When Stuff For Sale At A Big-Box Retailer Isn’t For Sale

During his recent shopping voyages, reader Matt has noticed a strange trend. In big-box store Best Buy and Office Depot, there was plenty of inventory out on the shelves, but a lot of it wasn’t for sale. Not just a few items here and there: he writes that a dozen laptops at a local Best Buy lacked prices and weren’t for sale.

Went into Best Buy last Friday, 10/26/12 in [redacted], to buy a laptop. 12 laptops didn’t have prices on them. Asked where the prices were; the excuse was that Windows 8 had just come out and they were awaiting price updates. I told him it was ridiculous to have items on the shelf that they couldn’t sell me and told him I’d go find a better store to buy from. They lost my sale.

Waited til the next day and went shopping again. Saw a commercial about the new convertible ultrabooks coming out, so I decided against a laptop purchase at the current moment, and decided to get a 7″ tablet instead, for now.

Went into Office Depot and the 16gb and 32gb Nexus 7′s were both listed for $250. Both had a stack of “item request” sheets in front of them that said “take this to the register, to claim your product.”. I get up to the cashier, and realize it’s going to take a few minutes. Told them “no hurry” and sat down to wait. I hear one of the managers say that product is not available until Monday. I said “do what?!” “The item is on the shelf, you have little sheets that say bring it to the register, and it doesn’t say anything about it not being available. He said he has it right behind the counter but needs to check his company policy to see if he could sell it to me. By this point, I’m starting to get really agitated. I watch him look up the info over his shoulders and he was completely wrong, and thus, “had” to sell it to me.

When did it get to the place where the giant conglomerates WON’T “sell you what they’re trying to sell you?”

That does seem like a poor business practice, even if the real causes are vendor dictates and poor organization. If you encounter retailers who won’t sell you things that are for sale, be like Matt and call them on it. If they still refuse, take your business elsewhere.

Have you encountered similar anti-capitalist amusement while shopping? Let us know.