Best Buy Hikes Price On Popular Budget Laptop, Gets Caught

If you were eyeing the “budget-priced” Gateway P-6831FX and thought about picking one up at your local Best Buy, you’ll want to wait until this Sunday, February 17th, when Best Buy says it will lower the price again. We say “again” because Dan over at Crave caught Best Buy raising the price by $349 after it was released, from $1350 to $1699, for no apparent reason other than it was selling well.

We called Gateway and they laid the blame directly at Best Buy’s feet, saying the P-6831FX was “selling like gangbusters,” prompting the retail giant to raise the price by $350. We asked Best Buy about the price discrepancy late Wednesday, and the retail giant said they would get back to us. While Gateway offers a series of similar laptops online, called the P-171 series, the P-6831 is available only though Best Buy.

Crave reports that Best Buy has since contacted them and announced they’ll be dropping the price to $1199 come this Sunday—but in the meantime, it’s still premium-priced at the ridiculous $1699. Even for a didn’t-do-your-research tax, that’s pretty steep.

“When is a bargain laptop not a bargain?” [Crave]

Comments

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  1. Go4EVA says:

    Hmm, thats strange. I thought companies were allowed to set whatever prices they wanted on their products, and consumers who buy them don’t have a gun to their heads. Economics, anyone?

  2. I dislike BB just as much as the next guy, but this seems pretty innocuous…the laws of supply and demand at work.

  3. Amelie says:

    @Shane112358: “Late last year, Gateway told us about its plans to bring a low-cost, high-quality gaming laptop to Best Buy stores as a retail-only exclusive. The system has arrived, and we were initially impressed with its price and performance, but now there seems to be some funny stuff going on with its pricing.”

  4. afterimageB says:

    If you don’t like the price then don’t buy it.

  5. Go4EVA says:

    @zouxou: Yes, and….?

  6. matto says:

    I am sure they will trumpet the HUGE price reduction on Sunday.

  7. ZekeSulastin says:

    @Shane112358: It’s Best Buy. On the Consumerist. Of COURSE it’s going to be lambasting them, no matter what they do.

  8. rjhiggins says:

    Ohmigod! A product is in demand and the price goes up! What will happen next?

  9. InThrees says:

    Can’t really fault Best Buy for reacting to demand by increasing the price of its supply.

    For all the other reasons Best Buy is (in)famous, however, I won’t shop there if I can avoid it, which I usually can.

  10. Framling says:

    @Shane112358: And consumers are allowed to go “Hey, why’d you jack the price on that up for no clear reason?” and retailers who don’t lower the price don’t have a gun to their head, either. What’s your point?

  11. n/a says:

    What is the specs on this laptop.

  12. rjhiggins says:

    @Framling: I think his point is, “What’s the point of this post?” A retailer raised the price because demand was high. Isn’t that enough of a “clear reason” for you? So why is this news?

  13. sakanz says:

    Well it sounds like they advertised it as a cheaply-priced laptop, but since they raising the price significantly, it’s not longer the “budget-priced” laptop its advertised to be.

  14. forgottenpassword says:

    Wait a minute! Best buy gouging its customers???

    This just cannot be!

  15. ClayS says:

    @rjhiggins:
    Exactly, it’s not like the Consumerist awards Best Buy a medal when they lower a price on a product.

  16. Gannoc says:

    I… I can’t believe I’m saying this… but…

    I’m on Best Buy’s side on this one…

  17. Sucko-T says:

    I would take price gouging like this over price fixing any day. Want to get a deal on an ipod,fender guitar,xbox, ps3? Good luck, MAP (minimum advertised pricing) = fixed pricing and doesn’t let the market determine what customers will or will not pay.

  18. rjhiggins says:

    Actually I think the only real problem is with the headline, specifically “Gets Caught.”

