Yes, Those Free DVDs On Amazon Were Too Good To Be True

from the taking-it-back dept

From time to time, you hear stories of websites accidentally mispricing items, allowing customers a brief window to buy things at ridiculously cheap prices. This has happened a number of times on airline websites, allowing people to travel for less than $1. Apparently, committed such an error around Christmas, when it offered two DVD box sets for the sum total of $0.00. Naturally, several customers enthusiastically took advantage of the generous offer. But they were not so happy when the company tried backing out of the offer after the DVDs had already been sent. Once the company realized the error, it contacted those customers and told them that if they didn’t send back the DVDs, they would go ahead and charge their credit cards. In some cases, we would accept that a company shouldn’t have to stand by a glitch, particularly if the product had yet to be shipped. But even if Amazon felt it was entitled to charge the customers full price for the DVDs in this case, it’s not clear that doing so makes sense here. Whatever minimal profit it got from going ahead and charging customer credit cards will certainly be lost through customer ill will and the negative publicity from the action. Even more important, the fact that they then feel entitled to go in an put unauthorized charges on credit cards can only lead to all kinds of trouble. Obviously, companies are in business to make a profit, but sometimes it’s better to just let things go while admitting a mistake, than to make a few extra bucks in the short term.

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Comments on “Yes, Those Free DVDs On Amazon Were Too Good To Be True”

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Anonymous Coward says:

dispute the cc charge as un-authorised? then maybe report possible cc fraud?

if they have accepted the order and shipping the goods is a reasonable sign they *have* accepted the order i’d say take it on the chin.

besides if people think they *may* see such an “offer” and if they do it will be honoured they will be more trusting of the sie and maybe spend more time searching.

just make sure a ‘search by price’ feature won’t return results where people have searched for values below ‘x’, say you can’t search for items below $1… or some such to avoid people making your site do the work.

also i’d be tempted to pull any listing where ‘unusual’ order quantities are made pending human review of the listing.

but this is amazon’s goof, and if they charged my CC i’d fight it as far as i could *if* they had shipped the goods or otherwise accepted my offer to buy at the listed price. once they have agreed that your into a contract.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Obvious mistakes

If a shop accidentally priced a $300 item at $200, it could be possible for the customer to argue that they made the deal in good faith at that price – that they didn’t realise a mistake had been made.

However, in Amazon’s case the deal the customer accepted was 2 for 1 – but due to processing error obtained 4 for 0 – which was not offerred and obviously a mistake.

The mistake should be rectified.

How this rectification occurs is the only debatable issue.

Enrico Suarve says:

Re: Obvious mistakes

Sorry but no – the difference here is not the customers intent but Amazon’s business model

If you made the same mistake in a shop and got to the counter the sales guy would more than likely question it and you’d be told a mistake had been made

Amazon *chose* a business model that did not involve physical shops to maximise profits, this decision comes with risks, and the fact that the above sanity check does not happen anymore is one of them – the mitigation for this risk is setting up other safeguards in your order processing not taking it out on the customer

The problem if you go otherwise is a subjective precendent is set – at what point does a bargain or promotional offer become a mistake and at what point does it become obvious? Remember stores DO give away things for free occasionally just to get the word out

Amazon made a sales agreement (badly) with the customer and the deal was lived up to, to go back and then alter the deal without further agreement once contracts and goods have exchanged hands is against the law (sorry I can’t remember the exact name or reference but I am sure of this)

They can only do this with the consent of the customer otherwise other posters are correct – this is fraudulent useage of a credit card, and should be reported. Amazon don’t just have a duty to the customer, they have an agreement with the card companies that they will not debit cards without customer consent (its one of the things you sign when you get a traders account)

I don’t think Amazon have a legal leg to stand on but they just bought themselves some negative publicity…

Arochone says:


So then how do you know when this is a valid offer? I got a bundle of Norton Systemworks and Norton Personal Firewall for free off Amazon a few years ago. Wasn’t a mistake, it was a valid offer (and happens to be about what those two products are worth, but…). There’s no way to know this wasn’t intentional. Screw amazon. Keep the discs, and if they bill you, dispute the charges. That’s all you gotta do. Hell, I know people who have gotten a few months of World of Warcraft free just by disputing the charges. lol

MrPaladin says:

WalMart undoes rollback

Dear WalMart Consumer,
It has come to our attention that a little yelow dot has rolled back our prices against our knowledge, going over our records the items you purchased in the past from walmart should actually cost the correct market price and not the rollback price, we are charging your account for the difference unless all products are returned and refunded at their rollback price… Thank you for shopping at walmart…

(this is just to point out where would it stop for companys if the took Amazons stance… Amazon made a mistake, and its a mistake that cost them very little in comparison to their profit… just suck it up and move on and advertise that YES you do stand by your website prices!!!)

