Updates below…

ORIGINAL STORY:

Highstreet retailer Debenhams has made what could potentially be one of the biggest e-commerce faux-pas on their website. A platinum wedding band previously priced at £1,799 has now been reduced £13.49. Huge offer, terrible error or attempt to drive traffic?

The mistake was originally tweeted by @moneywatch:

“What a bargain! Wonder if Debenhams will honour this price error: http://bit.ly/gkn2p0 http://yfrog.com/hss9cvgj

Judging from the mis-spelt content of the page I’m going to assume this is a mistake. At the moment transaction won’t go through to the final stages (despite my best efforts ;-)) but we’ll see where this goes. No doubt it’ll make big news. But could Debenhams’ error be of benefit to the brand like the Red Cross’s beer tweet?

What will they do next?

I think the best way to deal with all this publicity would be to admit the mistake and perhaps offer to honour the purchases already made. They could even create a frugal wedding campaign out of it.

Will update you on what happens next.

UPDATE 11:34am:

Have spotted a tweet about one lady buying two of the rings.

UPDATE 11:41am:

Deal already posted on hotukdeals

Have tweeted and left Debenhams a Facebook comment. I guess we’ll see how fast their team are at responding.

UPDATE 11:46am:

This wouldn’t be the first time, comment on this blog reveals Debenhams once offered a kingsized bed for £2. Sweet deal!

UPDATE 12:04pm:

Tweet from Debenhams…

UPDATE: 12:30pm

Does anyone know the legal position on this?

I found this in Debenhams Terms & Conditions:

UPDATE: 13:05pm

Have heard that Debenhams has now added ‘Out of stock’ to the ring’s page. Price has now been adjusted but ‘wedidng’ hasn’t.

UPDATE: 13.15pm

The clause:

So it looks folks that even if you did manage to order the ring, the transaction will be cancelled. Shame. I hoped they’d turn this into something more positive as it’s a great PR opportunity for example:

Today Debenhams proved they’re a brand with a heart by giving away a platinum engagement ring to a graduate couple for just £13.49. The kind offer came as the result of a mistake on Debenhams website that was later corrected, but they went through with an order to a gentleman from Essex who, hit by the recession, couldn’t afford the ring under the usual £1,799 price-tag.

but I understand that although this does appear to be false advertising the small-print was there.

UPDATE: 13.40pm

The ring now seems to have been removed from the website. Which I would imagine is temporary incase any of you are interested in buying it at the usual price.

They’ve also left me a reply on Facebook, where comments allow you to have a more long-form answer.

Wouldn’t be surprised if I’d gotten their sale more publicity!

UPDATE: 13.44pm

@intangenta has pointed out that it might be possible to make a case to The Office of Fair Trading for violating Distance Selling Regulations which says:

“you must give consumers clear information including details of the goods or services offered, delivery arrangements and payment, the supplier’s details and the consumer’s cancellation right before they buy (known as prior information)”

UPDATE: 13.48pm

@lindsaydavies has mentioned the Zappos case where the American brand honoured orders of $1.6m.

UPDATE: 16.07pm

One last update methinks. Here’s the Debenham’s response on Hot Deals UK:

If anyone has anything to add or wants a quote from me as a communities editor on the Debenhams debacle just pop me a tweet @charlotteclark.

5 responses »

  1. Oops! I can imagine someone had some explaining to do at Debenhams. I agree they could have put a more positive spin it.

    Happy birthday too! 🙂

    • charlotteelizabethclark says:

      Thanks Rob, they certainly did. I think companies can take this one of two ways, they can spin it into a positive opportunity like Zappos or they can hope it goes away, like Debenhams did. I don’t blame them, they’re social response was also very punctual, though I was concerned that they were aware of the mistake long before they adjusted the page.

  2. Mary Chaney says:

    Totally agree Charlotte.

    Their response to you via social media was great. However despite the fact that Debenhams have all the legal jargon in place to safeguard them from human errors such as this they still need to think about the wider impact. They were able to refund customers who didn’t want to purchase the ring at the correct price, but no matter how well the fall out is handled there will always be bad feeling when money has already been exchanged.

    • charlotteelizabethclark says:

      I agree, they responded quite quickly. I wonder how well linked up their e-commerce and social departments are though, you’d hope a mistake wouldn’t take song long to be rectified really. I found it very interesting to follow.

  3. Jessica says:

    Incredible quest there. What occurred after?
    Thanks!

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