On Friday, May 21, online merchant 6pm.com, a sister site to Zappos.com, accidentally marked the prices of nearly all items on the website at $49.99. Over some 6 hours (from midnight until about 6 am PST) the website was taking orders for products (some of which were originally priced over $1,000) from customers. As a result, by the time they realized the mistake, they lost over $1.6 million dollars. The most fascinating part to me is not that though. What is especially noteworthy is how they reacted to this crisis situation.
On the morning of the same day Aaron Magness, director of brand marketing and business development at Zappos (which, by the way, wasn’t affected by the pricing mistake), wrote on Zappos blog:
…this morning, we made a big mistake in our pricing engine that capped everything on the site at $49.95. …When we figured out the mistake was happening, we had to shut down the site for a bit until we got the pricing problem fixed.
While we’re sure this was a great deal for customers, it was inadvertent, and we took a big loss (over $1.6 million – ouch) selling so many items so far under cost. However, it was our mistake. We will be honoring all purchases that took place on 6pm.com during our mess up. We apologize to anyone that was confused and/or frustrated during out little hiccup and thank you all for being such great customers [underlining mine].
They even apologized “to anyone that was confused and/or frustrated”! And they will honor all purchases made during that time because it was their “mess up.” Simply exemplary handling of the uneasy situation! I hope that all the good PR they will receive from this will be worth much more than the $1.6 million they lost (or will it then be really invested?!)
The words “Shop. Save. Smile.” in the company’s logo have now been given a totally new meaning too.