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Macy’s Costly Typo – Why Proper Copywriting and Editing is Important

macys-typoMacy’s mailed a promotion to its U.S. customers in which it offered a necklace listed at $1,500 for $47 under the heading “Super Buy!”

According to Macy’s: “The item had the wrong price for $47. The correct price is $479 dollars and because of that it’s a pricing error.”

Although Macy’s apologized for the error, no explanation why it happened was given.

Macy’s spokesperson Beth Charlton stated: “When the mistake was caught, signage did go up in the fine jewelry department and on store doors alerting customers that a mistake had been made.”

The copywriter who made the catalog mistake was recently fired, quite likely as a result of missing the typo. If so, this is unfair. As all copywriters know, it’s difficult to proofread your own work. In this case, where missing a digit results in financial loss, clever companies would have another writer or editor proofreading the copy. Was Macy’s in this case “penny wise, pound foolish”? We will never know.

Cynical marketing minds suspect that Macy’s did not make an honest mistake, but that is was a publicity stunt. If that is the case, Macy’s has for sure succeeded – the media coverage was enormous. Initial covered by wfaa.com, it quickly went viral and was featured on several TV stations.

The main story is a human interest one – Robert Bernard tried to buy the necklace for his wife at the Collin Creek Mall, but a customer in front of him bought the whole stock. (A marketing blunder – normally bargain offerings limit the amount of items a customer can buy).

According to Bernard, the clerk offered to sell Bernard two of necklaces for $47 and have them shipped to his home. Total Savings was $1,400, his receipt reads. This does not make sense, since Bernard claimed that he wanted to buy one necklace as an anniversary gift.

A few days later, Macy’s notified Bernard about the error and stated that the correct price was $479 (still a bargain, considering the original price). Bernard went to the media stating “I’m very, very bothered by it because I don’t want anybody else to feel the way I feel.”

No matter what, this incident underpins the importance of professional copywriting/marketing writing and editing!

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