Walmart Admits Pricing Error On Iron Man 2 DVD, Attempts To Make Nice

Earlier today, we wrote about the numerous complaints we’d received about some shady dealings over at Walmart.com. Seems that many, many people had been lured into pre-ordering the Blu-ray/Standard DVD/Digital Copy combo pack of Iron Man 2 at the price of $15, only to then receive an e-mail from Walmart that their orders were canceled “due to limited availability.” This struck many people as odd, since Walmart was still taking orders for the same item, but at a much higher price. And guess what — you were right.

Consumerist reader David just forwarded us this follow-up e-mail he received from Walmart regarding his canceled order:

You recently received an email from us that your order of Iron Man 2 (Blu-ray + Standard DVD + Digital Copy) (Widescreen) had been cancelled due to a limited supply issue. The cancellation was due to a pricing error on this item, not a supply issue. We’re sorry for the confusion and the inconvenience.

To thank you for your understanding, we will honor the $15 price that was displayed at the time of your purchase. We will email you a $10.87 eGift Card to cover the difference from the current price of $24.96 plus tax. Your eGift card will be emailed within the next 24 hours and can be applied towards the purchase of this item or a different item. We’ll issue one eGift Card per affected customer; this card can be used online at Walmart.com only.

Would you use the card to still buy the DVD? Or would you just spend your $25 at Amazon or elsewhere?

Comments

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  1. TasteyCat says:

    I wouldn’t have shopped at Walmart in the first place, but good on them for meeting people half way.

  2. DowneMixedBoi says:

    If Walmart sold it at the $15.00 price, they would more then likely get in trouble from their supplier, and no longer get Special deals/combo packs.

    That’s why they are picking up the tab and issuing gift cards.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      I think you’re confused as to the power Walmart exerts over their suppliers. They know that their locations and online store is a huge channel, so they can do just about anything they want, including forcing price concessions. Sure, Paramount might make a little noise if they sold it so cheaply, but in the end what are they going to do? Shoot themselves in the foot by not supplying to Walmart?

      • Liam Kinkaid says:

        I reread my reply and realized it came off kinda rude. That was not my intention. Walmart knows they can abuse their vendors and they do it frequently. There’s a PBS documentary out there that talks about some of their tactics they can employ because they command so much of the retail market.

      • two_handed_economist says:

        WM cannot and does not do whatever it wants with its suppliers; Fishman’s article and book and the TV and film documentaries do a great job of exaggerating. Of course, WM has considerable negotiation power, but there are very realistic limits, particularly when a supplier has a unique good that WM really wants.

        And, correct me if I am wrong, is there not an existing overarching contract between WM and the supplier that includes terms and conditions for all goods and services supplied to WM? If so, Wal-Mart cannot violate this contract, even by mistake, unless it wants to renegotiate on less favorable terms.

        • Liam Kinkaid says:

          There are very few “unique goods” in the overall market, and even fewer when you’re talking about items that Walmart would sell (i.e. no Bentleys or Rolls-Royces). One of these “unique goods” would be Coca-Cola. Even though the reference is a few years old, it’s still relevant. From Breaking the Chain by Barry C. Lynn:

          Recently, though, Wal-Mart decided that it did not approve of the artificial sweetener Coca-Cola planned to use in a new line of diet colas. In a response that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, Coca-Cola yielded to the will of an outside firm and designed a second product to meet Wal-Mart’s decree.

          There are exceptions, such as Fishman’s example of Snapper lawnmowers who refused to bow to Walmart’s sales philosophy, but they are the exception, not the rule. They’re also closer to the Bentley (a fine, durable good) example than the Coca-Cola one (a mass produced consumable). But, by and large, Walmart can dictate to suppliers, through strongarm negotiating tactics, the prices they will pay.

          I don’t have any data on whether or not they tend to stick to agreements, so I will assume they do. But if they don’t, what is the supplier going to do? If they don’t ever care about selling to Walmart, I guess they’ll sue. They’ll face a court in Bentonville that is heavily stacked toward Walmart’s interests. Further, I doubt the supplier would even request renegotiation on contracts for much the same reasons.

    • agpc says:

      No, the suppliers will realize its a pricing mistake in this case and choose not to end their business with the largest retailer in the world.

      Actually, pricing mistakes occur all the time, the vendors understand when this happens and usually will not even complain so long as they are compensated by the retailer.

