Dick Smith’s zero dollars glitch

Dick Smith's site during the "sale" (courtesy @dhtbrowne; click to enlarge).

...and the site as it looks now.

An order for a satellite reciever (courtesy @findingnewo; click to enlarge).


A glitch this morning saw Dick Smith’s website offering all their products – including high-priced items like plasma TVs and Macbooks - for free.

On both the front page and inside pages, prices were advertised as $0.

Customer Travis Joy purchased two Macbook Pros at about 9.30am, and received a confirmation phone call saying they were ready to be picked up from his local Dick Smith store on Queen Street.

He said the website’s advertising for its “garage sale” price reductions made him think the $0 was a promotion.

“So we went down and they scanned the docket on the computer – it still said $0 – and then they were like “Why is it $0?” and I was like, “Oh, I got it online in the sale,” and they were like, “Oh, ok,” and then they went and got the manager.

“He came over, and said, “Oh, but the website’s down.” And I said, “well, it wasn’t when I ordered the purchase.” So he went off for about 15 minutes out the back.”

Mr Joy said the manager told him it was a genuine mistake on the website’s behalf, and wasn’t false or misleading advertising. “So he couldn’t give it to me at that price.”

The Dick Smith Queen Street store manager said he could not comment to media on the issue.

Other Twitter users also reported being able to order items for $0, with the only charge a delivery fee.

Dick Smith New Zealand’s Twitter account called the issue “a technical glitch” and said they were working to restore correct pricing.

“For orders placed we will be in contact with you to confirm cancellation or whether you would like the items at their correct pricing.”

At time of writing the normal New Zealand website was still offline, with a “Website maintenance” placeholder up. The Australian website was unaffected.

Dick Smith spokesperson Clare Buchanan said their online team were looking into the glitch but hadn't yet discovered its cause.

Honest mistake
Consumer Institute consumer advisor Paul Doocey said “the honest mistake” rule was fairly simple, and well-established when it came to pricing mistakes.

“The response to the customer is “Nice try,” but when you saw it was $0, you should have known that we’d made a mistake in our pricing.”

While the Fair Trading Act prohibits false or misleading advertising, Mr Doocey said this was clearly an honest mistake.

“In a case like this, there’s clearly no upside for the retailer going through this. So to turn around and say “Why can’t I have that?” is just cheeky.”

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6 Comments & Questions

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"He said the website’s advertising for its “garage sale” price reductions made him think the $0 was a promotion."

Give it a rest. He just wanted to scam a cpl free laptops. Playing dumb doesnt cover this fact..

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As what price would the "garage sale" arguement have worked?

MacBook for $4 sounds like a garage sale ;)

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So if they mistakenly doubled the price would they happily refund the extra I wonder?

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Wow. That rule makes a lot of sense. In the states, we would have made Dick Smith pay for their mistake! Man are we bastards.

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nah they were Macs so they'd have to pay me to take them

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...what he said.

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