Best Buy Employees Selling "The Last Wii" Over And Over Again?

Reader John tells us that he witnessed some Best Buy employees announcing “the very last Wii” over and over again. Oh those crafty kids at Best Buy!

Saturday morning (11/10) I witnessed some amazing sleaziness over at the Princeton,NJ Best Buy. I was standing near the back of the store when one of their salespeople came strolling from a back door holding a Nintendo Wii over his head, and started walking the aisles announcing that it was their last unit. I followed, wondering both how quickly would it get snatched up and how quickly could I decide if I wanted to buy it. It took a few minutes for a couple to come rushing up to claim it, exclaiming how happy their kids were going to be. I went back to looking around the store. About 30 minutes later, I heard this announcement on the store’s PA: “Attention Best Buy customers! Julie is now walking through the store with our last Nintendo Wii! If you’re looking for a Nintendo Wii, please look for Julie!” And there was another salesperson doing the same thing as the first – walking the aisles of the store holding the Wii above her head.

I was now in the store solely to witness more of this sales technique. The second Wii took just over 15 minutes to sell – I overheard two manager-types (one in a suit, the other a yellow shirt) discussing it, the suit asking “Did Julie sell that Wii, yet? How long?” And then “Wait 40 minutes and send out the next one.” Too long for me to wait around, so I left (after stopping in at the store’s new Apple niche to set the a Macbook’s home page to the Best Buy tagged stories on Consumerist).

I suppose there’s nothing illegal or unexpected about this, but as some one tentatively in the market for a hard-to-find Wii I’m annoyed enough to swear off Best Buy this holiday season.

Anyone else witnessed this clever bit of chicanery?

(Photo:silver marquis)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. ExtraCelestial says:

    sleaziness?? in new jersey?? say it aint so!

  2. XTC46 says:

    Thats pretty sleazy. And kind of pointless, they would be better of announcing they have a bunch of them and putting a sign out front. They are going to sell, all they did was blow a sale if there were 2 people headed for it and one missed out.

  3. Grant Beery says:

    This should make Nintendo happy. If enough Best Buys are doing this, then they can ride the shortage hype train for just a little bit longer.

  4. StevieD says:

    I would love to hear a cellphone video of the announcement. Without documentation, the post has a slight smell factor of a Circuit City employee casting false claims against their leading competitor.

  5. cmcd14 says:

    Maybe it was just a test. I know that Best Buy has a new promotion coming out for the Wii and most have a bunch in storage right now.

  6. JPropaganda says:

    hey bada-boom bada-bing, let’s sell the last wii.

    Sorry…sorry…sorry. That was just uncalled for

  7. hobbang says:

    Two of my friend’s worked at that Best Buy. Not really surprising to me. Though I did buy my Wii there too last year.

  8. ninjatales says:

    And Jersey dwellers wonder why New Yorkers hate them so much.

  9. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Nu-uh.
    Salesclerks at Best Buy being dishonest with the assistance of management?
    Color me unsurprised.

  10. doormat says:

    The BB near my house sets them out on a folding table with the accessories, games, etc when they get a shipment of Wii in.

  11. Omi says:

    This isn’t the sleaziest thing I’ve heard of when it comes to selling the super rare ultra valuable Wii. I know someone who works at another electronics retailer and when ever a shipment of Wiis comes in a few will mysteriously end up behind a box of whatever, until at the end of the day some ‘lucky’ employees happens upon them and buy them for themselves. Of course the first ones are for personal use but the vast majority of them are sent straight to eBay to turn a profit. I wouldn’t be surprised if the vast majority of the Wiis found on eBay came from scams like this.

  12. ShadowFalls says:

    I got mine at a Best Buy. I jokingly asked the person in the game area expecting to hear a no and he said yes, and they had 7 left. Didn’t seem to lie, in front they had 7 stacked with someone guarding them at all times.

