Glitch in Amazon software might force small time retailers into bankcruptcy

Amazon software hit by a glitch causing the prices to be set as low as 1pence

During the ongoing bargain sales during the holiday season, some fortunate buyers were thanking their stars. It appears that Amazon suffered technical difficulties in its automated software system resulting in a vast number of product prices being revised to as low as 1p each. Amazon owns a software that ensures that the products it sells are priced the cheapest on the internet. We do not know for sure what caused the software to malfunction as yet, but it was a nightmare for sellers who have been forced to sell their products for a fraction of its price.

Buyers buoyant

From 7-8pm on Friday, software used by third-party sellers to ensure their products are the cheapest on the market, went haywire and reduced prices to as little as 1p causing frantic buying.  The software in question has been developed by RepricerExpress for Amazon. “Amazon is all kinds of broken,” one observer tweeted. “Mattress 1p. Headphones 1p. Batteries, clothing, games all 1p. Someone messed up big time.”

Quirky Jezza tweeted: “I’ve just spend 80p on Amazon … for a few thousand pounds value … Loads of things are 1p … Hacked? xD. All of that in the last hour. I’ve ordered about 500 things in total tonight. I would laugh if any of them arrive :o”

Sellers suffer heavy losses

While this brought big cheers among buyers and frantic buying on select counters, the buyers faced devastation due to the quirky software glitch, especially the small traders.

Martin Le Corre, who sells toys and games via his MB Housewares store on Amazon was fortunate enough to be informed by a competitor of the glitch. “We got a call from a competitor to say ‘do you realise all your listings (are) at a penny?’ By the end of the hour, we had 1,600 orders,” he said. “People were buying 10, 50, 100 copies of everything. It is £50,000, £60,000, £100,000 of stock; we can’t even work it out.” Le Corre, who spent the weekend stock-checking in the company’s warehouse, said one buyer bought 95 board games that should have cost £12.99 each for 99p each.He was fortunate enough to be informed so that he could cut his losses in time.

Many others weren’t so lucky.

Blackford, a single mother had  set up her dolls and fancy dress shop in the back bedroom of her Leicestershire home 10 years ago, said she noticed the problem when she was flooded with orders on Friday night. “150 orders came in all of a sudden,” she said. By the end of Friday night, her Amazon account showed she had sold 675 items, some of which should have cost £100 each, for 1p each.

“I phoned Amazon but the support line was closed until the morning. There was an emergency email, but they just said they were aware of it and looking into it. “I’m guessing, but I think it will cost me £15,000-20,000,” she said. “I’m really worried, I haven’t slept or eaten all weekend. We could be facing bankruptcy, I don’t know what to do.”

Amazon’s Response

The official statements from the companies involved were as follows:

Brendan Doherty, the chief executive of the Derry-based RepricerExpress, apologised to his customers and said everyone at the company was devastated by the mistake. “I am truly sorry for the distress this has caused our customers. We understand that you are angry and upset and we will endeavor to work to make good on this issue and to work to restore your confidence in our product and service,” he said.

An Amazon spokesman said: “We responded quickly and were able to cancel the vast majority of orders placed on these affected items immediately and no costs or fees will be incurred by sellers for these cancelled orders. “We are now reviewing the small number of orders that were processed and will be reaching out to any affected sellers directly.”

Considering the sheer amount of hardships caused to the small scale traders, there is expected to be a lot of questions to Amazon. Amazon should consider itself very fortunate if this incident does not lead to lawsuits and Government intervention. That completely depends upon how Amazon responds to the crisis. A lot of sellers have been affected, with the small time owners hit severely.  Some of whom are contemplating lawsuits against Amazon and RepriserExpress for the huge losses incurred by them.

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Delwyn Pinto
Delwyn Pinto
A person proud to have an alternate view


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