5 UK consumer pricing errors we will always remember
Decimal points are the bane of the e-retailer's existence.
All they have to do is jump over by a digit or two and all hell breaks loose.
Here are five "too good to be true" pricing errors, most of them due to truant decimal points.
1. £119 return flights for 2 to NYC: When US company Hoover set a special sales promotion from its South Wales HQ in 1993, they underestimated consumers. They offered 2 free return tickets to NYC or a European destination, for purchases of any Hoover product of over £100. The idea was that the small print should put off consumers applying, which involved various hurdles to get the flights. These include mail-in receipts, application forms to be returned with 14 days, time consuming airport procedures, and limited airport availability. They were wrong. Over 100,000 saavy consumers applied for free tickets after purchasing the cheapest hoover available, which cost £119. After Trading Standard investigations and over 300 complaints received from customers who were refused tickets, the company had to pull out its own money from its £20m first quarter profits to honour over 20,000 extra tickets from BA. What about the hundreds of thousands of brand new in the box Hoovers flooding the market? Well, eBay first launched in 1995, so they could have helped establish the marketplace! Who knows. Lesson: Never underestimate consumers. We're smarter than you think.
2. Amazon 29p albums: When you're as enormous as Amazon, you're bound to misplace a decimal now and again. Six years ago they listed iPaq PDAs for less than £10, there was a virtual stampede, and the firm that made them had to batten down their virtual hatches to undo the mistake. Last month, the online behemoth was selling some albums for 29p each (just shortly after a loophole HUKDers found on free amazon album downloads) The artists involved (Calvin Harris, James Morrison, the Yeah Yeah Yeas, and MGMT) saw sales skyrocket. Amazon pulled the price error the next day.
3. Sony VAIO laptops for £70: In 2002, e-commerce retailer Foris either mismatched prices with merchandise or flung a decimal without aiming first. They offered Sony VAIO laptop computers for £70 and Compaq monitors for £36.31. They had to turn off their checkout system. They did not honour the prices.
4. Nicam Digital TV for £2.99: A decade ago, Argos listed a Nicam digital television for £2.99 instead of £299 (slippery decimal again), then in 2003 they did the same thing with Bush televisions, pricing them at £0.49. A customer tried to order 100 of them, but was not successful. Nobody actually got the items at the mistaken price.
5. 3.1 megapixel camera for £100 only (really!): In 2002, Kodak mispriced its 3.1 megapixel camera for what was then the low, low price of £100. A couple thousand people pounced, and guess what? Kodak honoured the price! Well done, Kodak. At least it came with a whooping 32 MB MMC card...
Are there any other major pricing errors and gaffes that you have come across? Or hot deals that were honoured / not honoured that are worth mentioning? We would love to know, so please share them with us in the comments below!