  13. spinachdip says:

    Heh, at least those New Jersey blueshirts weren’t claiming the “last” Wii fell out of a truck.

  14. mgyqmb says:

    @Omi: Hardly a “scam” per se. I worked at a computer/electronics retailer at my University for two years, and this happened with almost all of the hard-to-find products. Employees get first dibs. That’s part of the perks of working there, and was fully sanctioned by my store manager. He let people take home Wiis on friday (they were released on a Sunday), and take home copies of Halo 3 the day before they were released.

    When I worked for Best Buy, they would let employees purchase new release DVDs on Monday night after closing when they were to be released the next morning. I think that’s the case everywhere.

  15. BigNutty says:

    What’s wrong with pushing a product with enthusiasm like this? Better than idiots sitting around not helping anybody. It’s called “puffing” and is perfectly legal.

    The law knows that selling involves making the product look bigger and better than anything else available. In this case the product is so good, people have “supposedly” purchased all of them.

    What difference would it make to you if it was really the last one or not? Would it make you like the product any less?

  16. jacobsor says:

    This goes beyond “puffing.” “Puffing” is making a statement that’s opinion, not factually true or false. Saying something like “this is the best video game system ever and it’s way more fun than the Xbox 360″ is puffing.

    When you start outright lying about objective facts (“this is our last one in stock”), that crosses the line into deceptive marketing. One could argue about whether this violates various consumer protection or false advertising laws (not that anyone’s likely to bring suit). But it’s sleazy regardless.

  17. XTC46 says:

    @mgyqmb: Its not the case everywhere and actually illegal according to the conditions set forth by the producers of the games and movies. Selling early is breaking the street date and you can be fined.

    I’m just bitter becasue my manager is an asshole and doesn’t allow this kind of stuff. He refuses to let staff or family of staff buy any “hot” item on launch date. I could understand not letting the staff use their discount on the launch date, but to not let us buy at all sucks.

  18. lalahsghost says:

    I see they’ve caught on. The Morgantown, WV Best Buy has done this with specific items for a while now. You should have seen them pushing Bioshock this way a few months ago. Myself, I find it petty…

  19. mobbo says:

    If it’s happening at one Best Buy, it must be happening at them all. Right?

    Wow… what an irresponsible post.

  20. Buran says:

    @BigNutty: It introduces an element of stress/duress that wouldn’t be there otherwise. In other words, “buy it now or miss out!”. So they want you to put down your money instead of saying “hey, I don’t need it after all” and leave.

  21. ShadowFalls says:

    @lalahsghost:

    I have not had a single game I could not buy on release day when I walked into the first store to get it. Seems kind of silly to promote something that silly.

    @mgyqmb:

    This is a big no-no. Companies do not tolerate that behavior, and corporate will come down hard on them if they find out as this can get them fined from the manufacturer.

    Imagine Microsoft finding out and you pissed them off to the point they refused to send you any new shipments for 2 months. The amount of money lost would be ridiculous.

  22. endless says:

    interesting…. in kansas BB will have a line of people out front if they announce they have wii’s, no need to push them at all.

  23. goller321 says:

    I wish the Consumerist had a vote for banning IDs. BigNutty is simply a troll without any useful opinions or advice. He simply makes ridiculous comments supporting whatever slimy corporation is under the microscope…

  24. LowerHouseMember says:

    So they put all the Wii’s that they have out in the morning and they sell out right away, or they let them slowly trickle out and give people the chance to get one throughout the day. Gives the lucky ones a nice story to tell. Either way they are all going to sell, “last one” or not.

  25. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    This sort of reminds me of those furniture stores that have giant “going out of business sale” signs posted all over town. Of course the lame thing is that they’ve been going out of business for the past year or so. Another stupid marketing tactic.

  26. cde says:

    @jacobsor: They are saying its the last one, at a standard price. Nothing fraudy about that. Its an issue when they try to sell it higher then normal like that, or if they lied about something material, like warranty length.

