Pricing blunder hits Apple online

It looks as if a digital camera deal on Apple's online store was, in fact, too good to be true

Apple appears to have become the latest firm to offer goods online at the wrong price and subsequently refuse to honour the sales.

A number of customers shopping for a great bargain in the January sales thought they had found just that when they saw an Olympus digital camera advertised for £98.70 on Apple's online Education store.

The camera, which Apple claimed was in stock and ready to ship within 24 hours at that price, normally retails for around £600.

However, one unhappy shopper has contacted ZDNet UK sister site to say Apple subsequently reneged on an email confirmation of his order — which even confirmed a £420 discount — claiming the sale had been cancelled as the product was "no longer available".

But the customer told he later found the same item — an Olympus E-1 Digital SLR — available elsewhere on the Apple Web site, closer to its normal, far higher price, leading him to believe his order had in fact been cancelled because Apple was advertising it at the wrong price.

Apple remains tight-lipped on the controversy and has failed to respond to enquiries about the cancelled sales or the validity of the original offer.

In the past, companies have hidden behind a defence which claimed customers had bought in 'bad faith', evidenced by the fact they often attempted to buy dozens of the wrongly priced items.

However, the reader in this case said he had not attempted to capitalise on the mistake as he had only ordered one of the item. He believed it may have been a genuine offer with companies slashing prices during the sales and the cost of digital cameras falling sharply in recent months.

And he wasn't alone. A number of members of the Web site also took Apple up on the offer in good faith, though some others seemed to know the offer may have been too good to be true. One posting on the community site, which shares information on price discrepancies and bargains alike, reads: "It seems a lot like a mis-price as it is still listed at £600+ on their main site, but it is worth a go just in case it is some sort of mega promo for schools."

Another member wrote: "I'm just about to buy two. One for me and one for eBay", echoing a number of other postings which suggested the auction site was going to be the first port of call.

Other members pointed out that multiple orders were the very thing which would alert Apple to any potential mistake.

In 2003 refused to honour a mistake on its site which saw Compaq handheld computers advertised at £7.32. Later that same year Thai Airways refused to make good on the sale of flights to Bangkok for £111.

In 1999 Argos was caught out advertising televisions for £3. In September 2005 the blundering retailer repeated the error with a TV advertised for 49p. In both cases Argos refused to honour the sales.


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