    I’ve got no problem with them pointing out that this “cheap laptop” is no longer cheap, but the headline makes it sound as if Best Buy did something nefarious. If raising prices on popular items were nefarious…

  19. bunjyzeke says:

    If BB made a representation as to a price at which they would sell (as in their weekly ads, which say the price is good “through x/xx/xx,”) then they are obligated to sell at that price to all takers who read the offer. Economics? No, law of contract.

  20. ShadowFalls says:

    @Shane112358:

    It depends on the contract you have the manufacturer. For example, you don’t see stores selling Wiis for $350 do you?

    And before anyone sarcastically mentions the bundle incidents, we are aware, thank you.

  21. ceriphim says:

    Too bad this isn’t Slashdot. Then I could tag this story as “ohnoitsroland”, “hahaha”, “defectivebydesign”, or “businessasusual”. BB on Consumerist = MS on Slashdot…

  22. pitawg says:

    regardless of the valid choices the company made, this is a consumer site posting information needed by consumers in this day and age. do not feed the trolls or anti-trolls. take note of the practice and use the knowledge to better or ease your consumption. please.

  23. uricmu says:

    Anyone buying laptops at best buy probably doesn’t do the market research necessary to get a good price. Just like people buying books at barnes and noble without the great 25% coupons are paying a 25% premium for the convenience and their lazyness to look for coupons.

    So what?

  24. barfoo says:

    In other news, gasoline went from 3.19 to 3.29 at my local service station in just a few days–in percentage terms, that’s an even bigger jump!

  25. voteccow says:

    Honestly, I don’t see this as a big deal. Seriously, I think there are better things to be reported on.

  26. krunk4ever says:

    Looks like just about everyone agrees there’s nothing to see here.

  27. schiff says:

    @SHADOWFALLS:
    What about the bundle incidents?

    :-) I had to!

  28. vastrightwing says:

    Wait! Wait! I’m sure Best Buy is taking these accusations “very seriously.”

  29. Buran says:

    @ceriphim: I don’t get the idiotic tags on slashdot either. I thought they had fixed the system to block crap like that from getting through but it seems to have re-broken. I’m always trying to !tag them to remove them but it never does a thing.

  30. eskimo81 says:

    Today there is nothing to write about, but when the price drops to $1199.99 on Sunday, it’ll be a $500 Savings. If it had dropped from $1349.99, it’d only be a $150 Savings.
    It’s part of how they get those incredible deals, and how they can tell unknowing customers that they’re saving huge and getting a better deal than they are.

  31. z4ce says:

    And if BB had just sold out instead of raising the prices, the consumerist would have an article lambasting BB for not keeping enough stock…

    Best buy sucks for a lot of reasons. This is not one of them.

  32. CMU_Bueller says:

    [en.wikipedia.org]

    [en.wikipedia.org]

    Helpful links since the editorial staff doesn’t understand economics, only yellow journalism in an attempt to make Best Buy look bad. Thanks for making the jobs of real journalists harder Ben.

  33. sauceistheboss says:

    “Caught”… raising a price?

    Will The Consumerist next be demanding that the computers be given out free???

  34. arilvdc says:

    @CMU_Bueller: You can’t really use capitalism to defend retail pricing. Mostly because true capitalism doesn’t involve credit…
    Generally, something that sells well sells out. If everything that sold well had it’s price raised, we’d have everything creeping upwards until most people were priced out and prices fell again. Capitalism, yes, but retailers would lose money, and we all know that ain’t gonna fly.

  35. Thaad says:

    I do work at best buy and I have seen this happen before. The reason tends to be the same. We aren’t getting anymore from the Manufacturer, so they jack up the price so no one buys it. They do that the days before T-day, where the 22in monitor that sold for like 149 in the ad had a tag for $1200, just so that no one would buy it. Raise price to create stock, so you have it when it is on sale.

  36. StevieD says:

    @z4ce:

    Thank you.

  37. StevieD says:

    How dare any business make a profit.