  27. pine22 says:

    that seems so dumb though, why not put all of them out and allow as many people to buy them as possible. say you said “this is the last wii” and 5 people want it. bb just missed out on 4 wii console sales for nothing.

    this tactic isnt so fradulent as it is just plain dumb. the bb near my house displays wiis like how shadowfalls described, a bunch stacked up and someone kinda guarding it.

  28. redragon104 says:

    When I went to best buy a Wii and asked if they had any, the salesman said to go look for games while he goes back and checks. When he came out, the guy comes up to us and asks, “How long have you guys been looking?” and reveals the Wii from behind his back like he was doing us some massive favor. Apparently we were lucky because this was the last Wii they had.
    I kinda figured the guy was lying, and his whole attitude pissed me off, but I didn’t really care because I just wanted the Wii. Which, by the way, I have been throughly enjoying.

  29. RvLeshrac says:

    @mgyqmb:

    That’s odd. The chain where I work puts customers first, and will fire your ass pretty quickly if they can prove you’re doing any of the mentioned things (stashing product, etc.), though obviously there’s no real problem with buying product on the day of release before anyone else – though for the Wii, customers got first dibs.

    The only Wii that didn’t make it into customers’ hands on release day was the one we threw up for a demo. AFTER release, employees got to them first, but there’s really not much wrong with that – but if an employee had one on “hold” and a customer came in asking about them, out the door it went.

  30. RvLeshrac says:

    @BigNutty:

    As others mentioned, this isn’t “puffing,” this is illegal conduct. Deceptive advertising.

  31. RvLeshrac says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat:

    “Going Out of Business” sales DO last ages. Business owners don’t say “Welp, I’m closing up” and lock the doors the next day unless things are REALLY bad.

    Instead, they scale down the number of employees and continue to sell (slowly) until a sufficient amount of inventory is gone, covering various costs. In some cases (cf CompUSA), the business has already been sold to a liquidation firm, and that firm is simply selling through all of the remaining inventory. For something like a furniture store or an automotive dealership, these things can take several years – people often open them up without understanding just how slowly the product moves, and the effort required to bring in fresh customers.

    That said, if a store is “going out of business” for a year+, and they don’t seem to be running low on inventory… something is fishy.

  32. hoo_foot says:

    This is the least of Best Buy’s problems.

  33. hills says:

    Nice work with setting the Macbook homepage to our fave website:)

  34. mammalpants says:

    one sold every 55 minutes with this technique…hmmm. i think they might sell them faster if they just put them all on the shelf.

  35. l0stn0tfound says:

    At least they were selling them.

  36. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @mammalpants:

    Yes, I agree. I want to buy all that I can & sell them on Ebay for twice the price. Thanks for sticking up for me.

    (Just kidding. I was a lttle miffed at Best Buy when I started reading this, but from the above angle it kinda makes sense.)

  37. unless it was followed by “that I have in my hands” its another low blow for buy more. sheesh

  38. B1663R says:

    what Wii shortage?

    I went to Costco on Saturday and they had a pallet full of them, must have been 75 easily.

  39. DashTheHand says:

    @mobbo: If its got the corporate name on the front of the store, they are representing the entire chain. Just because other people haven’t written in or specifically seen it at other stores doesn’t mean it hasn’t or won’t be happening.

    I find it annoying that if I was looking for a hot ticket item at one of these type stores and they had a secret stash that they should technically be selling and not pulling this crap with, I’d definitely make it a point not to shop there any longer.

    To put it simply:
    My time > your sales technique scam.

  40. Deceptive Business Practices, anyone?

  41. Canadian Impostor says:

    This just seems like a moot point. If they put them all out they’d be gone twenty minutes after the store opened.

  42. twinstronglord says:

    There is nothing wrong with this practice. Not in this case anyway. Consider the alternative: Letting somebody wait outside of the stock room and before employees can get the stack out to the floor, letting them buy the lot of them to sell for a profit on Ebay. This is exactly what happens at most stores, like Walmart. This is clearly bad for the consumer.

