So let’s talk about The Big Deal

By Mir
February 7, 2007

Wooooo, those of you who tried to hop on this deal have maybe done it before, or maybe this was your first experience with it, but either way—you’ve done it now. The adrenaline rush. The thrill of the chase; the high of the ultimate bargain. That’s the sort of thing that makes shopping fun again, right?

Well, yes and no.

For those of you who are maybe haven’t hopped on a deal like this before, you need fair warning. There’s an excellent chance all of our orders will be canceled.

And if you read any bargaining forums, here’s what you’ll see if that happens: “It’s not fair!” “They have an obligation to give us what was promised!” “I’ll never shop Amazon again!” “It was a bait and switch, pure and simple!”

I don’t agree with any of those sentiments.

Look, pricing mistakes happen. In this case, when I found the deal this morning, there were over 300 pairs of shoes offered by Footsmart on the Amazon site that were marked down to $1.99. I’m not sure I would consider that a simple mistake, but, well, yeah—there’s a decent possibility that a disgruntled employee or someone really careless was at the pricing helm today. There’s also a decent possibility that this was a liquidation of some leftover stock. I don’t know. Either way, there are rules of engagement for extreme deals like this, and the sooner you come to know and accept them, the less of a chance that you’ll end up disappointed.

Rules of The Big Deal:

  • Run. On an extreme bargain, you have to shop like the wind, baby. Throw stuff in your cart and check out as fast as humanly possible. If there’s free shipping involved, do separate orders so that you can check out with the stuff you want before it disappears. When shopping in a time crunch like this, open lots of windows—I do a main window to browse in, then do a separate window every time I go to a specific item. That way, I always have my “place” in the original window to come back to.
  • Don’t change anything until you have the merchandise in hand. So you ordered 10 pairs of shoes and you’re elated. Great! Then you run upstairs and clear your closet of shoes and donate them to Goodwill that afternoon. No! Stop! Don’t do it until you receive your order. Trust me.
  • Assume that your order will be canceled. Huh? Didn’t I just tell you to shop like the wind? Yes, I did. But you’re taking a chance, when you come across an extreme deal like this. There’s an excellent chance that the merchant will rescind the unbelievable pricing. Easy come, easy go. Don’t become enraged if this happens. If you get your order, that’s excellent. If it turns out to be an elaborate boo-boo on the part of the merchant, no, they’re not obligated to honor your order anyway. What they can’t do is charge you a different price (that’s illegal), but they’re well within their rights to claim an inventory glitch and cancel.
  • Don’t shoot the messenger. In this case, the deal is with a third-party merchant selling through the Amazon site. I guarantee you that if these orders are canceled, people will be bad-mouthing Amazon all over the place. Guess what? We didn’t buy from Amazon. We bought from Footsmart. Amazon offers protection in the form of things like not allowing merchants to overcharge you and helping if your items aren’t received, but they can’t force someone to fulfill an order if it’s properly canceled and you aren’t charged. (Likewise, please don’t come yell at me if the deal falls through. Thanks.)
  • There’s always next time. If this deal doesn’t work out, don’t worry. Another one will come along. I promise! I’ve had incredible deals canceled when I didn’t expect them to be, and I’ve gotten orders I was sure would never be honored. That’s part of the fun.
  • It’s not over ’til it’s over. My orders are showing as “completed” in my Amazon account history, but that only means they’ve been turned over to the merchant. My credit card hasn’t been charged yet. If/when I see the charge appear on my card, then I’d say there’s an excellent chance that I have a package coming. But until then, who knows.

Now, sit back, cross your fingers, and let’s all do a little shoe dance. But either way, there’s no point in getting worked up about it. I can’t believe I’m saying this… but… they’re only shoes. And believe it or not, merchants do not exist to make us happy. They have to earn a living, too. So… wait and see, and then move on to the next deal.


  1. “DonÒ€ℒt shoot the messenger.”
    AYE MEN!

  2. My order for three pairs was cancelled, after I received two confirmation e-mails. But thanks for the chance, Mir! I didn’t lose anything but a few minutes of time (and the hunt was very exciting).

  3. well I really don’t need anymore shoes anyway. but it was fun “trying them on” and I am forever filling a cart for fun and never actually putting the order through….kinda like looking through the sears wish book when I was a kid.

