Error Gives Midwest Retailer's Customers Extra 50% Off Almost Everything

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Some shoppers at a big Midwest retail chain received an unexpected discount on their purchases because of a mistake that briefly knocked half off the price of nearly every item sold.

The accidental discount at the 179 stores in the Meijer chain was even given to customers who paid for their fuel purchases inside Meijer gas stations, although not those who paid at the pump.

It happened on purchases made Saturday between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., after an "input error" was made at Meijer Inc. headquarters in Grand Rapids, said company spokeswoman Stacie Behler. The company sells groceries and general merchandise at large superstores in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.

A 50 percent discount intended for a style of oriental rug ended up being accidentally applied to nearly everything sold by the retailer, she said.

"We became aware of it pretty quickly," Behler told The Grand Rapids Press for a story published Wednesday. "We had lots of folks working on the problem, and within the hour it was fixed."

The family-owned company does not release financial data, but with annual revenues estimated at $13.2 billion by Supermarket News, that translates to an average of more than $1.5 million in sales per hour. Cut that in half and those 60 minutes conceivably could have cost Meijer about $750,000 in sales revenue.

Some customers who noticed the error when they got home with their purchases called the stores where they had bought the items and offered to make amends, but Meijer officials wrote off the losses.

"It was our error, and there's nothing that we would require or expect back from our customers," Behler said.

She had not heard of a similar mistake happening before at the company.

"We have a solid system with lots of great people working very hard," Behler said. "This error actually gives us an opportunity to look back at the system and improve it."

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press,

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