Williams-Sonoma Wasn’t Really Running A ‘Buy One Knife, Get 99 Free’ Sale

Some of our readers experience a modern moral dilemma: they order an item online, and multiple duplicates of that item appear on their doorstep. The retailer makes no attempt to collect the extra items, and sometimes doesn’t want to bother with getting them back. Two of our readers have experienced this recently: one changed a TV order and received an extra by mistake, and the other ordered knife and received 99 extra. That is not a typo.


We aren’t talking about flimsy dollar-store knives here, either. The one knife that reader Chris ordered was a really nice Wusthof paring knife from Williams-Sonoma, which retails for about $40. Paring knives are small, though, which is why he was surprised to receive a large and heavy box. The company had shipped him a case containing 100 knives instead of a box with only one.

You are allowed to just not tell the company when they’ve made a shipping mistake and keep the merchandise, the Federal Trade Commission tells us, but you need to turn to your own moral compass. Sometimes the company tells you to keep the merchandise anyway, as our readers who received cases of iPads learned. Sometimes they send you a shipping label, and you have an opportunity to be honest.

“I don’t want someone at the retailer get in trouble and I don’t think I need 100 knives,” Chris wrote, “but if they are mine they could make nice gifts to friends and family.” Depending on the size of your circle of friends and family, that could be more knives than any household could ever need.

We interceded, talking to customer service and Williams-Sonoma and referring them to Chris. They do want the knives back, so bad luck for his loved ones who were expecting knife bouquets.

Cam’s problem is less hilarious, but was a moral dilemma all the same. He ordered a 48″ TV from Best Buy during Black Friday Weekend, then changed the order to a different 50″ model. He sent the 48″ one back, and went on to live in large-TV bliss. Then another 48″ TV appeared on his doorstep. He wasn’t charged for it. This was another moral dilemma.

Having read our previous coverage, he knew that he could keep it. We contacted Best Buy without revealing his identity, and they said that it was one of multiple accidental shipments to customers over Black Friday weekend, and they’d be sending a label over to send it back. Our readers don’t get free stuff, but their moral dilemmas are solved.

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