Dell's Online Price Error Troubles Worsen in Taiwan

Dell was hit by another online pricing snafu in Taiwan on Sunday, prompting a strong reprimand from the island's Consumer Protection Commission.

The company was ordered last week by Taiwan's Consumer Protection Commission to make good on sales from an online pricing error and deliver 19-inch LCD monitors to local consumers for NT$500 (US$15.26). It now has pricing errors on laptop and desktop PCs to add to its woes.

Price errors on Dell Latitude E4300 laptop PCs that normally cost NT$69,000 (US$2,101.34) slashed the price to NT$18,500 (US$563.40) for eight hours on Sunday, netting orders for over 40,000 of the devices, the Consumer Protection Commission said Monday.

Attempts to place orders for discounted laptop PCs on Dell's Taiwan Web site Monday led to a message apologizing for technical errors and failure to complete the transactions. A toll-free phone number on the page also did not work.

Dell did not immediately reply for a request to comment on the Web site price errors.

A Dell notice regarding pricing mistakes made between 9:17 p.m. June 25 and 6:56 a.m. June 26 said errors showed up on LCD monitors, laptop PCs and desktop PCs.

The company apologized for the errors and offered customers that had ordered LCD monitors at erroneous prices up to two NT$1,000 discount certificates good for purchases on www.dell.com.tw, and NT$3,000 coupons to people who had purchased laptop or desktop computers at misprinted prices.

Dell has already cancelled the transactions, the company said in a statement on the Web site.

In a strongly worded response, the Consumer Protection Commission said it "cannot accept" Dell's response to the online price errors. The government agency also enjoined related agencies to investigate the errors further for compliance with e-commerce and Internet sales laws as well as any possible violation of Taiwan's fair trade laws.

"If Dell's Taiwan office does not have the power to decide this issue, then the top offices at Dell should have to hear the disappointment and indignation of Taiwanese consumers so they will quickly and sincerely come up with a concrete response," the commission said.

Taiwanese price watcher Internet Buzz Research Center reports that the pricing errors were a hot Internet topic last week. Internet users posted discussions about Dell's online pricing problems and some of the deals, such as 20-inch LCD displays for NT$999 (US$30.42), as well as the company's apology and apparent frustration on the part of customers.

Dell has said it's been working with the Consumer Protection Commission on a "reasonable" solution to the problem.

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