Future Shop’s pricing error leads to reforms

March 23 2010 by Ellen Roseman

Customers often run into pricing errors when buying items online — and when they say they want the original price, they get nowhere.

This happened to Tad Klupsas, who’s legally blind, so he filed a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Future Shop. His story interested me enough to write about it earlier this month.

Now Future Shop has investigated and made some changes to help both disabled customers and everyone who wants their complaints escalated in a timely and appropriate way.

Shannon Kidd, a media contact for Future Shop and Best Buy, welcomes complaints from customers as a signal of what’s wrong and what needs to change. She and her team deserve credit for taking hold of this controversy and trying to learn from it.

Check out what she says below.

7 comments

  1. Stephanie

    Mar 25 2010

    Certainly Future Shop has earned some goodwill credit for responding to Mr. Klupsas and Mr. Zufelt.

    However, it may take more than these isolated instances for a retail organization to earn a “trusted” reputation among consumers when people have to seek help from a Toronto consumer reporter and the Human Rights Commission before remedial action is taken.

  2. Potato

    Mar 27 2010

    But what about the root cause of Mr. Klupsas’ and others issues with Future Shop: the price error?

    I understand that, generally, retailers do make mistakes in ads and their online sales sites, and that being forced to honour errors may lead to losses on their part. However, price errors appear to be endemic at FS, I hear about them all the time at RFD, experienced one myself a few years ago, not to mention the “beat the clock” Xbox fiasco last year… at what point does it stop being a legitimate string of errors and transition to a strategy? (i.e.: bait & switch)

    Many stores have a “scanning code of practice” to compensate customers in the event of a pricing error, within a fairly reasonable limit ($10). It appears that Future Shop is a member of this organization, but I didn’t see a mention of the $10 discount in the original article — is shopping online really so different than “scanning”? Does FS not feel a need to “Visibly demonstrate retailer commitment to price accuracy”? with a policy that holds them to their mistakes at least to some degree?

    Perhaps a new policy of “if we make a mistake in our online store, which we have total control over and in which we can totally afford to have someone double-check the prices before we push it live and certainly before sending confirmation emails out, then we’ll honour that price, or sell it to you at cost, whichever is higher, and confirm with you before shipping. If we accidentally shipped it before having human eyes check the order, then it’s yours, we won’t retroactively change the bill.”

    This would be better than the current policy of “eat it, cancel the order if it’s caught soon enough, or return the product at your expense if not!”

    Even setting aside the issue of honouring the price and the SNAFU of Mr. Klupsas’ efforts to escalate and contact the company with his disability, why was it ever policy that your error requires the customer to return the item at their expense?

  3. khan

    Sep 8 2010

    I bought a pair of laundry on Future Shop’s website. And then I called to confirm that great discount, which the CSR did confirm over the phone. All their conversations are recorded, so I am sure they have a record of that too.

    However, they cancelled my order and gave a $25 e-coupon, whereas the discount was worth $1,000. They claimed it was a pricing mistake.

    But is it retail business law of some sort to honor the advertised price on an item? I guess I am in for a runaround.

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