    Supply and demand.

    Marketing and all that stuff.

    Guess what, we all do it.

  38. Frostberg says:

    A for profit company raising the prices? Record profits for the oil industry???

  39. Frostberg says:

    @Thaad: That actually makes sense. Best Buy is actually doing the right thing by TELLING YOU when it will be on sale!!!

  40. MARTHA__JONES says:

    @barfoo: $3.29?! That’s cheap!

  41. Szin says:

    Unbelievable. Well, looks like I’ll be taking my business to CompUSA!

  42. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    Some times I wonder if you guys have any business sense at all. Its normal and SMART to raise prices that are in high demand. Sure it sucks for us, but thats why we are also obligated to be smart and notice these things. Raising prices on a computer is not unethical or immoral. I am sure advertising on popular blogs is not free, either.

  43. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    @Frostberg: THe oil companies are having record profits because we are consuming record amounts of oil. Their profit margins ae 6-9%. Cheaper than sales tax in most locations. Not to mention the sin taxes you guys allow the government to put on gas.

  44. fredmertz says:

    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: This is a good point — I read this blog almost as much to be amazed by the editor’s naivete as for the equally as frequent posts that are interesting on their own merits. There should just be a few stickies at the top of the site: 1) retailers sometimes misprice goods, 2) they sometimes have typos on their signs, 3) they sometimes attempt to maximize their profits, 4) they don’t always find the brightest/nicest people to man their phonelines for $6 an hour.

  45. tragatz says:

    While I would not buy a computer from Best Buy, it seems logical for a consumer site to let consumers know when a company does something anti-consumer. Sure BB can raise the price all they want, but it logically follows that a consumerist site might tell us they did it. While I am here several times a day, this warning might well serve an individual passer-by seeking quick advice on computer purchasing. Would this article have served my mother-in-law? I think so.
    It is almost as if some of the comments are suggesting that it is unfair to BB to warn the consumer. I’ll live without a hug from a blue-shirt, and say thanks Consumerist for saving not making me “Obligated” to pay whatever the Box says I should pay. So if not a consumer protection site, where is it I am supposed to go to find the right price? Sunday fliers? Apparently not the internet.

  46. rich311 says:

    Now come on. This is lame. Why shouldn’t Best Buy be able to raise its prices? As far as I can tell there was no deception involved.

    Just because prices on electronics generally fall, doesn’t mean they *have* to.

  47. JackAshley says:

    Price reflects what people are willing to pay for something…If they jack the price and people still buy it, they are in fact charging the correct price :) If this turns out to be the case, we were paying TOO LITTLE for the laptop to begin with, and should count ourselves lucky!

    If it no longer sells after they jack it, well then they either have a ton of laptops sitting around, or they lower the price. Either way we win…

  48. itsnotsobad10 says:

    One thing the Consumerist forgets to mention is Best Buy’s Price matching policy (14 days on laptops). So even if you bought it this week at the higher price couldn’t you just go back next week and get the refund? I’ve never had a problem doing that…

  49. Amelie says:

    @sakanz: Exactly. They had the exclusive rights to sell a “budget-priced Gateway” model.

    @krunk4ever: Being in the majority on these forums isn’t necessarily something to brag about.

  50. vastrightwing says:

    I appreciate the Consumerist pointing out things like this: 1) I hate Best Buy for screwing me over on not honoring a warranty claim and they deserve all the bad publicity they can get. 2) I like to be reminded that retailers are constantly ripping us off. Thanks!

  51. RogueSophist says:

    @barfoo: No. No it’s not. But I like the point you were trying to make.

  52. Nanno says:

    A lot of you guys are missing the point. It’s not that Best Buy can’t charge what it wants — it’s that Gateway has been promoting this laptop (which is a Best Buy exclusive) as a budget gaming laptop, and as soon as it gets popular, BB jacks up the price, even while Gateway continues to pitch it on their site at the original price (which links through to BB, at the higher price).

