How a website mistake can harm your business: Hamleys, Sainsburys, Woolworths

Website compliance continues to be a problem for businesses.

In the lead-up to Christmas in the United Kingdom 3 separate incidents of pricing errors attracted publicity:

  • An internet voucher design error left Hamleys toyshop facing a retailer’s nightmare – a shortage of toys for sale at Christmas.

    of the HotUKDeals website spotted a glitch in a voucher scheme which
    allowed customers to claim a cumulative 60% discount if they bought
    goods from the Hamleys online store. Within hours of details of the
    offer being posted on the internet, thousands of shoppers across the
    web had taken advantage of it – selling out most of the company’s
    festive supplies for a fraction of the original price. The company admitted that it had fallen foul of the loophole
    and promised to honour any orders made as a result of the blunder. (Guardian Unlimited)

  • A glitch on Woolworths’ website meant that liquid
    crystal display (LCD) TVs that normally retail for more than £1,000
    were going for just over £100. Woolworths relied on its website terms and conditions to cancel over 1000 orders for the TV’s.(BBC News)

  • Sainsbury’s closed a loophole that promised clients a large discount on drinks they bought online. It offered discount codes to regular customers – but
    some discovered that despite the offer’s rules they could enter
    multiple codes, saving £43 on a £60 order.

These types of mistakes are different from planned viral maketing campaigns (even if the campaigns are more successful than hoped for). The question for the business is whether they have website terms which allows them to reject the order at the incorrect price and, even if they do, whether they wish to rely on them. Whilst there can be significant economic cost if the incorrect terms are honoured, there can be significant consumer trust lost if the terms are not honoured.

More: Channel 4 news (via Gaping Void)

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