How To Turn Stuff On The Shelf But Not For Sale To Your Favor

Earlier this week, we discussed and solicited on the site your stories about big-box stores having items on display but allegedly not for actual sale. One reader shared how she enlisted the state attorney general to get a voucher from Best Buy after her rain check was turned away. Now Mark, a former bookstore seller, points out that you can turn this problem around and make it an advantage. Forgo instant gratification, and take the delay as an opportunity to do some price comparisons. Even if you find it cheaper in another brick-and-mortar store nearby, it’s still cheaper.

When I worked at a bookstore, every week we received titles with strict on-sale (SOS) dates. Unfortunately, they were usually not separated from the rest of the shipment, so we had to pull them aside as we unpacked the totes. Occasionally this meant we would miss a title, especially if home office managed to omit the title from the SOS list.

If a customer picked up the title and tried to buy it, the register would flag it and we couldn’t sell it. If it wasn’t a huge title — for example, something in the Harry Potter series or something by Stephen King or James Patterson — it might not seem like a big deal. However, if a publisher were to find that we broke a SOS title early, we might risk not receiving SOS titles in the future. However, we could hold a copy for the customer to purchase on the sale date.

Assuming that some stores in other categories have the same problems, the best advice I can offer is to first ask when the item can be purchased, and if there is a specific date, ask if the item can be held until then. I’d also ask if the store will match a competitor’s sale price. That way you can turn the delay into an opportunity to shop for the best deal.