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AmazonFresh appears to fix 'Buy It Again' bug

Amazon stops recommending customers repurchase certain food items at inflated prices, following a scoop from CNET.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
2 min read
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

AmazonFresh apparently squashed some of its bugs.

A handful of problems with the online retailer's grocery service, available in some US cities and London, could have unnecessarily cost customers a lot more money, CNET reported on Friday. Through its website's "Buy It Again" feature, Amazon had been encouraging customers to repurchase items they bought using Fresh -- but at inflated prices. For example, a customer would buy a Snickers bar for 89 cents on Fresh, but Amazon recommended he repurchase the same item at $4.95.

It looks like the problems started to get fixed just hours after CNET's story ran. The "Buy It Again" feature started to change Friday afternoon and several alterations occurred over the past few days, Dave Jackson, a Fresh customer in California who alerted CNET to the issues, said Monday. Some of the higher priced listings being recommended have been removed from Amazon altogether.

Amazon declined to comment for CNET's original story and didn't respond to a request for comment Monday.

Enlarge Image

Before and after: The above picture shows Jackson's "Buy It Again" box last week, with all three items being overpriced non-Fresh listings. The image below is his "Buy It Again" box Monday, with no listings stemming from his Fresh purchases.

Care of Dave Jackson/Composition by CNET

The problems not only highlight the increased complexity of Amazon.com, as the company continues to add new services and features, but also present another pricing snafu for the retailer. Amazon has been repeatedly knocked for misleading pricing issues.

The problems appeared to stem from Amazon's decision to combine the listings from Fresh and its main website. Fresh items previously were listed separately on Fresh.Amazon.com, and the service had its own app. A few weeks ago, Amazon ended that separation.

Many Fresh products share the exact same product identification numbers and customer reviews as their counterparts on Amazon.com but have drastically different prices.

So, instead of Amazon telling Jackson to repurchase a product through Fresh, it instead suggested he buy the same product on Amazon.com, in many cases at a much higher price.

On Friday afternoon, Jackson noticed the desktop homepage stopped showing these non-Fresh listings in the "Buy It Again" box, instead suggesting different products. On many other desktop pages and Amazon's mobile app, the "Buy It Again" feature disappeared altogether, he said.

"Buy It Again" came back to those desktop pages by Sunday night and was no longer offering up the higher priced items. "Buy It Again" was still gone from mobile as of Monday afternoon, he said.

A related problem with Jackson's order history -- where if he clicked through to a product page, he would be linked to the overpriced Amazon.com item -- was partially fixed.

Also, some of the identical non-Fresh listings appear to have been removed from Amazon, such as a 12-pack of Mug root beer cans for $18.49. Amazon now links to a $4.62 Fresh listing for that item instead.

As of Monday afternoon, the $4.95 Snickers bar was still available for purchase.