DRAM price hash makes Komplett famous in UK

Defensive positions

Four hundred people ordered 512MB DRAM for the imaginary price of £13 per module this week from Komplett.co.uk, according to sales director Per Anders Tveit.

But only 20 people had their orders shipped before the error was spotted and transactions cancelled by the online reseller.

The proper price was £106 - leaving the company with a loss of £82 on each sale, aggregating to £302K - if all the orders had been fulfilled.

In an email sent to disappointed customers yesterday (and thanks to everyone who sent us a copy), Komplett said:

"However, some customers' credit cards will have been subject to a money 'reservation' order. This is standard practice in online payment authorisation but DOES NOT constitute a withdrawal of funds."

Consequently, these customers were contacted at the first possible opportunity and made aware of our mistake. An offer of one module of RAM to each
customer for £49 was made.

We would like to stress that, as the price of the module was so ridiculously low that it was clear that the price was incorrect (due to human error). Therefore, we are under no legal obligation to ship any module at any price lower than as is currently set.

So there you have it, the two lines of defence: first, the "money reservation order" does not constitute a sale - customer's credit cards will not be zapped; second, the price was such that no-one could reasonably be expected to believe that it was anything but a mistake.

The first point is interesting, but the second point is, we believe and as we wrote yesterday, more significant. Komplett is offering the 400 punters one unit of 512MB DRAM for £49 - a bargain. It says that the majority of customers have already accepted this offer, but was unable to supply us immediately with numbers. We think this offer is reasonable: take it.

The alternative, if you ordered less than £5,000 is to launch an action through the small claims court, and hope that Komplett.co.uk doesn't defend its case. A joint action will be expensive, unless you can find a law firm willing to bet on the outcome on a no win, no fee basis.

As to Komplett. The Norwegian company operates online computer outlets for Norway and Sweden and Ireland, as well as the UK. In Norway it also has computer stores.

It is reasonable to say that the company is not well known in Britain. But today, the company has been interviewed by BBC Breakfast and Working Lunch. "Who had heard of us in Britain before this week, and who hasn't heard of us now," Tveit said. UK orders have picked up nicely since the price hash became public, he said. ®

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