Dell fined $30,000 for repeated mispricing

1 August 2009

A regular gripe among online shoppers is the wretched misprice. An item appears to be for sale for an incredible price, but within a couple of hours, the vendor has removed it from sale and emailed all purchasers, apologising for the cock-up and refunding their money.

We recently looked at some of the most memorable examples of this phemonenon of shopper’s coitus interruptus and then you lot pitched in with some of your own. Suspicion usually lingers that these things are done deliberately in order to drive traffic towards the seller’s site, but it’s rare that any action is taken, other than some mass grumbling in online forums.

But in Taiwan, things look like they could be a little bit stricter. Dell have been fined $30,500 after a recent wave of mispriced items on their Taiwanese website. The worst offence was the advertising of a 19 inch LCD monitor for the equivalent of just £9. In eight hours, 26,000 people jumped on the deal, ordering 140,000 of the monitors before the mistake was rectified.

Taiwan's Consumer Protection Commission ordered Dell to sell the monitors at that low price, but the company refused, offering discount vouchers and sincere apologies to punters instead.

This angered the customers, and a raging gang of them lodged complaints with the police, accusing Dell of fraud. While the incident was investigated, Dell’s Taiwanese bank accounts were frozen for two days. The Consumer Protection Commission have imposed the fine and ordered Dell to come up with a better method of compensation.

Would such strong action be taken if it had happened in the UK? What do you reckon?

TOPICS:   Government

13 comments

  • graeme
    as a british nation and typical to the way we are we'd moan like merry hell and contact trading standards etc but rarely take it further than that. but during that process we'd come to places like here and share our moaning over and over. we love a moan but i doubt many would attempt to take on a large company in the same way
  • iain
    As the above poster said, I love to moan when I see a Mis-price, and let's face it, I know it is a Mis-price when I order, but looking at it from the other sideI don't suppose we are being fair on the retailer. Now in the case, I have to admit, I work for Dell. I don't really like working for them, but it pays the bills! I'm pretty sure i'm not the only person in the UK who feels like that about their job :D I'm certainly not sticking up for the company as such, but all the companys However, what I did have to endure last month was a quarter of my departments friends and colleagues leaving work due to being paid off. I don;t really want to go through that again, because, as anyone who works in a place with redundacys will tell you, it is a horrible feeling. So, looking at it from this perspective, yes, it is exciting to think i'll get a LCD which has been obviously typed in wrong at the price of £9 instead of say £90, but should I really choke on my cornflakes when they do not honor the deal, due to the fact that my order is one of 140,000? Where the company to honor this, and the proper prive indeed was £90, then they would lose £11,340,000 Doubt many companys could take that kind of hit :( So yes, i'll moan like the rest (I certainly did for the hmv Xmen Bluray deal ;) ) however, i'm taking a step back and saying fair enough, i know it's a mis-price before I order it, if I get it then i'm lucky, but I didn;t, so i'll move onto the next impulse buy! Leave it at a fine, and perhaps next time they will be more careful!!!!!
  • Marcus S.
    If a company doesn't want to take that kind of hit, they should be much more dilligent when putting prices on. The odd mistake is one thing, but dell extract the urine with all their misprices. A decent level of fine is what is needed to stop them. If only the Taiwanese had imposed a proper penalty.
  • Brian
    If the EU can argue that IE is bad for Windows, why the hell can't they do things about companies that constantly take the pee with mispricing.
  • Sean
    I have no problem with the honest misrprice whereby a decimal point is moved but when a compant has a product worth say £30 on offer at £7.50 in a sale section such as the recent LOTR Audiobooks at amazon it doesn't look like a mistake at all, just a ruse to get us hukd junkies to give them a mass of free advertising with a fairly high economic value. If its human error, and happens every now and again fine just apologise. If your using dynamic stock control pricing programs that go haywire when you sell virtually none of an item either fix em or dont use em at all.
  • Michael
    I find it fascinating that their local gov actually intervened, but the sad reality remains that the gov allowed Dell to get off very easily. Either $30,000 fine or $20 million loss, due to sheer amount of monitor sold.
  • Brian
    This is OLD news
  • Shadow
    Its a fairly obvious misprice. Just get over it taiwan. All you would do is sell it on ebay to us lot anyway.
  • Mike
    Its a fairly obvious misprice. Just get over it taiwan. All you would do is sell it on ebay to us lot anyway.
  • Richard
    The arses at Marshall Ward are notorious for not honouring misprices - I once bought a mattress from them at what wasnt that rediculous a misprice (could easily have been a normal sale price), they charged my card (isnt that legally acceptance?) and then 3 weeks later decided to back out of the deal. On a cheap phone handset deal, after actually shipping the phones out to one of my friends, not only did they demand the phones back but insisted they would be coming round to collect them! Absolute scumbags. I'd love to see THEM fined a massive amount like Dell.
  • Kevin
    In some cases of course it's obvious it's a mistake, but also theres been so many promotions that have been mad who knows? In the Taiwan case I'd say they should make them pay the fine and sell the monitors at the reduced price as that is what I believe the law there says they are responsible for. Dell are a computer company ffs surely they could get someone to write a program to do something like not allow such a price discrepany of rrp and current price, or when there are over x number of orders in say 10 minutes to withdraw the product. Theres no real reason for companies to get away with this sort of thing.
  • Mike H.
    Play are the worst for misprices. a Blu-ray collection of Pirates of the Caribbean for £10? Fuck right off. They draw you in so you buy a couple of other items, then say "ooh sorry, it was a misprice, but we've packed the other items so you can't change your mind, you thick twat."
  • Dell S.
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