Neal says:


Crooks. Yeah, you – the people that knew it was a legitimate coding error and are complaining now. Even moreso the people that loaded up their cart with multiple sets and posted the error on the Internet or who followed the posts and loaded up.

Certainly Amazon made the error and they should compensate those who have to go through the trouble to return items. Certainly they should allow open items to be returned and not just unopened ones. Certainly they should forgive and forget for those who bought one set. However, they absolutely should charge every freakin’ thieving one of you who deliberately went there to take advantage of an obvious error by loading up your carts.

Trevor says:

Re: Re:Crooks by Neal on Feb 16th, 2007 @ 4:45am

Ok so just say you walk into a Home Depot, and in a clearance area you see a $400 compound-miter saw priced at $20.

You go to the check-out, and pay by credit card and sure enough are only charged $20.

How would you feel if you got a letter from Home Depot saying, sorry this was an error on our side with the pricing of this product, please return the item in original condition or we will charge your credit card the full amount?

Now just say the same scenerio again but instead you go through the self-serve check-out so there is no teller. Do they have the right to charge you back still?

And finally if you went to and bough it online do they still have the right to charge you?

Why is it right for them to charge you for their mistake online, but not if you go through in person?

MEoip says:


How do I know Amazon had a coding error? I get free junk when I go to stores all the time (Sunday samples at the grocery anyone?) Free giveaways and the electronics depot; free stuff is free stuff it exists from free gift cards when I test drive a car to free vacations for a bank account. I’ve acquired a few pieces of software that were free after instant rebate so to say I know when a coding error has occurred is ridiculous. On top of that when a ‘coding error’ occurs at the grocery I take the item up to the front desk and say, “you didn’t give this to me at the advertised price,” then I get the item for free because they made a mistake. Which is what Amazon did they made a mistake. I’m guessing some worker did it on purpose so his buddies could order a bunch of free DVDs then he didn’t get it corrected in time so now it’s a problem because more than his buddies found it.
I wouldn’t return the DVDs to Amazon, they sold them and shipped them, and consumers received them. The deal is over. My grocer doesn’t call me and say we miss scanned an item you purchased we’d like you to bring it back or send us a dollar.
Call your bank / CC company and let them know now what is going on beat Amazon to the punch.

Perry Mason says:

There is Legal Precedent

In legal terms, such an occurrence is called “unjust enrichment”. The credit card issuers would not cancel the charges if Amazon made their case.

Amazon has the opportunity to let it go, but if hundreds of units are involved, it’s unlikely they will.

Being a website doesn’t invalidate this precedent. It’s the same as if the price had been printed in a flyer delivered to your home.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: There is Legal Precedent

actually its the same as if the flyer was delivered, you contacted them, they agreed the price in the flyer was accurate, buy accepting your order, delivered the goods then later decided (for whatever reason) they could charge more, and decide to do so.

they post a price. which they can change (within reason) *until* the contract is complete (by them accepting your payment an issuing a receipt).

once the transaction is complete they *don’t* get to go back and say actually we screwed up, and its going to cost you.

Enrico Suarve says:

Re: There is Legal Precedent

You could be right with that one but it is a UK law as far as I can make out

My thought was that the customers could cry “bait and switch” as this would be a classic method, either way charging to a credit card without authorisation is a big no no, and rightly so as it damages the whole trust relationship they work on. I have heard of several cases where companies have been slapped down for this and see no difference here

From the sounds of things people buying multiple copies definitely knew what they were doing and if taken to court thats probably going to be the crux – proving intent. It has to be otherwise it sets dangerous precendents allowing one side to change a bargain afterwards, but either way this is an issue to bluff out then go to court over if you are serious, not defraud peoples credit cards

I still think this is something that amazon should just take on the chin – I have no idea about the amount of money involved but I doubt it goes over a few hundred thousand, and whats that to Amazon? A small fraction of their advertising budget is what

Seems to me they have invested a lot of time and money creating some nasty feedback for themselves

DC says:

Re: There is Legal Precedent

If you read that entire article there is less to support Amazon that you initially believe.

One of the basic principals in Unjust enrichment is that the ‘defendant’ or beneficiary isn’t liable, and cannot lose out on anything because of the enrichment. This includes any additional expenses incured because of the unjust enrichment.

