Amazon reneges on DVD prices

Absolutely no shame

Last last week, bargain hunters gleefully placed orders for drastically discounted DVD movies and boxed sets at Amazon.com, but were soon embittered when the company informed them that the prices resulted from a "glitch" and that it would therefore require them to pay the higher, regular price or cancel their orders.

The company declined to elaborate, saying only that it was a temporary glitch, and that it has sent e-mail notices to customers warning of the discrepancy. Virtually the same "glitch" occurred last month in Amazon's toy store, with the same disappointing results. Gulled consumers have since complained to the US Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

Amazon has lately launched an aggressive campaign to become its own worst enemy. Early last week, the company ran a 'price test' on dozens of its top-selling DVDs, with the result that an older, loyal customer could pay up to $15 more for a given DVD than a new customer.

The company has since decided to back away from the price-test disaster, and will reimburse customers whose orders it affected. Amazon says that if it should run another such test in future, all customers will pay the lowest price even if they order goods at a higher price during the test.

Victims of the latest price "glitch" remain out of luck, however.

Only days before the price-test debacle, Amazon alienated legions of consumers by announcing a policy in which the company absolved itself of any responsibility for customer privacy. ®

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