  3. David_NY_NY says:

    Why is it so hard for companies to admit the truth upfront when it is so obvious to their customers what is going? Cancel all existing orders for the item priced at $15 due to “limited availability” and hope that these customers don’t see the same item being sold now for $25.
    Basically Walmart attempted to insult the customer’s intelligence.

    I am sure that at least a few people complained before they offered their eGift card to all affected users.

    The item has “limited availabilty” at $15, limited by Walmart that is.

    • DanRydell says:

      I’m guessing their system has a limited number of reasons they can use for mass-cancelling orders, and price mistake isn’t one of them. So they had to have someone manually retrieve the e-mail addresses and generate the e-mail, which takes time.

    • bennilynn says:

      I would guess they were trying to avoid any and all litigation. By proclaiming themselves to be ‘out of stock due to high demand’, they could cancel the orders without a problem. If you start calling it a pricing ‘error’, people will begin demanding all sorts of things to save a few bucks.

      Given the overwhelming evidence of a pricing error, due to screen shots and the like, Walmart didn’t have as many options as they would like in this case.

    • Chaotic Evil says:

      Why can’t it be a mistake? Someone was probably fumbling around in a sql database somewhere and blew something up.

      • Dover says:

        It was clearly a mistake, people are mad because Wal-Mart tried to blame it on a supply error instead of owning up to their error.

  4. Gilcole says:

    Dirty liars!!!!

  5. Brien says:

    This is actually really great on Walmart’s part – I read this thinking the OP e-mailed Walmart about the confusion, and got this e-mail as a followup. When I checked my inbox to read my original cancellation order, I found this was e-mailed to me as well. Walmart’s apparently doing this automatically to all the canceled orders. Definitely makes me think higher of them.

  6. ITDEFX says:

    son of a bitch…they are going to honor it anyways?!?!?! grrr….

  7. bennilynn says:

    Whooo! Finally right about something. I’ll mark this historic moment on my calendar.

  8. The Cynical Librarian says:

    Kind of obnoxious to me still. Offering to give me a gift card for the difference means I have to spend that money at your establishment anyway. If I was only shopping to buy this one specific item, now I have to find something that costs exactly $10.87 or be forced to spend more money than I would have had a I purchased the item anyway. Wal-Mart wins no matter what.

    • Pax says:

      … the difference in price is $10.87; if you buy Iron Man 2, you wil pay the original price, and only that.

      Or you can buy a $9 item, pay NOTHING, and get that item as a free “we’re sorry we suck” gift from Wal-Mart.

      Or you can just say “Wal-mart still sucks; I’m not even going to spend five cents of that gift card, let alone any of MY money”, and not buy anything at all.

      So really … what’s there to complain about, WRT the gift card?

    • lanigan911 says:

      You missed the fact that they are giving you the gift card BEFORE you re-purchase at the currently higher price, effectively bringing it back down to $15.

  9. Pax says:

    I wonder if someone from WalMart’s legal team read the reference I posted to 940 CMR 6 in the other thread, and said “uh oh” …?

  10. exscind says:

    I was one of the folks who ordered this, and am glad that they fixed the mistake. Consumerist picking up the story certainly didn’t hurt, so thank you.

  11. ToKeN2k6 says:

    I was one that pre-ordered it. I’ve bought like ZERO BD’s from Wal-Mart since they came out and only a hanful of $5 DVD’s. When I saw this, it was pretty much a no-brainer to place an order at Wal-Mart (and only my 3rd .com order too) I was really upset when it got canceled for ‘Limited Availability’ It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the movie isn’t out, so availability should be sitting in a wharehouse right?? Not moving?? Well, I surely wasn’t going to get Iron Man 2 from Wal-Mart anymore, but since they made nice and are semi-honoring the price, I’ll still go with it. Sorry for the guy that lost his job probably..

  12. sopmodm14 says:

    lol @ walmart

  13. Razor512 says:

    a gift card of that value is useless.

    it is like those places that give you store credit or a overprice restaurant that gives you a $10 coupon or something With that gift card, no matter what you do, you lose money.

    • George4478 says:

      I don’t know. You could combine it, say $15, and buy an Iron Man 2 bluray pack.

    • MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

      Yeah, I’ll take the dalmation statue and put the rest on a gift certificate, Pat.

    • joshua70448 says:

      The $10.87 gift card was intended for people that wished to still preorder the movie from Walmart for $15, since it reduces the $25 price down to the earlier-promised $15. That’s why they sent out those gift cards.

  14. dotyoureyes says:

    Good on Walmart for admitting they lied and making customers whole. That’s how to handle a screw-up with grace.

