Terrible People Create Fake Amazon Pages, Convince Walmart To Price-Match Them

Seems legit.

Seems legit.

It seemed like a great victory for consumers when Walmart announced that it would price-match select online retailers, including Amazon.com. However, because we’re not evil, we didn’t foresee how some people would misuse the price-matching privilege to scam Wally World into selling them video game consoles at cut-rate prices.

UPDATE: Walmart has closed this loophole.

We learned from Kotaku about this evil scheme that will ruin price-matching for everyone earlier today. It appears to have started when Sears accidentally listed some Nintendo bundles featuring the handheld 3DS and the Wii U console for only $60.

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Instead of ordering the $60 bundles online and waiting to find out whether Sears would cancel the orders, people simply went to stores with the console in stock and asked for a price match. This worked for some Reddit posters at retailers like Toys ‘R’ Us and Walmart. It didn’t work at the brick-and-mortar Sears store where one Kotaku reader works, since a manager refused to make the sale.

This bit of price-matching abuse turned evil as someone figured out that the meaning of “for sale on Amazon.com” can be very flexible, since anyone with a registered selling account can list an item for sale. Sure, Amazon will take the listing down if you try to list a PlayStation 4, which normally sells for $400, for less than a quarter of that amount. Yet just putting it online will create a 100% authentic-looking Amazon page, which you can then take a screen cap of or show to a store employee on your phone. Instant price-match…if the store employee is not very savvy.

Apparently, there are a lot of Walmart managers out there who are not Amazon-savvy, or Walmart didn’t figure out what was going on and stop this nonsense. That’s how some people managed to get $90 PS4s.

There’s taking advantage of deals, and there’s scamming. Using a false Amazon listing to get a price match under false pretenses is a scam, no matter how proudly you post to Twitter about it.

People Are Scamming Walmart With Bogus Cheap PS4 Listings [Kotaku]
Temporary Sears Glitch Let Some People Buy $60 3DS And Wii U Bundles [Kotaku]

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  1. petepuma03 says:

    Is the receipt listing the serial #? Hmmmm… I wonder it WalMart can work with Sony to effectively brick these devices. I don’t have a PlayStation but I imagine if they connect to the Sony Network, the serial # may be involved somehow.

    If Sony can’t help, hopefully karma will come in to play for these fine people.

    • furiousd says:

      Once it’s sold, I say leave them alone. There was a similar issue of a firmware update to brick fake FTDI chips. People who purchased devices with the counterfeit chips would likely not know they were fake and would be left with broken devices. Similarly, imagine I bought a PS4 on Craigslist for $325, a great, but not suspiciously low, deal. If the serial number is then used to brick the device, I’m left holding the bag on what for me was a completely legitimate purchase and Sony would either have to unbrick after a year or two of going back and forth, or charge me the difference and I’m out an additional $300 for the poor fraud detection practices of Walmart.

      It’s a nice idea to try and resolve the scam, but no good way to do so without creating side effects.

      • MathManv2point0 says:

        Depending on the state, while unknowingly receiving goods obtained illegally may not be a crime, you may be required to return the stolen goods and then have to take it up with the fraudster to get your money back

  2. webalias says:

    I’m not so sure all of the strategies described here are so “terrible.” As Elizabeth Warren has noted, “tricks and traps,” buried in the fine print, is how American companies do business these days — taking advantage of customers trust and gullibility with marketing that’s deceptive by design. As long as it’s not illegal, I don’t have a problem with consumers turning the tables. To put it another way, if a business can squeeze out of what it really ought to do through a loophole, if a consumer finds a loophole a business didn’t intend, I say go for it. Walmart employs legions of attorneys and marketing people — they could easily have adopted a more restrictive price-matching policy requiring more specific documentation. They didn’t. So if a Walmart manager wants to pricematch a deal offered by my brother-in-law out of his garage, or an ad that’s clearly a typo, I say let him. If a product was indeed offered on Amazon, legally, and that is Walmart’s (or some Walmart manager’s) criteria, who am I to argue?

