Coles Online caught in beer backlash

Summary:Coles Online customers who bought cheap premium beer thanks to a system-pricing error have been left high and dry today after Coles cancelled their orders.

Coles Online customers who bought cheap premium beer thanks to a system-pricing error have been left high and dry today after Coles cancelled their orders.

James Squire Coles Online

Brew-haha: James Squire Golden Ale is now re-listed for the right price, but is still out of stock.
(Screenshot by Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

Customers who visited the Coles Online website yesterday found that they could purchase a 24-pack of James Squire Golden Ale, normally priced at $54.99, for the bargain price of $15.99. Naturally, the bargain was picked up on various social networks, and posted to online bargain aggregator OzBargain, where the original poster assumed that the price was listed in error.

Indeed, the original poster was correct, with Coles later cancelling the orders of customers who had purchased the beer. Coles is now offering $15 vouchers in the way of an apology.

Some customers snuck under the line, however, and managed to get their beer delivered at the bargain price. Michael Hudson took to Twitter to brag about his haul in a picture.

Coles told ZDNet Australia this morning in a statement that it felt that its actions in cancelling the orders were appropriate.

Two beer lines were inadvertently listed with the wrong price on our Coles Online website, and we corrected the prices as soon as we became aware of the error. This was a genuine and obvious mistake, and we're alerting customers who have placed an order that we will not be able to supply the lines at these prices. We're offering affected customers a $15 Coles Online credit in recognition of any inconvenience they may have suffered. We believe we've acted appropriately under the circumstances.

Over 700 Facebook users already disagree with the actions of Coles Online, with a Facebook page popping up denouncing the behaviour. Some have even gone as far as to suggest that the cause be picked up by advocacy group GetUp.

This isn't the first time that a pricing issue has plagued an online store, with a similar glitch hitting Dick Smith's New Zealand online store earlier this year. The glitch saw the store list high-end gadgets, like flat-screen TVs, digital cameras and consoles, at $0. Dick Smith took down the website before the error went too far.

Topics: E-Commerce


A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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