Amazon Pricing Needed Serious Optimization, As It Sold A $3 Billion Win98 CD-ROM

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A San Mateo, Ca., consumer was browsing Amazon.com and he saw a CD-ROM from the Discovery Channel called Cells. It only supported Mac and Win98 so it's price was a mere $5 million more than $2.9 billion. Yes, this piece of educational software was selling for almost $3 billion, plus $3.99 for shipping. (Geez, how much does Amazon require now for Free Super Saver Shipping?) Just for the fun of it, the consumer—Brian Klug—purchased it. Not only did Amazon's system process the item at the $3 billion charge, but it sent a clean confirmation note. Even the credit card's limit didn't trigger any "this doesn't seem right" alarms. The screen captures of the purchase have been widely posted.

Posted price glitches can happen, even to as sophisticated a site as Amazon. But the fact that it went through a credit card process—the card wasn't charged until the product arrived, but it was verified—and an E-mail confirmation suggests that this glitch is a bigger concern than it might appear.