A good way to keep the DVDs would be to claim that because you saved 30$ (i didn’t look at the actual cost) on DVDs you were planning on buying anyways, you decided to spend that on something else that you wouldn’t have before. Expecially convincing if it is a fancy dinner or something consumable thus it cannot be returned. Thus if you are forced to return the DVDs you would be out the money that they are worth because you would be forced to buy them again, and if the money is charged to your credit card, then the exact same idea applies.

This defense can even apply to someone who loaded up with hundreds of those ‘free’ dvds and then turned around and sold them. For all that person knew they were in fact free, and by then selling them there were exercising their right of resale. If they then spent that money on anything else (expecially non-refundable) that they wouldn’t have otherwise, then they owe Amazon nothing

TheDock22 says:

Re: Re: There is Legal Precedent

This defense can even apply to someone who loaded up with hundreds of those ‘free’ dvds and then turned around and sold them.

I sure hope you aren’t a lawyer because that advice is dead wrong. You got free DVD’s and then turned around and sold them for financial gain. A judge is not going to take your side once they find out you essentially doubled what you would have paid in the first place by selling them (since it was Buy 1 Get 1 Free and assuming you sold both). No court is going to be sympathetic with that defense.

No_one_important says:

As long as you're being charged 4 for the price of

Then you should recieve those charges. They haven’t exceeded the statute of limitation, and by no means are they being unfair. The fact that they ALLOW people to return the product means they aren’t just reaching in your pocket to grab your money.

You took the deal with the risk of knowing that you may well get charged for the box-set after-the-fact. If they were mislabelled as being 0.00 that’s fine, but this was a mathematical glitch.

Hell, MS is now paying people back for MS points (on Xbox Live marketplace) for tax errors on point costs. I agreed to a price, why should I be losing out because of a calculation error? This holds true for both retailer and consumer.

BigEd says:

Not sure if they have a policy as the wife does most of the purchasing off of amazon. By like in most adds and other places where they disclose that they aren’t responsible for incorrectly posted sales prices. But this is before the register as once you go through there all prices are final. And charging your credit card again is fraud and unauthorized charges are kicked back in their faces if disputed. Most banks will stick by their customers unless a vendor can prove their claim (amazing…someone really on our side). Excessive credit card kickbacks can result in their losing their privilege in except those cards in the future. Besides amazon is also charged a percentage by the card company for using the card which they don’t get refunded even if they lose out on the extra disputed charge.

richard says:

What a Great Way to Make Sales!!

What a great way to make sales. Show a price of zero on a lot of items, and when a lot of people take advantage of the free offer, then charge them a high price later on and put it on their credit card. Of course make sure the documentation to the people to return the item gets lost so that half the people won’t know they are getting charged. Even better, refuse to accept any item that was returned if opened, has a minor scratch on the wrapping … or don’t even bother to credit any items returned even if they were returned. (Nope, we didn’t get it … must have been lost in the mail, your fault so we will still charge you.) Amazon gets the profit and those “scammed” get to fight with their credit card company.

Amazon should pay a fine each time if they charge the credit card of the person who tokk advantage of their low offer.

It’s the same as getting a “free” offer in the mail, and then getting charged unless you cancel, but try and cancel.

It lumps in with the scumware guys who infect a PC with a virus and then charge to get it removed.

Amazon admit your error and at least sell them at a ver low discounted/cost price if you do attempt to charge.

april-wine says:

The customer is ALWAYS right.

Any reputable retailer will tell you, that if an item is incorrectly labelled in their store they will honour it. They will correct the mistake quickly, but they will give you the item at the labelled price. Essentially the web is Amazon’s store, while they admit there was a mistake, it is NOT the buyers problem. Suck it up and fix the problem ASAP.

Neal says:

Funger, Meoip,BigEd

Funger – The difference is that Amazon advertised a special “Buy one get one free” but the price came up in the cart as both being free. Only a liar would claim they didn’t know that was an error.

Meoip – See above. Advertised “Buy one get one Free” not get both free. Don’t even try to kid me that you wouldn’t recognize something was wrong if you bought a $19.99 DVD because you’d get another one for free and the total rang up to $0.

BigEd – When you authorise a charge you don’t necessarily authorize a specific dollar amount though there usually is one. Rented a room? Rented a car? Checked your user agreement at Amazon?

You’re authorizing payment for an item and you’ve agreed that if the room is damaged, the car is damaged or parking tickets show up on it later, or Amazon makes an error that they can charge for it. Doing so isn’t fraud, although certain states may give you rights that others don’t.

One could certainly contest the charge and probably get away with it – the card provider would side with them and we’d all pay for the theft. One might argue that they’d be damaged by having to exert the effort to correct Amazon’s mistake – that the cost of one’s time exceeds the loss to Amazon – if the videos were among several items in the shoppers cart where the mistake could be arguably unnoticable.