    In this case, the consumer gets the very real impression that they will not be able to get that product at that store. This is very bad for the retailer.

    They may also get the impression that the product is so hard to find that they might just stop looking or consider a rival product. This is very bad for the manufacturer.

    Technically speaking, this practice is clearly deceptive, but it is NOT lying. If I have a product in my stockroom, it is not in my store. These places are, in a legal sense, separate. When they say “…in the store.” it means the same as “…we are making publicly available.”.

    This way, everyone has an equal chance of getting one at any time. Doesn’t sound quite so evil now does it?

  43. zibby says:

    I’m so glad I don’t want one of these things – tried one out at a friend’s house and left thinking, “that’s it?”. It wasn’t bad, but in my opinion this sort of shortage hype has been a big factor in the platform’s success.

  44. jchabotte says:

    If she was holding it over her head, her armpits probably smelled like Newark.

  45. Javert says:

    @RvLeshrac: I am not an expert in the area of advertising but I would ask of you what is ‘illegal’ in this? Usually (from my limited understanding of consumer protection law) the concept of deceptive advertising is to get you in the store with a false claim. Here, you are already in the store. I can see it may make you rush and grab it but (1) no one says you have to pay for it right away and (2) a Wii does not seem like a spur of the moment item. You are either going to get one or not. As for price, generally, BB has them at the lowest so it is not really as if you are getting cheated plus I think they have a price match but that may be years old. I think in Massachusetts where there is a very broad consumer protection law generally referred to as 93(b) there may be an issue but in the end, the purchaser has 3 weeks (?) to return the item. I do not like this practice as it seems silly and as another poster noted that if they simply set out all the machines at once they would be gone in a stampede…heck, maybe this is safer than a stampede to a stack of boxes?

    The only other issue I have here is we are listening to hearsay. The overly technical definition is “Hearsay is an out of court statement, made in court, to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” I know this person may have little reason to lie but it seems that within these articles, everyone assumes the truth. Where is the camera phone pic or video? If I saw something as crazy as this I would have snapped something. Again, I am not doubting the verocity of this individual but too many times everyone just assumes that the person is truthful and that the ‘evil corporation’ is lying.

  46. savdavid says:

    Short term gains for long term loss of integrity.

  47. mammalpants says:

    it amazes me that nintendo has kept the hype going for over a year now just by limiting production. it’s like a long slow sexual marathon..when it’s over all you want to do is go to sleep.

  48. hoosier45678 says:

    Perhaps they wanted to only bring them out when their #1 salesdick was available to put the squeeze on for warranties and accessories. Or perhaps, possibly in addition to the previous statement, they want to make sure that every Wii they get lands in the hand of a “Barry” with the cash to afford to accessorize or a “Maria” who will be so concerned about wasting the money that she’s a shoo-in for the extended warranty, to use their terms.

  49. cazoo says:

    @BIGNUTTY, manipulation is not the proper conduct for a retailer. They are making a false statement to incite buyers to make a snap buying decision.

    @TWINSTRONGLORD, how about the retailer just treating me like a f’ing adult with a little dignity and respect?

  50. mammalpants says:

    @HOOSIER45678, +1up for references to personas! love it.

  51. kmacp says:

    I remember this happening about a decade ago at a store where I worked. It was when the first Tickle Me Elmo came out. The manager’s office was literally STUFFED with those buggers while none were on the shelves. Once every couple of hours, in the evenings during the Xmas rush, he’d come down and act the hero by offering it for sale. People would go nuts for it! Somehow no one ever witnessed him doing this more than once. I guess he had more sense than the Best Buy folks and didn’t do it within 1/2 an hour of the last one.

  52. tadowguy says:

    Sleazy sales tactics in New Jersey? Fuggitaboutit.

