The best online bargains - by mistake

DESIGNER DEAL:, which offers goods like this Vivienne Westwood bag, usually US$1,676.99, accidentally priced all products at US$49.95 in 2010.
The best online bargains - by mistake

VOUCHER TROUBLE: Razer CEO Tan Min-Liang said that after an unauthorised 90 per cent discount for its gaming goods went viral, it decided to honour the coupon.
The best online bargains - by mistake

'JUST A TEST': Rakuten is offering a pair of Nike men's sneakers for US$99,999 - priced high so that it won't get any orders. The listing is there to test new functionality in a live environment.


    Nov 29, 2013

    The best online bargains - by mistake


    IT'S a good time to be an online shopper. Retailers are elbowing each other to get in front of consumers with bargains, and some stores have been touting Black Friday deals weeks before the actual day.

    But, sometimes, the online prices are better than you could have imagined, and it's usually because of a computer glitch.

    The $49.95 store

    We know about the 99 Cents Only Store, but a US$49.95-only (S$63-only) store?

    That was briefly the price for all products on, an online retailer that's now a subsidiary of Amazon. Sure, US$49.95 may not sound cheap, but 6pm offers designer items, like a pair of Giuseppe Zanotti boots with a usual price of US$1,731.99 and a Vivienne Westwood bag with a usual price of US$1,676.99.

    6pm decided to honour the purchases and apologised to confused customers. The technical glitch, which occurred in 2010, led to a loss of more than US$1.6 million.

    Free bras for teens

    Abercrombie & Fitch's Hollister accidentally offered bras for free to its teenage customers earlier this year. Girls who took to the Web at around 2am and added bras to their carts got away with paying only a shipping fee of US$5, according to Fox Business.

    Razer's 90 per cent discount

    In April this year, a third party testing the online shopping cart of Razer - a gaming hardware and software site started by Singaporean Tan Min-Liang - mistakenly provided a coupon code that gave a 90 per cent discount on a number of items.

    Customers placed thousands of orders within a couple of hours - transactions that had the potential to cause huge losses, according to Mr Tan.

    The store decided to honour the coupons, which elicited many responses on Facebook from customers and fans, who said they would voluntarily cancel their orders.

    Kayaks for US$11, computer monitors for US$9

    Here's one way for Walmart to beat Amazon in e-commerce: Sell kayaks for US$11 and computer monitors for US$9.

    Earlier this month, a technical error led the world's largest retailer to mistakenly list steeply discounted online prices on its merchandise.

    As it tried to correct the problem, customers took to the Web to gloat about their bargain purchases.

    "I ordered 50 kayaks and 100 speakers," Twitter user AlbertMarsh posted. "You better honour it!"

    Walmart did not. The retailer told online shoppers that their orders were being cancelled, but said it would send customers a US$10 e-gift card for future purchases.

    US$2 a night at Hilton

    When planning vacations, timing is everything. That's especially true when booking hotels online, like when listed incorrect prices in 2005 that allowed travellers to stay in Japan on the cheap, with some customers reserving rooms at Hilton International for US$2 a night, according to Reuters. The rate is typically hundreds of dollars.

    Coffee, tea or free?

    "Airline" and "glitch" are two words you don't typically want to hear in the same sentence, except when it comes to technical errors that lead to super-cheap flights.

    Such was the case in September, when faulty reservations data led United Airlines to offer free tickets on its website for a couple of hours. United said it would honour the sales.

    Last year, Israel's El Al offered flights that normally cost about US$1,600 for less than US$400.

    "This is only a test"

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, here's one item that isn't priced to sell.

    Japanese online retailer Rakuten is offering a pair of Nike men's sneakers on its site for US$99,999.

    A mistake? Not so.

    The listing is there to "test new functionality" in a live environment, according to Mr Bernard Luthi, chief operating officer of Rakuten. He said the shoes are "priced high so that it will not get any orders".

    That's for sure.