Target Puts iPad On Sale By Adding 99 Cents To Price

It’s tough to get too angry at Target for attempting to skim a buck off the top of iPad purchases, but to call the minimally-inflated price a “sale” crosses the line of decency.

According to Apple’s site, the manufacturer’s price for the device is $499 flat, but this circular says Target is charging $499.99.

(Thanks, Ryan!)


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  1. Rocket says:

    It’s on “On Sale”, it’s “For Sale”.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Yeah, this distinction was lost to retailers decades ago.

      Every department store I enter has 90% of their goods “on sale” even when it’s not.

      • loquaciousmusic says:

        Kohl’s is a particularly egregious offender—they always seem to be in the midst of a sale, no matter the time of year. I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for anything there.

  2. The cake is a lie! says:

    The extra .99 cents is to help offset all the cost of little shiny gold ‘Sale’ stickers.

  3. DanGarion says:

    Do you know the definition of the word sale?

    • domcolosi says:

      Depends. Do you know the difference between common usage and dictionary definition and how that difference applies to the real world?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      But common vernacular means that “sale” could imply “discount” and simply using the word is insufficient. The label should have said “available now” if Target’s intention was to inform customers that it now sold iPads. If we’re being extra nitpicky, Target couldn’t have even used the phrase “on sale now” as “sale” could imply that the item is now on discount. Most people probably wouldn’t see it that way, but then again, someone did take the time to send this into Consumerist so maybe people aren’t too into thinking things through anymore.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    This is pretty common, actually. Nook is selling at Best Buy for $149.99 but B&N offers it for $149. The Kindle, while not available online at, is probably priced similarly, with the added 99 cents.

    It might have to do with the coding at the stores’ POS systems. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything at Target with a price ending in .00 before.

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      They would have done better to price it at 498.99 and undercut Best Buy and the Apple store by a penny, but Apple tech is some of the most price regulated crap I’ve ever seen. It is up there with the Wii, PS3, and Xbox prices. Its the same everywhere because the manufacturer won’t allow pricing wars.

      • fantomesq says:

        Not true. Apple has recommended product prices and most retailers hold to them to maintain their margins but Apple does not mandate retailer’s end-user prices. Prove otherwise.

        • The cake is a lie! says:

          I would, but I would be fired for releasing proprietary information. Belief in a fact isn’t required for the fact to still be true.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            Fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself”

            – Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

            I can make assinine cryptic statements, too.

          • humbajoe says:

            I’m sure the Apple store or Wal Mart that you work at will see “10-2Graphics” posting something innocent on a web site, know exactly who you are, and hunt you down like the super-villain you are.

        • Billy says:

          Wouldn’t it be easier just to prove your assertion?

        • NeverLetMeDown says:

          They legally can mandate minimum prices, if they want, ever since Leegin v. PSKS in 2007.

      • paul says:

        Retailers are free to charge whatever they want, the FTC does not take kindly to manufacturers trying to fix the prices of their products in the market.

        I’ve read that with video games, often times the store itself isn’t selling the items, but leasing shelf space to Microsoft, who then charges their standard price… I don’t know if that’s true or just an urban legend. Other theory is that the markup on that stuff (for the retailer) is so tiny they can’t really afford to discount it at all because they’re basically selling it at cost in the first place. Again, I have no proof and it’s just something I’ve heard.

        • AustinTXProgrammer says:

          There was a court ruling a few years ago that legitimized the minimum advertised price. Consumers took a big blow on that one.

    • CTrees says:

      Off the top of my head, the “One Spot.” It’s that area with the cheap crap up front. Mostly it’s $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, etc. I’ve seen many other items at whole dollar amounts, or $2.50, or similar.

      I did my time, working at Target for about three years. Prices can be set at pretty much anything. The extra $0.99 is just Target adding a little padding.

      • dangerp says:

        There is a code behind the last digits of Target’s wares:

        Basically makes it impossible for them to sell something with .00 at the end without mass confusion.

        Yes, I searched through 3 years of articles to pull out that random piece of trivia. You’re welcome.

        • Wiggs says:

          We actually used to have a code kind of like that when I worked at Circuit City too (RIP).