However, for those who rushed in and ordered videos after the error was reported on the Internet , and especially those that loaded up their cart – most of them are out of luck if Amazon choose to pursue it. They were obviously capitalizing on an undiscovered error and committing theft.

You should note that the most vocal opponents of this charge are naturally those who did the latter, followed by those who noticed the error but just wanted to get away with it since they were buying anyway.

Honest people who didn’t recognize they benefited from the error are having no problem returning the videos or paying up. So why are all the people that knew they were benefitting from the error, or outright gaming the system, crying foul now that they’re being held accountable?

Nobody Special says:

keep the reciept

If you have a reciept indicating the sale for $0.00 then the sale is valid. And to state what the credit card would do is just nonsense. The truth is that Visa and MasterCard do not make the decision, the issuing bank makes the call.

To this end, it might depend on what state you are in. In at least some states, the deal is made and Amazon can not charge you for it after the fact (legally anyway). That being said, don’t count on the law being followed as enforcement is what really matters. All the same, I would contact my state Attorney General’s office. They have responsibility of protecting you from fraudulent charges. The right person there will take your fight for you. And neither your bank, nor Amazon really wants that fight.

Brad says:

we are all consumers

I find it ridiculous that people here are siding with Amazon. Big businesses like that do not care about robbing their customers blind, so why should you care about stealing from them? If they make a mistake on their website, you better believe I will exploit it and tell everyone I know. A company of that size should have a handle on their operations and pay for their mistakes.

I know I will get yelled at for this, but this is not bob’s one-stop video you’re “stealing” from and yes there IS A difference. The difference is not accountability from a legal stand point because they’re both businesses but from an ethical standpoint most would do the honest thing with a small shop and do the selfish thing with a large shop because let’s be real…

Large retailers like amazon, walmart, best buy, will do anything to make a buck regardless of what competition they have to crush and you feel sorry for them when they make a mistake!?

Overcast says:

You know – to me it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference.

I don’t care if it was Amazon’s screw up – I don’t care if they get their money back, I don’t care if they don’t.

I do know one thing; however – it makes me ‘shakey’ to trust them at all. Do I have to worry each time now that I find a ‘good’ deal on Amazon that the price will change AFTER I order it? The fact that it was a zero dollar amount, seemingly makes it obvious – but maybe not… how should I know?

Why should I bother even concerning myself with it, when I can simply run up the street to one of the 50 video stores or Barnes and Noble and simply buy – and be DONE with the transaction and not have to worry about later charges.

So simply put: I don’t care who wins in this and who looses. I know that what prices Amazon lists may *or* may not be correct. If they are incorrect, I stand a chance of getting hit with charges I’m not ready for.

So simply: No Thanks. I’ve ordered from Amazon in the past, but I will not in the Future.

Really don’t care who’s to blame – I know I must keep myself protected. If I cannot trust a company I do business with to get *MY* prior consent to charging my credit card, I simply WILL NOT EVER do business with them.

Amazon screwed up – If they can’t just absorb the cost of the mistake for the sake of integrity – that’s their problem. Yes – Integrity = Only taking money from customers with their CONSENT to trade for an item.

Not just ‘oh we screwed up, now we’re just gonna take the money, cause our database is shit and you pulled a fast one’.

Nasty Old Geezer says:

Range of results

A valid offer and acceptance probably exists for some of the folks who bought “free” DVD’s, especially if they had other stuff in the cart at the same time. Also, I don’t know of any legal requirement for me to point out pricing or other errors (don’t go the ethical high ground yet, we are talking legalisms here). If a $100 dollar item rang up at $10 in my local department store, it is up to the store’s processes to detect it.

However, if I had grabbed 50 DVD sets at $0, it looks more like the “free money at the ATM” scenario. If I put my card in and ask for $10 cash and get $100 instead, I have stolen $90 from the bank.

My guess is that a lawsuit would hang on the specifics of each case.

The wise manuver would be to let each customer keep one or two copes fo any DVD title, but the folks who ordered 50 copies have to pay for or return 48. Amazon needs to absorb some of the pain to make sure they tighten internal processes, but obvious crooks should not profit.

Charging everyone retroactively opens a can of worms they don’t want to get into — can I really trust Amazon on the next TGTBT offer?

Sanguine Dream says:

Then what if...

Back with Star Wars Episode 2 released on DVD my local Wal-Mart made a mistake and advertised it as 9.99. I don’t know what the intended price was but it’s safe to assume that higher than that.

I rushed there and paid with a check card. Does that mean Wal-Mart would have been right to try to charge me again for the difference?

