Apple iPad 2 deal hunters thought they'd hit a bonanza on Saturday after the 16GB Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 appeared on Sears.com priced at $70. But those good deal vibes soon turned sour after Sears cancelled orders for the deal price and refunded users' purchases.
"Unfortunately, today one of the Marketplace third party sellers told us that they mistakenly posted incorrect pricing on two Apple iPad models on the Marketplace portion of the website," Sears wrote on its Facebook page on Saturday. "If you purchased either of these products recently, your order has been cancelled and your account will be credited. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."
The seemingly incredible deal was offered by GSM On Sale, a third-party retailer that usually sells the 16GB iPad 2 for $745, according to the Digital Life blog on Today.com. GSM On Sale's regular price is a $245 markup on Apple's list price of $500.
The Saturday special was clearly a mistake as the online ad said the iPad 2 deal price was a $30 savings from the iPad 2's regular price of $100. The online retailer was also mistakenly selling the 32GB Wi-Fi only iPad 2 for $180, a $420 discount off Apple's list price of $600. GSM On Sale's website is currently closed for maintenance.
Too Bad, So Sad
Mistake or not, disgruntled iPad 2 buyers say the retailer should live up to its promised price. "When the sale was finalized, we had a contract. That contract was broken when you failed to deliver," said user mecusar on a Sears.com forum.
Many of the more than 300 comments on Sears' Facebook page reflected similar sentiments. "I will be going in-store tomorrow to dispute it. I don't want a refund. I want what I purchased," said Facebook user LaShawn N. Barber.
"Legally they are responsible for the price they were sold at. Courts have upheld this," said Facebook user Michael Greenberg. "When you purchase something at a price and it goes through, it becomes a contract. A contract cannot be voided unless agreed upon by both parties."
Others weren't so sure pointing to Sears.com's terms of service, which says, "In the event of a pricing error on the Sears Site, Sears reserves the right to cancel any orders resulting from such pricing errors."
Several commenters leapt to the department store's defense telling the disgruntled customers they needed a reality check. "Wow -- what a bunch of whiny spoiled brats. 'No fair! I didn't get to rip off a big company!' Grow up," said Facebook user Debbie Cook St. John.
"It was a mistake, you got your money back. no harm no foul. Grow the hell up already," said another person on Facebook.
Many of the people arguing on Facebook appeared to be under the impression that GSM On Sale offered the iPad 2 for $1.
Best Buy Steps Up? Nope
Despite the bad news from Sears, some people claimed to actually get an iPad 2 for $70 over the weekend. Mecusar claimed that Best Buy honored the advertised price, thanks to the big box retailer's price-matching guarantee. But note the not-so-fine print: Best Buy does not guarantee prices found on competitors' websites. Or prices due to mistakes just like the post by GSM On Sale. Nevertheless, I am checking in with Best Buy and will update this post should the company respond.
Apple launched the iPad 2 in March, and the second-generation tablet has proven to be wildly popular with users. The company has had a hard time keeping the device in stock. Apple recently improved delivery times in the U.S. for orders of the iPad 2 from three to five days to one to three days, according to Slashgear.
In April, Apple COO Tim Cook said the company was working through "the mother of all backlogs" to fulfill customer orders for the iPad 2. Cook also said at the time that Apple did not expect any "material impact" to its component supply chain at least through the end of June following Japan's recent earthquake disaster.