When is a deal so good… it’s cheating?

Cookie hacking, glitches... is it all fair game?

A couple of tips came in on Wednesday morning from a few surprised guys pointing to the Jos. A. Bank website.

The Allen Edmonds “Nathan” Shoe, basically the 5th Ave, was on sale for $39.98.

Forty. Dollars.

Put an order in? Sure… why not?  But something wasn’t right. That deal was just way too good to be true. When Jos. A. Bank realized that something was amiss (it was a “glitch”), they started to cancel some orders. Yet some people heard from customer service that some orders might end up getting fulfilled (See Joe C. and Sweyn V. over here).

But should they really have had to fulfill any of those orders?

Haven’t we all made a simple mistake, a typo, or crossed a wire a few times in our lives that led to a serious misunderstanding?

And was this really a misunderstanding at all? $40 for a pair of Allen Edmonds, all sizes available, in three shades?

Forget the goody-two-shoes/do unto others side of this debate. What about not killing the goose laying them golden eggs? (And no, Jos. A. Bank isn’t a goose many of us take a gander at all that often, but stay with me here…)

Take the practice of adjusting, or hacking cookies in order to get a higher % off code. This can happen during “mystery deal” or select-customer sales. A retailer sends out an email blast, you click through to their site, and you get a pop up notification of either 30% off, 40% off, or if you’re lucky, 50% off your order. Someone pretty damn clever figured out that the level of discount was triggered by a signal within the guts of your web browser. And to get that greater discount, you could adjust the “cookie” responsible for that signal, and get the 50%.

That fair game?

And if it is, if you were a retailer… would you keep running those sales?

In a way, expecting the fulfillment of a deal that’s too good to be true is a little like always using your DVR to watch TV. If you have a favorite, can’t-miss show, yet you always set your DVR and wait 20 minutes until after it’s started so you can skip the commercials… aren’t you killing what you love?

Hunting for a good deal is great. Being a smart consumer is… smart. But game the system, and a chilling effect might cause the attrition of otherwise decent, plentiful promotions, since retailers now have to make up the financial ground they’ve lost to the every-so-often “glitch”.

The problem is, where do you draw the line?

Top Photo Credit.