The vague discounts of "Black Friday" were eclipsed by a staggering piece of accidental generosity by some Amazon sellers over the weekend, when a sales glitch automatically discounted swathes of products to just 1p.
For about an hour on Friday evening several thousand items had their prices slashed to 1p by a third-party price checking tool. Designed to ensure sellers can automatically adjust their prices to remain competitive, the RepricerExpress system went a bit Skynet and decided that everything should be 1p to increase its owner's sales.
The flaw has left sellers baffled and out of pocket, with profit-minded buyers taking full advantage. One seller told the Guardian: "People were buying 10, 50, 100 copies of everything. It is £50,000, £60,000, £100,000 of stock; we can’t even work it out."
With Amazon's system so swift at coping with and despatching orders, many sellers say they shifted tens of thousands of pounds worth of stock in minutes -- and there's no way for them to get the stuff back once it's in the hands of customers. Amazon's helping cancel orders not yet sent out, but plenty of sellers claim to have lost out in this inadvertent sales rush.