Amazon Europe ‘click and bait’ practices
After B&H Photos click and bait scandal over the Christmas holidays involving a deal with Hasselblad X1D with two free lenses, Amazon Europe seems to going the same route.
On January 3rd, I saw the Sony SEL70-200G f/2.8 had a rather nice 16% discount. I proceeded to order this lens. It wasn’t in stock, but I don’t mind waiting a few weeks until it becomes available.
I received my order confirmation in the mailbox as usual so all looked well.
The next day, I thought I’d check my amazon account to see if any delivery date has been set. To my surprise, I could not find my order and after some investigation in turned out that it was moved to the ‘cancelled orders’ section. I had not received any communication from amazon about this, so I decided to contact customer support…
I received this reply:
Their explanation was that someone had made a ‘pricing mistake’ and hence they had cancelled my order. They directed me back to the page with the original listing price. Now in Europe, as a seller, you are obliged to sell your products for the (in this case discounted) listed price. Mistake or not, unless the mistake is obvious, say a zero was forgotten and the item is listed at 10% of the normal value. A 16% discount is not that rare an occurrence, especially on Amazon, so I replied telling them that they are legally bound to sell this item to me at that price.
Now this is where it gets interesting. Check their reply:
It looks like the Amazon lawyers have found a loophole, saying that the “contract of sale” only comes into existence when they actually dispatch your item. So this basically means that in a regular store, you’d only be able to know the price of an item once you’ve paid at the cashiers’ desk and they put your order in a bag. Almost out the door…Fishy.
To make matters worse, a big Amazon competitor was holding a 16% sale on all Sony lenses that day, and Amazon has a price matching policy. So they probably matched their price or made a mistake in what lenses were included in that deal and realised afterwards that it would eat up all their profits on that item.
But now we know: Amazon can always withdraw from any deal or discount they offer until the item is physically shipped. This also means that you could potentially lose out on a deal somewhere else if Amazon decides to change it’s mind for any reason.
I would think that this practice is bordering on illegal. I’d like to hear if anyone else has had any experiences like that so we can hopefully change this Amazon policy!