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Moral dilemma.
Ordered item is nearly 25% cheaper today.

 8:36 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yesterday I ordered an item in an online shop. One of the bigger shops, not a mom and pop shop. Today I looked around in that shop again and noticed the item is now a special offer and costs only 399 EUR instead of 519 EUR. 120 EUR difference. I ordered at 11 pm yesterday - one hour later I would have gotten the cheaper price.

The legal situation here in the EU is simple. Under distant selling regulations I could cancel the order without giving any reason, get a full refund and then simply order for the new price.

However there is not only the legal side there is also the moral side. Is ist morally ok to do this? The item hasn't shipped yet. If it were 40 or 50 EUR I would tell myself bad luck and do nothing. If I had purchased a week ago and it would be cheaper now - the same. But it's 120 EUR and one hour.

What would you do? Take advantage of the legal situation that favors the customer and cancel the order? Swallow the higher price? Find some middle ground - ask for a voucher or something?



 9:19 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here where I live, there is something called price adjustment.
Basically if I purchased something for $50 and 6 days later the item is $40, I take the receipt to a store, and I get $10 plus tax back.
The grace period for price adjustment varies.
Plus, if the item has not been used, and has all tags, even after the grace period, as long as I'm entitled to return it for a full refund, I can ask for a price to be adjusted.

I'm not sure what's your problem. If the item has not shipped yet, you'll do a favor to the seller by canceling, instead of returning it.

You feel obliged towards the seller?

With full respect, I usually feel ripped off, so no mercy. Their profits are based on huge margins which are usually unthinkable to an average buyer.

As long as you could survive the political life, I would always vote for guys like you. :)


 9:22 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I haven't been in that situation yet but if I were I would look if they had a money back/no questions asked thingie on their site and if so I would return the item for a refund and then buy at a lower price.

The store won't sell at a loss so the reduced price is OK with them then I (or you in this case) might as well get something out of it too and the store will be happy to get something out of it after all.


 10:07 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

The item hasn't shipped yet.
Cancel the order and purchase at the cheaper price.

If you still feel it's a moral issue, contact the company and explain the situation- you bought the item an hour before the price went down. You would obviously like it at the lower price, so you would like to ask that they charge the lower price instead. If they say no, then go ahead and follow my first suggestion. :)


 1:18 am on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would just write to them and ask for the sale price or cancel the sale and reorder if they won't, it's really quite simple and not a moral quandary whatsoever IMO.


 7:35 am on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I guess I am having moral qualms because I have been an opponent of those distance selling regulations in the past. Fells kind of awkward to profit from something you have opposed in the past. I think I'll offer not to cancel my order in return for a voucher for the difference. I need some more things from them anyway.

Marketing Guy

 8:04 am on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Unless you are buying live bunny rabbits that will subsequently be used for "Returns Dog Food", I don't really think there's a moral angle here.

Case and point - do you think the retailer has given a second thought to the fact that some people ordering the product the previous day ended up paying $120 more for?


 8:32 am on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Mrs engine just had exactly this situation. She ordered a new dress for a wedding we're attending, so it wasn't an ordinary outfit.

The item arrived the following day.
In addition, in her email that day was a discounted price for that very outfit.

She called the company and they said they cannot retrospectively discount the item, but suggested the item is returned for a refund, and re-ordered at the new discounted price.

That's what she did.

Both seem happy with the arrangement.


 9:15 am on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

That's how you work for the lowest price on Amazon. Put something in your shopping cart, buy it when the price gets to where you want it to be if you think you'll use it in the next 30 days. Add it to your cart again after you buy it, watch the price and if it drops, send the one in hand back and order it at the lower price.


 3:17 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think I'd contact them and ask politely for the discounted price, as a valued customer - since it's quite a lot, and such a short period of time.

It's quite possible they'll happily agree - especially if you point out you're about to place another order - so then there's no problem.

If they play hardball, THEN you can invoke distance selling regs, take your next order elsewhere or whatever. But give them the chance to do the right thing first.


 8:43 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

"But give them the chance to do the right thing first."

Yup. Also, you might mention that you feel uncomfortable asking, but after a lot of thought you came to the conclusion this was the best thing to do.

Visit Thailand

 2:03 am on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

The moral decision is very personal, but I will tell you most companies rarely have any morals at all. And I, as many above, do not even see this as a moral issue.

Do what is right for you, as long as you do not lose sleep, feel bad, hurt anyone, or do anything illegal, then take care of number one.


 7:48 am on Apr 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The moral dilemma, if there was one, would equally be on the seller side for accepting sales knowing the buyer could have gotten the items cheaper in an hour. It goes both ways.

Cancel your order and order again. It's money and not loyalty or morals which is paying the tab and its perfectly legal.


 1:55 pm on Apr 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

On the other hand, if you were a retailer, how would you feel about customers asking to reserve items before the sale, for collection at sale price?


 2:22 pm on Apr 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

On the other hand, if you were a retailer, how would you feel about customers asking to reserve items before the sale, for collection at sale price?

Good question.

At our brick and mortar store, when I KNOW an item is going to go on sale in a day or two, I actually will tell the customer and give them the sale price then. (I've done that occasionally on our website as well.)

Maybe it ISN'T a good business strategy. Maybe it DOESN'T buy me customer loyalty.

But it just FEELS like the right thing to do. And it is always nice to hear someone say thank you when they genuinely mean it.

I think being a small business, one of our advantages is giving more personal attention. Larger B&M stores will advertise their sales in advance, so they aren't worried that people will stop shopping until that sale date arrives. Nor are they worried about a flood of returns once the sale is on.

I guess you just have to look at your competition and figure out IF you can do one better (maybe you can, maybe you can't).

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