Being chased for full payment after 1p Amazon cock-up?

16 December 2014

amazoninstant You heard about the 1p cock-up at Amazon? Well, some people got themselves a bargain before Amazon corrected the glitch.

Well, turns out some companies aren't happy about this and have sent messages to customers, saying they want the rest of the money.

One avid BW reader told us that they were sent an email by a company called PremiumBrands4Less. The order has been fulfilled by Amazon and dispatched.

The email reads: "Dear Customer, firstly, I'd like to apologise for the disruption this email may cause. We experienced a problem with Amazon UK yesterday at about 18:00GMT and worked to fix the original issue by 20:00GMT."

"We continued to work over the following few hours in conjunction with Amazon to revert any incorrect prices to their original prices, caused via the Amazon system. We have received communication that Amazon will not penalise sellers for this error, but have requested we contact buyers and ask them to create a return request to return the stock back to amazon."

"We are continuing to work to identify how this problem occurred and to put measures in place to ensure that it does not happen again. We've been in business for over 4 years and we've always taken pride in the levels of service we provide, so everyone here is devastated and disappointed we experienced this problem. Unfortunately, our inventory lost over 10000 units within a space of 2 hours, which couldn't be prevented. This will result in PremiumBrands4Less entering liquidation as a result of this pricing error by amazon."

"We understand that you think you may have grabbed a great bargain, but we have instructed amazon to revert the prices to our usual prices and recharge your card with the correct amount owed. We would like to offer customers a grace period of 7 days to create a return request and return any stock incorrect priced and dispatched. If this action isn't carried out, we will seek to recover sums owed"

"1. By recharging your credit/debit card
2. If funds are not available, passing to a debt collection agency
3. Informing experian and getting your address added to the mail order black list"

"We would like to urge customers to be honourable and honest during this Christmas period and not take advantage of a small business, who cannot afford to give away its £100,000 inventory for under £100. This will create a number of job losses in the run up to Christmas, due to the behaviour of a select number of customer."

"I again reiterate, the products were not Amazon Inc, products, but were PremiumBrands4Less owned products dispatched on our behalf by Amazon Inc.

Yours sincerely

PremiumBrands4Less"

What do you make of that then? Would you laugh at them and think 'hard cheese! I've done nothing wrong and you can whistle!' or would you be guilt-tripped into helping out a small business?

