Early sunday morning, I woke up to an email from Paul Montgomery, sent to the whole iFanboy staff telling us about drastic discounts on Marvel Omnibus books at Amazon.com. It was surely a mistake, but there it was, apparently valid. I did what many did, and ordered 8 Omnibus editions immediately, for the low price of $8.74 each. Others were selling for $14.99. I didn't really think the order would be honored, but hey, what the heck. Maybe they're clearing out the warehouse?
In the meantime, the internets were ablaze with activity and chatter about the books. Notable were tweets from Marvel writer, Ed Brubaker, who said the following:
Nice to see the Criminal omnibus shoot up to #18 on Amazon, but I hope no one actually expects to get the books for 15 bucks.
That's less than Amazon paid for the book from the distributor.
Which means on a 50 dollar book, Amazon is losing 10 bucks a sale, at least. Still, I do hope they honor the sales even if it's a glitch.
At that point, I was sure that there was some sort of error going on. But I checked my order, and it was still there. Good to go. Ron even got a shipping confirmation that some of the books had been sent out.
Then, Tuesday morning, I received the following email from Amazon:
Our records indicate you recently ordered 'Fantastic Four Omnibus, Vol. 1 (v. 1) The X-Men Omnibus, Vol. 1 Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 Daredevil Omnibus, Vol. 1 The Death of Captain America Omnibus Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Omnibus, Vol. 2 Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 The Ultimates Omnibus'. Unfortunately, due to a pricing error, we sold many more than expected. In fact, we completely sold out — we don't have any in stock right now, and we're not even sure if we'll be able to get more.
As a result, we've had to cancel your order. I realize this is disappointing news, and I'm so sorry for any inconvenience this causes.
You may want to check our website from time to time to see if this item is available. If anyone is selling it, you'll see a "More Buying Choices" box on the product detail page; if it's not available from any sellers, you might see an "Order it used" or "Alert me" link. "Order it used" allows you to place a pre-order for the item in case another seller lists the item for sale later. "Alert me" allows you to sign up so we can e-mail you when Amazon has stock available for purchase.
I'm sorry I don't have better news. We hope to see you again soon.
I thought, "OK, fair enough," but what bothered me was the idea that they said they sold out, and they didn't know when or if they were going to get more. Yet at the same time, many of the books were listed as In Stock on the site. I wasn't upset that I wasn't going to get a ton of books for what is essentially free, but I didn't like being told what was essentially an untrue excuse. I would have been fine with the fact that there was an error, and it would have been too costly to honor those orders. I get that. Also, the sign off was kind of funny.
Meanwhile, the complaints started up on the web from people who were all kinds of flummoxed over the injustice of it all. Some said that this was proof that the books were overpriced, and if Marvel just sold them for less, they'd make more money. But that's just patently untrue. Anyone who sells a product at an enormous loss will sell a lot of units, but it's not good business sense. Others thought that one misstep from Amazon meant they should make massive amends, and take the loss to the tune of what must have been a six figure glitch. Personally, I didn't feel entitled to anything. Those books are expensive to produce, and they're luxury items for people who really want to drop a lot of cash on them. It's not that Marvel is turning them out for $4 each, and selling them for $75. That's just not the case. Throw a $1,000 price tag on a $20,000 car, with an invoice of $19,000, and you'll sell a lot of cars, but you'll also go out of business.
I thought that was about all, but then Wednesday, I got the following unexpected email from Amazon:
We wanted to follow up on a recent message we sent about the cancellation of your recent order.
To recap: Due to a pricing error, we sold many more graphic novels than expected. In fact, we completely sold out — we don't have any in stock right now, and we're not sure when we'll be able to get more.
We're sorry for any frustration the issue may have caused, and have applied a $25 promotional certificate to your account.
You can use it the next time you order an item shipped and sold by Amazon.com. You'll see your available promotional balance at checkout–this amount will be applied to your next order automatically without entering a claim code.
I hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Customer Service Amazon.com
It was a nice surprise, and one that I'll gladly accept, but not one that I necessarily feel I deserve. They didn't have to do this, but the fact that they did is certainly a mark on the plus side in my book. I order a lot of stuff from them (not Conor levels, mind you), and I would continue to do so.
Would it have been cool to get a giant stack of books for almost nothing? Absolutely. Did I have anywhere to put them or time to read them? No, not really. So, in the end, it's a wash.
What were your experiences? What did you order? Did you get anything? What did you get with the promotional certificate instead?
Me? I put it towards a Wii that I was going to buy anyway.