Sports Direct celebrate 2010 by mugging their customers

Ah, Sports Direct. Newcastle United fans wouldn't lose a wink's sleep in razing your stores to the ground, and now you've gone and pissed off the good folk of Hot UK Deals. Friends, that will find you trapped slap-bang between an irresistible force and an immovable object.

Avid Bitterwallet reader Scott has brought to our attention a series of New Year promotions offered by Sports Direct, available in-store and through their website. On 4th January, the offer was a Adidas British Lions shirt for just £5. Bargain, decreed the masses. While some made a point of setting their alarm clocks early and visiting their local store, others stayed up til midnight to grab the bargains once they went online.

Some customers managed to place their order in one go, for others the older price of £25 was still displayed. Then different sizes of the shirt displayed different prices and for many the simple process of ordering goods online was rendered a inequitable pain in the arse, though eventually plenty of Sports Direct customers bagged their bargain online.

Bitterwallet - Sports Direct new year offer

Then at quarter past two on the same day, a HUKD member received a cancellation notice, despite their order being accepted at quarter past midnight. They weren't the only one; whole batches of orders were then cancelled and many customers received a similar email:

Our website is updated on a regular basis and all items advertised are in stock at the time of an update

Unfortunately, some items may be limited stock, if you order an item that we may have only 1 or 2 in stock and an order has been previously place by another customer then the first order placed will be allocated the item(s) as we work on a first come first served basis, and we do email customers as soon as we can regarding orders not in stock

As stated on your confirmation

'This Confirmation of Receipt of Order is Subject to Stock Availability and does not constitute a binding contract. This email does not constitute or represent confirmation of the purchase. This will be issued at the time of dispatch.'

What concerned customers was that it didn't make sense; the website showed availability of the promotional stock well into the night yet orders placed several hours beforehand were being cancelled. How often was the site updated, exactly? Sports Direct also seemed to be fulfiling orders placed after those placed earlier that were cancelled, again making a nonsense of their explanation. Sports Direct then began dispatching part orders where more than one shirt was ordered, along with a Sports Direct mug by way of compensation. In short it appeared that dozens of orders were cancelled seemingly at random, with no explanation except for the generic email that gave away precious little.

A cynic might suggest that Sports Direct never had anywhere near enough stock to satisfy the likely demand, but went ahead anyway with a high-profile promotion designed to suck punters into purchasing other products. That said, there were plenty of shirts available the next day for the original price, so why were those orders cancelled again?

For customers seeking answers, the website only provides two email addresses for customer services, breaking the law concerning distance selling which states UK-based businesses must provide a full postal address if payment is required in advance (in case you're wondering, its Unit A, Brook Park East, Shirebrook, NG20 8RY). A dig around the internet will find several different numbers for customer services, none of which are published on their site, but we've checked them all and this appears to be the one you need - 0870 333 9400 (press 2 in the options). Customer Services would only speak to us if we had a question specific to an order, we couldn't reach their PR department through reception and our email enquiry from a week ago remains unanswered.

We've reported Sports Direct to the Office of Fair Trading for failing to follow the rules on distance selling; if you receive a response from the company that sheds any light on their behaviour, be sure to let us know.

