UK businesses that rely on a third party pricing system on Amazon were hit by an hour-long software glitch on Friday night, with items being sold for just 1p. Some retailers complained that RepricerExpress’s technical cockup, which happened between 7pm and 8pm on 12 December, could leave them bankrupt. A number of small businesses took to Twitter to remind consumers that their livelihoods were at stake as a result of the loopy glitch.
Christmas is a time of giving but, as far as retailers are concerned, it isn’t necessarily a time of giving away. Yet on Saturday, some UK-based retailers were aghast as their wares were suddenly being sold on Amazon for one penny. No, this wasn’t an attempt by Amazon to wipe out a recalcitrant book publisher or diaper maker. Instead, it was an alleged glitch that affected some of those on Amazon’s Marketplace who used the Repricer Express function. This, Repricer Express boasts on its site, is “trusted by more than 2,025 happy Amazon sellers across eight international markets.” The service automatically changes the price on items to ensure that retailers are competitive with similar wares online. However, as Sky News reports, some UK retailers began to see that the word competitive had been taken to dire extremes. Some items were for sale at a penny. This all happened between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, when so much Christmas shopping was being done.