A sister retailer of shoe megastore Zappos.com confirmed on Friday that a mistake in their price engine had all products on offer capped at $49.95 for about six hours, from midnight to 6am PST. After learning of the mistake the site was taken offline for a brief period and later reestablished with correct pricing information.
What makes the story more interesting is that the online retailer in question, called 6pm.com, will be honoring all transactions in spite of the evident financial losses, which they claim amount to a staggering $1.6 million. Zappos uses customer service as one of its key differentiators and that seems to have paid off well, as it's considered to be the biggest online shoe store with over a billion dollars in sales last year (when it was acquired by a little-known company called Amazon).
Zappos claims a high percentage of its sales come from repeated customers, and that growth is being driven by word of mouth. Recently they have also received a boost from viral marketing and social mediums like Twitter. This last piece might suggest that this could be a marketing ploy, albeit to the tune of over a million dollars that sounds a bit desperate.