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Amazon price glitch sees thousands of goods sold for 1p

Barry Collins
15 Dec 2014
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Massive pricing error costs British retailers tens of thousands of pounds

A software glitch that saw Amazon list thousands of items for only 1p is threatening to put some British retailers out of business. The pricing cock-up wasn't caused by Amazon itself, but by a third-party piece of software called RepricerExpress, which automatically adjusts prices to match those of competitors. 

The slogan on the front of RepricerExpress's website claims its service is "the ridiculously simple way to increase your Amazon holiday sales", and it appears plenty of retailers saw an influx of unwanted business when the price of their goods was slashed to a ridiculous 1p on Friday evening. 

"Whats [sic] going on? All my items repriced to 1p at about 7pm tonight we've sold £1000's of pounds worth of goods for zero!!! No reponse at all from repricer. Amazon say it's a global issue," complained one RepricerExpress user on the company's support forums.

"Mine too, just sold my entire inventory in under two hours," complained another customer. "Heads are going to role [sic]. Solicitor first thing Monday morning. This has just cost me thousands and now have to stock check my entire warehouse." 

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"I have just had over 3500 orders in less than 3 hours for 1 pence," added another user. "If I cancel all these orders my account will be suspended. If i dispatch all these orders ill [sic] go bankrupt. I cant [sic] sell mattresses for 1 pence."

Some of the affected retailers have told Sky News that the glitch has cost them tens of thousands of pounds, and threatens to put them out of business. "Last night through an error in their programme they listed my stock on Amazon at 1p per item including delivery," said Judith Blackford of Kiddymania, a children's toys and clothes retailer. "I have lost about £20,000 overnight. Having asked Amazon to cancel the orders they are still sending them out and charging me horrendous fees. Surely someone has to be accountable for this? I will be bankrupt at this rate by the end of January."

Brendan Doherty, CEO of RepricerExpress, took to the company's support forums to apologise for the glitch, claiming the issue was rectified within an hour on Friday evening. "We continued to work over the following few hours in conjunction with Amazon to revert any incorrect prices to their original prices," he posted. "We have received communication that Amazon will not penalise sellers for this error. We are continuing to work to identify how this problem occurred and to put measures in place to ensure that it does not happen again. We've been in business for over 10 years and we've always taken pride in the levels of service we provide - so everyone here is devastated and disappointed that you have experienced this problem." 

The Sale of Goods Act makes provisions for retailers to cancel orders in the event of a pricing error, however many of the retailers on the RepricerExpress website are reporting that some of their stock was already dispatched by Amazon before the errors came to light. It's not clear if the retailers will be compensated. 

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