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Its a bizarre question to ask at a time when social unrest and thieving are dominating the news wires and headlines.

I was, like many others, quietly surfing through internet cycling forums when I saw the various threads kicking off about a pricing error at Oakley’s custom website.

I am not even sure why, but I was on it like a flash building my dream pair of matt black Jawbones with transitions lens option. After saying to the wife “they will never honour these orders” I clicked speculatively and like a number of other people waited.
At that point the adrenaline was kicking in. For others whose stories you can read on various other cycling websites, the buzz was stronger, ordering as many as 5 pairs of customised sunglasses for more than 50% off the price.

The wait then started, first the orders were cancelled and then they were re-honoured at the discounted price. The furore on Facebook when Oakley cancelled everyone’s order and the bad PR had caused them to back down and my Jawbones were legit and delivered.

And then a bit of conscience kicked in… what if the person responsible at Oakley had lost their job as a result of hordes of cyclists (and others, granted) jumping online and exacerbating their error?

Watching the looting on TV last week didn’t help me feel any better. Had my actions in jumping online to get a bargain and beat the big corporation been similar in their origins (although far less serious in violent consequence of course)?

I am not sure how I feel to be honest. I am pleased with the glasses and more than happy to pay the discounted price, which as many people have pointed out will probably still offer Oakley a hefty profit on the deal.

But I am not sure what picture it paints of us as a group in this bargain voucher driven culture if we can get alerted to a mistake by a company.

What does it say about cyclists? Opportunists or greedy?
 

James has been blogging for road.cc for 5 years and racing bicycles (averagely) for 20 years. 

21 comments

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Tony Farrelly [2856 posts] 4 years ago
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Honestly JTC don't beat yourself up on this one. I'm making a slightly educated guess here that the amount of margin built in to a pair of Oakley Jawbones will still see Oakley making a profit even at 50 per cent off (especially if they are selling them direct).

Some of the best brains in the industry work for Oakley, you have to be on top of your game to work with Unobtanium after all, who's to say this wasn't all some cunning marketing stunt.

As to what it says about cyclists… well, they are products of the society they live in, same as everyone else.

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riddoch [23 posts] 4 years ago
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You are now going to feel even more guilty, oakley have shipped them free of charge. If the have charged you let their customer service manager know and he'll arrange a refund.

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Bez [587 posts] 4 years ago
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Selling law is designed so that it's absolutely fine to place the order and fine for Oakley not to honour it if they choose not to. It's all right and proper to place an order, and would have been all right and proper for Oakley not to sell at those prices. It's legal, above board and incomparable to looting an Oakley store. No-one would have lost their job because there was no way they'd directly caused the goods to be sold at low prices - just orders to be placed.

There should be no guilt in making an "offer to treat" as it legally is. But kudos to Oakley for doing what they did (even if it was only because their payment system bungled the process and resulted in some people having cards cancelled or overcharged).

I actually didn't realise the discount was so much when I ordered. I've got several pairs dating back to 1994 but they've evidently gone up a fair bit since I last bought any..!

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riddoch [23 posts] 4 years ago
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What I thought was nice was the number of people who made charitable donations.

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James Warrener [1080 posts] 4 years ago
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riddoch wrote:

You are now going to feel even more guilty, oakley have shipped them free of charge. If the have charged you let their customer service manager know and he'll arrange a refund.

No charge yet, but I was expecting one to to go through. Maybe not now then.

Charity is a great idea.

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Mawsley [3 posts] 4 years ago
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I see no difference between this and thieving rioters, selfish people leaping upon an opportunity to lavish themselves with pointless consumer stuff.

Feel guilty? Good, because it shows I'm right. And you know it.

Yes, someone will have paid the price of this mistake and random people claiming it could have been a marketing ploy are doing nothing more than covering their own guilt.

Cyclists really disappoint me on a frequent basis.

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the_mikey [156 posts] 4 years ago
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I'm filled with a bucket load of 'meh'.

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James Warrener [1080 posts] 4 years ago
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Mawsley wrote:

I see no difference between this and thieving rioters, selfish people leaping upon an opportunity to lavish themselves with pointless consumer stuff.

Feel guilty? Good, because it shows I'm right. And you know it.

Yes, someone will have paid the price of this mistake and random people claiming it could have been a marketing ploy are doing nothing more than covering their own guilt.

Cyclists really disappoint me on a frequent basis.

That's cleared it up then...

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PzychotropicMac [81 posts] 4 years ago
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Morning - I have it on very good authority that 2 US based oakley bods from their web based team have been removed from post. I also believe that independent bike stores in the UK (and other sports shops in the uk) have seen a large drop in demand for custom oakleys over the past 2 weeks because people now know what the trade prices are - in some cases the deals oakley have honoured are better than trade that we can get! Hell of a deal if you are after that sort of thing though.

