Man buys $14,000 Cartier earrings for $14 after company posts price error on website

The man said he "broke out in a cold sweat" after seeing the offer on Cartier's website.

Cartier logo is seen at a store in Rome, Italy
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Luxury jewelry maker Cartier isn’t known for giving stuff away, but in the case of one Mexican man, they pretty much did.

Rogelio Villarreal was paging through Cartier’s web page in a moment of idleness when he came upon on offer that seemed too good to be true. “I broke out in a cold sweat,” he wrote on his account on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Cartier apparently had made a mistake and listed gold-and-diamond earrings for 237 pesos ($14), instead of the correct price, 237,000 pesos ($14,000). Villarreal ordered two sets.

What followed was months of back and forth during which he says Cartier offered him a consolation prize instead of the jewelry, and during which Mexican officials backed his position that the company should honor the advertised price.

Villarreal finally got the earrings last week, at his price, and he posted a video online of himself unboxing the merchandise. But he soon grew tired of the public attention — finding not all that glitters is gold — and on Monday posted, “Alright already, talk about something else, I’m tired of the earrings being the only thing anyone knows about my personality.”

Villarreal’s case had become a lightning rod online during an especially polarized time in Mexico ahead of its June 2 presidential elections.

Some observers criticized Villarreal for taking advantage of what they saw as an honest mistake by the top-end jewelry company. Some claimed he should give the earrings back, or pay taxes on them. Some called him a thief.

Villarreal, a doctor doing his medical residency, said he had to fight for months to get the company to actually deliver and claimed that it offered to send him a bottle of champagne instead.

The company did not respond to requests for comment.

“I have the worst luck in the world and I’ve never made any money, and what I have is because I bought it,” Villarreal wrote in his social media accounts. But now, he was been able to buy two $14,000 sets of earrings for only about $28.

He says he gave one of them to his mother.

“It feels great and it’s cool not to be the underdog for once in my life,” Villarreal wrote.

Jesús Montaño, the spokesman for Mexico’s consumer protection agency, known as Profeco, confirmed Villarreal’s account of his struggle.

“He filed a complaint in December,” Montaño said. “There is a conciliation hearing scheduled for May 3, but the consumer already received his purchase.”

Asked about the ethics of it all, Montaño said companies “have to respect the published price.” If there's a mistake, "it’s not the consumer’s fault.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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