Dell Withdraws Cheap Router, Apologises

DellCancelledAs we all half-suspected, Dell's offer of a $20 Wireless N Router was too good to be true. Dell has officially withdrawn the offer, blaming a typo, while promising to sell the router for $229 to anyone who tried to buy it at the incorrect price.

Dell this afternoon began emailing customers saying that the offer had been a mistake, while including the $229 offer. A quick search on staticICE suggests that's still the cheapest price available for that model, albeit nowhere near as impressive a deal and one you have to complete by phone rather than online.

Lifehacker was curious as to why the offer was withdrawn so quickly but it took 72 hours to contact customers and let them know. A Dell spokesperson told us: "We take these matters very seriously — we had to analyse the error and the customer data associated with it."

Here's the full email as sent by Dell to customers (and thanks to all the readers who sent it in or added it to the comments):

Dear Dell Customer

We are writing to let you know that there was an inadvertent error on the http://www.dell.com.au online store on 7 November 2009 that saw Dell list the Linksys WRT610N Dual Band Wireless-N Router for $20.90.This was a genuine mistake and the correct price is $280.90 including GST. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused.

While we make every effort to check pricing and other errors, inadvertent errors do occur from time to time. For this reason our standard terms and conditions of sale on the http://www.dell.com.au store state that Dell reserves the right to decline orders arising from such errors.

As your order has not yet been confirmed, your order has been cancelled and we will not process your credit card payment.

As a gesture of goodwill, Dell would like to make the router available to you at a special price of $229 including GST. If you wish to buy the router at this price, please contact Dell by phone at 1800-810-289 by 8th December 2009. Please note that there is a limit of one router at this special price.

We again would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused.

Regards,

Dell Australia


Comments

    I knew it was too good to be true!

    I can see how it took 72 hours to notice there was an '8' missing from the price.

    I say they should absorb the mistake like most companies would & warrant the advertised price (one unit only).

    If they are looking for someone to blame, maybe the data entry person should have the finger pointed at & if they really need to reclaim $160 per unit, they should look at their salary, rather then do this all-too-common merry-go-round with willing customers.

    I'm not sure what the consumer law says in this case. Clearly they should obey it, whatever it is.

    But aside from that I don't see why Dell should honour the advertised price. It was clearly a mistake, and one that some tried to take advantage of by placing orders in the hope that they would slip through. The honourable thing to have done would have been to ask Dell if it was a mistake.

    I know Dell aren't honourable themselves. But we don't all have to be greedy and/or behave like crappy foreign corporations.

    Did anybody mange to get at least one unit?

    I am in the process of calmly talking it out with them to see if I can get them to honour the advertised price.

    If not, the next step is to lodge a complaint with the Fair Trading people: http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

    @Mario
    I heard of people getting OfficeWorks to price match, but noone getting one from Dell.

    I think the moral of the story is that when this happens, print out the ad, go to a retail store with a price match and walk away with the product in hand.

    I bought ne and got a confirmation order, but that means jack according to dell.

    Do I have any rights?

    the rider at the bottom of my order reads.......

    Thanks again for choosing Dell!
    Dell will not be responsible for typographical, pricing or other errors and reserves the right not to process orders based on such errors. Dell reserves the right not to process orders for any other reasonable reason as otherwise determined by Dell.
    Dell and the Dell logo are trademarks of Dell Inc. Other trademarks and trade names are the property of their respective owners and Dell disclaims proprietary interest in these marks and names of others.

    The famous "Bait and switch" technique, everyone, take the time to lodge a complaint to the Fair Trading office !!

    This technique has been used before by Dell in Taiwan (google it) they just bet on the 1% of us that will buy the router anyway.

    As a gesture of goodwill, Dell would like to make the router available to you at a special price of $229 including GST. If you wish to buy the router at this price, please contact Dell by phone at 1800-810-289 by 8th December 2009. Please note that there is a limit of one router at this special price.

    "Please note that there is a limit of one router at this special price." ... I feel special, I really do.

    I am getting 2 out of the 4 I ordered, The E-mail points out that they are in their right to allow for these mistakes as part of their standard terms and conditions of Sale - however there is no mention of this in their terms at all. Although the price is clearly a mistake, this could also be seen as bait advertising - since this is the first time they are offering Lynksys routers instead of Belkin. Harvey Norman has these at just over $200 depending how you haggle, and to be offering it now at $220 is an insult.

    I will keep pushing for the 4 I have requested and see how I go.

    Stuart Young - the disclaimer you mention appears only in the E-mail after purchase - I could not find it in their Terms of Sale agreement - I could be wrong though - I think we all need to get together and they may back down :)

      There is a disclaimer at the bottom of every page on the Dell site.
      Noone has any rights, if Dell have not taken any money, they can withdraw from the deal at any stage.
      Dumping money into their account is not, by definition, Dell accepting your money.
      They have accepted your money only when they tell you your order is accepted.
      Their confirmation that they have received your order is not an acceptance of your order.

    I order one also and I would to know where I stand? Keep us updated

    I want my 2 routers. Paul, how did you go about getting the 2 out of 4?

    Meh, i'm not a lawyer and this is in no way legal advice, but there's certain terms implied into all contracts in Australia.

    There's a duty to act in good faith and I'd imagine Dell would claim their mistake is valid grounds for which the contract should be made void. 72 hours to notify people really isn't an exceedingly long time frame, if it were like a week or longer, perhaps then you'd have better grounds to claim it was some sort of bait and switch scam... Though maybe if you point out that other places are still providing it significantly cheaper (someone said Harvey Norman had it for $200) it might look like Dell is being naughty by attempting to profit from their mistake.

