Neither I nor Buy.com could have imagined the effect that my post last week concerning the retailer's Black Friday deal -- $298 for a 42-inch 1080p Panasonic plasma HDTV -- would have. It essentially set off a frenzy on the Buy.com site that led to a lot of disappointed buyers as demand far, far, far outstripped the limited supply.
Of course, the fact that it sold out almost instantaneously was the biggest complaint, but another concern was what happened for those who managed to secure one of the scarce sets -- or seemed to secure it. Several people contacted me over the last few days with the following scenario: a few hours after their order appeared to go through, they received an email from Buy.com saying that the company couldn't fulfill the order due to limited supply and were offered a $50 gift certificate as a consolation. Then they later received another email that said that "We have secured additional inventory and are working to fulfill your TV as quickly as possible" and that the gift certificate was now voided.
One lingering issue was that despite buyers receiving this email, their order still appeared as canceled when they logged into Buy.com. I contacted the company to ask about this scenario, and received the following response:
"Due to limited inventory and an error with order tracking in our systems, some customers received order cancellations and were told they would receive a $50 gift card instead; however, we've been working hard since Friday to ensure that everyone who actually placed orders will receive the TV.
"Buy.com is spending several hundred thousand dollars below our cost, to ensure that each of those customers who still want the TV will receive it. Or if they prefer, they can keep the gift card. We've been notifying each customer affected, and their account status should be fully updated by the end of this week. We apologize for the frustration and inconvenience, and thank our customers for bearing with us."
While that won't make anyone who wasn't able to score the set feel much better, it should come as a bit of relief to those who were tossed and turned by the order process on Black Friday. Keep us posted as the week progresses as to when your account status gets updated.