Consumer Nation

Want A $9.99 Flat-Screen TV? Nevermind


Retailers, hurt by the weak economy, have been treating consumers to some sweet deals, but this one goes down in the record book as too good to be true.

Man watches home theater televisions at the Best Buy

Shoppers who logged on to Best Buy's Web site this morning thought they snagged the deal of the century.

For a brief time, the electronics retailer was advertising a 52-inch flat-panel Samsung television for $9.99. That's right, a television that would typically be priced at about $1,700 was being sold for under $10 with a $70 flat shipping cost.

Savvy online shoppers raced out to snag as many as they could, and then spread the word about the incredible deal.

Although some customers were able to complete their order, Best Buy has said it won't be honoring the incorrect price, which resulted from an "online pricing error."

Best Buy said it pulled the offer down from the Web site as soon as it learned of the error.

"We have corrected the issue and apologize for the confusion this may have caused," the company said, in a written statement.

Best Buy's Web site does contain a statement that protects the company from errors on its Web site. Under this policy, the consumers who tried the purchase the televisions will have their credit cards refunded for the purchase and shipping costs.

But will this incident be a plus or a minus for Best Buy? The mishap has driven traffic to the site and encouraged potential new customers to sign up for an account, which is required when someone places an order.

However, consumers may be disappointed and angry that the sales are not being honored.

On Twitter, there are already consumers urging those who purchased TVs under the deal to organize and sue Best Buy.

There are similar cases. Taiwanese authorities fined Dell $30,500 last month after it failed to honor a online price offer. The computer company had advertised a notebook computer for less than a third of its actual price, prompting bargain hunters to place as many as 100,000 orders.

Authorities have told Dell that it would consider imposing repeated fines or even barring Dell from selling its products online if the company fails to provide customers with an acceptable compensation package.

Best Buy has not disclosed how many of the mispriced TVs were ordered this morning.

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