Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Amazon Comic Book Price Glitch of 2010 - Marvel Omnibus Sale Madness!!!

If you're a comic book fan then the past few days have probably been the strangest, most hopeful yet disappointing in your entire life!  That is to say, if you were one of the lucky folks who put in an order over the weekend at Amazon during the price glitch sale of the century.  It's been such an interesting ride I have to share my experiences (for posterity if nothing else).

Sat. 10:00pm - I'm online and decide to check out Amazon to see if any new omnibuses are listed for pre-order.  My search results show an astounding $14.99 price for about 85% of the Marvel omnibuses and I'm completely floored.  After more searching I notice almost all the Marvel (and even Icon) books are all listed at the same low price (hardcovers and trade paperbacks alike).  It's unbelievable and I assume Amazon is having a massive clearance sale.  I check the DC absolute editions to see if they're on sale, but no good. 

Sat. 10:36pm - Adrenaline pumping I order a big list of omnibuses I've had my eye on for quite a while including a few pre-orders and one Icon book.  After placing the order I search the site for any mention of a clearance sale or promotion to no avail.  Chalking it up to dumb luck I settle in to a peaceful slumber.  Below is my order:

Order Summary:
Shipping Method: FREE Super Saver Shipping
Shipping Preference: Group my items into as few shipments as possible
Subtotal of Items: $224.85
Shipping & Handling: $17.85
Super Saver Discount: -$17.85
Shipping estimate for these items: March 26, 2010 - April 5, 2010

1 "Fantastic Four Omnibus, Vol. 1 (v. 1)"
Stan Lee; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Civil War"
Mark Millar; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "The X-Men Omnibus, Vol. 1"
Stan Lee; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1"
Stan Lee; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Secret Wars Omnibus"
Jim Shooter; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Wolverine Omnibus, Vol. 1"
Chris Claremont; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Golden Age Marvel Comics Omnibus Volume 1 HC Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic Cover"
John Compton; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "The Ultimates Omnibus"
Mark Millar; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Daredevil Omnibus, Vol. 1"
Ed Brubaker; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "The Death of Captain America Omnibus"
Ed Brubaker; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Omnibus, Vol. 2"
Brian Michael Bendis; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Criminal (Deluxe Edition)"
Ed Brubaker; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1"
Matt Fraction; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Howard The Duck Omnibus"
Steve Gerber; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Tomb Of Dracula Omnibus Volume 1 HC Variant (v. 1)"
Gerry Conway; Hardcover; $14.99

Sun. 12:00pm - I check back on Amazon and notice their top 10 sellers in books are all omnibuses from Marvel, but now the price is $8.24.  It's too good to be true and I begin to suspect an error.  My guess is they're system automatically discounts top 100 books to capitalize on popular sellers (hey, it's their business model).  Selling these omnibuses at this insanely low price can't be profitable, but I go with it.  I perform a quick web search for news on the pricing and just get sites extolling the amazing sale at Amazon.  The first site with the news appears to be Bleeding Cool (http://www.bleedingcool.com/2010/03/07/the-great-amazon-14-99-graphic-novel-sell-off-of-2010/).

Sun. 1:08pm - I can't resist placing another order at these unholy prices, but decide to tempt fate by ordering multiples.  I originally ordered only one of each and then changed the quantities in the shopping cart to 10 each to test the theory.  It worked for a few, but many had purchase limits of 3.  Strangely the purchase limits dropped from 3 to 2 for some when I finally placed the order. 

Order Summary:
Shipping Method: FREE Super Saver Shipping
Shipping Preference: Group my items into as few shipments as possible
Subtotal of Items: $311.63
Shipping & Handling: $39.63
Super Saver Discount: -$39.63
Pre-order Guarantee: -$0.00
Delivery estimate: We need a little more time to provide you with a good estimate. We'll notify you via e-mail as soon as we have an estimated delivery date. You can cancel at any time.

3 "Fantastic Four Omnibus, Vol. 1 (v. 1)"
Stan Lee; Hardcover; $8.24
5 "The Incredible Hulk Omnibus, Vol. 1 (v. 1)"
Stan Lee; Hardcover; $8.24
2 "The X-Men Omnibus, Vol. 1"
Stan Lee; Hardcover; $8.24
10 "Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1"
Stan Lee; Hardcover; $8.24
2 "Secret Wars Omnibus"
Jim Shooter; Hardcover; $8.24
2 "Wolverine Omnibus, Vol. 1"
Chris Claremont; Hardcover; $8.24
2 "The Ultimates Omnibus"
Mark Millar; Hardcover; $8.24
10 "Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Omnibus, Vol. 2"
Brian Michael Bendis; Hardcover; $8.24
1 "The Marshal Law Omnibus"
Pat Mills; Hardcover; $14.99

Sun. 1:31pm - Received an email from Amazon giving delivery date estimates for my second order.  So far so good.