Thanks to Scott for the tip-off and HUKD member cb-uk for the screenshot


  • The L.
    If only sports fans turned their passion towards politics. If they took half as much interest in whether their politicians were winning and scoring goals for them (something which might actually make a meaningful difference to their country and wallets), this country would not be in the mess it is. I find it hard to feel sorry for them being ripped off over a few chav shirts (which let's face it change every few weeks in any case).
  • Laura s.
  • Laura h.
    Because of course, politics is the only thing that matters in life.
  • Damo
    They are still at it. Golf trousers advertised at £2 for one day only. I ordered at 12.05, just 5 minutes into the offer. They were still available all day on the site. But next day, everything i ordered was available - except the golf pants. Never again!
  • Dave
    Shite Direct also ran several new year sale promotions selling Nike Trainers for a tenner. I successfully "bought" these trainers on three separate occasions. On each occasion I got a cancellation notice. Unacceptable (and more to the point where's my fucking 'compensation' mug? )
  • philip f.
    wow, what pointless anger from laura there- time of the month is it love? Do you actually realise this is an article about consumer affairs on a consumer affairs website? Epic fail
  • Joe
    I'm not suprised they don't advertise the Shirebrook address. Last chance saloon for the chav contingent of scummy mansfield to get their gear, the bottom level is a normal sports direct store, the upper bit is a clearance section for all the crap that's been dropped on the floor/in a cupboard since 1998/stolen and reallocated.
  • wilko
    What do you expect fromMike Ashley? He's a crook, pure and simple. He's taken Newcastle United and flushed it down the toilet. The Fat Cockney Wanker.
    Just in case anyone plans on going down to Shirebrook - take a gun with you. It really is the most disgusting place you have ever seen. Seriously - its horrendous.
  • Nobby
    > He’s taken Newcastle United and flushed it down the toilet. Make's him a hero in my book :-D
  • Dawn
    They twirled me too! so I definitely won't be ordering from them again. More and more online companies are accepting orders and then having to cancel them because they don't have the stock. I had 6 orders cancelled due to alck of stock - but Sports Direct take the biscuit!!! Well done 'Bitter Wallet' for reporting them. It's what they deserve.
  • Laura l.
    "I find it hard to feel sorry for them being ripped off over a few chav shirts (which let’s face it change every few weeks in any case)" Get your facts right love. Will be 4 years til this shirt changes again. Fail.
  • The B.
    Laura, they were rugby shirts, I doubt very much you'll find much of the burberry crowd wearing them, although I do have a question for you, is ignorance bliss? Back to the matter at hand, they sent me half of my order (2 Lions shirts) and cancelled the other half, I sent Sports Direct a query asking where my money was (I ordered through Amazon because of all the abuse already being bandied about them), their response was "we haven't taken any money from you, get stuffed" I paraphrased but you get the jist, perhaps someone should explain how Amazon marketplace works to them.
  • Paul
    To be honest, over the last few weeks, I've ordered from 4 of their promotions: 2 x Nike Trainers for £20 (Ordered at 3pm) 2 x Reebok Guilded £16 (Ordered at midnight) 2 x Slazenger Pants £4 (Orders at 7pm) 1 x Squash Racquet + 1 x Tennis Balls £2 (Ordered at 11am) I've received all the products within a couple of days. I would have quite happily paid £30 each for the trainers I got.
  • Peter B.
    "Paul", indeed. We know it's you, Ashley, you fat cunt.
  • Trainerless
    "Paul" - No wonder I didnt get my trainers. You've had the fucking lot. Their entire stock in fact. Seconded. Cunt.
  • Allen
    Posted by The Poet Laura-eate | January 18th, 2010 at 2:00 pm If only sports fans turned their passion towards politics One theiving git looks much the same as another, politicians took the public passion and shat on it!
  • uninformedJP
    As far as I'm concerned it serves you all right for shopping at sports direct in the first place. You should have gone to JJB :) - much better site, much better stock and much better quality, you heard it here first!!
  • andy y.
    Quality my arse
  • mr h.
    chav shirts indeed what a cheek to call the lions shirts chav you just dont get it laura
  • 5 B.
    [...] postage and packaging if you buy online, but there are discounts codes available too. That said, we’d suggest buying in-store before ordering online.(thanks to HUKD member [...]
  • Employee
    Mike Ashley is great and the company does run out of stock at times of order. Mike might be a wanker but he does look after his customers and his staff (Bonus Scheme) but you go to footlocker or JD and buy the same stock at a higher price. go on den fools
  • Environment
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  • Robby
    Why oh why do sports direct use YODEL. My first 'big' order is held up with incompetant delivery. And I have another on on the way. There is an online petion to Amazon - SD's partner. Apparently Amazon dropped YODEL after a five week period. I am not buying anything from anyone who uses YODEL. I would like to let SD know but they do not provide a chanel for custome feed back. They just want the complaints to disappear. Well this one will -along with future sales. Comet was infamous for poor response to customers. Oh dear de javous

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