1297 [sub nomine: Farmers' Produce Co. v. McAlester Storage & Commission Co., 150 Ac. 483].
2 Bushmeyer v. McGarry, 112 Ark. 373, 166 S. W. 168. (In this case the offeror actually sent the abstract at once; and accordingly he acquiesced in what appears to have been a request for a favor rather than an attempted change in the terms of the offer.)
3 Farmers' Produce Co. v. Schreiner, 48 Okla. 488, L. R. A. 1916A, 1297 [sub nomine: Farmers' Produce Co. v. Me-Alester Storage & Commission Co., 150 Ac. 483].
4 Philp v. Knoblauch (1907), S. C. 994, 15 Scots Law Times-Reports, 61.
5 Farmers' Produce Co. v. Schreiner, 48 Okla. 488, L. R. A. 1916A, 1297 [sub nomine: Farmers' Produce Co. v. McAlester Storage & Commission Co., 150 Ac. 483].
6 Bushmeyer v. McGarry, 112 Ark. 373, 166 S. W. 168.