Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Office Max Fails to Honor Price Mistake

On New Years Eve I was reading and came across this post Officemax- 4GB Flash Drive for $17.98

So I was thinking, wow, that is a great price. I placed an order for 2. I then started seeing comments saying it was a a pricing mistake. The product number was correct but the price was wrong. Well I figured since it was their mistake they would have to honor it. I mean in my experience, every time this has happened in a brick and mortar store I was given the advertised price no matter how big the screw up was.

Being curious I called customer service today to find out the status. I said nothing about a price mistake. I only asked the status. I was told that they were canceling the order as it was a mistake. I looked up the FTC for "Truth in Advertising" and found this.

Internet Advertising

Is advertising on the Internet subject to the same laws as other advertising?
Yes. Ad claims on the Internet must be truthful and substantiated. Ask the FTC for a copy of Advertising and Marketing on the Internet: The Rules of the Road for more information. Dot Com Disclosures offers special guidance for online advertisers regarding how to make sure that any disclaimers and disclosures in online ads are clear and conspicuous. It addresses 'Net specific issues such as banner ads, pop-up windows, scrolling, hyperlinks, etc. Internet marketers also should be aware that the FTC's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule ("Mail Order Rule") applies to online transactions. For specific guidance on complying with the Mail Order Rule online, ask the FTC for a copy of Selling on the Internet: Prompt Delivery Rules, as well as A Business Guide to the Federal Trade Commission's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule.


Are there any standards governing the advertising of prices?
The same standards for truthfulness apply when companies make claims about price comparisons, "sale" prices, and the like. For more information, ask the FTC for the Guides Against Deceptive Pricing. Since many pricing issues involve local practices, you also may want to contact the Attorney General's office in the state(s) where you plan to advertise.
What responsibility does a company have to make sure that prices are accurate? 
In many jurisdictions, companies are legally required to charge no more than the advertised or shelf price for a product, so good pricing practices are important for both customer satisfaction and a company’s bottom line. For tips on accurate pricing practices in advertising and in retail stores, ask the FTC for Good Pricing Practices?

Oh I am sure in this day and age Office Max can change the rules as they go. But ethically it is their responsibility to make sure their prices are correct, Internet or Brick and Mortar standing.


M said...

Yeah but if it is a genuine mistake who is the unethical one holding them to it ? If they were using it to falsely advertise and get you in the store and then sell you other stuff, like x product is only available at that price if you take out y service agreement that's false advertising. However a genuine typo is just that. You wouldn't kick off like this if you went to some tiny independent store, it's because it's OFFICE MAX you think it's Ok to demand they harm their business.

Moose said...

I got in on the same deal you saw on DIGG as well.... I received an email stating it was on backorder.. and the check my status on the website says
21168308 Verbatim 4GB USB Drive
Store'n'Go USB Drive 4GB 2.0 BACKORDERED
BY 3-5 days

Tim said...

Looking at my order status on they say they have shipped my order. This is getting pretty damned weird!

Verbatim 4GB USB Drive
Store'n'Go USB Drive 4GB 2.0 BEING DELIVERED
BY 5-14 days EA $17.98 1 $17.98

Bill said...

I also ordered 2 of them. I received an email yesterday stating that it was a pricing mistake and that according to the terms of use of their website, they do not have to honor that price. I returned the email stating that according to Federal Law they must honor the advertised price. I notice that my order status now says the items were shipped.... We'll see what happens....

Nick said...

I ordered two also and i got an email saying it was backordered. Later i checked the orderstatus page and it said shipped. It currently still says shipped but i recieved an email saying that it was canceled. The text was available at a web site on a high port number 7001 .
whats with that?.

So as it stands my order claims to have shipped (no tracker) and its been canceled. So whats the concensus... call the BBB, or reply to the markteting people's email saying, no the law says you have to hand over the drives?

Bill said...

I replied to Office Max regarding the cancellation of my order.... received this reply today....

Dear xxxx,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the Verbatim 4GB USB Drive. I
apologize that the order was cancelled due to the incorrect pricing for
the item. The correct price for item 21168308 is $129.99. This was an
error online and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this
caused you. Please let us know if there is anything else we can assist
you with. Thank you for your interest in and have a good

Customer Service - Email Support

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