September 22, 2020

A glitch on Amazon let shoppers buy items for only a penny


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Warehouse Distribution Centre For Amazon Online RetailersBy Tim Chesteruk From Mashable

LONDON — Christmas came a few weeks early for some shoppers at the weekend as a glitch on the Amazon website meant users could grab items for a penny a piece.

The technical problem was caused by Repricer Express, a service third parties use to keep their prices competitive, and meant that many items were priced at 1p from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday night. Toys, clothes and furniture were among the items on sale for a fraction of their normal prices, and users moved quickly to bag a bargain.

While some shoppers bagged a deal, many small businesses have lost out.

Martin Le Corre, who sells toys and games via his MB Housewares store on Amazon, told the Guardian that the glitch could have cost him over £100,000.

“By the end of the hour, we had 1,600 orders,” he said. “People were buying 10, 50, 100 copies of everything. It is £50,000, £60,000, £100,000 of stock; we can’t even work it out.”

Judith Blackford of online retailer Kiddymania also stands to lose thousands of pounds after customers bought 675 items from her children’s fancy dress shop for a penny each. She’s trying to kick start a hashtag, #supportkiddymania, to help her through the process.

The Repricer Express service allows sellers to auto-optimise their prices and promises a “ridiculously simple way to increase your Amazon holiday sales.” The company’s chief executive, Brendan Doherty, said he was “deeply sorry for the disruption.”

“Amazon have assured us that seller accounts will not be penalised for this issue,” he said.

A spokesman for Amazon said they were reviewing the orders and would be directly contacting any affected sellers, according to the BBC. The vast majority of orders were cancelled, they added.

However, some traders are worried they’ll go bankrupt. Mehboob Rasool, who sells furniture though his Cloudseller store on the site, told City AM that some traders are forming a support group and jointly hiring a lawyer to represent them.

IMAGE: Parcels await dispatch at Amazon’s Hemel Hempstead warehouse. The retailer was hit by a software glitch meaning users could purchase items for 1p. IMAGE: PETER MACDIARMID/GETTY IMAGES

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