Customers Complain When Walmart Won’t Honor Pricing Error That Listed 70″ TV For $99

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

If you see a TV that normally sells for $2,000 suddenly listed for sale at $99, you probably know it’s either stolen, worthless, or — most likely — a pricing error. You’re free to try to take advantage of that goof, but you don’t really have much of a legal leg to stand on if they realize the error and cancel your order.

NBC DFW reports that a group of North Texas women say they were caught off guard when their orders for $99 Samsung TVs on Walmart.com were canceled recently.

In one case, a woman says she purchased two 40-inch TVs and a 75-inch TV for $99 each. Typically, the sets sell for between $300 to $2,000.

“I didn’t even go out after,” the woman says of missing out on other Black Friday sales. “I had what I was looking for.”

Except she didn’t. The women tell NBC DFW that they began receiving emails over the weekend notifying them their orders were cancelled since the customers had — according to the emails — changed their minds.

But they hadn’t, the women said. Walmart tells NBC DFW that the orders were canceled “due to a pricing error.”

“Unfortunately, due to a pricing error, we needed to cancel some customer orders on a certain TV item. We’ve reached out to apologize to customers and offer them a gift card for the inconvenience,” the company said in a statement.

While the customers don’t use the term “bait and switch” to describe the issues, they do believe the $10 gift card is unacceptable. Now they want the company to honor the original purchase.

However, under Federal Trade Commission guidelines, Walmart is under no obligation to do that — or offer the $10 gift card — as its actions don’t constitute a bait and switch scenario.

The first part, the “bait” requires that there is a deliberate intention to deceive the customer.

Per the Federal Trade Commission, the bait’s purpose is to trick a customer into shopping for the initial offer while having no intention to ever sell them that product in the first place.

In the “switch” portion of a bait and switch scam, the retailer takes the lured-in customer and gets them to purchase a more expensive product or to pay more for the original product than was initially advertised.

In this case, Walmart simply canceled the orders and offered the $10 gift card.

Now, had the company not canceled the order and asked the customer to throw down another $400 for the TV, that could constitute a bait and switch.

The whole point of a bait and switch scam is for the scammer to benefit financially. Walmart reaps no benefit from mislabeling products for hundreds of dollars below the retail price.

This, of course, is not the first time a retailer has drawn the ire of customers for canceling orders after a pricing error.

In fact, Walmart has been involved in several such cases. Back in 2013, Walmart.com experienced a major glitch that attached incorrect prices to numerous items. The company canceled the orders and offered $10 gift cards.

The following year, the company made a pricing error by deeply discounting $100 gift cards to just $10.

In April 2015, a couple tried to buy a fridge being sold at 90% off its $2,999 original price. While they were told immediately that it was a pricing error and that the store couldn’t honor the $298 price on the tag, the couple insisted that they should only have to pay what it says on the tag.

Instead, the store offered the couple the fridge for $1,700 and a $100 gift card. They refused.

Three months later in July, Best Buy seemingly posted a $200 gift card for $15. The obvious pricing error, however, sent customers into a frenzy.