  53. Seiven says:

    I have seen employees and customers hide things in other departments before…if the count gets corrected in the system when they cannot locate the item, the system will say they have 0 on hand, but obviously when they find it they think it is the last…same thing could happen if a shipment was received improperly. Or it could be that they want the purchaser to feel “special” I have seen socially awkward individuals that “needed” something to say to the customer. kinda strange but “meh” as a wise man once said (ok he was a bit of a druggy) “people are strange when your a stranger.”

  54. synergy says:

    That’s a classic tactic.

  55. StevieD says:

    Does ANYBODY have proof of the activity?

    The OP “heard” a statement. Where is the proof?

  56. joellevand says:

    That makes NO sense! Wiis in this part of NJ sell out, technically, before most stores even open! I had to wait in line last month to get mine — the C.C. store announced all week they had a shipment coming in on Sunday, and Sunday morning I got there at 7 AM and was 6th in line. By 9 AM (an hour before opening) an associate started turning people away, as they had more people in line than they had Wiis.

    Doesn’t seem like you’d need to use B.B.’s classic “create scarcity” tactic, really.

  57. Teapotfox says:

    I guess what surprises me is that anyone finds this tactic at all surprising… sales, advertising, it’s all geared toward manipulating the emotions and judgment of the consumer. This is just a pretty blatant and obvious example, that’s all.

    Perhaps John is mostly just upset it nearly worked on him.

  58. killervibe says:

    The consumerist seriously posted this lame ass story. Amazing! OMG! Best Buy is using the principal of scarcity to sale Wii’s? HOLY COW! Oh the humanity!

    Wait. Marketers and advertisers have been using the same principal FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS! Idiots.

  59. CapitalC says:

    What’s the point of doing this?

    Consumer A and consumer B are both shopping the same store. Retailer says “Last one!” (knowing full well there are dozens in the back) and consumer A “feels lucky” to get it. Consumer B believes the retailer and shops elsewhere.

    Repeat this a few times – instead of selling them all quickly, the retailer has made more work for themselves and driven customers to other stores. If I found out that a retailer was doing this, I’d shop elsewhere regardless of price.

  60. Americo says:

    Well, it’s New Jersey. It’s not a state of glitz and glamor.

  61. DudeLebowski says:

    You can’t even get “The Last Wii” on DVD anymore. I’m waiting for it to come out on Blu-Ray. Oh, wait, my PS3 is broken because of dust contamination…

  62. worsethannormal says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. Best Buy has some some of the sleaziest business practices. For example, I pre-ordered a game from Best Buy 6 months before it was released. On the release day I checked my order status and was informed my copy (as well as everyone else who ordered the pre-order from Best Buy) was on back order. But somehow all stores in my area had shelves stocked full of the game. When I called to cancel my order so I could buy the game from the store I was informed that it is Best Buys policy to send copies of software to the stores first and then fulfill any on-line orders. Which makes sense cause they’ve already got your money, why should they be in a hurry to actually ship you the product.

  63. Android8675 says:

    Mac’s at Best Buy are frozen with DeepFreeze, any changes you make get reverted to their original settings on reboot, unless you have the password to unfreeze them, don’t bother changing the home page or putting dumb ass pictures of your eyeballs looking like womens genitalia with the iSight. It just makes you look like an idiot.

    If BBY wants to sell their Wii’s this way, is there really anything wrong with that? It’s deceptive, and kindda mean, but there are alternatives.

  64. Android8675 says:

    @worsethannormal: Usually BBY doesn’t hold copies of games, it really depends on the store, but they base how many games each store gets on the pre-orders. I think if you read the pre-order box it says something like, “This does not guarantee you a copy of the game on release day”. It’s a bit misleading, ain’t it? Fortunatly I’ve never gone into a BBY on the night of a game release and not gotten the game I wanted. I went in at 8pm and got Halo 3 Legendary on release day.

