On The Topic Of “Price Mistakes”

79

1. I’m not your Rabbi, Priest, or ethicist.  If you are uncomfortable with a deal then don’t do it. Or ask someone who is one.

2. Let’s not mix up airfare mistakes and other price mistakes.  I wrote about some of the halachic (Jewish law) implications of airfare mistakes for the Yated a couple of years ago here.

The DoT regulates the airlines and requires them to honor all confirmed bookings as it’s too difficult for consumers to know what’s a great sale and what’s a price mistake.  (And it’s only fair considering what the airlines will charge you if you make a mistake…) Sometimes airlines even honor unconfirmed bookings out of an abundance of goodwill. Delta wasn’t obligated to honor unconfirmed $50 first class tickets to LA or Hawaii but decided to do so anyway.  They reaped positive news stories and coverage at a cost far lower than traditional advertising, plus they got to “pay” with seats that would be flying anyway instead of cash.

3. Any non-airline can cancel an online price mistake at will. There’s nothing at all compelling them to honor it.  Of course they’ll probably get some nice PR if they do, so their bean counters will decide what makes the most sense and whether to ship orders or cancel them. Perhaps there was inventory sitting around they want to clear anyway so they will decide to honor some orders but not others, who knows?  Point is that it’s up to them.

4. An online price mistake isn’t at all comparable to walking into a store and walking out with a mispriced  item.  Everything bought online is fully verified before it ships out.  Especially in the case of a mistake that’s published on any large website when there’s an unusual volume of orders.  With an online glitch the higher-ups in the company will have complete control over the situation.  With an in-store glitch that is not the case.

5. If you’re not comfortable with all that, don’t take advantage of it. I’ll continue to label things that seem like mistakes as a mistake rather than as a great sale so that you’ll know to skip those posts.

Of course sometimes the lines are blurred as to what’s a fantastic sale and what’s a mistake, but I’ll use my best judgement in making that call.  Sometimes we’ll never know what was intentional and what was not.

6. There have been many documented cases of websites making intentional price glitches just for the publicity and traffic.  Even airlines have been caught leaking price mistakes on internet forum, such as last November’s Wideroe error for $300 tickets to Israel which turned out to be a leak from their CEO and not an error!  I don’t pretend to know what’s what every time. I report the facts, you decide what you want to do with them.

7. Once again, thanks for all your comments.  There’s nothing wrong with a lively debate as long as everyone remains respectful of one another.

Thanks for visiting DansDeals,
Dan

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79 Comments on "On The Topic Of “Price Mistakes”"

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yankee doodle

go dan !

DP7

That’s unfortunate , I’ve always looked up to you as my priest.

Tim

What about imam ?

zow

Dan,
Yasher koach. Completely agree with your perspective and especially the need for all of us to respect each other.
Zow

mazal

Right on! I agree. Thanks for this and clarifying for all those who are afraid it’s ‘stealing’

A.S.

Well said!

prince

Holy father, I’ve sinned. I forgot to check DDF before posting on FB dansdeals.com

DP

Well said!

Banana

Amen. Thanks for everything you do…I LOVE following your posts and am an avid fan. Bracha v’hatzlacha!

Booky

So today children’s place was a price mistake or a major sale?

To the naysayers

Children’s place may be owned by frum Jews but their stuff is aleays cheap. Personally bought stuff in store for cheaper than I got online today (skirts for $3, t-shirts for $1.67 in February). I would go with the “they wanted to get rid of crap” reasoning. If its not true, I’m sure that someone knows someone that owns the place and can get in touch with them today. If it is in fact a mistake let them reach out to Dan.

Jen

I spoke to their customer service because something else they had on the website was priced at $5.99 but in my cart it showed as $39.98 and the rep said that their Memorial Day weekend sale had launched without all the coding being properly updated so most of the cheaper prices are not price mistakes but the more expensive option is the mistake.

Dan

@Jen:
Exactly why the lines are so often blurred…

Dans

The people are with you!! you dont need to answer for everybodys opinion!! you do your job!!

you did force anyone to buy!! (or follow you)

say thanks!!!

Thanks for כלל ישראל

Wrong

You are really blurring the lines of what is OK to do and what is just taking advantage of everyone who messed up.

