Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) has canceled an unnamed number of online orders after a computer glitch let people buy electronics for just a fraction of the real price. Items that normally cost hundreds of dollars were selling for less than ten, and once word got out on social media sites the number of sales, and the potential losses to Wal-Mart, really took off, reports Susanna Kim for ABC News. A few people had the foresight and go pick up the orders instead of waiting for them to be shipped, but for everyone else, Wal-Mart will be giving them a $10 gift certificate and a full refund instead.
Wal-Mart experiencing technical errors
“We experienced a technical error that caused some items to show incorrect pricing," Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) said in a statement. "We are working quickly to correct the error and during this time, there may be intermittent site availability. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers."
The problem has already been fixed and Walmart.com is up and running, but it’s not clear what the problem actually was. There had been speculation that someone hacked Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)’s website and intentionally wreaked a bit of havoc, which Wal-Mart denies.
"I want to make very clear this is not a hack. This is an internal technical error," said Wal-Mart spokesperson Ravi Jariwala.
Wal-Mart website glitch
The mistake is embarrassing, but most people who piled in to take advantage of the glitch knew what they were doing. It’s doubtful that anyone thought they were getting a 95% discount in good faith, so there shouldn’t be any media backlash. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) hasn’t said how many $10 gift certificates they are sending out, but they could even end up being profitable by generating sales from people who don’t normally shop at Wal-Mart, but headed over from Instagram or Twitter.
Without knowing exactly what went wrong, this could pose a problem with the holiday season just around the corner. If a similar glitch were to crop up on Black Friday when deep discounts are par for the course, it could create real confusion, and losing a few hours’ worth of sales would be quite a blow. And if there are any more glitches in the near future, it could push customers away.