Dell apologizes for price mishaps, shuts Taiwan Web sales

Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission could fine Dell up to NT$25 million over the issue

Dell apologized Wednesday for online pricing snafus that have hit its Web sales in Taiwan over the past week, and moved to settle the issue as the island's Fair Trade Commission launched a probe.

The world's second-largest PC vendor has also shut down sales on its Taiwan Web site until it can clear up the issue.

Two major online pricing problems have hit Dell's Taiwan Web site in less than a week, prompting strong responses from the island's consumer protection watchdog and the launch of an investigation by the Fair Trade Commission.

Should the Fair Trade Commission find violations of fair trade laws in Taiwan, Dell could be subjected to a fine of up to NT$25 million (US$759,000), an official said Wednesday.

Dell was ordered last week by Taiwan's Consumer Protection Commission to make good on sales from an online pricing error and deliver 19-inch LCD monitors to local consumers for NT$500 (US$15.26). On Sunday, the company's Taiwan Web site ran into a new problem, offering Dell Latitude E4300 laptop PCs that normally cost NT$69,000 (US$2,101.34) for just NT$18,500 (US$563.40). In both cases, tens of thousands of orders were made by consumers.

The transactions have all been cancelled.

In a statement, Dell said the causes of the two errors were different, but did not elaborate.

"To avoid further confusion to our customers and to facilitate further investigation Dell has made the difficult decision to close our Taiwan online store," the company said.

Dell has offered consumers who purchased a mispriced Dell Latitude E4300 a coupon worth NT$20,000 good for use on its online store when it resumes operations.

In the earlier case, Dell offered customers that had ordered LCD monitors at erroneous prices up to two NT$1,000 discount certificates good for purchases on www.dell.com.tw, and NT$3,000 coupons to people who had purchased laptop or desktop computers at misprinted prices.

"Dell is going to contact affected customers as soon as possible to inform them in detail of how the coupons should be used and to make refunds as quickly as possible," the statement says. "It is Dell's hope that the courtesy coupons demonstrate Dell's respect for its customers and to apologize for any inconvenience caused."

The company is working with the Consumer Protection Commission, Fair Trade Commission and other Taiwan government agencies to resolve this issue.

Dell is also a major customer for Taiwanese technology companies. The U.S. PC vendor spends over US$10 billion a year on Taiwanese computer parts and contract manufacturing services.

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Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service

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