Walmart glitch: $33 treadmills, $9 LCD monitors
Walmart glitch: A "technical error" caused certain products to be priced absurdly low or high on Walmart.com Wednesday morning. Walmart says the glitch has been fixed.
New York — Treadmills for $33? Computer monitors for $9? The deals are too good to be true — even at Wal-Mart.
It turns out they're not.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says a "technical error" caused certain products to be priced absurdly low or high on its website Wednesday morning.
The company said late Wednesday that it had resolved the issue and Walmart.com is now operating normally. Walmart.com had intermittent problems with availability throughout the day as the discounter was trying to fix the problem.
"We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers," said Ravi Jariwala, a spokesman for Wal-Mart's online operations.
Earlier Wednesday, shoppers took to Twitter to cite ridiculously low prices like treadmills for $33.16 and Hewlett Packard LCD monitors for $8.85. Jariwala said that the company is notifying customers who ordered these items that their orders have been canceled and they'll be refunded in full. In addition, it will send customers a $10 e-gift card that can be used toward future purchases at its stores or on its website.
Reuters reports that Wal-Mart kicked off its online deals a month earlier than usual - underscoring worries that intense discounting aimed at luring budget-conscious shoppers could result in the most tepid holiday spending rise in four years.
U.S. retailers have traditionally kicked off the all-important holiday shopping season on or the day after Thanksgiving and saved some of their best online deals for "Cyber Monday," the Monday after Thanksgiving when workers return to offices and use computers to make holiday purchases.
This year, the holiday falls on Nov. 28 and a result there are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, prompting many retailers to jump the gun on incentives.
Some analysts say the holiday season, which typically accounts for the lions' share of most retailers' annual revenue, will be the most heavily discounted in years as competition for shrinking budgets ramps up.
The world's largest retailer is also offering free shipping on about 99 percent of its online items this year for orders over $50. Last year, only 15 percent of its assortment qualified for free shipping.
Heading into the crucial holiday shopping season, Wal-Mart has doubled the number of items it has on its website from last year to 5 million.
That's expected to help fuel 30 percent growth in online sales to $10 billion for its current fiscal year, which ends in late January. That's still just a sliver of the $486 billion in annual sales Wal-Mart did last year.
Wal-Mart is based in Bentonville, Ark.