Harvey Norman says it won't honour the sale of hundreds of furniture products sold at bargain basement prices yesterday, apparently due to a 'technical glitch' on its website.
The company last night emailed some customers stating that a "genuine error" occurred when it kicked off 'New Zealand's Biggest Retail Sale' online, which sold off some items for less than $100.
"We sincerely apologise for this error, which is currently being investigated.
"All sales made during this period cannot be honoured. Our website terms and conditions state that we may accept or reject any offer to purchase made by you and that we have the right to correct any errors."
The Commerce Commission, which can prosecute retailers under the Fair Trading Act, said a handful of complains about the Harvey Norman sale had been received.
The company's website incorrectly sold the products at the wrong prices for eight hours until it was fixed at 8am.
Harvey Norman is shutting down the deals, despite comments by Auckland barrister Patrick McGrath that the company was on the back foot legally because the sale and purchase had been completed.
McGrath said customers have the right to keep their products and that could force the retail giant to take legal action to get the products back.
More than 300 people took advantage of the online discounts. The company's email said they would get a refund and a $100 voucher instead.
"By way of apology we would like to offer you a $100 Harvey Norman gift voucher, which will be couriered directly to your address that you have provided to us when you placed your order," they wrote.
Some customers who landed cheap deals are yet to receive any communication from the company.
It's unfair and I think it's rude. People say we just took it for granted but [Harvey Norman] did not have comparative prices. It was advertised as the biggest sale so you would think it's the biggest sale.
Those that have received the email are infuriated because they believe the sales should be honoured as they bought the items in good faith.
A Christchurch woman says although surprised by the prices she thought they were genuine due to the "massive advertising campaign" the company had undertaken in the days leading up to the sale which kicked off at midnight yesterday.
"It's unfair and I think it's rude. People say we just took it for granted but [Harvey Norman] did not have comparative prices. It was advertised as the biggest sale so you would think it's the biggest sale."
She said Harvey Norman is a big company and should have picked up on any "errors" before eight hours had passed.
She is out of pocket because she had maxed out her credit card on the purchases and was yet to receive the refund promised.
A Cambridge woman who also bought products said she was surprised by the company's handling of the debacle.
"I am disappointed that I haven't had 'personal' contact from Harvey Norman. I really think it would have been polite and reasonable to expect something with my name on it."
Other shoppers said a $100 voucher was cheap compared to legal fees the company might face and that customers should hold out for more compensation.
Harvey Norman have yet to respond to Herald requests for comment.
Company says sorry for email privacy error
The company has also apologised for its emailing processes after a staff member accidentally made their email addresses public.
In its second email, this time with recipients correctly blind copied, the company put the mistake down to a "processing error" that occurred when sending you information in relation to your furniture purchase from our website between midnight and 8am this morning".
"Unfortunately, due to a manual processing error, your email address was not 'hidden' from other recipients of the email and as such, was potentially visible by all customers affected by the purchase issue that occurred this morning. No other information about you has been disclosed to other customers, this is limited only to your email address. We have taken immediate internal measures to rectify this issue."
It asked the shoppers to email the company's own privacy offer if they had any concerns.
"Harvey Norman takes its customers' privacy very seriously and sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused," it wrote.
See the full text of the Harvey Norman statement here:Dear Customer,
During the period from midnight to 8.00am this morning you placed an order through our online system for Furniture products.
Unfortunately a genuine error has occurred with the advertising of certain products on the website during this time. We sincerely apologise for this error, which is currently being investigated.
All sales made during this period cannot be honoured. Our website terms and conditions state that we may accept or reject any offer to purchase made by you and that we have the right to correct any errors.
We are in the process of refunding your purchase today in full. It will depend on your bank as to how long this process will take however this will usually occur within 2 working days.
By way of apology we would like to offer you a $100 Harvey Norman gift voucher, which will be couriered directly to your address that you have provided to us when you placed your order.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Customer Service Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harvey Norman sincerely apologises for this error and for any inconvenience caused.
• What do you think of Harvey Norman's stance on the apparent online bungle? Should they stand by their prices?