          $X.99 = item was available and in-stock
          $X.96 = item was being discontinued and probably replaced by a new model OR is a 1-day item like Black Friday
          $X.95 = rare item; we have a display model and probably one in stock, but more need to be ordered. Usually reserved for high-end laptops & tablets that rarely sold

  5. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    It’s like those “featured product” or “everyday low price” signs they put up in some stores, except in those cases at least the price didn’t go up.

  6. fantomesq says:

    Best Buy has the same iPad for sale at the same price. The Sale violator does seem confusing though, if not deceptive.

  7. Southern says:

    And Amazon wants $562.98. And Buy.Com wants $589.99. Target seems like a pretty good deal to me.

    (These are both for the Apple iPad with Wi-Fi – 16GB – Model MB292LL/A, which Apple sells for $499.)

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You’re incorrect. It’s not Amazon selling the iPad at that price, it is a marketplace seller:

      • Southern says:

        Ok, noted.. that’s not the case at though.

        Either way, it’s kinda weird to me that anyone would sell something HIGHER than the manufacturer and/or the manufacturers MSRP (at least in electronics).

        Especially when someone can just walk into Target/BestBuy and pick it up for $499.99 (stock availability not withstanding).

        • Southern says:

          I take that back, it looks like the Buy.Com price is a 3rd party seller too. “Click and Go Buy Electronics” or somesuch.

          And then there’s the “other retailers are selling this device for: $499 – APPLE ELECTRONICS”. lol.

          And yet I’m sure there’s people that buy them at the $589 price.

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  8. RayanneGraff says:

    I wish retailers would do away with the whole “.99” deal. I HATE that so much. Like anyone is fooled into thinking they’re getting a deal when something costs a penny less than a round amount.

    Secondly, I still can’t believe people are willing to pay this much for an iPad. My PHONE does more than that piece of crap.

    • Pinkbox says:

      It does fool people though, actually.

      • Rena says:

        Sad but true. People don’t round mentally; they truncate. “$2.99” becomes “about $2” rather than “about $3”.

        • Tallanvor says:

          Speak for yourself. I round up. In fact, if I see something on sale for $499 (or $499.99) in a store in the States, I immediately round that up to around $540 due to taxes. When I’m shopping in Europe, on the other hand, I don’t have to do that since taxes are already included in the price.

          • Jasen says:

            They don’t do it just for the hell of it. Marketing studies (backed by sales data) prove that people seem to automatically go for the $4.99 product over the $5.00 product. It might be stupid, but it’s human behavior.

    • ThinkerTDM says:

      You have an amazing phone. Of course, we don’t really care to hear about it. Or your damn opinion.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      Your phone has a 9 inch screen?

  9. vastrightwing says:

    Sale has become abused, I bet most people don’t think of sales as being discounted anymore. Just look at liquidators: they actually mark everything up, not down, yet people flock to them. Incredible. I simply look at the price, I assume it won’t be any better than the internet but just in case it is, I check first. I mostly assume that retailers are trying to fool everyone anyway. Not a big deal, but I enjoy watching all the tricks they play, which is why I like this site.

    • standardhalf says:

      That’s not always the case with liquidators.

      My father worked for one of the biggest liquidation firms in the country and they never marked items up. From the day they took control of the assets, prices only went down. The only questionable thing I ever witnessed was stock from other closeouts being brought in to a different retail chain gone under. And I’m not even sure that’s really a problem, morally or legally.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      It depends, sometimes they mark it up, but what they don’t do is honor a company’s weekly ad, which makes some items a very bad deal. Especially clothing, which is usually 10% off for the first few weeks of the liquidation sale. The problem with clothing is it usually was never intended that they sell it at the original price on the tag, but the liquidator only takes their percentage off that, making it a very bad deal. A lot of clothing is 50% off in sale ads like Kmart, and most stores have at least 30% off almost all clothing items in stock at any given time.

      I don’t see too many people buying from liquidation sales, there is a lot of foot traffic but very little actual buying for the first few weeks of the sale.

      Honestly the price is gonna be better for most items you will want online and liquidation sales often have no returns at all policies so you may be better off paying that 10% more just to buy it at a store with a decent return policy if its a big ticket item.

