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Office Depot Deceptive Advertising

For being a netbook-fan I admit I am in the market for a super-slim lightweight laptop.  The market has evolved, the current slimbooks are only slightly more expensive than netbooks, and I find the 13.3” screen size an ideal compromise between portability and straining my eyes with the tiny screens.  So I was quite happy to see what I consider a good deal: a HP DM3 for $449 @ Office Depot.

office depot dm3

I found it on DealNews a few days ago, but it became impossible to purchase almost immediately. I tried it for a few days, most recently just minutes ago, but am always getting the same response: no inventory.

insuff stock

The other SKU is available though, for $150 more. It appears the be the same configuration, without the discount.  I tried to tweet up @OfficeDepot, but I guess they are busy handing out cookies.  Finally I had an online chat with Customer Service, which basically conformed my suspicion: the SKU that’s available is the same physical unit, just without the discount.  So here’s the beef (not cookie):

  • Office Depot is advertising a computer at $449
  • The price is listed as effective through Jan 30th, without mentioning any restriction on how many they are selling at this price
  • They do have available inventory
  • They refuse to sell it at the listed price

If this is not false advertising, I don’t know what is.

Finally, see the script of my Customer Service chat:

Office Depot Online Help

Chat Dialog

CSR Gary has entered the session.
Zoli: looking at item# 328626 – says no inventory. The same config available for $150 more under different SKU. But this one says price valid till Jan 30 – so how can I buy it?
CSR Gary: Thank you for contacting Office Depot , Please give me a moment, while I check that for you.
Zoli: thanks
CSR Gary: You are welcome
CSR Gary: Thank you for being on hold
CSR Gary: I am sorry item “328626” is no longer available for purchase
Zoli: Isn’t 808119 the same?
CSR Gary: yes it is the same
CSR Gary: may i have your zip code
Zoli: 94566
CSR Gary: item 808119 is available for purchase
CSR Gary: please do call our customer care
department @ 1-800-463-3768 and they will help you in
placing this order
Zoli: I see the availability online. but it is the identical product for $150 more then the other price, which claims to be valid till 1/30
CSR Gary: Yes
CSR Gary: We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused.
CSR Gary: Is there anything else I may assist you with?
Zoli: It’s not a matter of inconvenience. If your website claims it is avail for $449, and you do have inventory, then you should be sellign it for that price, not $599
Zoli: Otherwise this feels like deceptive advertising
CSR Gary: I am sorry the item is available until stocks last
CSR Gary: I will escalate this issue to the concerned department to remove the out of stock item from the website
Zoli: OK. Thanks.
Zoli: I’m blogging this as a case of deceptive advertising

Update – I guess I should not be surprised:  Office Depot Associates Routinely Lie about Notebook Stock – reported Laptop Magazine almost a year ago.

Update #2:  Did Office Depot really need this:

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$279 Fully Configured Acer Aspire One Notebook – Real or Scam?

I know netbook prices are dropping, but not this fast!  Just a day after hearing about a $309 deal here’s an ad for a higher-end Acer Aspire One, for $279, shipping included!

The lowest price for this configuration so far has been on Amazon, @ $399.

I am speechless… this looks too good to be true.  I can’t find any info on the vendor (BeneficialTech.info), there is a contact email but no phone number – - but they have Google Checkout.

So I leave it to my dear readers to decide: do you think this is real or a scam? smile_eyeroll

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“Local Warming” – Quoted in a TED Presentation

Investor and prankster Yossi Vardi delivered a lecture @ TED (March 2007, Monterey, CA) on the dangers of blogging. Specifically, um, for men. Eagle-eyed Amit Agarwal spotted a glimpse of my earlier blog post, Will Geeks Become an Endangered Species? embedded in the presentation:

Here’s the full video , it’s 6 minutes 15 seconds long, and my 4 seconds of fame come at 2:12 smile_shades

On second thought, this was my first 3 seconds of fame – explanation here. Ah, when I was young…smile_embaressed

Update (4/5/07): The seeds of innnovation in danger …