Did Zappos Really Lose $1.6 Million This Weekend?

zappos ceo.jpg
Would a guy (Zappos CEO Tony Hseih) covered in Chucks lie to you?
Online shoe purveyor Zappos says it lost $1.6 million this weekend because of a pricing error. Online gossip purveyor Gawker says the "error" might be part of a viral marketing campaign. Which online purveyor is purveying the truth? Let's review.

Late Friday night, 6pm.com -- an online discounter owned by Zappos, which is itself owned by Amazon -- accidentally capped the price of all items on its site at $49.99. The unintended sale lasted for six hours, from midnight to 6 a.m., and allegedly cost the company that chunk of change referenced above. A loss it chose to swallow by honoring customer's orders.

Gawker first called bullshit in a post yesterday afternoon, after a reader who claimed to be doing some online shopping during the whoopsie window said they saw items going for more than $49.99. Other readers subsequently pointed to Zappos's original post announcing the mix-up and said the comments had a suspicious "PR guy posing as anonymous customer" ring to them.

Today Zappos CEO Tony Hseih stepped in to clear up the confusion. Explaining in an e-mail that only products sold exclusively by 6pm were capped, which is why the Gawker reader saw some non-exclusive items going for more than the $50 cut-off.

So there you have it: Zappos is an online force for good, not evil. Now if only its parent company would employ the same customer-friendly strategy when it screws up.

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