Instead of Wal-Mart getting childish and trying to figure out how to get the difference back they just corrected the price and went on about their business.

Celes says:

Re: Then what if...

And that was the sane thing for them to do.

I work in a hotel; one day our revenue management team screwed up our pricing for our suites. Instead of entering “23900”, which would have made the price $239.00, they entered “239”. And we had to honor those 6 or 7 suites that we sold for $2.39 that night.

I suppose it’s a little different in a service industry than in a merchandising setting, but bottom line: If you screwed up, you take the responsibility for the mistake. It shouldn’t even become a legal matter.

TheDock22 says:

Some of you people need to get a life...

Yes, Amazon made a huge mistake. Are they allowed to try and recover loss in the eyes of the law? Absoltely.

Even if you have a receipt saying you bought the product for $0.00, a court (bank, credit card company, etc.) isn’t going to side with you because Amazon can prove without a doubt it was an error. And Amazon does have a disclaimer saying not all prices are accurate:

“With respect to items sold by, we cannot confirm the price of an item until you order; however, we do NOT charge your credit card until after your order has entered the shipping process. Despite our best efforts, a small number of the items in our catalog may be mispriced. If an item’s correct price is higher than our stated price, we will, at our discretion, either contact you for instructions before shipping or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation. Please note that this policy applies only to products sold AND shipped by”

You know that little check box you click saying you agree to the terms and conditions of your purchase? This is part of that. If you aren’t going to take the time to read what kind of agreement you are entering into then you really shouldn’t buy anything from an online store period.

If you dispute the charges with your credit card, you will not win. No credit card company in their right mind would take this to court, the ball is in Amazon’s court legally with that simple little disclaimer.

Do the right thing and pay for your DVD (since the other one would still be free anyway).

DC says:

Re: Some of you people need to get a life...

“With respect to items sold by, we cannot confirm the price of an item until you order; however, we do NOT charge your credit card until after your order has entered the shipping process. Despite our best efforts, a small number of the items in our catalog may be mispriced. If an item’s correct price is higher than our stated price, we will, at our discretion, either contact you for instructions before shipping or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation. Please note that this policy applies only to products sold AND shipped by”

I felt like reposting that but instead drawing focus to the line:

“either contact you for instructions before shipping or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation”

Note that they say before shipping

TheDock22 says:

Re: Re: Some of you people need to get a life...

“either contact you for instructions before shipping or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation”

Note that they say before shipping

And note the next line that says “Please note that this policy applies only to products sold AND shipped by”

Notice the “and shipped”? Tricky wording, but it means the policy applies if they also ship out the product.

Dosquatch says:

Re: Re: Re: Some of you people need to get a life.

Notice the “and shipped”? Tricky wording, but it means the policy applies if they also ship out the product.

Nope, you’re reading that wrong. This line of the policy applies if Amazon is BOTH seller and shipper. Telling you so means that different terms apply if the product is drop-shipped directly from a manufacturer rather than from Amazon’s warehouse. It does not mean that they can ignore their commitment to inform you of a problem prior to shipping.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Some of you people need to get a life...

“With respect to items sold by, we cannot confirm the price of an item until you order; however, we do NOT charge your credit card until after your order has entered the shipping process. Despite our best efforts, a small number of the items in our catalog may be mispriced. If an item’s correct price is higher than our stated price, we will, at our discretion, either contact you for instructions before shipping or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation. Please note that this policy applies only to products sold AND shipped by”

That paragraph has no relevance to this article. It is relevant only before the the product is shipped. “either contact you for instructions before shipping or cancel your order”

It also pertains to before the card is initially charged. “we do NOT charge your credit card until after your order has entered the shipping process.” This is before it has been shipped out. Once the card has been charged and the item has arrived at its destination the contract is complete.

The big thing that is going to hurt Amazon in this is that they have to checks or balances. The price that’s in there database is what is seen on the website and what is put on all the documentation. There is no human interference in any way.

I do remember something from my business law class about if the price set by the seller is obviously a joke than the price can be disputed even after the contract is complete. But as previously stated we can never tell whats real or a mistake because of the already greatly varied prices in amazon and the free stuff given away by them and others.

I think the only thing that comes out of this is I won’t be buying anything from Amazon until I can be sure that there prices on the web site are what they really are. This is a big mistake. How many little mistakes are out there?

Dosquatch says:

Re: Some of you people need to get a life...

does have a disclaimer saying not all prices are accurate:[…] You know that little check box you click saying you agree to the terms and conditions of your purchase? This is part of that.

