Dell has admitted that a coding error on its UK website made some of its special offer deals misleading.
Readers contacted vnunet.com concerned that the deals for some computer packages - such as the Dimension 2300 Pentium 4 offer - hid VAT costs, which only appeared at the 'Buy Now' stage of the ordering process, so that final checkout prices 'jumped' from earlier figures.
Dell blamed a web-coding error for the mistake. It said as a result, the fault added extra warranty and removed the online discount to create a similar margin of error to that if VAT had been incorrectly excluded.
"In this offer, it was a coincidence that the difference was around 17.5 per cent, which is where the confusion with VAT might have come from," a Dell spokeswoman said.
"But the lower, advertised price could be reached by changing the order configuration," she added.
Neil Stevens, Dell UK's marketing director for home, small and medium business, said: "There was no intention at any stage on Dell's part to mislead."
But one customer, David Thomas, criticised Dell's handling of the situation and demanded a public apology.
"I found the suggestion that I was confused quite patronising to be honest - and in all their dealings felt their tone was one where they were trying to belittle," he told vnunet.com.
Thomas said his emails to alert Dell to the problem seemed to be ignored: "[Given] that it had been in effect for a long period of time, I suggested a public apology to their customers on this error would engender greater goodwill from potential and present Dell customers.
"I just think that everyone should be accountable, no matter how big or small they are. And sorry doesn't hurt anyone if it's put the right way."
The firm has now changed the offending web page coding so that the price advertised remains consistent throughout the ordering process.
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