Facepalm: Amazon may have racked up record sales during its Prime Day event, but a software glitch may have cost it thousands when it only charged buyers $94 for various items worth thousands of dollars. One lens package that was erroneously marked normally sold for $13,000. Oops!
Amazon’s Prime Day exceeded Black Friday and Cyber Monday by having more than 100 million customers make purchases. With so many people getting in on the low prices, the most common question at the water cooler this week has probably been, “You score anything good on Prime Day?”
Several users on Slickdeals got the ultimate bragging rights for killer deals. Due to an apparent glitch in Amazon’s pricing system, some were able to pick up various high-priced items for just over $94.
The chaos began when a Slickdeals member posted a Prime Day deal that was selling the Sony a6000 mirrorless camera and 16-50 millimeter lens for just $94.48. The bundle has an MSRP of about $550. It is not unheard of to see deeply discounted deals on Amazon, but often they are too good to be true often ending up as counterfeit goods. However, this package was being sold directly from Amazon rather than a third-party seller, so it seemed legit. Needless to say, it sold out quickly.
However, that was not the end to the rock bottom steals. Other members on the Slickdeals forums began reporting other items that were similarly priced.
“Everything with the prime day tag on my account is 94.48. I just bought a 3000$ telescope for 94.48,” said user killroyriley.
Another user claimed to have ordered a Sony a7 III camera for the same price. That camera usually sells for around $2,000. AyoItsPat said that he got a $13,000 Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras for $94 — a 99.3-percent discount.
Whether Amazon will honor the sales is another question. One user who goes by the handle SoccerMomDeals ordered five of the $13,000 lenses and claimed that all were delivered.
“That’s $65,000 worth of lenses! Can’t believe Amazon actually delivered!” SoccerMomDeals wrote.
"A merchant might be able to cancel the purchase if the price was so low that a buyer should have known it was a mistake. An online retailer's fine print may relieve it of the duty to fulfill orders based on pricing errors."
By law, Amazon is not required to honor a sale price if it was a clear mistake. However, once the purchase begins processing, obligations become a little less clear.
“It's generally a myth that retailers must honor a posted price if it's simply a mistake, although some stores might do so as a matter of policy or on a case-by-case basis,” Jane Winn, a professor at the University of Washington Law School told Consumer Reports. “The issue gets murky if the retailer begins processing the order, something that is more likely to happen online. But even then, a merchant might be able to cancel the purchase if the price was so low that a buyer should have known it was a mistake. An online retailer's fine print may relieve it of the duty to fulfill orders based on pricing errors.”
It is even more unclear whether Amazon can charge the customer for the actual price or ask the items to be returned if they have already been delivered.
Federal law states that if you receive merchandise that you did not order, you have the legal right to keep it as a free gift. An example that the FTC lists is if you ordered a “free sample” and the company sent you more than one of the item and demanded payment for the rest. In that case, you are not obligated to pay the seller or return the items. These Amazon bargains are a bit different since the customers did order the products, it’s just that they were not charged correctly.
Gizmodo reached out to Amazon for comment but did not hear back from a representative. It will be interesting to see how Amazon handles the fiasco.
Image credit: Julie Clopper via Shutterstock