Update, 2016-05-22: clarification on refunds
Shoppers are outraged after clothing store Mango listed a range of products for R1, before cancelling all orders on those products
On Monday 16 May, at 10am, the store — based in Barcelona, Spain — posted an advertisement to Facebook advertising 50%-off clearance sale on a range of Spring items.
Customers soon realised the products were marked considerably lower than advertised, and ranged anywhere from R1 to R9 per article of clothing.
Around 3pm the next day, customers began receiving cancellation and refund notices from Mango. Upon checking the website, many discovered that all previously heavily discount items now reflected the advertised 50%-off pricing.
Customers were angered by the lack of social media response to complaints, as well as the cancellation email stating: “We advise you to check all the details provided when you placed your order and to try and place the order again at Mango.com.[sic]”
Customers then took to Facebook to further vent their frustrations, which soon spread to Mango’s other social media platform, such as Instagram and Twitter. Those on Twitter created the hashtags #MangoSale and #MangoSaleFail to highlight the issue.
Mango has responded to some email complaints from customers and alleged the pricing was due to a “technical issue on our website.”
While some vented about the lack of any social media response from Mango, others began to dig through the store’s terms and conditions as well as the South African Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
As one customer, Ro Paddock, told Memeburn via an email exchange: “I have also looked through their T’s&C’s and there is no mention of Errors and omissions excepted (E&OEE) or anything stating that they can cancel orders “just because”.[sic]”
Another Mango customer, Ryan Jonathan, also told Memeburn via an email exchange that the terms and conditions page has been updated since yesterday’s sale. These changes consist of the removal of South Africa from section 3.1. Availability of service and the addition of section 3.5. Refusal of order.
The original terms and conditions page is cached on Google here.
As Jonathan points out on Facebook, the store may be protected by the CPA.
“The seller is covered by a list of clauses where he/she is not liable to sell the product at the displayed price if the advertisement was an obvious error as well as if the advertisement was corrected and the mistake addressed to the public (They have not done this yet),” writes Jonathan.
A similar issue appeared in 2015 when South African Airways (SAA) listed and sold airline tickets well below their standard price. The Johannesburg to to Abu Dhabi business class tickets were valued at over R30 000, but were sold for R858.
In an article about SAA, published on Times Live, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says companies are protected by the CPA under the right circumstances.
“If a price as displayed contains an inadvertent and obvious error, the supplier is not bound by it after correcting the error in the displayed price; and taking reasonable steps to inform consumers to whom the erroneous price may have been displayed of the error and the correct price,” she writes.
Memeburn contacted Knowler about the Mango incident, as well as consumer columnist for the Sunday Times, Megan Power, but neither were able to provide comment on the matter.
Memeburn has reached out to Mango for comment on the issue, but as of publication has yet to respond to our requests.
We will continue to update the article as more information becomes available.