Dan

@Wrong:
I’m not blurring the lines, the lines are blurred. TCP phone agents have even told people this was all intentional. Regardless we’ll probably know the full story tomorrow.

Anyone who makes this stuff out to be a black and white issue on either side isn’t being honest with themselves.

gavy

Im not anybodys rav either- I just like good deals. Thanks for everything.
Because of you- ive been EVERYWHERE in the past year. And I owe you a big yasher koyach for it. Keep doing what you do best 🙂

u600213

I’m an a pretty bad jew, reform and not very observant as far as kashrut and such, but as for deals, mistaken or not, if it’s ok with Dan, its ok with me and I’ll defer to his interpretation of Halacha. I may not go for something based on my own sense of fairness but any religious consideration at that point is more subliminal.

Thanks for the link to the Yated article.

Dan

@u600213:
No such thing as a bad Jew or a reform Jew.

A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Some are more observant than others, but I don’t believe in the labels.

Wrong

If there’s a possibility that It could be causing people to lose money either through bad PR or through actual immediate loss what you’re doing like a classic case of “don’t place stumbling in front of blind man”.

Dan

@Wrong:
I don’t think there is “bad PR” for not honoring a price mistake.

There’s great PR if honored, but I think it’s a stretch to say the reverse is true. People know what they are getting into.

Of course this is all assuming that this was a mistake.

Chaim

Dan:

All of your points make a lot of sense and are reassuring for people who actually care about Halacha. For some reason the second someone says, “Hold on is that muttar?” ppl attack like the guy is a nazi.

A guy should be commended for being worried lest he do something against Hashem’s will. I don’t know what religion these guys belong to…Of course if its cleared up, enjoy. And Dan has done an excellent job in being clear with this post. But PLEASE don’t attack someone for arguing that a deal is morally or halachacly wrong. Its a good thing to be worried about the din and yashrus, right?

I just want to point out respectfully that I don’t agree with point 1. Dan writes, “1. I’m not your Rabbi, Priest, or ethicist. If you are uncomfortable with a deal then don’t do it. Or ask someone who is one.”

I wonder if that is a valid argument in it of itself. Suppose (again: suppose) something is truly wrong to do. Can you post it up and say, let ppl check out the facts if they care? That sounds like “Lifnei Eiver”. It’s also logical that ppl will trust what you post up since your the Dan man.

Of course, as you explained in your fine post, there are many factors that make these deals 100% permissible, however, the first argument, in it of itself is questionable.

A loyal fan

Wrong

What do you mean”no bad PR” imagine if they said they’re not honoring tickets. People would trash them on social media. They Would lose even more money for not honoring the tickets than honoring them, why do you think they honor them at the end of the day?

Dan

@Chaim:
The first argument is an acknowledgement of what’s to follow. Namely that this stuff isn’t clear-cut and someone who has doubts should be asking someone they trust, not blindly following and arguing with a blogger.

Obviously people on both sides of the fence are passionate about this and the rhetoric get heated. I hope I’ve laid out my side without all the rhetoric as civilized people can have a civilized discussion.

@Wrong:
Again, tickets are a very different story and I wrote to please not confuse them with this situation. For numerous reasons, the law of the land is that all air tickets must be honored.
There is no such law for anything else.

Wrong

I’m not questioning anyone’s opinions on buying at someone else’s loss. But I’d a possibility of Dan causing one case of stealing, EVEN ONE, then no good. Especially if he’s benefitting from said incident

Dan

@Wrong:
There is no stealing going on here, as I’ve already explained in the post.

Tim

@Wrong: Wrong, they wouldn’t lose more money. The next time they have a nice sale nobody’s gonna hold off on buying from them because they didn’t honor a mistake.

Wrong

So companies when they didn’t mean to is what?

Tim

@Wrong: They’ll get trashed on social media a bit & that will be the end of that. Whoever shops by them will continue shopping by them.

Wrong

*companies losing money

Chaim

So, if as you say, “…THIS STUFF ISN’T CLEAR CUT
and someone who has doubts should be asking someone they trust…” and “I hope I’ve laid out my side..” then, have you, as a good Jew asked your Rabbi about the din in all of this or are you only relying on your own reasoning?

