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“Who’s ready for an early morning glitch?” one coupon site asked readers earlier this week. “This is an amazing deal!” Another site was even more excited. “RUNNN NOW to CVS.com and put in your canvas order right now before they fix this insanely awesome glitch!”

Well, they fixed it. And canceled any orders from people who tried to take advantage of it. And now excitement has turned into anger, among shoppers who were hoping to get in on the deal of the decade.

It all started earlier this week, when someone discovered that they were able to stack five different coupon codes on a single CVS.com order, to get a $29.99 canvas photo print for just $2.64.

And deal-seekers who revel in profiting off retailers’ mistakes, pounced on it. The deal was shared all over the internet, and untold numbers of shoppers ordered untold numbers of canvas prints, amazed that their orders were going through.

Until CVS sent them all an email yesterday morning – canceling the orders and blaming “a system error.”

“We know this is an inconvenience, and we’re very sorry for our error,” the email read. “We hope you’ll accept our apologies” – along with a new coupon code offering 60% off a canvas print.

60% off isn’t a bad apology – it’s enough to bring a $29.99 order down to about 12 bucks. But those who wanted it for $2.64 are flooding CVS’ Facebook page, demanding that the store honor the original deal.

“It’s not right that y’all made a mistake and we have to be punished for it,” one commenter wrote. “Customers should not be punished for a mistake on your company’s behalf,” added another. “Thank you for the coupon but you are going to be losing a lot of loyal customers this way,” wrote a third.

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Whatever happened to the old adage “the customer is always right”? Turns out it’s not always applicable anymore. Pricing or promotion errors that might once have gone relatively unnoticed, and which a retailer may not have minded honoring if someone politely pointed it out, now go viral in an instant. Such errors can cost retailers big bucks – so canceling orders, and losing some customer goodwill, can end up being less costly than honoring erroneous prices.

Besides, losing goodwill is often a risk worth taking, when many who try to take advantage aren’t exactly loyal customers. They’re more loyal to outrageous deals, wherever they can get them. Pricing errors are often shared on under-the-radar message boards. But increasingly, they’re finding their way onto mainstream coupons-and-deals websites.

Many who share such deals insist there’s nothing wrong with doing so. After all, there’s no way for them to know for sure that the retailer didn’t intend to offer the deal. So they try it out, and if it turns out to be a mistake, well, the retailer should have known better. Some deal-seekers honestly might not know that an outrageous price is the result of an error, while others clearly know it’s a mistake, and try to grab the deal before the retailer realizes what happened.

That’s why some experienced “glitchers” reacted to CVS’s move with a shrug. “When I placed my order, I was smart enough to grasp the concept that this is a glitch and these orders can be canceled,” one Facebook commenter wrote.

In other words, you win some, you lose some.

Other commenters called out those who are demanding that CVS own up to its error. “The sense of entitlement is unreal. Wow,” one wrote. “I am shocked at how people are so easy to bash a company for a GLITCH, not a SALE,” added another.

CVS has not commented publicly about the situation, aside from the emails it sent to those who tried to place orders. It is, perhaps, safe to assume that they will be looking to fix whatever error allowed five coupon codes to be used on a single order.

And if they don’t – the next time it happens, you can bet that a whole lot of glitchers will be sure to point it out.

Photo by JeepersMedia

5 Comments

  1. The rabid greed of these glitchers is disgusting and just adds to couponing/couponers being viewed with suspicion.

  2. Honest Couponer says:

    The entitlement mentality of these glitchers is disgusting. Human beings make mistakes — deal with it! Let me guess, did the most unethical coupon blog site, Yes We Coupon, jump all over this deal and entice its loyal following to jump all over it? Shameful!

    • This isn’t entitlement. The attorney general just made Walgreens pay millions in fines for this sort of bait and switch. CVS makes “mistakes” like this all the time. Every time they won’t honor a deal I file a complain with the attorney generals office. Enough complaints and CVS will have to pay fines as well. You see, the law says when you advertise a deal you must honor it. It doesn’t matter if stores claim it’s a mistake.

      • Just because you can doesn’t mean you should….words to live by.

      • You are so wrong its not even funny. Walgreens was fined because the register was ringing up a price that was different from what was displayed in the aisles and customers did not notice and paid the wrong amount.

        CVS cancelled the order because the price was wrong. In the end no money was exchanged since all your entitled customers got your refunds. Pretty sure I can hear the AG’s office laughing at your complaint all the way here in MA.

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