Deceptive Web Retail Practices

It is the classic bait-and-switch, to show more inventory on your web site than you actually have in stock, I assume hoping that when the order is placed and the item becomes “backordered” or “unavailable” the customer will then buy something else that is in stock. Still, a pretty crummy business practice.

I want to highlight some stores that I have personal experience with that do this:

  •  (March 2007) I wanted to get a 1100mAh battery for my Cingular 3125 (HTC StarTrek) phone. Google has this first when you do a search, and indeed the website has it “in stock”. Once I placed the order the next day I get the following email:

Dear XXX,The item(s) listed below is/are currently back-ordered with a 1-2 weeks estimated time of replenishment. We will ship your item(s) as soon as available.

   QTY:  2
   ITEM: STAR161
   DESC: Cingular 3125 1100mAh Lith-Ion Battery


1800mobiles operations

       Then about a week later I get an email that summarily cancels the order, saying that the product has been discontinued or some such (I unfortunately deleted the email out of disgust). Of course, this product is still listed (as of April 2007) on the web site as available and “ready to ship.”

Beware of!


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