**UPDATE** When queried, Amazon responded. Have a look in the comments.

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice

29 comments

  • OlPeculier
    Whilst Amazon bashing is all the rage nowadays, this was *not their fault*. It was down to a SaaS system that was automatically price matching that went pear shaped, it also happened on Play.com but nobody seems to be mentioning that either.
  • Luke
    I'd be happy to pay the full price, if I could afford it, or send back if I couldn't.
  • shakesheadsadly
    Personally? I wouldn't have ordered anything I didn't actually want. And if the increased price was fair, I'd think, so be it. It would have been nice, but no harm no foul. Sadly, I would guess that the vast majority of people who flooded the site after the glitch became obvious, purely bought to make a profit. And will take no notice. Bit rubbish of Amazon not to be at least helping out with this. But what do you expect?
  • Tony
    I would reply and ask them why they havent taken the issue up with Amazon
  • James
    The reader should call citizens advice. I'm pretty sure that the suppliers action would be unlawful. If the funds were taken from the consumer and the order completed, these threats should be ignored.
  • craig
    After querying this with Amazon I had the following response; "I'm really sorry to hear that the seller PremiumBrands-4-Less has been contacting you regarding returning the delivered item. We certainly didn't expect this to happen. We at Amazon.co.uk take pride in our customer service standards and believe that customers who purchase from the Marketplace should be treated with the same degree of service as a customer who's purchased directly from us. Even though your purchase was made from a Seller, we realise that it may influence your decision to visit our website again. I've forwarded your message to our team who review Seller activities as part of any investigation in possible violations of our policies. Further, Please understand that the payments for these orders are through Amazon and there is no need to return the item which you have received. I assure that we will not be charging you any extra charge other than the one you paid for the items. Once again please accept our sincere apology for the inconvenience that have caused you and hope you will give us another chance to prove our excellence. We look forward to seeing you again soon."
  • alpha
    Were the tone of the suppliers email different, then of course consideration would have to be given to their situation. Certainly in this instance their mail is contradictory ,citing the fault lying with amazon (and hence surely their recourse is rightly to claim the difference from amazon) but saying they worked to fix the issue and would put measures in place to stop it happening in the future. And going on to make it sound as though the result of the error would put them out of business (again if the error is theirs then the cost would surely be their own(unless kind customers did return/allow extra charges) however if the error was amazon, surely they claim their money from amazon) resulting in no significant loss (unless of course amazon aren't actually going to play ball on this - making the loss theirs, even though not their fault) But to compound the guilt they then go on to threaten the customer - by either just taking additional money (against the law, as the agreed and accepted amount is all that is allowed to be taken) - to pass the debt to a debt recovery firm (again the agreed amount accepted and paid, so no debt) - and to blacklist the customer through experian (again, agreed amount paid, so no valid blacklist reason (which has to be actionable)) In all a bit of a mess of an email - contradiction, threats, guilt Had they been upfront and said something like 'amazon ***cked up, and whilst it is solely their fault they aren't going to help us, we really need your cooperation and help' i'm sure they would have far more support than they are going to get from this kind of communication
  • duncan
    I was led to believe this was a fault of a third party repricer that a lot of Amazon resellers use to adjust there price's for them. The fact that the prices were automatically adjusted to the wrong price by the third party company and then fulfilled (dispatched from Amazon) before the reseller noticed.
  • Isma'il
    Simple solution: If the problem was on the seller's end, shame the seller into relenting. It's the seller's responsibility to make sure the prices for their items are listed correctly, and, if not, to correct that mistake......NOT THE BUYER. If PremiumBrands4Less wants to pull a d*ck move like this, then shame them in newspaper, social media, and pass the story on to your local tv outlets. If that doesn't produce a retraction of the threat, then boycott the company and buy from someone else on Amazon or elsewhere. End of story.
  • DrJogalog
    I'd be replying to that email with "Get fucked!". That response is justifiable based in the tone of their correspondance. Whoever wrote and approved that wording should be ashamed.
  • vj
    @alpha The issue wasn't Amazon's. This was a problem with a company called Repricer Express that this seller was using to handle their prices. Code was deployed that Repricer Express's review failed to catch any problems with. It then destroyed hundreds and up to 2000 businesses over the period of several hours before they fixed it. If anyone will pay it will be them. But my guess is they'll just rebrand or shrug it off once everybody forgets.
  • SB
    It's nothing to do with Amazon, they set a price using a third party to, sent it to Amazon who displayed it and sold items at that price. I imagine Amazon are contractually required to set the price you as a seller tell them to set within a certain timescale, and so they did. The fact they set a low price because of a software tool they use is unfortunate, and repricer express should perhaps take some of the blame, but ultimately they skimped on having extra staff to work pricing and reply to changes to market by using a tool, and that's coat them a few sales. It was their choice. I'd tell them to stuff it. Hopefully they get votes off Amazon for the threatening emails to loyal Amazon customers.
