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Man buys $19K Cartier earrings for $19 thanks to pricing error

Photos shared by 27-year-old Rogelio Villarreal, who bought two pairs of Cartier earrings for pennies on the dollar thanks to a pricing mistake. X/LordeDandy

A 27-year-old medical resident from Mexico is the proud owner of diamond Cartier earrings after the company mistakenly listed them for $19 instead of $19,000. When Cartier tried to back out of the transaction, the lucky shopper filed a complaint and the jewelry maker eventually relented.

Rogelio Villarreal documented the experience in social media posts shared to his X (formerly Twitter) account.

He wrote that he was in the bathroom scrolling on his phone when he started browsing the Cartier online store. Villarreal was “amazed to see” just how expensive the jewelry was, but then he noticed the price of the Clash de Cartier earrings and “broke into a cold sweat.”

Cartier had mistakenly listed the earrings, made of 18-carat rose gold and 142 individual diamonds, for 237 pesos ($19) instead of 237,000 pesos ($19,000). Villarreal ordered two sets.

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(Currently the earrings are on sale for US$11,600, which converts to C$16,000.)

After Villarreal made his purchase, Cartier reached out to explain that the earrings he ordered were “not at the correct price” so they tried to cancel the purchase. In exchange, they offered the him a complimentary bottle of Cartier Cuvée champagne, according to an email Villarreal shared on X. He rejected the gift.

What followed was months of back and forth between him, Cartier and Mexican consumer protection officials.

Villarreal ended up filing an official complaint with Mexico’s Office of the Federal Prosecutor for the Consumer to settle the dispute.

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It seems that was the final straw for Cartier. The jewelry maker relented and sent Villarreal the two sets of earrings he ordered for around $38 total. “War is over,” Villarreal posted on April 22. “Cartier is delivering.”

The earrings finally came April 26. Villarreal posted a photo of the earrings boxes, wrapped in white paper and secured with a Cartier wax seal, and a shot of him wearing the diamond-and-gold hoops.

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Jesús Montaño, a spokesman for the consumer protection agency, confirmed Villarreal’s account and said the 27-year-old filed a complaint in December. A conciliation hearing was scheduled for May 3, “but the consumer already received his purchase.”

Asked about the ethics of it all, Montaño said companies “have to respect the published price.” If there’s a mistake, “it’s not the consumer’s fault.”

Villarreal’s case had become a lightning rod online during an especially polarized time in Mexico ahead of its June 2 presidential elections. Some observers criticized Villarreal for taking advantage of what they saw as an honest mistake.

Mexican Senator Lilly Téllez wrote on X that Villarreal shouldn’t have accepted the earrings from Cartier, writing: “It’s wrong to be opportunistic and take advantage of a mistake at the expense of someone else, and abuse the law, even if it’s in your favour, and outwit a business. It is more important to be honourable than to have a pair of Cartier earrings.”

But Villarreal says it’s nice to not “be the underdog for once” and wrote that he usually has the “worst luck in the world.”

He shared last week that he was excited to give one of the pairs of earrings to his mother.

— With files from the Associated Press

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