      If I am buying items at a liquidation sale I make sure its stuff I know I will never have to return.

  10. jaredutah says:

    ummmm….is Dr. Pepper on sale? Because if it is…I’m going to the Target!

  11. humphrmi says:

    Normally I’d say that the $0.99 mark-up is not bad because Apple is not shipping the 16GB Wi-Fi unit for weeks. But alas, I can’t say that now – shows the same unit ships in 24 hours. Although I guess if you really *must* have it tonight…

  12. Bodger says:

    Don’t get your knickers in a bunch. The Sheeple will buy whatever they’re told to buy at whatever price is offered — it is a holy offering to Saint Steve and a sign of their abiding faith. They will do it over and over and over and . . .

  13. Guppy06 says:

    The money for their campaign contributions has to come from somewhere.

  14. RogerX says:

    I generally love shopping at Target, especially when whole rows of merchandise go to 50-75% off…. but my biggest annoyance is when they put up a starburst in bront of an item that yells: “AS ADVERTISED!” with the MSRP of an item. Yes! We know you have the item in stock! Oy.

  15. Joseph S Ragman says:

    That’s why I make my own iPads at home.

  16. Weekilter says:

    Well, it’s a bargain. It’s less than $500!

  17. RyansChestHair says:

    Yay, Consumerist finally posted something I sent them.

  18. sopmodm14 says:

    just b/c its “for” sale , doesn’t mean its “on” sale

    thats just retail life everywhere, lol

  19. LastError says:

    Apple has very tough terms for pricing of their products. If you want to be an authorized Apple retailer, you abide by Apple’s rules or suffer severe penalties. Among the rules, nobody is allowed to undercut the Apple MSRP and new, not used Apple items are never allowed to be discounted or “on sale” with a reduced price except in rare cases.

    But retailers are allowed to charge MORE for items if they can actually find people dumb enough to pay more. Target is doing just that.

    Part of the problem is that Apple also sets very tight margins on everything. Retailers like Target might be able to negotiate better terms than some others, but Target is not making a lot of money on each iPad sold. Probably single-digit dollars. They pay Apple probably 493 for something they sell for 499.99. For Target, adding on that extra .99 cents represents a significant percent of the profit on the item.

    Target and the other retailers make their money on all the accessories like cases and carry bags and memory cards and other crap they sell with the item. This is why there is a seemingly infinite number of those accessories for sale. They have huge profit margins.

    Stores like Radio Shack pretty much exist not to sell you the phone but to sell you the case, charger, SD card, lanyard, battery, etc. That’s where the profit is.

  20. Rena says:

    I see my local grocery store pulling the “sale at higher price” often, but they usually try to disguise it with math. 2 for $3.50 (i.e. $1.75 each) becomes a “sale” of $1.99 each.

  21. RogerX says:

    I generally love shopping at Target, especially when whole rows of merchandise go to 50-75% off…. but my biggest annoyance is when they put up a starburst in bront of an item that yells: “AS ADVERTISED!” with the MSRP of an item. Yes! We know you have the item in stock! Oy.

  22. NathanielMink says:

    I was looking for a gift and noticed this extra pricing. I received the following reply to my email asking about this issue.

    Dear Xxxxxx xxxxx,

    Thank you for letting us know about this.

    The MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) noted on each of the millions of items we sell is based on the most current information available to us. I’ll make sure to share them with the right team.

    We’re always looking at ways to make even better and your comments are a big help to us.

    Thanks for getting in touch with us. I hope you’ll visit us again soon.

    How Did We Do?
    Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

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    Dinesh U.
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    —- Original message: —-

    10/08/10 06:38:30
    Comments: Why do you have the extra $0.99 cents added on to every Apple ipod item? Why is shopping at Target more expensive than from the Apple store?
    First Name: xxxxxxx
    Last Name: xxxxxxx
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  23. fredmertz says:

    If you sign up for a Target Red Card (store credit card), you’ll get 5% off EVERY SINGLE THING YOU PURCHASE AT TARGET, including the ipad. So actually, you’ll be saving $24.01.

  24. jwardl says:

    So what? Kroger uses this principle all the time.

    “Low Price” means newly-raised price.