Mispriced cheap books spark anger
The cancellation of book orders at attractive discounts by Joyo 亚马逊 has stirred controversy among customers.
Nearly 500 types of books ranging in price from several hundred yuan to several thousand yuan were all sold at 25 yuan ($3.66), including postage, in the wee hours of Wednesday, one day before Christmas Eve. Joyful customers flooded the site to order the books, believing the pricing to be a promotion to celebrate Christmas offered by Joyo 亚马逊, a subsidiary of the world's largest online retailer, 亚马逊. Most books ran out of copies within the early hours, the National Business Daily newspaper reported (NBD) Thursday.
However, the orders were canceled by the company the same day. The company explained the 25-yuan price tag was a mistake due to a system error.
The company issued an apology in a statement released Friday, saying that most subscribers the company contacted showed understanding and agreed to cancel the orders.
The company stated that a 25 percent discount will be offered to those who placed the 25-yuan orders. But some subscribers were not content with what they believed to be arbitrary cancellation by the company.
A woman surnamed Liang who made a 25-yuan order said that Joyo 亚马逊's canceling orders already violated China's Contract Law, the NBD reported Friday. "It is certain that the contract between Joyo 亚马逊 and consumers has been already established," Liang said. Her viewpoints were shared by most would-be purchasers of the 25-yuan books and many netizens, the NBD reported.
The company can defend itself by saying that its withdrawing is legal due to a major misunderstanding or unfairness toward the company according to the Contract Law, Ma Dongxiao, a partner with the Grandall Legal Group's Beijing Office, told the Global Times.
But Ma said buyers involved in electronic transactions will naturally regard information related to the deal released by retailers as true.
Though the company carries little legal liability on the issue, it remains at risk of hurting its reputation if no proper action has been taken, Ma added, saying that is the reason why the company made a compromise soon.
The discount compromise is not being accepted by everyone, however. Some 138 customers created a group account on Tencent QQ, the country's most popular instant messaging program, publishing a statement which requested top management of the company to make an apology in person, and to validate some of the orders, the Beijing News reported over the weekend.