Origins: We've seen many examples of legends about product packaging that supposedly confused consumers about the nature of its contents, but this is the first case we encountered regarding packaging that confused retailers about the price of their own wares.
In 2005, Sony BMG released a 3-CD set entitled
(The real bar code used for scanning the price of the item at checkout counters was placed in a corner on the back of the packaging, as it is for nearly every other similar item.)
Unfortunately for some retailers, the machine-readable version of the bar code used for the CD compilation's cover art was scannable by their systems, and sales clerks at those outlets who mistakenly passed the CD's cover (rather than its back) over point-of-purchase scanners ended up ringing up sales for £9.77,
One music chain took advantage of the issue to crow about how they'd had no problems because their clerks were properly trained and claimed that the incident demonstrated the value of shopping for CDs at speciality music stores rather than general retailers (even though the mistake actually favored consumers):
"Someone would have to be pretty stupid not to recognize that," HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said.
"The proper barcodes are always done on the reverse of the CD," he added. "All our staff are aware it's the cover artwork, and if fellow retailers and supermarkets are [scanning] that, it just highlights that they're not really music specialists. We've not had any issues."
Last updated: 18 April 2015
Goldfarb, Jeffrey. "Barcode-Cover '80s Album Selling for a Song." Reuters. 22 July 2005.