Watch For Falling Prices

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carpe_diem11 had a pricing snafu on its website this morning where some items were marked down ridiculously low and others were marked ridiculously high.

Popular video game Grand Theft Auto V was marked down to $18 and had sold out. Many toys and books and other items were marked down as much as 85 percent.

I overheard a co-worker mention it. It generated some office buzz. We got online and laughed at some of the prices, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures priced at $369.99.

There was either a glitch on the back end of’s web pricing, or someone hacked the site.

The Opportunist

I’ve never read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. It was on sale for $3.05. I put it in my online shopping cart. My favorite novelist’s new book—Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt—is set to release on December 2. It was on sale for $3.05 as well, plus free shipping.

I plugged in my debit card info and ordered both books. $11 with a small shipping charge for the Gladwell book.

Boom. Savviest purchase ever.

I texted a couple people about it encouraging them to take advantage, knowing full well this was a pricing mistake and that Walmart was losing money each and every time someone ordered something at these prices.

Is this who I want to be?

Is it okay to do what I did this morning?

Let’s discuss.

The It’s-Wrong Argument

Of course it’s not okay.

It’s fundamentally no different than a bank truck getting in a freeway accident, having the bank’s money flying all over the road, and being one of the people who snatches up as much of it as possible and drives away.

I KNEW Walmart wasn’t having a special sale. The evidence was obvious. There was a glitch. A mistake. There was even the possibility that some rogue hacker had caused this, and here I was trying to capitalize on it. Near as I can tell, I swindled Walmart out of about $30 by ordering those two books this morning.

Would I ever walk into a Walmart (*shudder*) and just steal $30 worth of goods? Not a chance.

So, why did I think this was okay? Why was my instinct to jump all over what I saw as an opportunity to capitalize on the misfortune of others?

The It’s-Perfectly-Fine, Walmart-is-the-Retail-Satan Argument

Of course it’s okay.

Fuck Walmart.

They’ve been using brute force and high-volume buying power to put competition out of business for years. Little mom-and-pop shops all over the United States and presumably other countries are just shutting down because Walmart’s bean counters decided they could turn a huge profit by opening a new store in a particular location.

It’s a small-business death knell—the news of a massive discount retailer moving into town. At least for any small business that sells similar wares as Walmart. And Walmart sells an awful lot of stuff.

Walmart makes all of its money doing EXACTLY what I did this morning. Jumping at an opportunity to get more for less.

The Final Analysis

I don’t really know how I feel about it. My guilt meter isn’t exactly going off the charts right now.

In fact, my co-worker JUST came back from Walmart where she’d ordered some things at huge discounts and Walmart refused to honor the purchases she’d scheduled for in-store pickup. They canceled the orders. My co-worker didn’t argue with them, she said.

In my case, I asked for my books to be delivered to my house. I even paid the delivery fee for one of them. It will be interesting to see whether Walmart treats my order differently as a result.

I don’t particularly care either way, but in the end, I’d like to see my books show up on my porch one of these days.

I’ll pick up the package. I’ll smile. Hell yeah, I’ll think. I just got a good deal.

Then, you know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to read Gladwell’s Outliers. Then I’m going to spend 10,000 hours doing something.

And a decade from now?

I’m going to be so rad at something, you’re not even going to be able to recognize me.

I’ll be tall and rich and smart and funny and getting laid and happy. Everyone’s going to be like: “Hey Matt! You’re so amazing and happy and sexually active! How ever did you pull off this magnificent life!?!?”

And I’ll say: “, baby. A glitch in The Matrix. I seized opportunity.”

They won’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

But you will.

Carpe Diem.

10 thoughts on “Watch For Falling Prices”

  1. If you knew you could talk to the person who could correct it, you probably would. Still, to Walmart, this is the equivalent of you dropping a nickel on the sidewalk. They goofed and it’s their responsibility to solve it. Nobody owes you the nickel you dropped.

    1. I’ve found a $20 bill on the ground before. With absolutely no one around to give it to. So, I pocketed it.

      I think it’s in the same moral color zone.

      Decent chance they don’t honor the sale anyway. We’ll see soon enough, I guess.

  2. Haha this book will make you tall, eh? Nice! I listened to an audiobook narrated by some British dude and he had a lot to say on this subject and the morality of such decisions but I can’t remember the name of the book nor his final conclusion so I’ll just say.. Walmart = Not worth losing sleep over.

    1. I’ll be the tallest and sexiest man in the world when the dust from this situation finally settles a decade from now.

      It’s foolproof!

  3. Trying to feel some sympathy for the Mega- Beast that is Wally World…..Nope. Nothing. =)
    How is it I’ve never heard of Michael Connelly? We seem to have similar tastes so I will have to give him a try. I heard they fixed the glitch, though, so I will have to pay more than $3.05 plus s&h.

    1. Connelly is a former L.A. Times crime beat writer. He writes the best police procedural and legal thrillers, in my opinion. He’s fantastic. His characters are real and just–human. Which is how I like them.

      Lots of reoccurring characters. So you learn to love them.

      It’s perfect. I hope you’ll give him a try.

  4. I am not the only person in the world who genuinely uses the word ‘snafu’. Hallelujah. I sincerely hope the books make it to the porch, it was a good deal.

    1. Ha! They will not! Walmart sent me a: “Sorry sucka, we don’t honor pricing even when it is our fault” email last night.

      So, I tried to take advantage of them.

      They provided bad customer service.

      And now we’re even!

  5. Pingback: Watch For Falling Prices, Vol. 2 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

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