Yes, your reasoning sounds good, but as you say, there are two sides, so wouldn’t the prudent thing to do be to run it by someone who will tell you whats good or bad from a Halacha point of view? If you have, why not point it out?

Shimon

You da man Dan!!

Dan

@Chaim:
I have asked several rabonim who have all said that it is permissible, thanks for your concern.

Regardless, I understand there is room for dissent. If not in halacha, then ethically. And for that reason you should ask your own leader for guidance.

Ữ₴ΣЯИΛΜӘ

Thanks dan.

tzippy

Thanks dan, you did the biggest mitzvah, you are mazoka klall yisrul and help People save money, Keep it up.

meshugener

Well said, Dan

Anonymous

@Dan: I admire you Dan for saying that.

bubble347

I almost look forward to the debates following price mistakes more than the deals themselves!

chezk

@ bubble347: well said!

Jeff

Very well said. I am glad you responded and clarified your honest opinion. Even if your points are arguable they they are valid and reasonable. At least you explained your position and that’s more than other bloggers do in the face of criticism.

Godwin

@Chaim (comment #22), I appreciate you uploading my law #Godwin’sLaw

Nick

a Jew is a Jew is a Jew? Sorry Dan but I have to disagree.

You see, by the very nature of your statement everyone else (non Jews) is something less.

I have already told you that I consider myself a Jew. I follow Him and I was grafted onto the True Vine. So I’m a transplant. Get used to it – there are millions more.

So many of you – your heart is so far from Him and you cling to religious tradition over what truly matters. You go about your daily routine without even considering Him. Those of you know to whom I speak.

Go ahead can delete my post just like you have done previously. But if you have any guts you will still keep it here.

Last time you sent me an email about how rabbis would take offense and tell people to stop frequenting your website should my post remain. For I speak of the one who should not be named and I don’t mean the character from Harry Potter.

What will you do? Do I fit in? Or is it best for your business to just delete me. I can say that I’m telling you the truth.

I say nothing to hurt only to help. My words come from the heart. Listen – those of you that have ears to hear.

ari

@dan
im torn bec on one hand there are definitely ways to rationalize it. however, im still one the fence about the Dolce Palisades price mistake. i am tempted to go, knowing that there will be a disproportionate amount of frum jews there, for a price they clearly never wanted to give. there will be minyanim and TONS of little jewish kids running around. does the fact i am uncomfortable with going when it will be so obvious, an indication that we will all be taking part in a chillul hashem to some degree? is it our job to forgo such a deal if it will mean that it might maje a few heads shake in disappointment to see us AS A COMMUNITY jump on someone’s misfortune/mistake, as legal as it may be and even though they chose to honor it?(though we know no one truly wants to honor, they just have to stand by it to prevent PR damage)

anon

So THAT explains why everyone here always goes for 1 day shipping on price mistakes before the company can stop the shipment (the Walmart website price mistakes comes to mind)-NOT. Let’s call a spade a spade: these folks would walk out of the store with a mispriced item if they could get away with it.

malkosh b'ito

The torah says lo sikach shoachad ki hashochad y’avair aynay chachamim. People should not justify for themselves why it is muttar because invariably they are allured by the shoachad of wanting to get in on the deals. You need an impartial psak froma reliable rav (who doesnt himself benefit from dansdeals)

Anonymous

Dan you’re the best!!!!!!

Yoel

I disagree with the statement that everything bought online is fully verified & that higher ups have full control. While usually they will catch on if something is published & the amount of orders are unusual high, you will be shocked to learn how outdated and / or inadequate some of these back end systems are. Sometimes orders can be packed & shipped before anyone catches on.

Shmuel

Dan,

So glad you provided me the opportunity of a Big Thank You! I hope to express my Hakaras haTov personally to you one day.

While this comment is unrelated to the topic you address it does allow me to segway and express necessary thanks. Because of you we will be bringing added joy to a special Simcha sometime soon. I cannot mention details but you are making possible our taking part in a great Mitzvah. Without your Ink cards we simply could not have done this.

Be blessed!

Sauteed Liver

@ Nick Sorry there Nick, but you’re taking offense seems rather strange. A Jew is a Jew. Correct. Ergo, a non-Jew is a non-Jew. Now why is that offensive? An apple is an apple. An orange may or not be “less”. But it sure ain’t an apple. An American is an American. A Brit is not. Pretty elementary… and as Dan said, a Jew calling himself reform is a Jew no less.

