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Office Max Bait and Switch Advertising

Understand Bait and Switch before you buy laptops at Office Max

Bait and switch advertising is one of the oldest sales tricks in the book. Retailers lure you in with an inexpensive product, of which they have only a handful in stock. They reason that once you are in the store, even if your product is no longer available, you will go ahead and spend your money with them.

Sounds kind of like black Friday, huh?

According to FTC regulations it is legal to advertise a low, low price as long as you have a “reasonable” number of the item on hand in anticipation of demand.

Did Office Max intentionally snub the FTC?

Sunday, December 7, Office Max advertised a Compaq Presario Laptop Computer CQ50-139NR (3GB, 250RAM), advertised as the T3200, for $499. That’s a great price, and it seems reasonable to me that Office Max might anticipate that such a price would create quite a demand.

But they didn’t.

Office Max says They didn’t Anticipate the Demand

In fact, many of the stores that advertised the product did not have even one in stock. When I called Office Max customer service to inquire about the computer and why none were available in my area, nor online I was given a line from a memo that said, “We didn’t anticipate the demand.”

Blame it on Compaq/HP

Of course they have already, as of Monday, sent a memo to their agents advising them of that. They knew going into the weekend that many stores no longer had any of the units. Further, they blamed it on the supplier.

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By this point I smell a rat and read up on the FTC regulations regarding “Guides against Bait Advertising, Section 238. It seems clear to me, that unless Office Max was screwed by Compaq/HP, that they have advertised in violation of these FTC guidelines.

A quick call to Compaq/HP informed me that the computer Office Max was advertising was discontinued. IF, there were any in stock, they were remnants. There were stores who had none in stock as of Sunday.

Why would Office Max Advertise Laptops they don’t have?

Sam Duncan, the CEO of Office Max, has an eloquently written article about how crucial integrity and character are to Office Max.

If I were Sam Duncan of Office Max I would get on top of the supply chain, my supply executive, and advertising.

Office Max has tip-toed very close to the line on this Compaq Presario Laptop. I believe they have crossed the line, but when you but your head against customer service, dispute resolution, and have yet to receive a call from public relations what is a consumer to do?

Don’t buy Office Max

I’ll take office supply needs to Staples and return to Best Buy for electronics. Office Max has failed to win my support as a consumer. I, like many other excited shoppers feel betrayed.

I’m angry because of the lack of integrity. I’ll get over it, but Office Max may find a much more difficult time overcoming the character issue they have created for themselves in advertising a Compaq Presario that is discontinued.

Beware of bait and switch advertising, especially at Office Max, if you plan to shop there again.

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