Monday, January 26, 2009

What they didn’t teach me at Walt Whitman High

Rick “Don’t Call Me Sparky” Brooks over at Cultureshark (a very entertaining blog that should seriously be considered a part of any pop culture blogroll) tells an interesting story about Amazon.com, which apparently was offering the upcoming DVD box set of Room 222: Season 1 for the low, low price of $10.99.

Yes. I couldn’t believe it, either, when I came across it. I went ahead and pre-ordered it, just on the off-chance that it might be legitimate. Rick explains that he, too, was lured by the low-price siren song but that because he was loathe to pay the extra s&h, in the time he deliberated on picking something to go with it (to reach the $25 threshold and, as such, pay no shipping) he missed the opportunity to pick up 222 dirt cheap.

I tried to console Rick in his comments section about a similar situation I had with Madame Amazon, though looking back at the actual post I got a few of the details wrong. I had ordered in 2005 a collection of Cheers episodes (Seasons 1-4) that was listed at the e-tailing behemoth for $63.55—one hell of a deal, particularly since the MSRP was twice that. (In addition, they had a five-pack of Frasier box sets for $85.56; again, the MSRP being twice that.) I pre-ordered both collections, dancing a little jig at the bargain I was getting.

My glee, unfortunately, did not last for long. Let’s get in the WABAC machine and see what transpired:

In the wee a.m. hours of this morning, I get an e-mail from Amazon.com telling me, in a matter of words, we f**ked up royally and we’ve cancelled your order. Then they add a lot of other bullpuckey about “in accordance with our posted policies on pricing, we are unable to offer these items for the incorrectly posted prices, blah, blah, blah.” In other words: bite us, yesteryear boy.

Needless to say, I was a bit torqued off by this turn of events...in the professional business world, if a store has mispriced something and you've purchased it at that price, it's your good fortune and their tough luck. I boycotted the company for several years until I was forced to use their services one Christmas to rush some swag to my sister Debbie and her family…and though I don’t buy from Amazon as much as I used to, I still find myself mainlining every now and then.

I told Rick about this earlier experience, and made it clear that I was waiting for the other shoe to drop (i.e., getting another e-mail from Amazon soon, saying in their delightful fashion: “We’re Amazon.com, bitches!”). But as I was trolling DVDPriceSearch.com this morning, I found the 222 set available from Buy.com at $11.13. Which started me wondering…could there actually be something legitimate about this?

Well, yes and no. In reading the info on the Buy.com priced Room 222, I noticed after “Number of Discs” it reads “1.” Uno. What this would seem to suggest is that this particular 222 set is one of those “Season 1, Volume 1” deals frequently released by Shout! Factory—a single-disc release in which you can sample the program before committing to the full enchilada. (I offer up Ironside: Season 1, Volume 1 and Ironside: Season 2, Volume 1 as exhibits A and B.)

So here’s the dilemma: do I go ahead and cancel this order upon learning why it’s been priced this way? Because when I bring up the pre-order at Amazon, it links to the 4-disc full Monty edition. I’ve decided I’m going to ride this out and see where it takes me—surely I can use their “low price pre-order” policy against them…and if push comes to shove, they’ll just stuff a $10 coupon down my shirt like I’m some cheap cooch dancer.

The lesson to be learned in all of this, students…is that if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably Amazon.com’s fault. Caveat emptor and class dismissed!

1 comment:

Rick Brooks said...

Thanks for the kind words, Ivan. It sure looks like you solved the case here. But if Scamazon--er, Amazon made that error, it's had ample time to find it and do something about it. If they're gonna weasel out of the deal, they should say something now and at least grovel a bit instead of yanking out the rug at the last minute.