As far as you’re other strange rant about who is a Jew, I’m not sure where you see any relevance here. Did Dan qualify Jewish conversion law? But since you asked, I’ll help you out. Judaism is a legal system. There are rules, as set forth by Judaism itself. These rules don’t change based on my, yours, or Dan’s feelings.

To make it simple for you: America has clear cut rules for citizenship. Should Scott in Scotland wake up and decide he “feels American, follows American, tweets American, and was grafted onto the American vine”, obviously he did not become American by any standards. Even if “Millions more” Scotts decide the same. There are rules. Stick to them and you’re in. Feeling in your heart? Nice, but it won’t cut it by any legal definition. Remember, in any religion, it’s God, and therefore the religion itself which sets the rules, not public opinion.

gav

You all are crazy.

He posts the truth. If there is a price mistake, there is a price mistake. Your choice to buy it or not. Leave him alone and go sulk somewhere else. If it was a deal that you benefited from then for sure it would be fine, but the second that you feel it’s an ethical dilemma you take it out on Dan? Shame on you guys for antagonizing him.

This is what I call a booshah

Dov

Just read your article from the Yated Dan. Very well written and informative. Thank you and thanks again or your site!

Dan

@meshugener:
If the crazies agree with me then I know I’m a lost cause 😉

@Jeff:
All of this stuff is debatable. Some people would just prefer ad hominem attacks to a real debate though and that’s a shame.

@Godwin:
Heh.

@Nick:
Talk about having an axe to grind. I imply nothing of the sort.
A Catholic is a Catholic is a Catholic.
A Muslim is a Muslim is a Muslim.

I don’t believe in the endless amount of divisions that Jews label themselves with, I implied nothing more and nothing less.

Your previous post implored people to change their religious beliefs and convert to your religious beliefs and accept your messiah. If you can’t see that as being offensive then I don’t know what more to say.

@ari:
Why don’t you call them and ask a manager his thoughts?

People did that with El Al and they were told to enjoy the flight and pick them for their future travel needs.

@malkosh b’ito:
So go ahead and ask.

@Yoel:
If it’s a couple orders you may be correct.
But you’d better believe when they get a flood of orders like today that it will have been noticed.

Frankly if the sale was unintentional and the margins are negative (I have no idea what the real margins are on cheap Asian clothes) I’d fully expect everyone to get cancellation notices.

@Shmuel:
Happy to hear!

@gav:
People love to worry about everyone else’s problems. It’s easier than cleaning their own house…

@Dov:
Thanks.

Amusch

Dan, love the website.

Maybe it will make people less crazy if you start posting “Great sale/deal” instead of “mistake” leading people to think you’re taking advantage of someone. It’s just semantics but sounds like the difference between something people perceive as cheating vs. something people perceive as shopping. (The word “mistake” is also less consistent with your article).

Just a thought.

HelpMe

WOW! You will never win over the black and white crowd. The only right way is their way.

You should have stopped at a Jew is a Jew is a Jew.

ybeeds

I asked R’ Reuven Feinstein Shlit”a (Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva of Staten Island & Son of R’ Moshe Z”l) this evening regarding online price mistakes, and weather jewish owned makes any difference. His response was: Price mistake online orders that can be canceled by the business – even if canceling your purchase may incur legal penalties to the business – may be taken advantage of, since the business can calculate its gains and losses and choose to follow through or not. It makes no difference if the owner is a yid or not! Businesses make all sorts of mistakes all the time, not just in prices. That is included in the risk of owning a business.

Dan

@Amusch:
Fair enough. I wrote in this post the rationale for writing price mistake, but I’m not married to that argument.

@ybeeds:
Thanks for sharing.
Exactly what I wrote in this post. And there are no legal costs to cancel as there is no law that a price mistake must be honored.

ybeeds

@Dan: Correct, he was referring to the airline tickets when he said that. That is assuming that if an airline chooses to cancel glitch tickets, they would be required to pay a fine.

ybeeds

@HelpMe: A very large percentage of Dansdeals followers are “the black and white crowd”!

m

some times companies need to meet deadline of sales to show their investors

chava

Dan,
I commend you for always keeping your cool in the face of attacks, accusations and criticism. You seem to always come across with respect and when emotions get left out of an argument, it makes those words all the more pleasant to absorb. Seriously an inspiration.

