Website FAIL flings freebies at Kiwi punters
Dick Smith coughs up free tech gear
The Australian tech retailer Dick Smith unexpectedly gave its New Zealand online customers a massive discount when its ecommerce system failed and allowed transactions to be processed for zero dollars.
Delighted customers yesterday reported their booty stashes via Twitter, with one buying a 27inch iMac for free but charged NZ$4.95 for delivery.
Dick Smith's New Zealand site has suffered glitches recently but the company has yet to reveal what caused the fault.
"There was actually a website issue this morning with a pricing error on the Dick Smith New Zealand website," a company spokesman told media.
The company took the site offline for maintenance “to improve your shopping experience” for a few hours.
The company informed customers late yesterday on Twitter that “for orders placed we will be in contact with you to confirm cancellation or whether you would like the items at their correct pricing”.
However some wire outlets are reporting that Dick Smith will offer cheeky purchasers a 10 per cent discount off the actual price of the items. ®
NZ Pricing Regulations
My experience of price advertising in New Zealand is that either the law in this area, or the enforcement of it, is woefully inadequate.
It is not uncommon to have goods in a [bricks and mortar] store entirely unmarked - you have no idea how much those goods are going to cost you until you get to the check-out. Similarly, often stores have a habit of putting price labels on shelf edge-strips which appear to related to the products displayed on those shelves but which upon (much) closer scrutiny actually relate to some other product - quite often not on those shelves at all.
Online stores also - especially those "daily deals" sites - have a tendency to inflate "ERP" (Estimated Retail Price - more accurately "EFRP" - Entirely FICTIONAL Retail Price) and mislead consumers into believing they are making savings that they in fact are not.
Just yesterday, one such site was advertising refurb Apple MacBook's at a "$300 saving" on the ERP of $1899, at just $1599. One problem: $1899 was the price of those units when brand new. A refurb model - identical to that being offered by the deal site - can be bought *today* not for $1599 but $1527 from the official Apple refurb store. The "deal" didn't "save" the consumer $300, but would actually COST the consumer $72 MORE than if they bought at the ACTUAL retail price for an Apple refurb model.
To add insult to injury, the daily deal site was offering only 6 mth warranty, where the official Apple refurb store provides a full 12 month warranty !!
I have no doubt that the same lax approach to consumer protection w.r.t price advertising in NZ will provide sufficient wriggle room for Dick Smith to squirm their way out of this one.
An obvious mistake may be an obvious mistake - but equally a consumer visiting an operational and functioning online retail store should not be expected to first make a decision as to whether or not that web site is in fact functioning correctly before conducting a transaction.
This case may be an extreme example, but I do not think that should exempt it. There must be some responsibility on the part of the web site owner/operator to ensure that they do not release/activate a web site that contains such errors. Indeed, when the mistakes are SO obvious as this one was, it beggars belief that the changes were allowed to go live - clearly whatever testing Dick Smiths does is wholly inadequate, raising the question of what other mistakes - possibly to the *detriment* of consumers - have slipped through in the past.
Holding retailers obligated to uphold pricing when such mistakes occur seems to me to be a very effective mechanism for ensuring self regulation if the official bodies cannot be bothered/don't have the resources to regulate such things pro-actively themselves.
So who leaked
the second memo saying the leaker of the first memo had been sacked
I can see this running and running
Doesn't generally apply to obviously mis-labeled goods.
While there have been consumer claims cases, both won and lost, regarding pricing on the "obvious line", arguing this particular one would be a non-starter.