At midnight on Wednesday, some Hong Kong shoppers might have been forgiven for thinking that Christmas had come early. That was when Fortress online, owned by tycoon Li, Ka-shing, offered a “surprise midnight Christmas sale” that offered items at a fixed price of HK$298 (US$38).

Sale items included the latest iPhone models and a 65-inch smart TV which was previously listed at HK$45,000 at Fortress, a leading chain of electronic goods retailers in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong consumers are used to special promotions, which are fast becoming the retail norm. This may explain why more than 1,000 buyers quickly took advantage of the bargains on offer.

One buyer proudly showed off a receipt for 51 iPhone 8 Plus smartphones, purchased for only HK$15,000. As the phone retails at $6,100, that meant the buyer had saved nearly $300,000 on one deal.

Unfortunately the joy was short-lived, with Fortress becoming wise to their error after seven hours.

A spokesman for Fortress blamed a system glitch that caused the wrong price to be displayed. The company apologized to anyone who had made purchases at the wrong price and offered to compensate them with a voucher for $300.

System Error in Fortress eShop
An announcement about the error on the Fortress website Photo: fortress.com.hk