Anonymous

@DP7: that’s a nice compliment!

אמת

אתה גורם חילו לה חוטא ומחטיא. אין כפרה. כדאי לך לאבד עוהב ?

Anonymous

@Dan: But to cancel an airline ticket would incur a fine correct?

Shlomo

Dan, thanks for everything you do.

Wrong

There’s a Rambam in parshas kedoshim perek 19,pasuk 14,that explains the concept of lifnei iver. It’s assur to place nisyonos that involve the taivos of others, that is even if they choose correctly, I would assume all the more so if they choose incorrectly

Non-Sequitur

@אמת: What is עוהב?

Tzvi

Hoora, Kol Hakavod! Beautifully said & Handled.

Adam

When Walmart/Wayfair was having that “price mistake” I got an email saying the order will be cancelled (like you warned that it probably would be). I called customer service to tell them that I had been excited to try their products, if there was anything they can do- they sent me a $25 coupon code saying that they like new potential customers. Just getting a customers foot in the door is a big deal for a lot of these places, so much so that they’re willing to give way free credit- it’s about building a brand, not JUST top line profit. And like you said… if they do just care about the profit, they can always cancel the sale…

Thanks for all that you do! (And I’m sure when you direct people to a site for a “price mistake” the revenue from the traffic is enough to offset any “mistake”)

Shmelly

@Dan:
You don’t think there is “bad PR” for not honoring a price mistake? This very blog, frequented by thousands of people, featured extremely inflammatory posts about AJ Madison when they refused to honor a price mistake that could have literally bankrupted the company. Would you not classify that as bad PR?

Dan

@Shmelly:
AJ Madison wasn’t a price mistake. They signed a foolish contract with Living Social and then cheated to get out of it.

That deserved all of the bad will they got, terrible way to do business. I could care less that they are Jewish owned, cheating and lying is wrong.

Daniel Gershon

I want to type up a long response, but I want to know: what’s the maximum # of characters you can put in one of these comments? I don’t want to type out a big rant and then not be able to post it…

Non-Sequitur

I also want to post a mega-rant. I have Chase UR, AmEX, Southwest, SPG, and Avios. What is the best way to maximize my miles for a mega-rant?

Chaim

Dan,

Just wondering, you have a lot of answers, yet, as I glance through the whole shpeil it seems like you automatically revert back to your opinion as a way of course. I get the feeling that you would never say, guess what I’m wrong.

Like you say, we can discuss this like humans with respect, which is important. But have you EVER agreed with the other opinion and stopped posting something that has been deemed objectionable by some in all the years of your blogging, or have you always maintained your opinion? If you have NEVER changed your opinion in any debate, its hard to say that you are not being swayed by your negious.

A loyal fan

Dan

@Daniel Gershon:
No idea.

@Non-Sequitur:
Lol.

@Chaim:
I most certainly have.

One example here that I now longer write about BRGs:
http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/31827

Shmelly

@Dan:
As an ecommerce business owner who has experienced price mistakes as well as daily deal contract mistakes, in my mind there is no difference between the 2.

I am a member of a very high level ecommerce group, and at the time of the AJM fiasco several of our members, including execs/owners of top 500 ranking websites, marveled at the vitriol you displayed towards AJM. They had a choice to make of, A} cancel the deal and take the bad publicity or B} honor the deal and bankrupt the company. No one, and this includes 2 members who are ecommerce directors at companies with $200M+ in sales, felt that they would have honored the deal if they were AJM.

And btw – the person who signed the contract for the deal had just been brought on less than a month earlier as the CMO, and was fired by AJM less than a week later. (My wife has friends there, I do not have a personal connection to AJM.)

Dan

@Shmelly:
With all due respect, there’s a massive difference between the two.

A pricing glitch can be caused by accident. Fat finger, computer error, etc.
I would never complain if a company (non-airline) decides not to honor that.

But to be featured on a daily deal site requires contracts to be signed, manager approvals, etc.
Living Social doesn’t just make this stuff up.

