retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Walmart may not always have the lowest prices, but for a time yesterday, its website certainly did - at least on a number of items, as a computer glitch priced kayaks for $11, computer monitors for $9, cribs for $28 and treadmills for $21.

When the pricing errors came to the attention of the company, it shut down the site for maintenance … and later in the day, cancelled all the orders, informing customers that they would be reimbursed for their purchases and given a $10 gift card for their trouble.

Walmart did not say how many orders were cancelled.

Not all the items on the site were deeply discounted. Bloomberg notes that "a can of Lysol had sold for more than $100 and Kool-Aid packets were selling for more than $70." But there likely weren't a lot of orders placed for those items.
KC's View:
I've already gotten some emails on this issue, with people expressing real contempt for Walmart's reaction. They seem to feel that the retailer, just as a matter of good faith, should have lived up to its side of the bargains and eaten the losses with a smile.

I agree with that, but I'm also a little troubled by the consumer reaction to the glitch. Apparently there were people going on social media crowing about the "steals" that were available at Walmart; one guy even said that he bought 50 kayaks and 100 speakers, saying that the company "better honor it."

This may not technically be stealing, but come on. People who saw those prices knew that there was a mistake, and there probably wasn't anything wrong with taking advantage of it. But I'm less sympathetic toward someone who exploits the problem, probably for profit (he was almost certainly going to sell 49 of the kayaks) and then brags about it online hoping to get other people to do the same.

It seems to me that the best thing we can do in life is try to do the right thing whenever we can. It is hard for me to see how anyone on either side of this issue is doing the right thing.