It’s A Bargain! Do Pricing Errors Save you Money?

After the shopping frenzy of ‘Black Friday’, the frantic weekend shopping before Christmas to be followed by Boxing Day sales, it’s a wonder that anyone has any money or credit left for any more bargains.

However, only recently there was a huge rush by bargain hunters when sellers on global giant Amazon were subject to drastic mispricing, with many goods worth hundreds of pounds being sold for just a penny.

The problem appears to have emanated from third party software used by Amazon and although the error only happened for an hour, sellers who use Amazon as a selling platform lost hundreds of thousands of pounds during that period. The effect was most strongly felt by smaller businesses for whom Christmas is usually a boom time. A number of family firms may now be facing closure in the New Year because of their heavy losses.

Thanks to social media, the good news for buyers travelled dangerously fast. Apparently buyers were scooping up sometimes hundreds of one item that were worth so much more than the penny they had to pay for them. These included a wide range of goods, from headphones and batteries to mattresses, clothing and games.

One retailer who sells toys and games claimed it may have cost him £100,000. By the time he was able to take his store offline, more than £30,000 worth of orders had already been despatched by Amazon. This meant they could not be cancelled and the lucky shoppers would be able to keep their bargain buys.

Julian Ireland, from leading regional law firm Pictons says “This is not a unique situation and it will be interesting to see who ultimately takes responsibility for this, whether it’s the Software Developers or Amazon we will have to see whether anybody takes responsibility for the error and compensates the sellers who use Amazon as a selling platform.

“In general with online sales, the contract is only complete once the item you’ve bought online has been despatched. It is therefore important to read the terms and conditions with the selling platform as they may not be protected from this kind of technical glitch, which would mean the retailers have to take the hit. It was evident from some of the internet traffic I saw that buyers couldn’t believe what they were buying for a penny and most of them didn’t expect to receive any goods at all once the mistake was discovered. Sadly for a lot of the smaller businesses involved, many shoppers will be having a great Christmas at their expense.

“In store purchasing has much clearer legal rulings for retailers and shoppers. There are still some grey areas online and in this case it would seem that the buyers are the winners. I just hope that whoever is responsible for the does the decent thing and reimburse the retailers for their losses as clearly it was not their fault”.

Should you have a Consumer or Customer problem please contact Julian via phone on 0845 263 7505 or to email him directly click here