Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Jan 23 2017 23:33:01

What Happens When Chair Sells for a Cent

By: Ina Steiner

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A chainstore listed a patio chair with a retail price of over $350 for one penny on its website on Sunday. A deals site published a link to the listing, and many shoppers placed an order and received confirmation notifications.

However, the deal was indeed too good to be true, as many had suspected it would, and the retailer cancelled the orders. But the unusual wording of the email they received on Monday cancelling the order had some shoppers annoyed:

"This email is in reference to your recent order placed for a patio chair on Menards.com. This item was a figment of the computer's imagination. We are diligently looking the cause of this temporary and isolated technical error. In the meantime of that, your order is being promptly cancelled and refunded in full."

A seller who lists on eBay and Amazon wasn't impressed with that response, explaining that the glitch ran for over 9 hours before being detected, and stating that the customer service rep who blamed the computer in less-than-perfect English "was not cute."

"Don't you love the response from Menards," he wrote. "I'd lose eBay and Amazon with a response like that." 

Blaming the glitch on a computer is reminiscent of when eBay blamed a glitch on a robot. In a letter, eBay blamed the robots and wrote that they had "been reprimanded" - it even included a cartoon image of a robot in the email.

How do you explain errors or glitches to your customers, and do marketplaces expect you to eat the cost if a customer underpays, or do they let you cancel the orders?




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by: 27tcle This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 23 23:54:10 2017

Usually eat it, but something like this is too much IMO.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 24 05:41:51 2017

Cancel Order.....Blame on some ebay glitch ( ghost listing )....Move on.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jan 24 07:15:01 2017

If something sounds to good to be true it probably is.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Tue Jan 24 09:24:33 2017

That's Funny  :o)

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by: castlerob This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 24 09:30:51 2017

Ghost listing? I thought that only happens to me. I'll sell out of a product, and three months later, there it is again, being bought even though I know I deleted it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Jan 24 12:29:50 2017

If I make a mistake, it's on me. I've put in wrong prices in my listings on occasion, but luckily nothing so wrong as a $350 chair for one cent.

Anyone who placed an order for the chair had to know it was a mistake and shouldn't be surprised that their order was cancelled.  

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by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 24 13:05:57 2017

That is why ebay and amazon are better places to buy then retail sites. Ebay holds the sellers accountable but there is no one to police a private site.

I one time intended to start an auction at 99 cents, but accidentally listed that item as a buy it now. I realized it right away but it sold instantly. I honored that sale price and my buyer got a great deal!!

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by: 27tcle This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 24 14:38:10 2017

I've taken one for the team a few times over the years, and it's best thought of as an investment. You usually end up with a loyal customer for life.

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by: NeverJetHot This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 25 00:28:26 2017

I would not honor that even if it was one chair, let alone a whole batch of them; There is a rule of thumb that comes into play, "Can the buyer reasonably expect that they would get this product for one cent?"

If I lost my shirt on a deal like that, I wouldn't be able to afford my reasonable customers realistic good prices.  

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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 25 00:50:37 2017

"Save big money at Menards". If anyone hasn't heard of them, they are a family owned hardware chain in the midwest. Its almost to the point where they even have half the stuff you would find at a kmart (take away 90% of the clothes, toys & health/beauty and add the rest to a hardware store)

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This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Wed Jan 25 01:39:58 2017

I accidentally underpriced an item on eBay by $700 several days ago. It sold within hours. I refunded the buyer, issued an effusive apology and relisted at the higher price. I can't imagine someone holding me to that sale.  

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by: userfish This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 25 01:46:51 2017

Customer loyalty  is no longer relevant in todays low price driven market.
I have a disclaimer advising buyers that price mistakes are not honored  

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by: ORourkecut This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Jan 25 08:44:37 2017

I would sit on it for a while before I'd make the decision

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by: go-figure This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 25 08:49:57 2017

Virtually every well-ran website has a pricing error disclaimers built into their Terms and Conditions. Without that essential clause, you actually can be forced into selling at that type of price if someone bothers to take you to court. Even ads in the Sunday paper (you remember those don't you) had pricing disclaimers on them.

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by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 25 09:30:33 2017

Worth repeating/re-posting:
by: userfish        
Wed Jan 25 01:46:51 2017
Customer loyalty  is no longer relevant in today's low price driven market.

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by: Lahav-CampaignGO This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 25 09:58:27 2017

Its fair to ask to cancle we are all human. We do mistakes, poeple should be kind to each other.

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 25 10:46:03 2017

Nothing annoys me more than customers who think a 350 dollar chair could sell for a penny and expect it since they bought it. It's ridiculous and the entitled customers need to get a life

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by: Crafteme This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 25 12:00:58 2017

So does ECommerceBytes ever find anything good to report on?  The negativity against everyone and everything is getting a little tiring.

Mistakes happen, customers understand.  If they don't their probably not one you want to deal with anyway.  Computers do make mistakes as well. If this was a data transfer from another source or scan from other data the scanner can read the data incorrectly.  You try building an online catalog as large as Menards and see if you do it error free.

I think they handled it wonderfully.  Love the email they sent out.  Their is nothing wrong in adding a bit of humor!

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by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 25 12:25:07 2017

''Silver Lining'' to every mistake.  

What Menards loses on the pricing mistake, they make up on volume.  Easy Peasy!

My pricing mistake was listing a 20 some dollar item for $2,000.00.  Crapola, nobody bought.

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by: betsys.bijoux This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Jan 25 12:39:32 2017

Yup, they had every right to cancel the ridiculous price BUT for good customer relations they should have sent a gift card even if only for $10 to show they understood it was their mistake.

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