Coding Error on Gilt Misled Bargain-Seekers


If you were perusing Gilt on Wednesday, you were probably surprised—if not totally dumbfounded—by the unbelivably awesome bargains: Tucker's silk secretary dresses for $29 (regularly priced at $325); BCBG blouses for $39; Y-3 capes for $30. With deals so delicious, Wednesday's "Final Sale" blowout was destined to become a fairytale from e-commerce folklore.

But the sale may be infamous for another reason: by the time people processed their bargains, the prices had corrected themselves, and bills were posted for the full amount. The BCBG blouse became $39, not $29, while the Tucker dress reverted to $49 instead of $29. Because the sale was so extensive, including 53 different designers with dozens of items in each category, the damage is likely to be widespread.

A Gilt spokeswoman told WWD that the problem was a coding error, and that the company has begun issuing refunds to affected customers.  The incident is a good lesson to retailers (Gilt actually violated a law set by the Federal Trade Commission that prohibits charging more than the advertised "shelf price," and may face civil or even criminal fines) and bargain-seekers alike: if a discount seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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