Best Buy eventually changed the price on its website to $399 and the following day sent email notices to those who had ordered. The orders were cancelled - due to a "system error". The email also informed buyers that they could reorder at the higher price.
Buyers balked, threatened to sue Best Buy and even started a page to collect information for those who had ordered and had their orders cancelled. Various flames have been raging about whether people are simply taking advantage of an obvious pricing mistake or Best Buy either intentionally pulled a bait-and-switch or simply made an offer they weren't prepared to fulfill.
On one hand the price is almost unbelievable. Nivida rarely discounts new products -much less deeply discounting them. They also have a Terms of Service that states they have the right to correct pricing mistakes and cancel orders that result from pricing mistakes. On the other hand the offer explicitly said "Preorder Special" and "$200 savings". So $129 isn't reasonable when you consider a product with an MSRP of $399 (computer hardware products almost never sell for MSRP). Further adding to the credibility of the offer was the elaborate way it was advertised -Special advertisement button on Best Buy's computer catalog page and special page devoted to advertising the offer.
I took the offer. It was simply too good an offer to ignore. As a bargain hunter I spend at least a few minutes each day browsing various "Good Deal" websites I have book marked. Most of them weed out obvious pricing mistakes and in some cases even verify the offers before posting them. I've seen many good deals over the years on these sites. I've gotten in on a few and missed many. Big vendors like Amazon.com and Buy.com regularly have really good deals to attract customers. And as the owner of an Nvidia original TNT card, I was looking to upgrade.
E-commerce, as a business model, is still in its infancy. The Internet allows any business startup access to customers around the world with little or no capital investment. Put up a website and start selling. This has lead to every conceivable abuse to consumers. Bogus advertisements, spamming, outright theft...you name it. Commercial and consumer laws, encumbered by a procedural system that makes changing the law intentionally slow and deliberate, have left consumers oftentimes out in the cold. Again and again we are confronted with asking if laws written to apply to brick-and-mortar establishments should apply to e-business' and e-commerce.
IANAL, but I have taken classes in Business Law. Generally speaking most State and Federal Consumer and Commercial laws aim to keep the playing field fair. Businesses have the right to make money by selling goods and services and consumers have a right to get what they pay for. By purchasing a good or service consumers are entering into a contract with a seller and both parties have the right to expect fair and reasonable terms, treatment and consideration. Advertisements must not be misleading.
Best Buy is a large business with a good reputation for treating customers fairly with decent service and good prices. They sell on the Internet as well as having over 400 store locations across the United States. Their Internet storefront appears to be professionally managed.
So, considering Internet commerce in general, and this deal in particular, should Best Buy honor this deal? Should Internet businesses be held to the same standards as brick and mortar businesses? Should a business, knowing the potentially great damages in making a too good offer or pricing mistake on the Internet, take even more care? What should the law do to protect consumers from inconsiderate Internet businesses?