Wed, Jul 08, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Dell faces mounting anger over online pricing ‘errors’

By Jenny W. hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Computer giant Dell was facing more problems after consumer rights advocates yesterday threatened to boycott its products and file a lawsuit if it continued to refuse to offer a better compensation deal or make good on its pricing errors.

The calls came after the company twice mislabeled items at steeply discounted prices, leading more than 30,000 bargain hunters to snap up the products over the past 11 days.

Dell fueled consumer rage on June 25 when it refused to honor purchases after more than 26,000 people bought 19-inch LCD monitors incorrectly priced online at NT$500.

The computer-maker chalked it up as a technical error, but was only willing to issue a NT$1,000 discount coupon to customers who placed orders for the product.

A second blunder occurred on Sunday when Dell’s online store listed a Dell Latitude E4300 laptop at NT$18,558, a giant saving on the usual price of NT$69,000.

The consumer rights group said the attractive prices engendered at least 14,943 orders, netting a total sale of 49,888 laptops.

UNAPOLOGETIC

Dell remained unapologetic and said it would only issue a NT$20,000 voucher to each affected consumer.

The move sparked further anger from buyers and prompted the Consumer Protection Commission as well as the Consumers’ Foundation to threaten to take the computer maker to court for breach of contract.

Calling Dell’s refusal to go through with the sale “ridiculous,” Consumers’ Foundation chairman Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁) said Dell had made a similar error in China in the past and had honored the sales.

“Of all the companies in the world, only Dell could misprice goods twice in 10 days. Dell made the same mistake in China and agreed to sell the items as priced. So why treat Taiwan any differently?” he asked.

He said other global corporations such as IBM, Whirlpool and Japan’s Marubeni had all owned up to similar mistakes and agreed to sell their products at a low price.

Many online shoppers and Internet users are accusing Dell of intentionally causing the problem as part of a publicity stunt. The Control Yuan is expected to conduct an official inquiry into the matter.

OOPS!

Chat forums and online social networks were dotted with comments such as “Does Dell think Taiwanese are idiots?” and “Consumers are innocent victims of corporate deceit,” while one said Dell’s corporate theme song should be Britney Spears’ Oops! ... I Did It Again.

Many also said the NT$20,000 coupon served little purpose because even with the discount, the final price would only represent a 30 percent to 40 percent saving on the original price.

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