Sun. 2:00pm - I check back at Bleeding cool finding a thread (http://www.bleedingcool.com/forums/showthread.php?13798-Official-It-s-A-Glitch-And-It-s-Being-Fixed) talking about the Amazon glitch and speculating on the cause.  It's believed Diamond Book Distributors had an error in either upload or linking to Amazon's site which caused the price discrepancy.  The glitch was being fixed and checked the Amazon site confirming many (not all) of the omnibuses were back to their regular pricing.

Sun. 3:24pm - Tempting fate again I place an order for high-price hardcovers with 'glitch' prices. 

Order Summary:
Shipping Method: FREE Super Saver Shipping
Shipping Preference: Group my items into as few shipments as possible
Subtotal of Items: $239.84
Shipping & Handling: $18.84
Super Saver Discount: -$18.84
Pre-order Guarantee: -$0.00

Shipping estimate for these items: May 18, 2010 - July 7, 2010
1 "X-Men: Supernovas"
Mike Carey; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1: Rise & Fall of the Shi'ar Empire"
Ed Brubaker; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Annihilation: Conquest, Book 2 (Bk. 2)"
Javier Grillo-Marxuach; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "X-Men: Messiah Complex"
Mike Carey; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Ultimate X-Men, Vol. 8 (v. 8)"
Robert Kirkman; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Annihilation Classic HC"
Todd Dezago; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Avengers: First To Last Premiere HC (The Avengers)"
Peter David; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Avengers Forever"
Kurt Busiek; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "House Of M: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four & X-Men HC"
Mark Waid; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "House Of M: Wolverine, Iron Man & Hulk HC"
Greg Pak; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man, Thor & Captain America"
Michael Avon Oeming; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "Hulk: Green Hulk/Red Hulk HC (Incredible Hulk)"
Jeph Loeb; Hardcover; $14.99
1 "X-Men: Asgardian Wars"
Chris Claremont; Hardcover; $14.99

Shipping estimate for these items: June 1, 2010
1 "House Of M: No More Mutants HC"
David Hine; Hardcover; $14.99

Shipping estimate for these items: June 7, 2010
1 "X-Force, Vol. 1"
Craig Kyle; Hardcover; $14.99

Shipping estimate for these items: August 9, 2010
1 "X-Men: Inferno Crossovers HC"
Various; Hardcover; $14.99

Sun. Evening - I continue to read discussion threads online (mostly at Bleeding Cool, but also one at Byrne Robotics) to discover as much as I could about speculation on the glitch.  By now almost all of Amazon's prices were back to normal and many (me included) were waiting with baited breath for cancellation notices.  I try to sleep, but have trouble as thoughts of a 50+ lbs box crammed full of omnibuses being delivered to my doorstep continually run through my mind!

Mon. Morning - I awaken with a start and frantically check my cell phone for new emails.  Curses!!  I have 11 emails from Amazon delivered during the wee hours of Monday morning.  Impatiently I boot up my computer and check my inbox.  It appears Amazon has prepared their response to the price glitch and I read the first email expecting cancellation.  What I get instead is a polite update talking about an error and reset of multiple quantity orders being reset to honor one item at the incorrect price.  Hope springs eternal as I prepare for work completely satisfied with my orders and incredible luck!!!  I expect a deal has been made between Amazon and Diamond whereas Diamond will eat the cost of the error (pure speculation on my part).  Emails all sent between 12:00-12:30am Monday morning.

Hello,

We're contacting you about order #. Unfortunately, we recently discovered that an error caused the following item(s) to be displayed at an incorrect price:

The X-Men Omnibus, Vol. 1

At any given time, despite our best efforts, a small number of the millions of items on our site may be mispriced. However, this was our mistake, and we'll honor the incorrect price for one of the items you ordered. We're unable to honor the price for multiple quantities of this item. Therefore, we've adjusted the quantity of your order to "1." We're sorry for the disappointing news.

The correct price is listed on our website now, so if you'd like to place another order for more of this item, you can do so here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/[ASIN]/

We value your business and hope to see you again soon.

Sincerely,

Customer Service Department
Amazon.com

Please note: this e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply to this message.

