Over the last few days, a strange situation has been brewing between Amazon and a sizable number of comic book fans. On March 7, Bleeding Cool broke the news of an apparent Amazon sale featuring high quality hardcover Marvel graphic novels at bargain-basement prices of $14.99, when their retail prices were more along the lines of $125. Alas, it turned out to be a pricing error. Amazon could have simply canceled the orders (which is common practice for online retailers), but instead, it tried to do right by its users and said it would honor some of the orders. Except it didn’t actually have enough books in stock to do what it promised, leading to another wave of frustration from the comics fans. Now Amazon is looking to smooth things over with some $25 dollar gift certificates.
The tale is a bit complicated. After word of the apparent sale began to spread, plenty of comics fans began to snatch up the books as quickly as they could, causing some of the graphic novels to climb toward the top of Amazon’s best seller lists. Within hours Amazon fixed the pricing glitches (which affected multiple items), and told some customers that rather than canceling their entire orders, they’d still receive a single copy of the books they purchased at the heavily discounted price. The only catch was that they’d only get one copy apiece (many people had purchased multiple copies). Quite a nice gesture considering that Amazon could have simply canceled the orders outright.
Unfortunately, something went wrong. This morning, Bleeding Cool reported that many (and perhaps all) of these single-copy orders had been canceled as well, without any kind of notice or email from Amazon. As it turns out, Amazon simply doesn’t have enough books in inventory to fulfill all the orders it promised, so it’s handing out $25 gift certificates as an apology for the inconvenience.
Not everyone who bought a Marvel book is getting a certificate — if you placed an order that was immediately canceled, then it sounds like you won’t get one. Some people should be actually getting their books in the mail. If you got an email saying your order was cancelled, you should be hearing from Amazon about this shortly.
It’s hard to really fault Amazon for this. Obviously there were some errors in miscommunication, but it really didn’t have to do any of this — every online retailer has a clause in their Terms of Service that doesn’t make them liable for pricing mistakes.