#MangoSale - When technology goes wrong

2016-05-17 15:13

"Shopping is a woman thing. It's a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase."

– Erma Bombeck

I would like to think that most woman can relate to this quote. People shop online for various reasons but for me personally the main reason why I shop online is to find better prices.  The world of technology allows one the benefit of shopping in your own comfort and offers more variety.... what happens then when technology goes wrong? What is the cost of error when incorrect prices are captured? how do you respond to customers? what does the law say?

Yesterday morning shoppers scrambled to Mango's website ( Mango.com)  for the Mango Sale to snap up  bargains. Mango accidentally advertised fashion items,  handbags, shoes and underwear for low prices including R1, R2 or even R4 for some items.  It is said that only two things can change a woman's mood and that is "I love you" or "that's on sale".....so I also went all out.

The issue was rectified on the same day, prices were updated and changed.

I guess after this moment all customers were anticipating what the response would be from Mango.

The transaction went through, funds were deducted from our accounts and confirmation email was received. This was a successful sale, shoppers were happy and smiling.

This morning most shoppers woke up to an email titled "Refund Confirmation" Dear .....We confirm that we have made the corresponding refund for the following items in the order ...... you placed at Mango.com.

No apology or an explanation of the incident that took place. Do retailers have to honor pricing mistakes?

In a traditional shelf environment if an item is priced incorrectly on the shelf, or scans at the wrong price at the point of sale, retailers are under no obligation to honor it, under the Sale of Goods Act. They can offer the item at the correct price or refuse your money and withdraw the product from sale. If a pricing mistake is not noticed and the customer pays for an item at the reduced cost, the purchase is considered a legally binding contract between the retailer and the customer. The shop has no legal right to claw back any money if it later realizes there has been an error.

But what happens in the case of Online shopping?

The legally binding contract is complete when a retailer accepts an order. However, acceptance does not necessarily happen at the point of order. Even the confirmation email may not be an acceptance. Some retailers reserve the right to cancel an order up to the point of delivery. It is therefore important to carefully check the retailer’s terms and conditions.

What rights do we have as customers? who is protecting us?

I guess the only choice we have is to take our business elsewhere.

How do business draw the line between defining terms of sale and acting ethically?

Following the law and business rules at the expense of treating a customer unfairly can have negative implications to customer loyalty. Any business that does not communicate to its customers is at risk, communication is a two way street.  Businesses need to start listening to what the customers are saying. Mango could have handled this differently, no business is perfect but businesses need to learn the art of building relationships and engaging with their customers.

Lesson to us as customers is to stop being loyal to brands that are not loyal to us, brands that are not aligned to what we believe in. As I look closely into the Mango brand I am disturbed more by their classification of "Woman" and "Plus size", Thank you Mango for the wake up call and to me the big lesson from now on is to support more local products and stop investing in international brands that do not care about communicating and building relationships with customers.

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