5 UK consumer pricing errors we will always remember

2 July 2009

http://img33.imageshack.us/img33/7119/tescopricedrop797040179.jpgDecimal 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!


  • courtster
    Remember the Dell Mini 9 for £99 fiasco? Just look at all them comments.... http://www.hotukdeals.com/item/284491/dell-inspiron-mini-9-1gb-ram-8gb-hd/ I bagged one, but people took issue that some orders were cancelled, but other orders later were honoured.
  • pricesavvy
    not in the uk however http://www.engadget.com/2009/07/01/taiwan-orders-dell-to-honor-15-monitor-mishap/
  • jah
    The 2p bed - how can you forget that? Also the free £10 Amazon download offer was so much better than the rubbish 29p per album offer a few days later!
  • Vince W.
    nice ones courtster and pricesaavy. jah you got a link to the 2p bed? never saw that one here's another one that HUKDers were all over - the £9.99 James Bond DVD box set http://www.bitterwallet.com/a-bitter-bet-complete-james-bond-dvd-collection-box-set-for-999/1095
  • Darren
    the post office life insurance scheme last year, pay £5 in for 3 month = £15 get £143 back cancel policy therefore £128 profit for 10 minutes work.......paid for a great weekend in Newcastle for me!
  • Vince W.
    nice work darren! I believe this is what you are referring to? http://www.hotukdeals.com/item/225016/post-office-life-insurance-43-quidc/
  • barneydog
    2p bed @ Debenhams http://www.hotukdeals.com/item/95094/kingsized-double-bed-misprice-2-00-/
  • barneydog
    Sorry that shoud read £2 bed @ Debenhams
  • basquille
    Littlewood's Ireland pricing a Compaq Mini Desktop with 21.5 inch monitor for €69! http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2055606244
  • barneydog
    One of the more popular misprices i've seen on HUKD, needless to say we didn't get them lol Loads of large screen LCD £150 @ Woolworths http://www.hotukdeals.com/item/37676/32-lcd-tv-150-00-misprice
  • AndyM
    PC World selling a 3m USB cable for £34.99, rather than £3.49. http://fwd4.me/6U Oh, sorry, that's not a pricing error, is it......... At least delivery is only £4.84.
  • Adam
    I got 2 flights to NYC from LGW for £180 return - (£90 each!) with flyzoom. Their online discount code was giving free return flights if you booked economy. The deal was supposed to be a free return flight if you booked premium economy. They messed us around with dates and things but we got our £90 return flight in the end.
  • muppet
    mate, the amazon 29p fiasco was preceded by the amazon FREE ALBUM DOWNLOADS. why isnt that in there?
  • Wilko
    The best misprice of all time? HAS to be when Play.com cocked up their Euro prices and were selling everything for next to nothing (maybe 2 or 3 years ago??) Laptops for £30, DVD Boxsets for £3, cameras for £5 - the list was endless. I spent £4500 that night. However, I only got 5 of my several hundred orders - the rest got cancelled. But it was amazing while it lasted.
  • Robert
    Harry Potter Special Edition Boxed Set on Waterstones listed as £5.99. Turn out the correct price should have been £185. They cancelled all the orders
  • eddiex
    What about the Sagem mobile with the free Hi Fi from Woolies.Obviously the Hi Fi was shite and only lasted about a week,but the phone was quite a bargain in it's day.
  • Nobby
    > Bush televisions, pricing them at £0.49. That is the correct price for all items made by Bush isn't it?
  • Vince W.
    lol good one nobby
  • Vince W.
    muppet thanks for point out the amazon free downloads. paul's covered it here: http://www.bitterwallet.com/amazon-has-midnight-promotion-gives-away-all-its-music/13283 i will add a link to the article thx
  • harry
    about 6 years ago logitech would send free samples to anyone who enquired. needless to say, I was interested in their cordless desktop worth £120 it arrived the next week with an order form for more for my business... I didnt order any more!
  • thepearce
    Nice to see the kodak camera up there. I'd forgotten about the hi-fi phone - also got one of those.
  • acecatcher3
    when play.com misspriced the matrix trilogy on bluray for £14.99 it got honoured, really happy with that one.
  • acecatcher3