Mon. 11:32am - First shipping notification arrives:

The following items have been shipped to you by Amazon.com:
Amazon.com items (Sold by Amazon.com, LLC):
1 X-Men: Supernovas $14.99
1 Hulk: Green Hulk/Red Hulk ... $14.99
1 X-Men: Asgardian Wars $14.99

Mon. 12:11pm - Second shipping notification arrives:

The following items have been shipped to you by Amazon.com:
Amazon.com items (Sold by Amazon.com, LLC):
1 Annihilation: Conquest, Bo... $14.99
1 Ultimate X-Men, Vol. 8 (v.... $14.99
1 Annihilation Classic HC $14.99
1 Avengers: First To Last Pr... $14.99

Mon. 12:35pm - I notice all of the omnibuses in my orders are going to take 1-2 weeks to ship.  The items in stock from my third order have begun shipping and I continue crossing my fingers for the rest of the day.  Online speculation about the situation abounds and many comment on the quantity change emails notices.  Most are very satisfied and actually happy that the folks buying multiple copies to sell on ebay are deterred from karmic retribution.
 
Mon. 7:37pm - Third shipping notification arrives:
 
The following items have been shipped to you by Amazon.com:
Amazon.com items (Sold by Amazon.com, LLC):
1 Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1: Rise... $14.99
1 House Of M: Spider-Man, Fa... $14.99
1 House Of M: Wolverine, Iro...

Mon. Late Evening - The day has passed without an outright cancellation and the promise of at least one copy (which is more than generous) of each book ordered.  As I drift off to sleep pleasant thoughts such as donating to Chile earthquake relief and donating clothing to the Goodwill drift through my untroubled mind. 

Tues. 2:08-2:09am - Fourth and fifth shipping notifications arrive:

The following items have been shipped to you by Amazon.com:
Amazon.com items (Sold by Amazon.com, LLC):
1 Civil War $14.99

The following items have been shipped to you by Amazon.com:
Amazon.com items (Sold by Amazon.com, LLC):
1 Daredevil by Brian Michael... $14.99
1 Criminal (Deluxe Edition) $14.99

Tues. 7:00am - I wake up to find the additional shipping notifications for in stock items.  Quick check on Bleeding Cool raises some alarms as people report receiving cancellation notices.  Nothing yet as I head to work.

Tues. 11:17am - Sixth shipping notification arrives:

The following items have been shipped to you by Amazon.com:
Amazon.com items (Sold by Amazon.com, LLC):
1 Invincible Iron Man Omnibu... $14.99

Tues. 12:00pm - Home for lunch break and arrive to find first package on doorstep.  Giddy with elation I open it to find the perfect contents of the first shipment.  It all finally seems real.  Quick check on Amazon shows no open orders.  My unshipped items have just vanished from the site. 

Tues. 12:20-12:21pm - Cancellation emails arrive confirming suspicion that unshipped items have been removed.  I read the emails (two which are exactly the same, similar to a double-tap to the head) with dismay and return to work with hopes slightly dashed.

Hello,

Our records indicate you recently ordered 'Fantastic Four Omnibus, Vol. 1 (v. 1) The X-Men Omnibus, Vol. 1 Howard The Duck Omnibus Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 Secret Wars Omnibus Tomb Of Dracula Omnibus Volume 1 HC Variant (v. 1) Wolverine Omnibus, Vol. 1 Golden Age Marvel Comics Omnibus Volume 1 HC Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic Cover The Ultimates Omnibus Daredevil Omnibus, Vol. 1 The Death of Captain America Omnibus
X-Men: Messiah Complex
Avengers Forever
House Of M: No More Mutants HC
Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man, Thor & Captain America X-Force, Vol. 1
X-Men: Inferno Crossovers HC
The Incredible Hulk Omnibus, Vol. 1 (v. 1) Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Omnibus, Vol. 2 The Marshal Law Omnibus'. Unfortunately, due to a pricing error, we sold many more than expected. In fact, we completely sold out — we don't have any in stock right now, and we're not even sure if we'll be able to get more.

As a result, we've had to cancel your order. I realize this is disappointing news, and I'm so sorry for any inconvenience this causes.

You may want to check our website from time to time to see if this item is available. If anyone is selling it, you'll see a "More Buying Choices" box on the product detail page; if it's not available from any sellers, you might see an "Order it used" or "Alert me" link. "Order it used" allows you to place a pre-order for the item in case another seller lists the item for sale later. "Alert me" allows you to sign up so we can e-mail you when Amazon has stock available for purchase.

I'm sorry I don't have better news. We hope to see you again soon.

Tues. Evening  - I return home and begin researching again.  Bleeding Cool threads include comments by members successful in negotiating with Amazon customer service to get full or partial honoring of their 'glitch' orders.  Method was to point out pre-order pricing guarantee and in-stock status on some items.  I prepare to do the same until I notice Amazon has completely pulled their sales offerings for all of the items (DC absolutes remain untouched and woefully overpriced).  Many reported getting omnibuses processed and shipped which makes me think Amazon possibly did honor their one item quantity notice - until their stock ran out.  It's obvious they're in damage control mode right now and figuring the next move.  Until

Now - I write this report to chronicle an experience during this fateful event in the history of comics.  Where were you during the $14.99 omnibus glitch sale at Amazon?