Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Customers irate about $10 HDTV ad

Nearly free television triggers complaints and possible class-action lawsuit

By MSN Money Aug 13, 2009 1:27PM

Some customers were likely breathless as they pushed the "add to cart" button at Best Buy's Web site. The big draw? A Samsung 52-inch HDTV that appeared on the chain's Web site for the unbelievably low sale price of $9.99.


Best Buy corrected the error hours later and announced that any orders processed at that price would not be honored. (You can find screen shots of the ad and an order placed by Augustine Fou at his go-Digital Blog.) But what's truly amazing about all this is that so many people are ticked off.

Bing: Best HDTVs 

People flocked to Best Buy forums to complain, and a Web site called Ten Dollar HDTV quickly appeared, where posters are mentioning a possible class-action lawsuit. " deserves this and I believe they will get what is coming to them!" "admin" proclaimed.


Over at Gizmodo, blogger Danny Allen said he placed an order for the TV this morning, and later got an e-mail from Best Buy saying it had been canceled and that his credit or gift card would be credited. No nearly free TV for him, but he's OK with that.


"It'd be nice if they just admitted it was a screw-up. But, oh well, the dream was fun while it lasted," Danny said. (Later messages from Best Buy apologized for the "error.")


He also reprinted this statement from the company Web site:

Prices and availability of products and services are subject to change without notice. Errors will be corrected where discovered, and Best Buy reserves the right to revoke any stated offer and to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions including after an order has been submitted and whether or not the order has been confirmed and your credit card charged.

That isn't dissuading some customers from complaining -- out of real frustration or in dogged pursuit of an insane deal. "I'm going to call and be very angry," one commenter at Gizmodo said. "Is it really worth it to lose a customer? Maybe they will give it to me."


The Washington Post also observed that the company's apology fell on some deaf ears. "That wasn't good enough for many Web-surfing customers, many of whom characterized the matter as a stunt to get people to register at Best Buy's Web site," the story said.


We're not the only one puzzled by some people's responses. "Let's put it this way. If you post an ad selling your car on Craigslist for $100 when you meant to put $10,000, are you going to honor the $100 price?" said another commenter at Gizmodo. "How would you feel if people decided to sue you over it?"


Some people will likely call for government action against Best Buy. But reports: "If you're wondering if Uncle Sam or the state can hold Best Buy's feet to the fire and honor the price, the answer is no. In fact, the Colorado Attorney


General's Office says it's not their job to go after companies for a typo."


People lined up outside Best Buy stores this morning either to buy the TV for $9.99 or pick up ones they thought they'd purchased online. talked to one guy who'd bought four of the TVs and then joined a line outside a Best Buy in Osceola County, Fla. Informed that he wouldn't be getting them, the customer told a reporter, "I'll go to my lawyer and see what he has to say about it."  


He added, "I knew it was a mistake, but when I go to Walgreens and they forget to take a tag off for a sale that was yesterday, they honor that price." (Note: The TV really sells for about $1,700.)


Related reading:

Why isn't Best Buy doing better?

How the flat-screen TV saved Best Buy

Lawsuit alleges Best Buy's ‘price matching' ignored

When that online deal becomes a steal

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.