    this was also a good one, really expensive bed and mattress for £99...didnt get honoured tho. http://www.hotukdeals.com/item/375990/harding-double-bed-with-mattress-he/ i think ppl got a £50 voucher tho for their "trouble" lol
  • acecatcher3
    and also kill bill 1 and 2, sin city all on bluray at argos entertainment for £3.47.....none got honoured lol http://www.hotukdeals.com/item/411387/sin-city-kill-bill-vol-1-kill-bill-/showthread.php?t=411387&page=2
  • acecatcher3
    o and lets not forget the bed and mattress that was sold at littlewoods for 1penny!!!!!!!!! icant find that thread tho :S...wheres paul nikkel when u need him?!
  • chrisg.
    The australian flights from LHR to SFO without the fuel tax included (and no VAT, and decent AUS-GBP exchange rate) were pretty spectacular, and most definitely honoured before they pulled them. £160inc to California? Brilliant :D
  • Rob
    Got myself a Wii console and game jan 2008 in the amazon price error for the sum of £29.99
  • jah
    Sorry Vince it was a £2 bed not 2p as barneydog pointed out - still awesome deal though (as quite a few people got their beds!)
  • mister o.
    hp c7280 for £54.99 on play.com http://www.hotukdeals.com/item/280981/hewlett-packard-hp-c7280-wireless-a/ the didnt honour it, but they gave me £50 credit after complaining- very handy at christmas considering i was losing my job! cheers play! (would rather have had the bloody printer though)
  • Inactive
    The Hoover Free flight deal was not just to NY, I went from Birmingham to Florida on the deal, it was a bit of a kerfuffle sorting it, but I got there in the end. It cost Hoover 20 million pounds in the end.
  • Amzmalhotra
    What about the FREE Xbox 360s from tesco a couple of years back due to a misprice and a silly policy? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1542950/Tesco-stops-refunds-over-free-XBox-loophole.html
  • thepearce
    Oh - Tesco misprices and the old refund & keep policy....... got a £349 PC a few years ago :)
  • G R.
    I got a cheque for £200 when Vodafone put a sharp gx-60 on the website for free. One small complaint and they send cash my way
  • stuart
    i've tried to buy quite a few items that have been mispriced and all cancel orders. however if you shop instore they usually honor them! they change it when they find out but shouldnt that be how online retailers work? honor all orders (maybe not those for 100 of so of the the same thing!) made before the error is found. another thing that i find more common is when there is a promo price for something. orders are taken, sometimes paid for, but then they are cancelled because there is no stock left. this happens across the board for me. most say when i complain that their supplier has no more stock at that price, yet give it a week or so & they will still be selling the same product at the usual price
  • LTQ
    As a 'lucky' recipient of the Kodak camera (it was absolute rubbish, by the way) I think I should point out that Kodak only capitulated after several people served them with small claims papers, myself included. Note that the order confirmation mail from Kodak explicitly stated that a contract had been formed, and the page advertising the camera was emblazoned with things like OFFER, SALE etc... all of which added weight to the consumers' case. Anyway, Kodak absolutely did not want to delivery the goods but were forced to after lots and lots of people pointed out the above. Like I say though, the camera was shite, the battery only lasted a few minutes (literally) and the pictures were awful, so it was a somewhat Pyrrhic victory.
  • Derren H.
    I got one of the kodak cameras. It was plastic and buttons flimsy compaired to todays cameras but to be honest if I look at an "outdoor" picture of one taken with the kodak against one of my many recent camera spurting 8,10 or 12mega pixels you would say the kodak picture looks better.
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    hp c7280 for £54.99 on play.com, seems i was one of the lucky few who got this, have it at home, dulex and the lot. great printer for little cash, thought everything else in this vein has been cancelled, like the b & poo water tanks, did try to order 3 though
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