I do not believe that some brand new greenhorn would have the leeway to sign a massive contract to to sell hundreds of thousands of dollars of discounted gift cards without approval from his bosses. And if he did have that leeway, then that speaks volumes on how the business is run.
Perhaps your ecommerce buddies wouldn’t have honored it, but would they be in that situation in the situation in the first place? Pretty rare for something that big to go south. Only case I can remember is Fairmont and they did honor their massive deal site goof, to which I’ll admit massively benefiting from. But a contract is a contract, I think it’s crazy to compare that to a glitch.

At the very least AJM should have done some kind of goodwill recovery for folks who bought that deal.

Do you know what else speaks volumes?
This: http://www.yelp.com/biz/aj-madison-appliance-showroom-brooklyn
That’s the real chillul hashem here IMHO…

Shmelly

@Dan:
In my case, we’ve had price mistakes where someone thought they were updating one product and instead updated many, or someone entered the wrong price when creating a product. I’ve always honored these mistakes, and we then emailed/called the customers to let them know they got a deal of a lifetime and to expect to pay higher next time around. In none of these cases was I losing money, but I sure wasn’t making any.

When daily deals were first taking off back in 2010, I signed a contract with a daily deal site to run a promo. At the time all deal sites took a standard 50% of all revenue (this number has now gone as low as 5% depending on industry/deal site). Being rather new to this, I neglected to add a stipulation that the promo offer could not be combined with other offers and could not be used on my already steeply discounted clearance section. I also neglected to set a minimum order amount.

The day the deal went live, orders started pouring in, and every single one was at a 100% loss. I panicked and jacked up all prices on my site, hoping to scare off the wolves, but this only made things worse, as I was now getting slammed on social media and the blogosphere and being painted as a bait and switch business (which in essence, I was). Ultimately I ‘fessed up via a homepage banner and social media, attempting to appeal to peoples’ human side, and I think that I managed to calm the masses. I was forced to cancel all orders, but I did send out a nice discount code along with a detailed apology explaining exactly what went wrong.

My liability in this was much lower than AJM’s, as I was a relatively new company at the time. Allowing the deal to run would not have bankrupted me but would have put a severe dent in my dreams. Despite the much lower level of loss I would have experienced, I also felt the need to cancel the orders.

In regards to the “greenhorn”, a company the size of AJM does not hire someone straight out of college to be their CMO. I am 1/10th of the company that they are, and even I recently hired a creative director who just moved to NYC from Bentonville after heading a creative team at WalMart for 15 years. A CMO at a company the size of AJM in NYC has a starting salary between $200K-$250K. Players at the C-level would in fact have the carte blanche to sign off on a daily deal without running it by their superior. Or at the very most, a “Hey Mr. CEO, we’re running an offer on a website with a huge online following. The exposure will be tremendous, for a minimal cost” would have been sufficient to gain approval from a boss who is likely still enamored with the skillset of said CMO, having just hired her recently.

[There are some brutal reviews on Yelp that offend me as a business owner who takes extreme pride in customer focus – on one review site I have a 9.07 rating out of 10, as aggregated from over 2000 reviews. But reviews of their service and products are not relevant to this discussion.]

I hear your POV, but having been in their shoes, it is easier for me to empathize with the dilemma that they were dealing with. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Daniel Gershon Gordon

(Note, this is the first half of my rant)