  15. ShadowFalls says:

    Does anyone know what Walmart is intending to do about those people with existing pre-orders? Since the pre-order policy clearly states that it ships at the lowest price it was ever available at before the time it ships out. It doesn’t mention exceptions such as pricing errors.

    I also wonder if they screwed up and canceled all the pre-orders rather than just the ones placed after the price change.

  16. stint7 says:

    They made good on what they did, why are some of still bitching?

    • LunaMakesThings says:

      Because it’s Walmart. Poor people shop there, ergo rich people hate it.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Well, my only contention is that you still pay $25 for the item. You’re just getting $10.87 back as a gift card. But that doesn’t change the fact you were required to spend $25, not $15.

      • joshua70448 says:

        Wrong wrong wrong, just like so many other people in this thread. They canceled the original preorders. If you still want to buy this movie from Walmart, you’ll have to order the $25 movie and use the $10 gift card they sent out, which means you only pay the $15 out of pocket.

      • Murph1908 says:

        BZZZZ.

        Thanks for playing.

        You can use the gift card to buy the movie and only pay $15 for it, or use it for something else entirely if you don’t want/need it any more.

  17. Admiral_John says:

    So Walmart still wins… they refund the difference in cash that can only be used at their stores. Still seems like a shady move to me.

    • joshua70448 says:

      There’s no refunds going on, besides the original preorders being canceled. If you still want to get the movie from Walmart for $15, then you can use the gift card. If you want to get the movie somewhere else, you’re completely free to do so, and Walmart won’t get any money from you.

  18. central_ny_dude says:

    Sounds like a bait-n-switch move to me. Show people an ultra low price, then make them pay more for it, but admitting they screwed up and offering an incentive to make you go back and spend more money with them. So they still get buyers for the disc, then get you to spend more money with them, because their “oops we’re sorry” card is only good for their stuff. It wouldn’t surprise me if they planned this all along. Not far-fetched to believe. They win, they get your money anyway, and they look good for “owning up to a mistake”.

    • joshua70448 says:

      The original orders got canceled. The gift card is intended to reduce the $25 movie down to the earlier-promised $15 price, but if you go somewhere else to buy the movie, you can just ignore the gift card and not be out any money.

  19. Taylor@HiKarma.com says:

    Well, he doesn’t have much of a choice but to purchase something from Wal-Mart. He has gift card worth $10.87–only usable at Wal-Mart. >.

    • joshua70448 says:

      …or you could purchase something anywhere you want, since the original orders got canceled. The gift card is only if you still want the Walmart Bluray for $15.

  20. redwing41 says:

    This one’s for you – morons who called it a bait and switch.

    Idiots.

  21. JKxZ says:

    So why couldn’t they do the same thing when they pulled the EXACT same stunt for Mario Kart Wii not that long ago?

  22. joshua70448 says:

    I don’t understand why some of you are still irritated about this. I preordered the $15 movie and got the cancellation email. Yesterday, I got the same “oops, our bad” email that everyone else got. You people seem to be failing to realize that they canceled the original order. It’s gone. They’re giving everyone that ordered a $10.87 online gift card that they can use on the $25 movie to get it for the original $15 price. They even let you use that $10.87 on anything else in their online store. Heck, you could just ignore the gift card altogether. Why is this a problem?

  23. amcfarla says:

    I tried purchasing the item at the $15 dollar price, and got this same email after being told my order was canceled. I pre-ordered it at Amazon before I got the email stating they are going to send a gift card so I guess I will be using the gift card on something else, but I am not sure I want to shop at Wal-Mart after this issue but at least they tried to make it right.

    • steveliv says:

      or you could cancel the order at Amazon, and purchase it at WM for $15, using the gift card code they sent you…

  24. keepntabs says:

    Walmart is only offering an e-credit for the sales price difference. Well, in my area sales tax is 9.75%. So, I’d end up paying almost a dollar in tax at the current price. The e-credit doesn’t take that into consideration.

  25. dush says:

    Stupid gift card instead of just honoring the price or giving cash back. Walmart sucks.

  26. ShadowFalls says:

    Anyone actually receive the e-gift card? Looked at the account info on Walmart.com and they claim there was one emailed and alas I never got one emailed…

    • joshua70448 says:

      I got my eGift Card around 7pm Central time last night, and I’ve already placed my preorder with the gift card. The total after the gift card was $16.24, which is exactly what it was on the original $15 preorder, so it all worked out.

  27. Echo5Joker says:

    Yes. It seems like Wally world is being upfront, and anyway they only really deal dishonestly with their employees.