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"Online Pricing A Big Concern for E-Tailers"

Many online shoppers are finding huge deals at online stores. Unfortunately for shoppers,
they may not actually be entitled to the “sale” prices. The problems are pricing glitches
that plague many of the top online stores including Dell, Macys.com and Amazon to name a

For example, earlier this week, a 1GB-memory chip was listed on sale at Amazon.com for
$19.99. This chip normally retails for about $1000, an obvious mistake and in a matter of
hours, Amazon had received 2000 orders for the RAM. Some of the orders were for 4 or 5
sticks of the RAM which would have made the purchase $80 - $100 (for about $4000 or $5000
worth of RAM) a substantial savings. Made by Viking Components, the RAM is not going to
be sent to any of the individuals that ordered it.

The tremendous discount was due to a pricing glitch on Amazon that the company fixed late
Monday night. Amazon does not plan to ship any of the orders it received according to a
company spokesperson. Instead, Amazon is planning to send customers an apology letter
from Viking, who they claim was responsible for the error.

The $19.99 price for the 1GB RAM was only one of many pricing errors they received from
Viking. According to several sources, they may have received as many as 12 mismatched
memory prices. The price list, which was error ridden because of typing errors, was sent
to all of Viking’s customers. However, it appears that Amazon may have been the only one
not to catch it. As a sort of peace offering, Amazon and Viking are giving a $15 gift
certificate to go along with the apology letters.

Catolog based companies have had to deal with these types of errors for years. Some of
them honor the mistakes while others simply reference the disclaimer in their catalog that
says they are not responsible for mistakes in pricing. Catalog companies definitely have
it easier than those on the Internet as the Internet pricing mistakes are being compounded
by so called “deal” sites on the Internet. They post pricing glitches on a series of web
based message boards for other users to browse. When a user finds something they like,
they simply click on a link that takes them to the erroneously listed product. This is
not to say that the deal sites are doing anything wrong or are to blame for the problem.
In fact, they provide a good service for the vast number of users. It’s just a fact that
they can contribute to a problem by turning something that is noticed by a few individuals
to something that is seen by thousands in a matter of hours.

Amazon is definitely not the only e-tailer that has had to contend with pricing problems.
Earlier this year, online customers used coupon codes that they normally wouldn’t have
had, to receive as much as 50 percent off goods at Macys.com. Last year, Dell had a
problem that involved a mistake in price calculations on their web site, giving consumers
computers at far less than the cost of the parts used in manufacturing them.

  - by Clayton Crooks

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