  • SB
    Votes - booted
  • Claire
    Any sympathy I had for this seller (and I have plenty for businesses who will be ruined by this) has vanished!! What a bunch of twats - apart from the fact their email is a pack of lies, how dare they threaten people like that!
  • Paul
    Its unfortunate they made this pricing error and its going to cause their business irrepairable damage. However since 2008 in the UK its been a criminal offence to misrepresent a consumers rights. In this case you have the right to keep the product and pay what you paid. On top of their mistake they are looking for criminal charges as well. Now is the time to contact the white collar division of the police force and cite the 26th May 2008 Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. Time to add some criminal charges to that mistake.
  • Martin
    It is funny how people don't see to realise what Amazon Marketplace and Play actually are these days. They are a marketplace where they host the system and deal with the payments (and even distribution). It is not Amazons responsibility to refund sellers who used a third-party system to play around with their pricing.
  • Roman
    Putting "PremiumBrands4Less" seller on my s#!t list to never to do business with them, everyone should do the same. Companies that feel like they can threaten customers can go get bent.
  • Braunfelt
    I don't think it would be legal for them to demand payment do to a system error. Its no different if someone forgets to change out a sale sticker. Maybe UK has different laws, but in NA I am pretty sure they have to honor sticker prices.
  • Aurrin
    While I wouldn't advocate the threats, it's pretty obvious why they're so angry, and rightfully so. These were not sales in good faith. Let's dispense with pretending that anyone who bought these items thought it was legitimate - they knew they were all but stealing the items by exploiting a system glitch. Now, it's likely to destroy a number of small businesses. The people who grabbed the items are ruining the lives of other hard-working people over a technicality and a small sum of money, and under those circumstances, I think the seller's anger is forgivable. They shouldn't have to grovel to undo the malicious transactions. Really, I don't think it's unfair to expect those people to return the items, nor for Amazon and/or the pricing company to pick up the shipping as penance for their role in not having better safety practices to prevent this sort of fiasco.
  • Sharon
    I received this email... Amazon have recommended that we send this email to all order numbers effected by this pricing error. As you may be aware, there was a software glitch from Repricer Express on Friday December 12 and many of our products were incorrectly priced to 1p. Unfortunately orders that were placed through Amazon’s Fulfilment Service, were not able to be cancelled but sent out for 1p per item. As I am sure you can imagine, this has been financially devastating to ourselves and as a small family business the scale of this has the potential to close us down. We are therefore asking that if your order has not yet been received it is refused and returned to Amazon. Alternatively if you have received your order, we are asking that you either contact us to negotiate a price for the goods and payment can then be made to Amazon or contact Amazon to arrange for the item(s) to be returned. I hope we can rely on your understanding and that this can be resolved to a satisfactory conclusion. Best regards Clare Robinson Director Discount Discs (UK) Ltd
  • mr b.
    if its was done on CC well the Visa will probably just side with the shop (if its bank depends if there is enough money in bank) the last one would have the biggest impact on you as it make you have lots of issues getting orders for years (about 5-10 years) as soon as you try to pay it will not even process the payment and tell you a random error or go away (second one would be annoyance at best depending who they send) its stupid that amazon even dispatched them that should've Never happened and should of not honored any of them as its 1p what can you buy for 1p on amazon lol the companies have the address of Each delivery so not like they can hide from the penny glitch, if this happened to me i take it personally (company owner and make each persons lives a problem)
  • mr b.
    well they cant charge the for more money as Amazon says no sue Amazon and ratesetter and send out court letters to each person who does not start a refund (as they cant pay for the correct price as amazon will not even let the buyer do that any way so there Only option is to send it back for refund of 1p lol or get harassed by the company directing or by debt collectors and have a bad credit record )
  • Jordan
    "Let’s dispense with pretending that anyone who bought these items thought it was legitimate – they knew they were all but stealing the items by exploiting a system glitch." The fun thing about absolute statements, they're generally all but indefensible to begin with, even more so when they're backed by zero evidence beyond unsupported assertions. Because out of the countless people who bought these items, not a single one of them thought it was legitimate? Apparently you're not familiar with the term "loss leader." Or "clearance sale." Or "liquidation sale." Or for that matter "outlet store" (and the company name PremiumBrands4Less just screams "outlet store," where "Premium Brands" dump flawed production and inferior quality versions of their name-brand goods for sale at a substantial nominal discount. Or the fact that often enough, many customers--at least, the ones with far more humility and self-awareness than Aurrin--realize that their understanding of supply chains and costs