Businesses are furious after a piece of software used by retailers on Amazon went wrong, causing hundreds of items to be sold for 1p.Some firms which use RepricerExpress say they risk going bankrupt because the problem has resulted in them losing so much money.
The software is designed to keep businesses competitive by automatically repricing items of stock so they are cheaper than others in the digital market.
The firm states on its website: “We are here to increase your sales on Amazon and Rakuten’s Play.com and make your efforts as profitable as possible.”
For an hour on Friday, between 7pm and 8pm, a problem with RepricerExpress led to hundreds of items being sold on Amazon at a fraction of their normal price. At the same time, some customers said, Amazon charged its usual fees for every item sold.
One of the sellers, Judith Blackford of Kiddymania, told Sky News she could be forced out of business as result of the error.
She said: “I started using Repricer Express – a repricing tool as did a lot of other businesses a few months ago.
“Last night through an error in their programme they listed my stock on Amazon at 1p per item including delivery.
“I have lost about £20,000 overnight. Having asked Amazon to cancel the orders they are still sending them out and charging me horrendous fees.
“Surely someone has to be accountable for this. I will be bankrupt at this rate by the end of January.”
Another online trader Belle thinks her company, which sells toys and games, will lose around £30,000 and she will probably be put out of business.
She told Sky News: “It’s disgusting really because this third party software, that is their business, this should not have happened, this is 2014.
“We have to pay for this software every month, we’ve been using it for 18 months no problem.
“At the busiest time – this was predicted to be our busiest weekend of Christmas – turnover is zero.”
As a result of the error, several buyers commented on Twitter at how pleased they were to have bought the items for so little.
One person wrote: “Amazon are having a glitch on their site and loads of stuff is selling for 1p. I just bought an incense holder, don’t even need it.”
An email to some customers from the CEO of RepricerExpress, Brendan Doherty, said the problems with the software caused incorrect pricing to be sent to Amazon.
A statement on the company’s website from Mr Doherty said: “I am truly sorry for the distress this has caused our customers.
“We have received communication that Amazon will not penalise sellers for this error. We are continuing to work to identify how this problem occurred and to put measures in place to ensure that it does not happen again.
“Everyone here is devastated and disappointed that you have experienced this problem.
“We understand that you are angry and upset and we will endeavour to work to make good on this issue.”
A spokesman for Amazon said: “We are aware that a number of Marketplace sellers listed incorrect prices for a short period of time as a result of the third party software they use to price their items on Amazon.co.uk.
“We responded quickly and were able to cancel the vast majority of orders placed on these affected items immediately and no costs or fees will be incurred by sellers for these cancelled orders.
“We are now reviewing the small number of orders that were processed and will be reaching out to any affected sellers directly.”