Best Buy Doesn’t Want to Sell Me a 52-Inch HDTV for $9.99. Reasonable Enough.

By  |  Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 10:05 am

bestbuylogoEarly this morning, Best Buy had a deal on its site that was not merely a best buy but a mindbendingly, impossibly cheap one: a well-reviewed, high-end 52-inch Samsung LCD HDTV for…under ten bucks. $9.99 to be exact. Here, I’ll show you:

Best Buy HDTV for $9.99

The price was, of course, a typo–one reported on at deal sites and by my pal Danny Allen at Gizmodo, whereupon scads of people presumably pulled out their wallets and bought a TV (maybe several of ’em!). Including me: I had to pay 91 cents in tax and California’s $25 recycling fee, but shipping was free, so it still seemed like an attractive deal overall. My order went through, with friendly confirmation:

Best Buy confirmation page

Now, I’m aware that’s conditions of use says it can cancel your order if it messed up a price. I’m also not one who rubs my hands in glee and pounces to seize advantage of other folks’ mistakes–even those of large, prosperous corporations. (For one thing, it’s bad karma, unless you have no problem with the rest of the world messing with you when you screw up.) But these kinds of site snafus are pretty common–here’s a news story on $15 Dell monitors–and I was curious how Best Buy would handle it. If the order got as far as me getting a call to schedule delivery, I was going to cancel it.

It was not exactly stunning when the set was both $1699.99 and unavailable later this morning:

Best Buy TV full price

Or when I got a form letter from Best Buy:

Canceled Best Buy order

I’m not ticked off that Best Buy canceled the order, but the bit about the product being “no longer available” seems pretty weasly. I suspect that the Best Buy warehouses are still stocked with this TV, and that the company will sell them to people willing to fork over $1700. (Although at the moment, the page for the set is just gone.) “We’re sorry, we messed up on the price, but the terms and conditions of our site allow us to cancel orders at inaccurate prices, and we’re hereby doing so–you didn’t really think the set was $10, did you?” woulda earned BB some serious credibility here. But maybe that’s just me.

Meanwhile, I wonder if Best Buy will face an outburst of anger by aggrieved shoppers denied their $10 HDTVs. And why Best Buy and other Web retailers don’t have safeguards in place to flag bizarrely large discounts off list prices so they never get listed in the first place.

UPDATE: I got a second form letter from Best Buy, which comes pretty close to what I hoped for in the first place: an admission of pricing error (albeit in “mistakes were made” passive tense) and an apology. Here it is:

Best Buy Second Letter



14 Comments For This Post

  1. Steven Fisher Says:

    Interesting. Poorly handled, I think.

    Although it’s possible they are sold outon paper. I imagine they sold through their inventory at $10.

  2. STEFAN Says:


  3. Alicia Nieva-Woodgate Says:

    Definitely a missed opportunity – that email needs a re-write. Would have been nice though!

  4. A Red Panda Says:

    The email just a form letter. There is no conspiracy.

    >>> “But maybe that’s just me.”

    Yes, it’s just you forgetting that BB has a bazillion customers. They aren’t going to customize an email just for wittle old you.

  5. nightlisa Says:

    I did a search on ITEM# LN52A650 and the item has been re-listed under another product number. It is now $1999.00 and it is NOT sold out. I called customer service and they said they were unable to comment on it, that we were to refer to our email.

    This coupled with the PRICING OOPS on the Palm Pre’s 2 weeks ago, makes me think that BESTBUY is using fraudulent pricing to drive traffic to their site. Hey BESTBUY, terminate the few folks who’s job it is to double check pricing uploads etc, and use their yearly salary to honor a couple of the customer TV orders.. Do like 1% of the customers as a lottery, allowing those selected customers to buy (LIMITED to ONE) one TV at $9.99 and restore faith that you aren’t doing this as an intentional scam to drive customers to your site.

  6. Harry McCracken Says:

    Um, Red Panda? I know the e-mail was a form letter (I’m pretty smart for my age!) and didn’t expect a personal e-mail, just a form letter that addressed what actually happened. It seemed doable, and…it was! See my update–Best Buy followed up with exactly that.


  7. Barb McMillen Says:

    Someone up there was thinking (or busy reading your blog 🙂

  8. Robert Mullins Says:

    What would you have done if they’d exercised their right to substitute a Fischer-Price TV for $9.99?

  9. Alicia Nieva-Woodgate Says:

    Sounds to me like the PR department read your blog and issued another email… 🙂

  10. Dave Mackey Says:

    Regardless of the price, I need to vouch for the quality of the Samsung flat screens. I have two, a 36 inch model and a 52 inch which is the next model up. Have not had a problem and very happy.

  11. Dead Man Says:

    Got to love all the etitled idiots who feel once again they should get something for nothing (or next to nothing)
    How many of these morons would honor the price on say their used car if they accidently put it on Craigslist for $50 instead of $5000? None,thats who

    Keep contacting BBBand screaming about Lawyers, this has been a lot of laughs.

  12. Gwynd the Green Says:

    It could have been worse, I bought two routers from a company that had a similar error £13, instead of £130, for three months, they told me it was delayed, and then when they finally cancelled it took another three months for them to refund my money.

  13. Adam Says:

    I can’t people actually believe that they deserve the TV despite it being an obvious mistake. Get a job deadbeats! :p

  14. Jim R Says:

    I program rates for a major insurance company. We are entering and checking thousands of spreadsheet values in any one change. We have repetative checks to capture typos, but they do happen.

    And trust me, the person who posted that $9.99 price was spoken to. Not fired, but definately spoken to

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