OK, let’s take a look at that disclaimer again:

“With respect to items sold by, we cannot confirm the price of an item until you order; however, we do NOT charge your credit card until after your order has entered the shipping process. Despite our best efforts, a small number of the items in our catalog may be mispriced. If an item’s correct price is higher than our stated price, we will, at our discretion, either contact you for instructions before shipping or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation. Please note that this policy applies only to products sold AND shipped by”

Before, not after. By their own disclaimer, I suggest that receiving the product confirms a valid sale. Amazon declaring otherwise and demanding the product back is foul of their own policy.

Bri (profile) says:

Re: Some of you people need to get a life...

Unfortunately you are wrong. This did already happen a few years ago at Staples. They sent a coupon to their best customers for $50 off $50. Of course, being the idiots that they are, this coupon worked for anyone placing an order. A good number of people had their orders shipped with this coupon. Staples sent out a notice saying return the items or we will charge your CC the full price. Some people folded and returned the items, while others stood firm. Most actually won their CC disputes, with a handful being denied.

At the end of the day what Staples did, and now what Amazon are doing, is consumer fraud. Once the transaction has taken place and the item has been shipped the sale is considered final. Amazon can claim legal precedent, but only in the court of law. Any charges to your CC would be unauthorized because you have not specifically given consent. So, while there may be laws protecting Amazon from this kind of loss, they don’t get to play judge, jury and executioner here. After all, that is why we have a legal system, to resolve these types of disputes.

Neal says:

Trevor and Home depot

You’re arguing a completely different scenario Trevor and you either know it or you’re too foolish or biased to see it.

We’re not talking about a case where Amazon offered a DVD at one price (Buy one get one free) and came back later to change the price. They offered a DVD at at regular price but made an error and gave it to you free too.

That’s like going into Home Depot, seeing a “Buy this table saw at regular price, get this bandsaw free” and not being charged for either at the checkout. You better believe Home Depot would come after you, and successfully, for that money – especially if you ran out, told you friends, and they gave away all their tablesaws and bandsaws for free.

Trevor says:

Re: Neal and Home depot

Nope not biased…..

OK let’s use your Home Depot scenerio…

You walk into home depot go through the check-out and when your bill comes up the table-saw shows free. At this point you PAY for the rest of your items on credit card and leave the store.

Can Home Depot at this point come back to you and say we messed up sorry but we have to charge you???

I would say good luck if I walked out of the store, and the check-out clerk let me go knowing what happened then that is their mistake not mine.

Now if I am in the store and they said, hey this isn’t right, the table saw shouldn’t be free. Well that is completly fine, and they have every right to fix the issue before I leave, and BEFORE we complete the sales transaction. I would EXPECT this issue to be fixed. However once the transaction is complete, that is that. Over and done with.

If I paid by personal cheque or cash they couldn’t charge my account for the extra they think they owe me after the transaction is over. The same should go for credit card. I should only be liable for the dollar amount I agree to on the bill.

Poomer says:

learn from mistakes & fix them

Have you paid attention to the price scan screen at your grocery store?

If you are like me then you would know that Giant (grocery store near washington dc metro area) has price guarantee as follows:
“Our Company guarantees that all items will scan accurately. If any item scans higher than the price marked, advertised, unit price tagged or signed, you are entitled to one unit of the item FREE. Any additional items of the same product in the order will be honored at the lower price.

Alcohol, tobacco, milk, pharmacy items and other products restricted by the state are not included.”

In the same way, shouldn’t Amazon take the hit and fix their mistake rather than shoo away their customers?

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

In a brick and mortar...

if the price is higher at the register than what was labeled on the shelf, they always give me the labeled price. It is their mistake. Everyone saying they should copy or watch the DVD’s first, the original article states that they had to be returned unopened to avoid charges. Customers were notified December 28th, what are the chances that anything was left unopened after Christmas Day. If Amazon paid the shipping and took back opened sets, I could see charges on credit cards being justified, otherwise they should eat it!

Evanestal says:

I actually was on the receiving of this, not as a FatWallet troller but completely innocently. I thought the total was low but I ordered with a few other items so it wasn’t as obvious as if I had just ordered the DVD’s.

I was a little peeved when Amazon said they were going to ding my card for the diffy, but it was actually still a pertty good deal.

Police Thyself says:

damn freeloaders

Why do people always want something for nothing?

Do you work for free? Don’t you want what you earned?

I love the attitude “its their fault”. I have a small business fabricated and repairing metal. If I made a mistake and listed a wrong price should that mistake cost me my livelihood?

People make mistakes, and it was definitely a person responsible, and they made a mistake. Maybe one that cost them their job.