    Also they probably don't have to provide their terms and conditions for sale on this particular type of incident prior to sale, because simply displaying the price isn't usually characterised as a genuine offer, but instead an "invitation to treat" - all advertising is essentially an invitation to treat. In this situation, when you place an order, you're making an offer to buy goods at some particular price point and Dell is free to agree or disagree with said offer. If they didn't confirm your order, they didn't agree and usually people (or legal people) can't accept a contract by silence. I don't really understand why it's framed in the reverse of what might seem initially intuitive, but that's how it's usually presented.

    Stores occasionally honour the incorrect price, but this is most certainly genuine good will rather or possibly some mistaken idea about legal obligation. Often it's probably also in their best PR and customer service interests to do it, just so that people don't get pissed.

    It's probably quite different for the gent who's got some kind of confirmation that two are shipping though. If they've billed your card, you definitely should push to receive the product.

    The relevant consumer law in addition to various bits of case law for contracts is probably s 52 of the Trade Practices Act for those who are interested. Misleading and Deceptive conduct under this section of the act is fairly well defined.

    Ok, Dell's website says "MISTAKES: While all efforts are made to check pricing and other errors, inadvertent errors do occur from time to time and Dell reserves the right to decline orders arising from such errors." at the very bottom of the page (so you don't have to scroll to it to read it.

    I clicked to accept there terms and conditions and in there, there is nothing mentioning "mistakes", "rejects", "declines"

    Also, can someone help me make sense of this: "2.2 The Products sold and/or services rendered are subject to these Terms and Conditions to the exclusion of any other terms and conditions stipulated or referred to by Customer. The Customer acknowledges that it is aware of the contents of and agrees to be bound by these Terms and Conditions. Neither Dell's acknowledgment of a purchase order nor it's failure to object to conflicting, different, or additional terms and conditions in a purchase order shall be deemed an acceptance of such terms and conditions or a waiver of the provisions hereof."

    Does this means the exclude the notes at the bottom of the page i refereed to?

    I made my payment via Internet Banking, and they say once I have made payment, they will start processing the order. I haven't received this rejection email yet, but if they declined my order, I want them to pay me interest back on the money I have lost. If they say this "3.4 Time for payment is of the essence. Dell reserves the right to charge interest at the rate of 2% above the base commercial floating rate for National Australia Bank in Sydney, New South Wales." they should honor it the other way, and pay us interest.

    Sigh, good luck with Fair Trade or all that crap, you agreed to a legal T&C.

    You agreed to (when filling out your name/address) this document here when you attempted to purchase the product: http://www1.ap.dell.com/content/topics/topic.aspx/ap/policy/en/au/sales_terms_au?c=au&l=en&s=gen

    Which states:
    10.6 To the extent permitted by law, any typographical, clerical or other error or omission in sales literature, quotation, price list, acceptance of offer, invoice or other documents or information issued by Dell shall be subject to correction without any liability on the part of Dell.

    I bought one just in case they honoured it. They didn't, its not like you're losing out.

    There is no way Paul or anyone else is getting any routers at $20 a pop - Dell made it crystal clear that noone would be getting it at that price. Makes sense - if they gave it to even a single person and the media got hold of it, everyone who ordered one would want it at that price too, and every other time there was an error people would want the price honoured.

    I am fortunate that myself and the company I work for has a close relationship with Dell, I am only being offered the 2 out of the 4 as a good will gesture on their part. I don't believe however that everyone else should be excluded from this offer. Dell Australia is a very small branch in the scheme of things and losing that much money on one product would really hurt but at the moment Dell needs all the good PR it can get. I will try to get any inside info on what they are prepared to do for everyone else who is waiting on the router. Dell like other large vendors - it really depends on who you talk to and how much influence you have with them.

      If that's the case Paul, then if you want others to get the same deal you should take your emails to the media - I'm sure the Herald would run a story about a few people getting a real deal while most miss out!

    + Did not receive amendment email.
    + Facebooked and twittered.
    + 3-hours later, I received a "personal" call from their call centre (a very scripted message).
    + Told them I'd like to consider their $229 offer for a few days. She'll call me in 2 days.
    + Now I see Paul's comments.
    + Back to facebook and twittering.

    EXIRED Linksys WRT610N Dual-Band 802.11n Wireless N Router $115.59 Free Shipping

    $169.99
    $115.59

    Deal Expired: Update: 15% Off Coupon Expired! Dell Small Business has the Linksys WRT610N 802.11n Dual-Band Wireless Router for $115.59 Free Shipping after two Coupon Codes: 31SG1XQDWBMT4S (15% off - Exp 9/11) and ?D1GJGKRQK0NFP (20% off - Exp 9/13). Tax in most.

    After the jump, search for item #: A1735461

    This router can utilize true dual-band 802.11n, which means it can transmit 802.11n in 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies simultaneously. If you have a computer with 802.11a/b/g/n networking, it will automatically switch over to the less busy 5GHz channel for better connectivity. It also features 4 x gigabit ethernet ports. http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/177516?r1=1&r=1

    Unfortunately Mr-crash is correct in his interpretation, the ad on dells website for the router is simply and invitation to treat, and unless dell accepts your offer aka takes your money, no contract is formed and you have no case against them legally. EVEN if you attempted to pursue the case legally, Dell could just claim what is known as puffery, basically saying that the price quoted for the router was to good to be true and no reasonable person would believe it to be so.
    Also,
    I wouldn't call what they are doing bait and switch, because they didn't exactly go out of their way to advertise the price of the router, it was simply found by those tech savy bargain hunters. I placed an order for a router myself hoping that they would send a confirmation email and automatically debt my credit card, then they would have had to honour the agreement under Australian consumer laws. Shame, but that's life I guess.

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