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The $9.99 Typo

8/13/2009 10:56:00 AM

When news of the 52-inch Samsung plasma TV being offered by Best Buy for $9.99 on the retailer’s Web site hit yesterday I rolled my eyes and uttered that famous phrase, “Oh but for the grace of God go I.”You see, when you have been in the media business for as long as some of us at TWICE have been, you’ve made your share of typos. And covering CE over the years I’ve seen plenty of newspaper inserts and full-page ads with inadvertent pricing blunders, only to be retracted the next day.

In those rare cases when TWICE had a typo in a story about pricing, especially years ago when we were only a print publication, oh did we hear about it from the manufacturer concerned. The next print issue with the headline “Correction” couldn’t come out soon enough for the offended party and us.

The same was and is still true in print where newspapers still run stories the next day explaining and apologizing for the blunders after hearing it from their retail advertisers and readers.

But with both retailers and manufacturers now running their own Web sites they now know the wrath of consumers, and probably have a better appreciation of what the media has gone through in these cases over the years.

Of course Best Buy is not going to honor any orders for the $9.99 Samsung 52-inch plasma, because it cited a clause in one of its policies that said it does not have to stick by a price published by mistake.

The whole debacle is, at the very least, a public relations black eye. But imagine if Best Buy did honor the orders. It would obviously lose a ton of money. And could you imagine what Samsung would say about their 52-inch plasma being sold for less than two six-packs of 12 ounce beer?

Of course the state of the economy and our culture of assuming we have a right to just about everything, some consumers are insisting that Best Buy must honor the $9.99 price. And of course a lawyer or three may file suit against the retailer even though a law professor doesn’t think any suit will hold water.

But that’s never stopped anyone from suing anyone else in this country.

Based on the reaction to this story we’re in the middle of the dog days of August … no doubt about it.

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