Cheap orders void, says Kodak
By Ian Burley
Story update, 8th December, click here.
*Important note: It has come to our notice that Kodak customers are posting corrspondence from Kodak on Newsgroups and bulletin boards and unwittingly making their credit card details public. If you feel there is any risk of this having happened to you, we advise you to get in touch with your credit card issuer for advice.
On Saturday we carried news that Kodak was advertising a very attractive £100 deal on its DX3700 digicam, normally priced £300, with a free 32Mb memory card thrown in, to boot. (Original story, click here). This morning the deal price was changed to £329.
We know that quite a few DPN readers have ordered the special deal and received confirmation of their orders at the original low price. Obviously, doubt that their orders were secure has become an issue.
We asked Kodak UK for clarification at 11AM this morning. At 7PM this evening Kodak UK released a statement conceding a mistake on their part, but also declined to honour orders placed at the cheaper price:
“On 31st December 2001 Kodak advertised a DX3700 digital camera together with a 32mb memory card plus inkjet paper on the shop@kodak website. The price for this collection of products was shown as £100 which was incorrect. The correct price of £329 has now been posted on the website.
Kodak regrets any inconvenience and disappointment caused to customers.
Although Kodak will not sell the above product at the incorrect price, it will offer any affected customers a discount on their next order from the Shop@kodak website by the end of January 2002.
Kodak does reserve the right to decline to accept any customer's offer to purchase, prior to payment.”
It was a surprise to learn that the ‘error’ extended back to New Years Eve. There was no mention of one rumour, that a disgruntled ex-employee had hacked the Kodak Web site.
What is certain is that this latest news is bound to disappoint quite a few customers. Word about the deal spread very quickly and we estimate the numbers could involve hundreds of orders.
As debated in a news story on The Inquirer trade news Web site (click here) earlier today, the legal situation regarding this case is rather grey. Vendors are protected from innocent pricing mistakes, but in this case the price was featured as a special offer. It also remained live for a whole week.
Also, purchasers received confirmation emails from Kodak indicating that they were bound by a ‘contract’. Apparently there is no exact precedent, but on the other hand it’s free for someone to set one by challenging Kodak in court.
Naturally, we wonder what Kodak would do if a supplier of theirs decided to change the price of an order by a factor of over 300% - after the deal had been done and payment had been made.
We have had numerous emails from disgruntled customers and several expressed a determination to challenge Kodak legally should their orders not be honoured. In the UK members of the public can make legal challenges for little personal cost or inconvenience through the Small Claims Court. It will be interesting to see if this story gets that far.
We hoped to have some advice from Trading Standards today, but so far we haven’t received a reply from our query with them this morning. Hopefully, we can report their point of view tomorrow (Tuesday).
One thing is for sure, this story isn’t over by a long shot.
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