May 242010

Zappos make a $1.6 million mistake. Get lots of PR in return and social media cuddles.

Zappos the Twitter wunderkinds made a big boo boo. Their pricing engine set a maximum price of $49.95. Six hours later, and 1.6 million dollars later, the company blogs about it:

Hey everyone – As many of you may know (and I’m sure a lot of you do not), is our sister site. is where brandaholics go for their guilt free daily fix of the brands they crave.  Every day, the site highlights discounts on products ranging up to 70% off.  Well, this morning, we made a big mistake in our pricing engine that capped everything on the site at $49.95.  The mistake started at midnight and went until around 6:00am pst. When we figured out the mistake was happening, we had to shut down the site for a bit until we got the pricing problem fixed.

While we’re sure this was a great deal for customers, it was inadvertent, and we took a big loss (over $1.6 million – ouch) selling so many items so far under cost.  However, it was our mistake.  We will be honoring all purchases that took place on during our mess up.  We apologize to anyone that was confused and/or frustrated during out little hiccup and thank you all for being such great customers.  We hope you continue to Shop. Save. Smile. at


Aaron Magness

Director of Brand Marketing & Business Development

Zappos Development, Inc.

Twitter: @macknuttie

Update: Upon further investigation and clarification with our merchandising team, I realized that the statement about “capping everything on the site at $49.95″ was not 100% accurate. There are some items that are sold on both and, and those items were not affected by the pricing mistake. The pricing mistake applied to items sold on but not (the vast majority of inventory available on The actual dollar figure of our loss is accurate – over $1.6 million. Let’s just say this was not a boring weekend for us.

Hat tip: @jeffjarvis of buzzmachine and at least I’ve heard of now.

I remember – can’t find it now – blogging about a geek gadget company that ended up with MORE love after mucking up orders in a big way. Social media makes people more patient and understanding. Though to be honest, Zappos mistake is pro-consumer, not likely to cause rampaging crowds. But Richard Webb from ReadWriteWeb and I both stated at Media08 (in 2008) that mistakes often make more than break companies in social media. Not sure they understood us back then…

By the way, it was nice to see Optus admit a mistake on my blog today.


  12 Responses to “Own your mistakes – Zappos”

  1. RT @NotEasyToForget: Zappos & make a $1.6 million mistake. Get lots of PR in return and social media cuddles:

  2. Own your mistakes – Zappos

  3. RT @hiloaloha: Own your mistakes – Zappos Light your own cigarettes – Zippos

  4. How Zappos markets their $1.6 million mistake over the weekend.

  5. RT @SilkCharm Own your mistakes – Zappos

  6. smells like a PR stunt. pricing mistakes don’t have to be honoured by law in the US and almost never are, and online they would have had plenty of time to consider whether or not to accept the erroneous orders …

  7. Zappos practically gives shoes away. Just not on purpose. #fb

  8. Own your mistakes – honours $1.6 million in accidental discounts.

  9. Hat tip to Zappos and for their $1.6m blunder and how they handled it

  10. Wow. Zappos'$1.6 million dollar mistake. Kudos for taking it on the chin though?

  11. Own your mistakes – Zappos

  12. Businesses owning up to their mistakes – a great example from Zappos

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