Before I say what I disagree with, I want to mention that I use Dan’s Deals frequently, and I have learned quite a lot from many of his posts, especially all his information about credit cards. I always apply for credit cards through his link, because I would rather give him business than a complete stranger. I tell my friends who are applying for cards to also go through DansDeals as well. The information Dan provides is invaluable, and I have benefited it tremendously.
I find it interesting that everyone here at DansDeals who as an issue with the ethical/halachik (Jewish law) issues, only seem to mention price mistakes. I have also personally spoken to a few Rabbis, and it does seem that there is a clear general consensus that taking advantage of price mistakes is permitted. I think that taking advantage of a price mistake of a Jewish owned business is not permitted, and I have spoken with Rabbis who have said the same (it is like taking advantage of your own family!). However this is not my concern to be honest, because pretty much every business mentioned on DansDeals is not Jewish owned.
Dans comment, “I am not your Rabbi” is also valid, as any g-d fearing, Torah abiding Jew needs to consult their own Rav when making business decisions, and not blindly follow someone else.
I however, must take issue with some of the very faulty logic that has been used to defend the position of taking advantage of price mistakes. I will also talk about other things Dan puts on his website that are MUCH worse than taking advantage of price mistakes (which are technically permitted).
One line of logic that I keep hearing is that the business who had the price mistake has the option of going back on the sale, and it is a business decision not to. So they know about the price mistake, and are letting you keep their product or service anyway.
True statement. However, think about what you are saying. The ‘business decision’ here is whether or not the company wants to lost $50 to the mistake, or $X on bad PR. They are simply deciding between losing $X, and $Y.
It is true that sometimes these ‘price mistakes’ do not lead to the company actually losing money because their margin is normally very high, or the mistake isn’t such a big mistake. Even in these cases (which we don’t always know), the company is still making LESS money than they would have, had the mistake not happened, and us taking advantage of it. In a case of limited product or service, the company has given up part of its inventory for less money than it could have otherwise. So here, the company might still make money, but less of it.
Now of course there are many other factors such as publicity and customer relations – but we cannot blindly make the assumption that ‘it’s not costing them money’, or ‘it’s a good deal for them’. There are easily scenarios where honoring mistakes is the better decision, but still costs the company money (just not as much).
Now, there are assumptions made in some cases that are based on some faulty logic.
Take for example, the case of El Al. Dan correctly points out that flights are generally 20% empty, and those seats can be sold at 1/10th of the normal price while still being profitable to the airline (since those seats would have been unsold). Dan uses this logic to back up his claim that El Al did not lose money on their fuel-surcharge price mistake. This would only hold true if El Al sold that ‘20%’ of seats that would have normally been unsold. Of course this cannot be true since the volume of sales was extremely high, and certainly accounted for much more than the typical empty space in the flights. I am not saying that El Al lost money on the entire fiasco, but they certainly LOST OUT on profit. Then again, as Dan points out, the publicity could have been worth it, and not a significant loss to El Al.
Another example is right here in this thread, where Dan differentiates between bad business decisions and a true mistake that can be caused by ‘fat fingers’. The problem here is that you have NO IDEA what the origin of the mistake is. You just ASSUME away without really knowing how the ‘mistake’ happened. Unless you were part of the organization itself, it would probably be difficult to know if it was a true ‘mistake’ or not. So to justify taking advantage (and negatively speaking of) a company because of a mistake must be based on much more sturdy logic, and not a whimsical assumption.
This quote, on Dan’s response to the El Al fiasco has me quite puzzled.
“This is not comparable to walking into a store to and a mispriced item and buying it, which causes an actual loss for the store”

Dan – are you implying that you wouldn’t go into a store and buy a mispriced item? Why not? If it is an item with a high margin (or many of the other reasons you give for taking advantage of mistakes), then why not! Are you implying that EVERY SINGLE mistake that you post does NOT cause a loss to the company? This surely cannot be true for every single case, so either I don’t understand your point, or you are simply talking out of two sides of your mouth.
The last form of puzzling logic that I’ve seen thrown around came around again recently when Dan spoke Evolve payments and their ‘glitches’ that allowed regular credit cards to work, even though the service is meant for debit cards. When I asked Dan about whether or not taking advantage was ethical, he responded, “If they didn’t want credit card payments they would just require a Pin and be done with it”, and then followed with his ‘consult your Rabbi’ line.
Now, I have not consulted my Rabbi on this specific topic, nor do I fully understand the terms of the service, so I am not here to judge whether or not it is permissible. HOWEVER, I am here to point out the great fallacy in the logic behind Dan’s response.
This would be the same thing as saying, “Well, my neighbor only built a fence 6 feet high. He knows I have an 8 foot ladder. Therefore, since he did not build his fence higher, then I know it is okay for me to climb over and use his property”. I mean seriously this is the same awful logic. How the heck do you know what it takes in their system to fix their bug? They might be furiously working on it, with a hope to fix it one month from now (or maybe it’s intentional, I don’t know). But to say that, “Well I can take advantage of X, because they didn’t do Y” is just flat out wrong. Again, Dan could be right in the end – but the logic should not be used nor repeated or extrapolated to any other services, lest we come to make a grievous mistake and unfairly take advantage of an unsuspecting company.

sheva

my rav said i need to call them to tell them

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