  4. You’re not kidding about the adreneline. I seriously needed a cigarette after I placed that order.
    Thanks for the warning re: possible cancelation.
    *fingers crossed*

  5. Am I seriously bargain-impaired or have they switched things around since your link? I can’t find the 1.99 shoes…

  6. You were absolutely right about the possibility of the order being canceled. I just called the customer service at footsmart because i had entered the wrong shipping address (I’m in the middle of moving houses etc and made the mistake)
    Anyway, the customer service agent told me it was a “computer glitch” and there’s no way they can sell shoes for $1.99.
    So we will all be getting all our money back.
    *Sigh* Come to think of it, this probably helps my new year’s resolution of buying what I need when i need versus buying on sale.
    But perhaps i really needed the 13 new pairs of shoes.
    Who knows?

  7. Well I am keeping my fingers crossed. I know in Illinois, if an item is marked at a certain price, it leagally must be sold to you at that price, or the business can be fined heavily.

    About 5 years ago I was browsing for flights on United when all the sudden, my flight to Denver was $25. Round Trip! I booked immediately for myself and our whole party. After I got my confirmation, I called their call center. The rep told me that they wouldn’t honor it, but quickly backpedaled.

    It was the lovliest trip of my life. And I hate to fly.

    I don’t really NEED 8 pairs of shoes…but they’d be nice πŸ™‚

  8. well so far I haven’t heard anything about my order being canceled. They already deducted the amount from my bank account. Ususally AMazon doesn’t do that until the item is actually shipped.

  9. Yeah, I got a confirmation that my credit card has been charged for $14 (for SEVEN pairs of shoes!) so I’m hopeful. But thanks for the warning that it might get canceled. I’d have been royally pissed.

    But I wouldn’t have shot you, Mir. You are far too wise and pretty.

  10. Considering I bought $350 worth of shoes (according to Footsmart’s website) for $13… I wouldn’t be surprised if the order got cancelled… so far, so good! (fingers crossed) πŸ™‚

  11. I managed to get one pair, and they charged my account…I can live without them, but it was the most fun thing that I did today!!
    Thanks….keep up the good work.

  12. So does it count as the same incredible deal if I also bought another pair of boots that I have been wanting for a long time, just so I could say I got two pairs of shoes and a pair of boots for under $60?

  13. I missed it, but FYI for everyone who had their credit card charged… Legally they are not allowed to bill your credit card until they ship an item. Pretty sure this is ubiquitous and not a state thing (I work for an accounting software manufacturer). Even if it’s not illegal, it is definitely against their agreement with Visa and MasterCard and they would be subject to a fine of $10,000 for each infringement (wow, I guess there really was a reason I had to read the 200 page VISA Net spec!)
    Sooo, if they try to back out, I think you would be in pretty good position to bully them into honoring the purchase.

  14. All very good points, pretty Mir. I’ve been on the bad side of this problem before (working for a company where a bad computer glitch caused pricing to be off by hundreds/thousands of dollars) and every customer starts screaming “bait and switch.” Yes, I hated it for them, too, but one thing these hundreds of customers needed to understand is if the company had honored the pricing that showed up due to some computer error, the company would have been out of business. Trust me, no company wants to be the subject of all that ill-will from customers, but going out of business due to losses isn’t going to do them (or their employees) any good either. It’s just a sucky situation all the way around, for customers and the company.

  15. and it is over. now written on the bottom of my order from amazon:
    Erroneous pricing of $1.99 on all FootSmart products was inadvertently transmitted to Amazon, which requires FootSmart to cancel your order. We sincerely apologize for this matter and hope to serve you again in the future. FootSmart Customer Care

  16. too bad for all the neg feedback left behind. It seemed like a good company. I hope it doesn’t cost any innocent people their jobs just because some people were irrate on account of they didn’t get away with taking advantage of an obvious pricing error.(yes, admit it, we all KNEW it had to be a mistake) And the negs are really blown up, the response I got seemed very courteous and the refund was prompt, the charge never went any further than pending on my account. But thanks for the tip anyway beautiful, smart Mir. There. I said it. And I am taking a bow to you too πŸ™‚ I do so enjoy all your tips!

  17. I just got my refund notice. I’ve decided to look at it this way: “Woohoo! I just saved $21.87 for 9 pairs of shoes that I really didn’t need. I’m going to click on the Doctors without Borders ad on the left here and donate the $21.87 to someone who does need it.” Win-win.

  18. …but I did really lust after all those shoes…

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