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Dell Could Face Fines For Recent Price Errors

It's been rough times for Dell's Taiwan online branch, as it was ordered by the Taiwan government to honor orders for the erroneously priced 19-inch LCD monitor for $15. Unfortunately, Dell has committed several other pricing errors that customers took advantage of.

Normally, a retailer covers itself with a clause concerning pricing errors. Taiwan's Consumer Protection Commission, however, isn't content to let Dell just walk away from simple pricing errors.

On July 5, 2009, Dell's Taiwan site featured another mispriced product, which predictably was instantly popular with internet shoppers. According to PC World, Dell Latitude E4300 laptop that normally sells for NT$69,000 (US$2,101.34) sat at NT$18,500 (US$563.40) for eight hours on Sunday. The drastically reduced price had 40,000 orders for the laptop.

Dell already canceled all the orders for the products at the incorrect price, and offered to buyers of the LCD monitor a NT$1,000 (US$30.32) coupon. The AP reports that buyers of the laptop received a NT$20,000 ($600) coupon, while PC World wrote that it was a NT$3,000 (US$90.95) coupon.

The coupons aren't good enough for the Consumer Protection Commission. "If Dell's Taiwan office does not have the power to decide this issue, then the top offices at Dell should have to hear the disappointment and indignation of Taiwanese consumers so they will quickly and sincerely come up with a concrete response," the commission said, quoted by PC World.

Dell could actually be faced with fines should authorities decide that Dell broke the law.

"If we find Dell to have broken the law, the company could be fined NT$50,000 [US$1,500] to NT$25 million [$758,000]," Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission Deputy Chairman Wu Hsiu-ming said to the AP.

Dell is now reportedly working with the commission for a solution.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • nekatreven
    ouch. I'm sure someone got fired for this one...
    Reply
  • mikepaul
    I realize there'd be NO Internet shopping if all websites had to conform to "no backing out of a bad price" rules, but the sheer gall of these companies just blythely going "ooops, sorry, order cancelled" hundreds of times a year with no adverse impact makes me happy to see some payback...
    Reply
  • nekatreven
    @mikepaul
    Every Dell site I've ever been on has that disclaimer warning they'll cancel orders that result from pricing errors. I know what you mean though...they probably hide behind it. I think the coupon idea they did in this instance might actually be perfect. At least it costs them a little something and the customer gets a little credit :)

    Heh...I've always wanted to find a pricing error and then order and see if I could talk around the disclaimer.

    "No, no... you see my order didn't arise because of the pricing error, I was going to buy the thing anyway! This was just a, a bonus, that appeared when I went to check out..."
    Reply
  • doc70
    mikepaulI realize there'd be NO Internet shopping if all websites had to conform to "no backing out of a bad price" rules, but the sheer gall of these companies just blythely going "ooops, sorry, order cancelled" hundreds of times a year with no adverse impact makes me happy to see some payback...my thoughts exactly... but they'll work out a deal sweet for them and not for the costumers...
    Reply
  • chaohsiangchen
    mikepaulI realize there'd be NO Internet shopping if all websites had to conform to "no backing out of a bad price" rules, but the sheer gall of these companies just blythely going "ooops, sorry, order cancelled" hundreds of times a year with no adverse impact makes me happy to see some payback...
    I'm from that shitty little island and I can tell you that, well, internet shopping is quite different there. People still mostly use cash there, and money is paid to delivery man rather than via commercial banks. The amount of fraud and scam is so high, that people don't trust credit system in general. Price error is almost impossible on online stores run by Taiwans themselves, since they know that's exactly what's going to happen.

    Online shopping is definitely will not take off in Taiwan. It doesn't matter anyway. The island is so small that you can find nearest computer store within 30 seconds of walk.
    Reply
  • Nakecat
    First, PC World was right at 3000 NT coupon, but later Dell Changed their mind to 20000 NT.

    Second, the 20000 NT coupon will only be valid if you buy the same model E4300, sounds good for 69000-20000 right? Wrong, because Dell over price the laptop. People can buy the same laptop from retail at around 40000 with discount, so dell is trying to play the game while make a lot of outrage people.

    Third, Dell doesn't care about Taiwan branch since it's small, which make people so mad in Taiwan. Dell paid way much better when the same thing happened in china a while back, because that's where the cash cows are.
    Reply
  • Platypus
    doc70my thoughts exactly... but they'll work out a deal sweet for them and not for the costumers...Is it Halloween yet? Why would Dell worry about the costumers?
    Reply
  • velocityg4
    I think the Dell should have to honor the price. In the US if you go in a retail store and a piece of merchandise is clearly priced they must honor that price. So I do not see anything different from an online store nor catalog for that matter.

    It's not like a screwed up ad in the newspaper or a magazine. Which has to go through a third party for printing making the reseller not liable for misprints.
    Reply
  • velocityg4
    I think the Dell should have to honor the price. In the US if you go in a retail store and a piece of merchandise is clearly priced they must honor that price. So I do not see anything different from an online store nor catalog for that matter.

    It's not like a screwed up ad in the newspaper or a magazine. Which has to go through a third party for printing making the reseller not liable for misprints.
    Reply
  • techtre2003
    I think this type of thing happens more than many people realize; and not just by Dell. I don't do that much shopping on the internet and I've had 3 orders canceled. One was by Amazon, one by the Discovery channel store, and the other by a big PC components company (don't remember which one). One of those was a price error and the other two were great sale prices that I ordered multiple quantities of; neither site had a limit posted. In only one of those cases did I even get an email that my order was canceled.
    Reply