    Personally, I’d rather have this info than not. Raising prices just before a sale is exactly the kind of practice this blog should report on. That being said, at $1,199 for a laptop with an Nvidia 8800 graphics card, it’s an incredible deal.

  53. blkhrt1 says:

    This makes me wonder why people pay $500+ for Wii’s online…

    OH yeah, people want them bad enough, they’ll pay for it. No law against stupid consumers :D

  54. diablofreak says:

    shouldn’t we have a similar post everyday on big oil companies?

  55. HOP says:

    BEST BUY SUCKETH.

  56. StevieZ83 says:

    i don’t get why it’s a bargin in the first place you can get a very good budget laptop for 700 bucks these days…

  57. ldavis480 says:

    DON’T BUY ANYTHING FROM BEST BUY.

    Honestly, hello people?

  58. drdom says:

    Three Words:
    Supply and Demand

    It’s a free market. If you don’t like how they do business, you are free to shop wherever you like. If enough people stop shopping there (like they did with CompUSA) eventually they go out of business. that’s how a free market works.

  59. t-r0y says:

    @rjhiggins: Agreed! Bad headline, but the post is Consumerist worthy — if only to remind us, with a real world example, of what can happen if you don’t do your homework. Especially, when the manufacturer sells the same system for $350 (20%) less!

    Lesson: Best Buy’er Beware!

  60. Iskandr says:

    Aha, I actually bought one of these the week after they came out… had been eying a new laptop for a while and thought it was a steal at $1350. Then I grab a pricematch when they had it on sale for $1250, and was even happier. I was at BB the other night and saw the $1700 price tag on the thing and thought “damn, glad I got it early on.” Good to hear this price isn’t here to stay, great laptop IMO… except for one of the latches broke on mine. Sent it off to Gateway last week and I’m expecting it back in a day or so. Gods know I wouldn’t let BB work on it. I refused their shitty warranty, and plan on buying an extended warranty directly from Gateway when I can.

    @StevieZ83: Yes you can buy a budget laptop for $700. But does a budget laptop have 3 gigs of DDR2, a Geforce 8800m GTS w/512 ram, two harddrive slots that be setup in a RAID, a dual layer DVD burner, and so on…? About the only thing on this laptop that I was disappointed with was the processor, but since it is fully upgradeable I’ll be fixing that problem soon after I get mine back!

  61. RvLeshrac says:

    @ShadowFalls:

    Considering NoA did everything but beat them to death with Wiimotes for the bundle thing, I’d say that was “handled” and doesn’t apply anymore anyway. :p

    As an aside, I’d pay to see a Nintendo vs. Gamestop battle royale.

  62. RvLeshrac says:

    @MantisDragon:

    And where’d you find laptop processors for sale? The only time I see them, they’re bundled with “you’re required to buy the kit” miniITX motherboards.

  63. Iskandr says:

    @RvLeshrac: Never said I did find one on sale… but upgrading the base 1.6Ghz Core 2 Duo in this laptop to say the Intel Core2 Duo T7250 2.0GHz (bought off of Newegg.com) will still be cheaper than buying the 2Ghz model of the P-series FX directly from Gateway(unless you were stupid enough to pay $1700 for it). And considering what else this system has for a laptop still quite cheaper than most “gaming” laptops. I’m personally weighting to see how prices are in the next month or two(which is my referent for soon), now that the Penryn line of processors is getting to the market I would expect that the older Core 2 Duo lines might actually go down a bit in price.

    If the T7250 or the T7500 went down anywhere from $25 to $50 by the end of March it will have been worth the wait and the purchase to have a laptop that runs rings around my desktop that I have almost thrown as much money into.

  64. RvLeshrac says:

    @MantisDragon:

    It uses a desktop processor? Cheap price, then.

  65. foxmajik says:

    Nothing over $1,500 should be called a “budget laptop.”