10 Things Electronics Retailers Won’t Say - SmartMoney.com
1. “That item you just bought isn’t really in stock.”
Chicago resident Andrew Schrage was thrilled to get the email from bestbuy.com confirming his order for a Black Friday door-buster — a 42” Sharp 1080p LCD flat-screen TV for $199 instead of the usual $500. But a few days later, the site sent another email cancelling his order because the set was out of stock. “Obviously, by then I’d missed out on the weekend’s other big TV deals,” says Schrage
Such “out-of-stock” cancellations have become more common, particularly during big sales and busy times when site inventory monitoring systems can’t keep up with orders placed, says Brad Wilson, the founder of sale site bradsdeals.com. It’s not a problem specific to one retailer, he says, but some are worse than others. “Whenever there’s a great deal at Best Buy, we just wait for the comment from someone who says they placed the order and it didn’t get fulfilled,” says Wilson. Consumers reported plenty of complaints similar to Schrage’s about Best Buy orders during the holiday season. Best Buy says it was a one-time problem. “The online order issue we encountered was due to a combination of software and process issues,” says a spokeswoman. “We caught the issue quickly, but not as quickly as we would have liked. We have addressed these issues and do not expect this to happen again.”
Consumers’ only recourse is to put little stock in online stock promises, Wilson says. Instead take advantage of websites that allow in-store pickup of merchandise ordered online. Absent that, call the store to confirm that the site is correct in stating that it has an item in stock. If a confirmed order is later cancelled, complain. Two years ago, 1,269 consumers signed a petition on complaint site groubal.com because their black Friday TV orders at Fry’s Electronics were cancelled. It worked, says a Groubal spokesman — Fry’s decided to provide the TVs to each buyer at the promised price. A Fry’s spokesman declined to comment. More recently, Schrage got a $75 gift card after calling customer service and emailing Best Buy’s chief executive Brian Dunn.