WATCH ABOVE: Customers are angry and Lenovo isn’t talking. Watch as Sean O’Shea tries to get to the bottom of this pricing error controversy.
TORONTO – Hundreds of Canadian consumers have been left in the dark after ordering discounted computers through the Lenovo website, only to have their orders abruptly cancelled over a “pricing error.”
During a “Door Buster” sale on its website last Friday, Lenovo Canada advertised its top of the line Y410P laptop on sale for just $279.
“As a consumer, I see something that says ‘Door Buster’ as something that’s going to be an unbelievable deal. So when I saw it was a savings of $600, I assumed it was a year-old model and that they are firing off old inventory by trying to get rid of them at a discounted price,” Matthew Gamble of Oakville, Ont. told Global News.
Soon after placing his order Gamble noticed a tweet from the Lenovo account that said there was a pricing error on its Canadian website.
Less than 24 hours later, he received an email from the company stating his order had been cancelled.
“As a consumer I feel that I was baited and switched – they offered a deal, they aren’t honouring it, and then they send me an email with no real explanation and nothing more than an offer to sell me something else at a higher price,” he said.
Gamble is just one of hundreds affected by the price error.
Global Toronto Consumer SOS reporter Sean O’Shea received over 100 emails related to the Lenovo price error on Monday alone.
According to multiple customers, those who ordered the Y410P laptop at the discounted price only received a generic email from Lenovo that read: “Due to a pricing error on our website, we will have to cancel your order. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused, and would like to help you place a new order.”
But, despite confirming the price error Friday afternoon, Lenovo’s website continued to advertise the laptop for $279 for another eight hours.
Lenovo Canada did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Meanwhile, a large number of customers confirmed to Global News via Twitter they have not yet received a refund to their credit cards despite receiving cancellation notices from Lenovo.
“Any of the reading that I’ve done suggests that this has been a ‘bait and switch’ tactic – which according to the competition bureau is illegal,” said Gamble, who wrote a letter to the Canadian Competition Bureau.
A spokesperson for the Competition Bureau confirmed to Global News it has received complaints regarding the Lenovo price error.
“The Bureau takes all allegations of false or misleading representations very seriously. As always, we encourage anyone who feels they have been misled by false or misleading representations to contact us,” said the spokesperson.
Section 74.04 of the Competition Act prohibits “’bait-and-switch’ selling which occurs when a product is advertised at a bargain price, but is not available for sale in reasonable quantities.”
However, the provision does not apply if the retailer can confirm the “non-availability of the product was due to circumstances beyond its control, the quantity of the product obtained was reasonable, or the customer was offered a rain check when supplies were exhausted.”
Additionally, section 74.05 of the Competition Act prohibits the sale of a product at a price higher than its advertised price – however, “the provision does not apply if the advertised price was a mistake and the error was immediately corrected.”
The Competition Bureau could not specifically address the Lenovo situation.
But many customers are also concerned Lenovo was able to collect personal data and credit card information through the now cancelled orders.
“I feel like a company baited me into making a purchase and now has my personal info,” said P.J. Neal of Orangeville, Ont., who placed an order for the discounted computer.
“I think that this issue is bigger than a $279 laptop – it’s the integrity of the company collecting users’ info, including credit card numbers.”
Neal added many customers – himself included – wouldn’t have placed orders if it wasn’t for the incredible deal advertised.
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia resident Mason Restoule – who went in with a coworker to place an order for the computer – said he understands why people are so angry, especially considering this isn’t the first time Lenovo has had price error incidents.
In March, Lenovo lost nearly $16 million in revenue over a pricing error that saw its S5000 tablets marked down significantly.
The error, which was present on the company’s official website and Chinese retailer JD.com for almost 10 hours, resulted in 110,000 sales.
In this case Lenovo honoured the error and did not cancel any orders.
As of Monday afternoon, the laptop was still listed as a “Door Buster” sale but with the corrected price of $799.
Correction: A previous version of this article said the competition bureau was investigating the Lenovo matter. The bureau cannot confirm whether or not it will be investigating, as it is required to conduct its work confidentially.
© Shaw Media, 2014