    You may not like them for it, but they usually keep a decent stock of current titles.

  65. mlvds says:

    Best Buy may be lying about there stock…but you can find a lot of Wii at La Curacao stores in Califonia. They had always had them in stock. http://www.lacuracao.com
    store locater: [www.lacuracao.net]

    How ever they have them as bundle…but you could request them to sell it to you without all the accessories…I did…

  66. This obviously has other elements to it. When you push a sale like this, then you get a chance to finish it one on one with someone. With the stakes already high, “BUY NOW OR NO WII FOR YOUR KIDS THIS CHRISTMAS” mentality, and likely a couple onlookers, the consumer will probably get pressured into buying more games or accessories than they intended to.

  67. pchan911 says:

    Wow, I ususally dont comment in general (the quiet troll). =)

    The question here, really is a trust issue.

    Yes the lines are very blurry with the marketing tactics BBY is using to market the Wii in this one particular store (and potentially others).

    Ultimately it will hard and costly to define this as illegal. But I think we all can agree, as regular people (not consumers or retailers), is that we do not like being lied to.

    For any business reputation is extremely hard to build, but so easily lost. And something as simple as the act of making the “quick” sale, though is a positive thing for the store in the short term, may have an impact for future sales and customer retention.

    Personally I avoid BBY as much as I can, but they were the only ones with Guitar Heroes 3 in stock here in Elmhurst NY, when everyone else was sold out. So the only way they get my business is cause no one else has it =P.

  68. vastrightwing says:

    Just don’t ever buy the extended warranty. They won’t ever honor it. I know. They won’t honor a warranty I bought.

  69. Parting says:

    Creepy… Not illegal, but morally reprehensible…

    Well, this is Best Buy.

    Since Best Buy bought ”Future Shop” here in Canada, their service and extended warranties are going downhill.

  70. ShadowArmor says:

    Seems to me that this is just a dumb thing to do overall. I’d like to believe its so dumb that nobody would do it, but we all know that isn’t very likely.

    OK so suppose instead of it taking 15 mins to sell, there was a stampede. A baby carriage gets knocked over and the baby bumps its head. An older lady trips over a display and breaks her ankle. Two fathers get a little competitive and knock over a TV in the process…

    If this is true, my bet is that the employees just wanted some entertainment. If the above had happened, they’d have gotten more than they bargained for.

  71. Arsenal6 says:

    haha that pretty funny but dumb.

  72. reasonsnotrules says:

    I was in that store that day, and on my way to the bathroom I saw at least 1 person returning a Wii. Do we just rule that out automatically. Story sounds a bit fishy anyway. And changing the Macs homepage to consumerist, they apple rep Bruce usually has those laptops on lock down.

  73. frogman31680 says:

    I work for a certain department store that has had the Wii for about 2 months but is refusing to sell them to customers. We were told by our corporate office to hold them for a sale on them on Thanksgiving Day. I field about 30 calls a day for it and our sales ad PROMISES a certain number in stores. We have a grand total of 8.

    That’s gonna be a lot of pissed off customers.

  74. wellfleet says:

    If I hear ” do you have any Wiis” one more time I am going to slit my wrists. I have had desperate parents swear at me, promise to bribe me, scream at me, promise to pay me, scream some more, beg, cajole, plead, scream, ad nauseum over this ridiculous, POS toy! For the love of God, parents, go hug your children and thank your lucky stars they don’t have leukemia or some other horrible, wasting disease because if they did, the last thing on your mind would be a freakin’ toy!
    I am so sick of these parents screaming at me “what am I supposed to tell me kid?”
    Here’s what you should tell your kid: “Timmy, this toy costs $250 and next year, you probably won’t even play with it anymore. Timmy, mom and dad love you so much that they refuse to spend this kind of money on a toy so that one day, you’ll grow up to be a well-adjusted,hard-working man instead of a greedy little shithead who won’t leave me in peace until I get him a toy.”