Mexican man wins typo fight with Cartier, keeps earrings bought for $14

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A typo on Cartier’s website that incorrectly priced a pair of gold-and-diamond earrings ended up being a costly mistake for the luxury jewelry retailer — and a happy surprise for a first-time customer.  

A consumer in Mexico said in a post on social media platform X that he was idly browsing Instagram when he came across the shockingly low-priced pair of earrings. 

Typically costing 237,000 pesos, or more than $14,000, the jewelry was listed for sale for 237 pesos, or about $14. It appears Cartier omitted three zeros, sheerly by mistake. 

When Rogelio Villarreal, a Mexican doctor, saw the low price, he broke out in a cold sweat, he said in the post. After clicking to purchase the earrings, Villarreal unwittingly kicked off a monthslong dispute with the luxury retailer that even drew interest from public figures. 

Initially, Cartier tried to cancel the order altogether and compensate Villarreal with a bottle of champagne and leather cardholder to apologize for any inconvenience it had caused, Villarreal told CBS MoneyWatch. But Villarreal rejected the offer after deciding it was unsatisfactory, and instead raised the issue with Mexico’s federal consumer protection agency.

Asked why he was determined to hold Cartier accountable over a pricing error, Villarreal said the company’s initial response rubbed him the wrong way. 

“At first they said two things when I contacted them after they canceled my order. One, they said the earrings were mis-priced by accident. Then they said they couldn’t fulfill the order because the earrings were out of stock,” he told CBS MoneyWatch. “Their reasoning was difficult to understand.”

Cartier eventually capitulated and fulfilled Villarreal’s order for two pairs of the earrings — one for himself, and another for his mother. 

“War is over. Cartier is complying,” Villarreal said in an April 22 post.

Cartier did not immediately respond to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment. Mexico’s federal consumer protection agency also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

✨Once upon a December✨

— dre pute (@LordeDandy) April 26, 2024

Villarreal posted an image on X (formerly Twitter) of two small wrapped boxes with Cartier’s signature wax stamp, indicating the earrings had arrived. He also later posted photos of himself wearing the jewelry.

Not everyone seemed happy with the outcome, however. Mexican Senator Lilly Téllez weighed in, saying in a post on X that she didn’t think Villarreal should have been entitled to keep the earrings simply because a retailer had made a mistake. 

“Kids: What the buyer of the Cartier earrings did is not correct,” she wrote. “It’s wrong to be opportunistic and take advantage of a mistake at the expense of someone else, and abuse the law, even if it’s in your favor, and outwit a business. It is more important to be honorable than to have a pair of Cartier earrings.”

For his part, Villarreal insists there’s another takeaway from the saga.

“I was very happy when the earrings arrived, but the reality is they don’t just represent a purchase,” he said. “I was familiar with my rights as a consumer, but not everyone is. So this case helps make Mexican people aware of their basic rights, including those protected by consumer law.”

Megan Cerullo

Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News 24/7 to discuss her reporting.

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