Recently, Amazon.com put a ton of CDs on sale for a couple of hours on Wednesday morning. Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, Ozzy Osbourne and other good stuff was on sale for as low as $.70 an album. That’s not a typo. So I started grabbing some to fill the holes in my collection, and $40 later I had 37 albums in the cart. I told others I knew about the sale and they started putting orders together too. After checkout, I was in a great mood for the rest of the day. You see, the last two weeks had been stressful to say the least. At work, we are in the process of changing email servers, and while the transition has been fairly smooth, we’ve hit our share of potholes, too. At home, people have been sick, refrigerators have stopped working right, faucets sprung leaks, ants have tried to invade, and all sorts of other minor nuisances have added up to a major headache. So Wednesday I went to bed thinking Friday would be Christmas in February, with 37 CDs showing up via UPS.
But then Thursday morning came, and with my e-mail came the following:
We’re contacting you about order #xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Unfortunately, we recently discovered that an error caused the following item(s) to be displayed at an incorrect price:
Three Days Grace
In this case, we’re unable to offer this item for the incorrectly posted price. Therefore, we’ve cancelled your order for this item.
At any given time, despite our best efforts, a small number of the millions of items on our site may be mispriced. We’re very sorry for this disappointing news.
We value your business and hope to see you again soon.
Customer Service Department
I got 14 more of those, meaning half my order was being cancelled. My friends that I had told about this sale also got these e-mails for their items. One had 11 of 18 cancelled, another had ALL 10 items cancelled.
This didn’t sit well with me, so I decided to complain. Amazon had removed the items from the order that I had placed, so I marked the items that were still in the order, hence their “confusion”. Here’s what I sent to Amazon:
Comments:I am very disappointed that Amazon chose not to honor the sale price on the CDs that were removed from the orders that I had placed on Wednesday. I am glad that I am receiving part of my order when other people I know had most or all of their entire order cancelled by Amazon over your pricing error. This message would have had a much harsher tone had that happened to me. I also got my $1 MP3 credit, while my friend that had his entire order cancelled didn’t even get that, so I realize it could have been worse. My friend is not exactly happy for me though, since he spent all of that time placing his order and didn’t even get the $1 credit. However, I can’t help but feel a little cheated. I have been a customer since 2000, and over paid for all sorts of items like DVDs (a now dying medium) and so when I saw that Amazon was selling music CDs (another dying medium) for as low as $.70 in what I thought was a “let’s get these dusty CDs that no one wants out of here” clearance sale of sorts, I figured it was karma for all of the money I gave to Amazon when I should have been putting money away for college or car repairs. And since most of the music I was buying was to replace CDs that had been stolen from me while I was having my car repaired years ago (ironic), Amazon was my hero all day Wednesday. Honestly, I would have defended the company to the hilt, especially that $80 I spent on Prime that my wife wasn’t exactly wild about, since most of our orders already totaled over $30 so all we were really getting was faster delivery for items she could really care less about (she’s not a video game fan, so me getting games from you faster isn’t a plus in her eyes). But then I had the rug pulled out from under me when I started receiving e-mails stating that Amazon was cancelling half of my orders. That was not how I wanted to start my Thursday. I know this has happened to others in the past, and while I don’t know whether they have chosen to keep shopping with Amazon or not, I will remember this when it comes time to renew my Prime membership, as my wife won’t let me forget it, and by extension, will have to decide if I will continue shopping through Amazon. Was it just a case of the price not resetting once everyone bought up all of the CDs from the $.70 bin, and so Amazon would have had to sell the CDs that should have been sold for $8 at the lower price? That I can understand, if not totally condone. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this.
A few hours later, I got a response:
I appreciate the feedback you’ve provided about your order experience, and I’m so sorry for the problem with your order.
At any given time, despite our best efforts, a small number of the millions of items on our site may be mispriced. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
But I checked the details of the order#xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, and I see that the CD titles which you have listed in the email are not removed from the order. Eight of the 15 titles have already been shipped on February 1 and February 2, 2012. The remaining CDs are being prepared for shipment and will be shipped soon.
Here’s a link to view the order details in Your Account:
Furthermore, here is the list of the CD titles that were removed from the order due to the incorrect price that was displayed when you placed the order:
-Frontiers (Exp) (Dig)
-Toys in the Attic
-Colour & The Shape (Exp)
-Alice in Chains
-One by One
-Evolution (Dig) (Spkg)
-Southern Harmony & Musical Companion (Reis)
-Shake Your Money Maker (Reis)
Since these items have been canceled, it will no longer appear in Your Account.
Again, I’m truly sorry about this unfortunate incident, and I hope you give us another chance in the future.
We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Okay, so they apparently had no response as to why it happened, which I was sure I wasn’t going to get anyway. I did appreciate them getting back to me relatively quickly, so I rated the person that sent the response and added these comments:
I understand that the items I had marked were being sent, I just wanted to make sure that I had selected the proper order as I couldn’t access the items that were removed. Again, I understand mistakes happen and the disappointment will wear off eventually, I just feel like I got half-gipped out of a great deal, and it bumped down to just an okay deal. Thanks again for your time.
I considered the matter closed, and considered the fact that I was at least getting the brunt of my order, so still, I got a good deal and was looking forward to the arrival of my purchase.
But then, I got another e-mail from Amazon:
Once again, I’m sorry about this price error. This is a rare occurrence on our site.
We’re unable to offer this item for the incorrectly posted price.
In order to compensate the inconvenience, I’ve issued you a $10 promotional certificate, which you can use the next time you order an item sold by Amazon.com. Note: the promotional certificate doesn’t apply to items offered by other sellers on our website and won’t cover the shipping costs of an order.
You’ll see your available promotional balance at checkout–this amount will be applied to your next qualifying order automatically without entering a claim code. Your promotional balance doesn’t appear in Your Account but will always display when you place an order. For more information about using your promotional certificate, including the terms and conditions for using the certificate, visit our Help pages:
One of our aims at Amazon.com is to provide a convenient and efficient service; in this case, we haven’t met that standard. I’m truly sorry, and I hope you’ll give us another chance in the future.
We hope you understand and look forward to seeing you again soon.
Thank you for your inquiry.
So in the long run, with a little bit of prompting, Amazon at least gave me something for my troubles. I hope others that placed orders sent a comment and got this in return as well.