    • CzarChasm says:

      Ahh, the two wrongs make a right argument, your parents must be proud.

      And for what it’s worth what they are doing is almost certainly illegal.

  3. ReverendTed57 says:

    I think the question of legitimacy in this case falls to the Amazon listing to be price-matched.
    What would happen if I were to catch one of these listings and purchase one of these $90 PS4s?
    I suspect I wouldn’t actually receive the product. If that’s the case, the product was never available for purchase at that price and it’s therefore fraud on the part of the poster.

    • webalias says:

      You raise a good point. On the other hand, offering a high-demand product for sale at a super-low price — when you have no intention of selling the product at that price — is virtually a time-honored tradition, still practiced by businesses large and small. Call any one of a number of online New York camera/electronics stores, and see how fast you’ll be told that the product still being advertised online is “out-of-stock.” In the past, I’ve showed up the second the doors opened at places like Office Depot and Best Buy, to find the product in my Sunday circular is mysteriously sold out. In addition, I’ve seen — and sometimes purchased — products for sale on Amazon at ridiculously low prices. These weren’t typos. The sellers apparently decided that losing money by selling me a cable or battery or some other product was worth it in the long run, since they would have my name and personal information for future marketing purposes, and I buy a lot of stuff. It could be that some consumers are committing fraud — I don’t know. But the fact that a product is not available to purchase, when you log on to Amazon, does not necessarily prove fraud, nor does an absurdly low price.

  4. davidbix says:

    Game consoles, especially brand new ones, are super low margin items. How would something like this not be locked out from happening?

  5. RYANHEALEY says:

    Sadly, once Walmart did the price match, took payment and let the customer leave the store they “accepted the terms of sale” and can not go back and fetch the merchandise of charge those customers the balance.

    However, this is evil. This ruins things for honest consumers who simply found something on Amazon for less (that is real) and want a price match at Walmart. I don’t think Walmart can stop the price matching because it was a smart business move, but people creating fake Amazon listings just to “steal” from Walmart is wrong. Yes, there is a difference between finding a deal and scamming a company.

    • webalias says:

      I have a hard time feeling sorry for Walmart. Yes, it’s wrong to steal from Walmart, or from anybody else. But before I shed too many tears, or denounce this price-matching “evil,” I’m inclined to remember: Walmart is a company that has been sued multiple times for forcing its employees to work for free, off the clock — Walmart agreed to settle 63 such lawsuits for up to $640 million back in 2008, and has been sued again repeatedly over the same issue. So let’s see here… we have a company that essentially steals $640 million from workers who it pays an average wage of $8.81 per hour. And we have a few consumers who walked away with Playstations for $89. I’m not saying two wrongs make a right, but a little perspective is in order. Also, it’s not clear to me that all of those who requested these price matches were engaged in fraud. There’s a burden of proof that would have to be met — as it apparently was when Walmart agreed to settle with the employees it ripped off repeatedly over the past decade.

      • DustinDopps says:

        Were you one of those people who sued Walmart? Did you even work there? If not, then saying “They did X!” isn’t a reason for you to take negative action against them. That’s the whole point of the lawsuits: to get compensation for actual wrongs. Your “wrong” is an intellectual/imaginary one.

        • webalias says:

          Nope. Never sued Walmart, or worked there. I also never took any negative action against them, or asked them to price match anything. But the wrong done by cheating already underpaid employees of out millions of dollars is not imaginary — nor is it justification for cheating Walmart. I simply, as stated, have a hard time feeling sorrow or outrage over the dubious conduct of a few consumers, given the notorious and flagrantly illegal behavior of this corporate behemoth. I am outraged by the fact that Walmart’s wages leave full-time workers living well below the poverty line, and by Walmart’s executive bonuses that, through shady tax loopholes, have cost U.S. taxpayers at least $104 million since 2009.