Just because Amazon is a large corporation who provides goods for a price doesn’t mean that we can steal from them. I have bought many things from Amazon and I like their service and support. If I had been a purchaser I would have no problem paying for something I purchased.

Change in the world starts at the individual level, not the corporation level. If you want to be treated better you must being to treat others better.

Just my two cents….

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: damn freeloaders

I love the attitude “its their fault”. I have a small business fabricated and repairing metal. If I made a mistake and listed a wrong price should that mistake cost me my livelihood?

In the case of your repair shop if your shop advertised the wrong price and someone went in for service and your shop charged them too low for the service do you think you can call that customer back and tell them to “come and pay the difference or else”?

Now if that happens and one customer gets over on you then of course trying to correct the matter (like putting a sign up on your shop explaining the problem with the ad and giving the proper price) is the thing to do.

I used to work retail in a mall and when we priced something wrong and someone brought it to the counter we had to sell it for that price. Of course we immediately corrected the price on the remaining stock of the item in question.

And like someone else mentioned who is going to pay the shipping on the return of the item? If Amazon made the mistake why should the customer have to pay shipping to return the item?

And also someone mentioned that disclaimer. Amazon tried to cover its bases with that carefully worded disclamer but unfortunately they missed a spot and now they should have to pay the price. That disclaimer would have been effective if the items had not shipped yet but if they have already shipped then they should be S.O.L.

Dosquatch says:

Re: damn freeloaders

I love the attitude “its their fault”. I have a small business fabricated and repairing metal. If I made a mistake and listed a wrong price should that mistake cost me my livelihood?

If you’re working a government contract it’ll do exactly that. Once a contract is negotiated and signed, you are expected to complete the project for the contracted price, your costs be damned. If you underbid and end up hurting yourself financially, that’s your problem.

It’s the nature of contract law. That receipt from Amazon is a contract. They fucked up. If it happens to be to some customer’s advantage, tough – that’s life. It’s not as if their site was maliciously altered to cough up free stuff. It was sold as posted. So be it.

jj says:

Amazon is not the only company doing this

This happened to me with staples. I bought a $200 item for $100. I was charged $100 and then a month later another $100. Staples said it was because they mispriced the item.

I disputed the charge with AMEX but AMEX sided with Staples. (I think it is because of their partnerships). Eventually, I returned the product to Staples for a full refund. They only refunded $100, so I had to then dispute the other $100 a second time. What a nightmare that was.

Dan P says:

Amazon made a mistake but...

The law recognizes that a company can make a mistake and it is allowed to correct it.

For example, a plumber might bill you $50 for a half-hour visit, but then realize he was there for an hour and send you another bill for $50. He has the right to correct a mistake he made in billing you.

But I also think this is a customer service issue. People are correct when they say that customers won’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about a company that now demands the return of their merchandise or they’re going to charge their credit cards after the fact.

I’d like to know how many DVD sets were actually shipped out to people. If we’re talking about a few dozen, I think Amazon should just eat the cost and write it off as goodwill. If there were a lot of people involved, Amazon should at least offer a gift of some kind to people to return the merchandise. Perhaps even pay the postage back. That would at least demonstrate the company cares something about its customers. Demanding the merchandise back and threatening to charge their cards is rather nasty and creates a negative vibe, even if it is technically legal to do.

Charlie says:

I think it should be pointed out one more time (only pointed out once out of 48 comments, odd) that Amazon clearly advertised this special as buy one get one free. Not get both free, etc.. This was not bait and switch, a pricing error, etc. It was a computer glitch were the system neglected to charge you the clearly stated price (on the item before you added it to the cart).

I have been in situations were stores have made bigger mistakes costing them a lot of money on a single transaction where they chose to ignore it and let me go, but you can be certain I pointed it out to them.

JJ says:


It was obvious that it was a price mistake and the people making the purchases knew what they were getting into. That being said, the fault is still on the store. There are contract laws stating that a contract is voidable if there is not adequate compensation. This means Amazon has every right to demand you to pay or return the product.

The store should not have the right to steal money from you to get their compensation. By charging my credit card, without my express consent, they are stealing from me.

These stores should be held responsible for their price mistakes. They advertise the incorrect price all to often. They happen way to often and give the stores a lot of publicity and sales. Many times, these may actually be done on purpose to drive up sales. has been suspected of this tactic many times.

I had a similar issue with Amazon where the product had a big 25% off graphic sunburst, and it was 25% off. They then cancelled my order stating it was a price mistake before it shipped. I asked, “how can it be a mistake if you put up a big 25% off sunburst graphic?” It was a clear example of bait and switch and false advertising, even if it was a mistake.