are incomplete at best, and that usually when they look at a price and say "wow, they must be losing money at that price!" or "hrm, that must be 99% profit for them, how could they charge $100 for a widget that probably took them pennies to make," they are probably wrong in their assessment. It's not the role of government, or arrogant prigs on the internet, to judge whether or not a deal is "legitimate" based on whether or not both parties got a "good deal." As long as both parties entered a contract voluntarily, it should be enforced. And PremiumBrands4Less consented to enter all of these deals when they decided to rely on third-party software because they didn't want to pay for human employees to watch prices and undercut their competitors 24/7. The law cuts both ways on this. If software can act as an agent of the vendor, able to enter a contract that legally binds the customer and gives the company basis to threaten legal action, then that same software as agent also binds the seller. If the maker of the software made any guarantees with regards to performance, and this glitch violates that guarantee, then the vendors should seek compensation from the software company for breach of contract.
  • Jordan
    "if this happened to me i take it personally (company owner and make each persons lives a problem)" "sue Amazon and ratesetter and send out court letters to each person who does not start a refund (as they cant pay for the correct price as amazon will not even let the buyer do that any way so there Only option is to send it back for refund of 1p lol or get harassed by the company directing or by debt collectors and have a bad credit record )" Well, it's pretty clear that the people in charge of communications at PremiumBrands4Less have a lot in common with mr. bob, not only in terms of sharing the same opinion, but also in a general lack of intelligence as well as understand of how contract law works. I can only hope that, as mr. bob would in their shoes, this vendor seriously overplays its hand to the extent that it runs afoul of the UK's robust consumer protections laws (which I understand are far stronger than the ones we have in the US.), laws preventing abuse of the credit reporting system, and laws governing the debt collection industry. Plus, you guys also have a court system where the loser pays attorneys' fees as well, right? Over here, an idiot knee-jerk reaction as mr. bob advocates would probably just result in a lot of bad press, and the slow death of the company from lack of customers. Over there, it'll probably result in the company having to pay restitution to the customers whose lives they "made a problem." And I would love to be one of those customers. Getting something nearly free is nice. Getting paid to keep it is even better. lol.
  • Father J.
    "This will result in PremiumBrands4Less entering liquidation as a result of this pricing error by amazon.” So this is one problem you can ignore and it really *will* go away!
  • steven
    PremiumBrands4Less do not seem to have much skill in customer care. I have dealt with companies with attitudes towards customers like theirs, its not fair most of the time on the customer. They sell bad quality items or items with parts missing parts, then its a struggle for the customer to get it sorted out due to postage costs.
  • Arthur
    The Directors of Premium Brands 4 Less also own a couple of other companies with a combined value of over a £1 million pounds. They can quite easily afford this. Stop using automated computers and employ a human, the alleged £100,000 of stock could pay for someone's wages for the next 5 years to ensure it doesn't happen again.
  • CKC
    aurrin, I am obviously a bit naive, but during that hour, I randomly went online to buy a kids head torch for a Christmas present. I found one for a penny on Amazon and thought 'it is probably a bit rubbish for that price, but maybe they are clearing stock and hey, what have I got to lose?' I bought it. Five minutes later. I thought, what the hell, and bought loads more, which duly arrived (Prime) the next day and most of which were immediately wrapped and sent out all over the country. I gave them away to all the kids friends at school as Christmas presents and still have a couple left. Today I wrote a review on the torches and noticed they were £7.90. I checked my email and found the same email (above) from Discount Discs. I hadn't noticed it before as I had bought all my presents from Amazon and it was lost among the many dispatch notes and order confitmations. I now have a moral dilemma. I am not about to pay £8 per head torch as I would never have paid that in the first place (apart from for the first one I bought). In fact, I don't want to pay more than the penny - but neither do I want to send a 'small family run business' into liquidation. I would like to know more about Discount Discs and I would like to know if Amazon, or better still, Repricer are paying the sellers back. I think that the Repricer software company should be paying for this error - surely they have some kind of insurance that covers them for errors like this? The whole thing has left me with a bad taste in my mouth, but what am I supposed to do, take them back from the children?
  • Walter
    A contract is a legally binding agreement formed when one person makes an offer, and the other accepts it. I understood that if a price mistake is not noticed, then once the customer pays for an item at the reduced cost and the item has been delivered, then the retailer has accepted the customers amount offered and paid for the goods, by supplying the customer with the said goods. The contract is then complete. The shop has no legal right to claw back any money if it later realises there has been an error. The company should claim back any losses from whoever made the error in the first place, for not writing safeguards into their software. Demanding money from customers with threats is not acceptable.

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