If Something Looks Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is

I use Google Reader to subscribe to most of my RSS feeds.  One of the feeds I have set up is the up and coming deals listed on Slickdeals.net.  There’s usually a couple hundred per day, so for the most part, I glance at them just to see what’s going on (though this is really fun to watch on Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

A couple of weeks ago, I saw one pop in right around the time I was checking for a TV deal.  It was a 42″ Vizio TV (good brand), refurbished, at Walmart, for $199.99.  You could buy a 4-year warranty for an extra $32.  Add in $12 in sales tax, and that would be a TV to use for four years for $243.99.  Sounded pretty slick to me!

I rarely buy on impulse but I figured, what the heck.  We put our cash back rewards into a fund for new TVs or other electronic purchases, and I knew I could find a spot for this.

But I also knew the likelihood of actually getting one of these TVs was pretty low.

Because it was just a bit too good to be true.

It was so good that I didn’t even tell Mrs. Beagle about ordering it.  She would definitely not mind if we did replace one of the old TVs, and she’d definitely be impressed by the price, so I knew it would be an OK purchase by her.  But, common sense told me that this would likely not happen.  The deal was available for purchase for a couple of hours.  Over a hundred people posted that they had made the purchase, meaning that there were probably thousands (like me) that made the purchase and didn’t post anything about it.  Last, I figured that there’d be no way there could be that many refurbs of one particular model of TV available.

So, I immediately set the expectation that this would likely not happen, but if it did, sweet.

Sure enough, within 24 hours, I got an e-mail note saying that the item was ‘backordered’ and if it was not back in stock in 10 days, the order would be automatically cancelled.  In 10 days, I got the inevitable follow-up saying that the order had been cancelled.  I wasn’t too upset, but you should have seen some of these other people on the Slickdeals site.

They acted as if WalMart had not only failed to come through on this TV but had gone in and stolen all their other TVs.

Some started trying to get a viral message going via Twitter and other social media.  Some started bombarding the online chat feature for WalMart with complaints, trying to get them to honor the deal on a comparable TV (this did not happen).  They started complaining to the Better Business Bureau.  They started taking all their WalMart business elsewhere.

I get it.  WalMart advertised the TV and then didn’t come through.  It was most likely either a price error or someone fat fingered how many of these TVs were actually available.  It was a mistake.  It happens.

Get over it.

Sometimes companies will honor price mistakes.  I’ve heard of instances where airlines sold tickets for $1 instead of $1,000 and ended up honoring it.  But, that’s the exception and I would think that shareholders are not going to be too happy if every company that posts a price error fulfills it if it means cutting into their bottom line.

I guess I take the approach that if it looks too good to be true and if the end result is that I’m out nothing more than a couple of minutes of my time for having placed the original order, is it really a big loss if it doesn’t happen? Obviously there are a whole lot of angry SlickDeal members who think otherwise, but my answer is no.  It’s not a big loss.

What do you think?  Am I too easy on WalMart or if there is a deal that’s too good to be true, should you set your expectations accordingly?

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