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joemmo [1146 posts] 4 years ago
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if it's any consolation you still paid a lot of money for some branded plastic.

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riddoch [23 posts] 4 years ago
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Or metal.

On the sacking front, oakley need not have suffered any monetary loss from the missprice. if the developers were removed because they were incompetent or attempting fraud that is a separate issue from benefiting from the missprice.

I doubt that any sports shop sells particularly many pairs of oakleys anyway given how overpriced they are for materials and function.

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stewieatb [292 posts] 4 years ago
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Mawsley wrote:

I see no difference between this and thieving rioters, selfish people leaping upon an opportunity to lavish themselves with pointless consumer stuff.

Feel guilty? Good, because it shows I'm right. And you know it.

Yes, someone will have paid the price of this mistake and random people claiming it could have been a marketing ploy are doing nothing more than covering their own guilt.

Cyclists really disappoint me on a frequent basis.

Echo
Echo
Echo
White Knight.

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Bez [587 posts] 4 years ago
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Or is the drop in demand simply that people who were contemplating buying custom Oakleys in the near future jumped on this and so had no need to place the orders they otherwise would?

Two people may have been sacked but Oakley had no obligation to sell at those prices. To do so was a purely business decision. I suspect the reasons would have been more likely the flawed payment system, highly likely automated, which screwed up customers' cards. Either way, we're just speculating so it would be foolish to assume the reasoning.

I love the implied idea above, that cyclists should somehow be on some higher moral plane than the norm. How quaint  1

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RuthF28 [99 posts] 4 years ago
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Nice shades, but I suspect I wouldn't dare wear them even at 50% off. Enjoy them - you ordered them at the given price and they sold them to you. It's a legal transaction.

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PATMAC [23 posts] 4 years ago
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personally i find the frame shape totally ugly.. imo frames esp on cycle glasses need to be very fine so that there is no way the frame could ever block even a sliver of side vision.. i'm not a herd animal, i wear what suits and pleases me , oakley never attracted me no matter what celebrity or pro cyclist wore them.. best of luck to the 'lucky' buyers who likely gave the manufacturer treble what they cost to make.. in these straightened times why is it that while most of us suffer the PLC'S still want to increase their profits.. time they had a taste of bad times .. slap it well up them..

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gazzaputt [207 posts] 4 years ago
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Well happy with my free Radars. Not a pang of guilt at all.

I'm a loyal Oakley customer and didn't react kindly to the email sent out.

Great PR in not charging anyone. I would have been happy to pay the discounted price.

I be purchasing more Oakley products in the future for sure.

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Psyclyst [22 posts] 4 years ago
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The question you raise is really: "Is this mistaken guilt or not?"

If you feel guilty then you need to do the 'right thing' whatever that is.

As someone who confessed to receiving a 'free' (nothing is ever free!) duplicate set of tyres this week from a shop I can say in my case I felt much better.

The idea of people buying 5 pairs of glasses is just plain greed.

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James Warrener [1080 posts] 4 years ago
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I had some pretty average service over a dud spare lens for my old radars so that has lessened my guilt.

(Thanks to me wife for reminding me)

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 4 years ago
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Not sure I'd listen to the self-righteous Daily Fail reader type comments above

If a company mis-label, mis-price or under-sell their own goods, it's their lookout, not yours

And given their usual markup I doubt it'll seriously impact their quarterly results

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arrieredupeleton [574 posts] 4 years ago
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Its nothing like looting a shop and taking what is not yours.

I would be a little uncomfortable as it appears a genuine mistake. However, I agree with others insofar as those who purchase goods online (cyclists being a prime example) are now conditioned not to accept RRP. Mailshots from retailers, 'PSA' type threads on forums and the more subtle guerilla marketing techniques all propagate this. Sadly, because of the above, a mistake that might have gone unnoticed back in the day was jumped on by thousands. I wander what Oakleys sales revenue has been like since this event. There's also more Jawbones out on the road now - great advertising albeit not to my taste. I prefer these:

http://positivo-espresso.blogspot.com/2011/04/cipollini-at-its-best.html

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sq225917 [24 posts] 4 years ago
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Honestly you lot don't get out much do you?

Oakley retailers make 50% margin, Oakley buy back old stock and still make a profit.

The sale price of anything direct from Oakley via the web probably constitutes 70% profit, given that they make they wholesale margin plus steal all the retailer margin as well.

No one got sacked over this, it happens all the time.

They were under no obligation to sell at that price, they chose to do it.