Compaq cock-up puts PCs on Web for 1

Despite the Big Q, they won't honour the deal

Wily Net shoppers flocked to Compaq's UK site at the weekend after a cock-up offered PCs for 1. A blunder blamed on "human error" by the Big Q caused more than 100 hopeful customers to place orders for Compaq's Ipaq Legacy Lite computers – normally priced at 530. One opportunist went in for the kill and ordered 50. Today a red-faced Compaq said it would not be honouring the deal, which was caused by a systems upgrade on Friday. Compaq UK PR manager, Nicola Adamson, told The Register: "Given that it was clearly a mistake, Compaq doesn't feel that it has to honour the deal. "When we talked to customers they said they realised it was a mistake," she said, adding that Compaq was not legally obliged to ship the PCs as none of the orders had been confirmed. The error, which ran for 48 hours before finally being spotted on Bank Holiday Monday, would cost Compaq around 50,000 to honour. The manufacturer said it was "very sorry", and would give the customers concerned a free printer when they ordered any other computer from the compaq.co.uk site. Gary Cheers, a director of uklife.net and one of the duped customers, said: "Compaq is such a market leader in the field of e-commerce and by not honouring the deal they are putting another dent in people's trust in the online industry." According to Adamson: "This is the reality of e-commerce. A small error like this in a bricks and mortar organisation is containable, but in e-business it's a different matter. "We've learnt a lot," she said.

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