Dell screws up pricing again

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Taipei, Taiwan - Just a few days after Dell advertised two LCD monitors at a tenth of their normal price, the company has done it again, this time with the Latitude E4300 notebook.

The E4300 normally sells in Taiwan at $1,857.47, but was advertised on Dell's Taiwan site on Sunday for just $564. Now the company is being accused of sharp marketing practice by officials at government watchdog Control Yuan.

Control Yuan's Cheng Jen-hung said yesterday that he would not rule out summoning Dell officials to explain their actions. He added that he would also call on the Ministry of Economic Affairs to establish new rules regulating online pricing.

"Companies should be required to ship a certain number of products to customers who place orders or to give them a certain amount of compensation," said Cheng. "Similar problems have happened before. Consumers should not have to take responsibility for the mistakes of companies."

Dell Taiwan president Terence Liao said that the prices had been a mistake and that the company had suspended online purchases pending 'a thorough review' and would offer discount vouchers to people who had placed orders at the bargain price.

But Cheng seemed to imply that Dell's move had been a deliberate marketing ploy:

"The government should step up to protect the rights of consumers," he said. "This way, companies will not recklessly mis-label product prices as part of their marketing campaigns."

Dell advertised two LCD monitors at about a tenth of their normal price last week. In the six hours before it corrected the prices, 26,000 Taiwanese placed orders online for 140,000 LCD monitors. The company is now offering these customers a discount of between $30 and $90, depending on how many displays they had ordered.

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