Solo says:

Not to mention illegal.

Sales are contracts, I agree to pay you, you agree to sell me an item. You set the price and I pay it. You want me to pay $0 and I do that. There was no misconduct, no foul play, no deception here. Then you hold your end of the bargain, ship the item to me, then, realize you messed up and want to charge my credit card, that you kept on file for my convenience nonetheless, for the price you thought the item should have sold at.

For the inconveniented customer, there is always a charge back option. Hopefully they did not have their check card on file with amazon.

Following that bad logic, what is to stop them from charging a price for an item, ship it to a whole bunch of people and then raise the price and charge the difference back behind their back.

I thought Amazon knew better.

oystercatcher says:

say you wanted to be honest

Lets say that I ordered the dvd’s and noticed the error and decided to let amazon know about the error.
Have you ever tried to contact amazon by phone.
They have a a popup application, so you have to turn off your popup blocker. Then you click dial a rep now and they have a little message about if you are using dial up you should
hang up. However if you are a dialup user like myself you find that the popup tries to dial immediately giving you no chance to disconnect and when you try to disconnect it doesnt complete the function. Then you have to go back and change the setting to dial in 5 minutes or whatever.
Next you get a rep who is obviously from india and for some reason I have trouble understanding them.

Wake up amazon, when a customer has a problem make it easier for them to call for support

mike rossiter (profile) says:

payment etc

Under UK law when you see something in a store (online or “real”), the item with price is an “invitation to treat”. When payment is taken, the price becomes set in stone and fully legally binding, regardless of whether you got a dvd for nothing, or even if they sold it for MINUS £1,000,000.00 it would still be binding!

The seller has an opportunity to check ALL prices carefully and even double or triple check them (even when using the Internet). If Amazon decides NOT to have someone double or triple checking prices before they get posted to save money by hiring less employees, that to use a legal term is is “tough tits” on them (at least in the UK) once they send a receipt and payment is taken, thats it..the buyer is entitled to the item.

mike rossiter (profile) says:

another small point

most sellers like Amazon don’t want you to know, but the rates they pay to the CC companies (mastercard, etc) to be able to take CC payments online varies depending on the number of chargebacks they have to submit each year. If you stand firm on THEIR MISTAKES, they will simply write most smaller items off, as its better than adding to their chargeback totals, and risking a higher % grabbed by the CC card companies.

If you want to be really evil…did you know that everytime a company verified your Credit Card they have to pay a fee. If they request less information, the fee is correspondingly less.

So if they ONLY request if a card is valid or not…and don’t request “card within limit” then they pay a tiny fee.

The limit atm is set at £49.99 in the UK, so even if you have a CC and spend £49.99 on an item, it will ALWAYS go through, even if the CC has vastly breached its limit as long as the card hasn’t been blocked. Many people do this and spend many MANY thousands on a CC, then sell the items and declare bankruptcy. I once knew of a case where someone had a £3500.00 limit, but by travelling around had managed to spend over £50,000 then went bankrupt and the courts were unable to trace the purchases, so the guys listed assets were ZERO…..

Anonymous Coward says:

debt collection

Did you know that most debt collection agencies buy your debt for around 3% of the total?????

Legally they HAVE to tell you how much they purchased your debt for and at what percentage (under European, UK and US law), and if you make an offer ABOVE that threshold, very often they will accept it, as its better to get SOMETHING as a return on the debt than nothing!

So if you owed £10,000 and they bought the debt at 3% that means they bought your risky debt at around £333.33, so if you offered to completely settle the debt for £666.66 they would more than likely accept as this is a DOUBLING of their investment.

(Make sure to haggle upwards from what they paid to at most around double).

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m pretty sure that settling a debt as suggested by #65 is a bit different from actually paying the entire amount owed. I believe that paying the full amount is better for your credit then settling the debt.

Does anyone know for sure?

Even if I am right, you’d still want to consider settling the debt. Afterall, depending on the size of the debt, it may take you longer to pay off the entire amount then it would take to improve your credit after settling the debt.

hmm says:

amazon neopet 'plushie' titled 'vdo 128mb gfx card

hmm, googled to this page after i saw “4 left”
VDO 128MB 8xAGP nVidiaGeForceFX5200 TVOUT DVI VGAPort 64bits
the pic is the neopet, and the “people also bought” are similar, but others stuff is vid card.

it looks as if something got crosswired in the db.

i wouldn’t mind a modern vid card for $8.88 + $5 shipping (plus tax, um…)

other places on the net seem to price similar nvidia chip (FX5200) and 128mb for about $25… tho im not sure what teh dvi and vgaport stuff is about

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