— Balenciaga (@BALENCIAGA) March 26, 2015
Very happy designer handbag lovers thought it was Christmas in April when they looked online last Thursday and saw Balenciaga purses selling for a fraction of their usual price. Merchandise that would usually go for as much as $1,900 were priced as low as $195.
Of course, word spread and the shopping spree started.
But this sale was a mistake. There was a glitch on Balenciaga.com that lowered the prices.
We’ve seen this happen before with airline tickets. Flights that would normally cost hundreds appear online for rock bottom prices. All of a sudden, you need to go to Tampa. But in this case, unlike the airlines that have in the past honored the accidental tickets, Balenciaga will not be filling the orders with the wrong prices.
In a statement today, the fashion label said:
“Due to an issue with Balenciaga.com for orders placed within the United States, signature Balenciaga products were made available for a limited time with incorrectly listed prices. Balenciaga will not be able to fulfill orders placed through our e-commerce platform during the time of the pricing error. Balenciaga regrets any inconvenience that this may have caused to its valued clients. Because Balenciaga values their patronage, clients who have been affected by the error will be reimbursed for their purchases and will be issued a gift certificate that will be redeemable at Balenciaga retail locations within the United States. Balenciaga customer service will contact each person individually with information on the gift certificate process.”
When the label realized that the lowered prices were on the site, they cancelled the orders and brought down the site to fix it.
Certainly there are a lot of angry customers out there who feel like the company should hold up their end of the bargain and send those once-lucky people their discount bags. The question is whether the brand is harmed by refusing to do so. And the answer is no.
For airlines, there are other carriers that passengers can choose to travel with. Multiple airlines go to the same places, most of them offer the same lousy service. Many people are searching for the lowest price, period. So if they don’t honor their mistake, out of principle, customers will go elsewhere, which is bad for the bottom line.
But these bags are exclusive to Balenciaga. People are willing to pay a premium because they are a status symbol, a highly-coveted item, and a fashion statement. Balenciaga doesn’t care if bargain hunters will take their $200 elsewhere. They don’t want $200. They want $2,000. If you can’t afford to purchase it at full price, the label really doesn’t care either way.
So while it isn’t the best PR — and certainly it’s bad customer service — the label can chalk this up to an oopsie daisy, suffer the slings and arrows of angry tweets (we honestly didn’t see any when we took a quick look at the #Balenciaga hashtag), and keep it moving.
Better luck next time shoppers.
Note: The image above is a sample of a Balenciaga bag. This isn’t one of the bags that was labeled with the wrong price. Still cute though.