‘Limited Quantities’ Make Customers Angry
By George Anderson
It’s common legal wording. A retailer runs an ad on a promotion item and includes provisos such as “while supplies last,” “limited quantities,” or “no rainchecks,” to let consumers know there is not an endless supply of product and that sales are made on a first-come, first-served basis.
While the practice of running limited supply items at a really low, sometimes even loss leader, price can be very effective, it doesn’t make the consumers who were unable to
get the desired product any happier when they find out it is no longer available.
Such was the case with a consumer from New York State who went to a local Wal-Mart last Friday at 3 a.m. to wait outside for the store to open at five so he could buy a $398 HP laptop advertised by the retailer.
When the consumer, Greg DiNunzio, entered the store at 5 a.m., he asked a Wal-Mart associate where he could find the laptop. It was then he was informed they were already gone.
Mr. DiNunzio told the Times Herald-Record, “I said, ‘How can they be all gone? The rope hasn’t even been cut yet!’ She said, ‘Oh, we only had 22 of the laptops. Tickets were issued for them, and they’ve already been sold.’ “
Sharon Weber, a Wal-Mart spokesperson, expressed regret but said the company was fair in how they handled the promotion.
“We only wish the best for our customers, and people are very sad when every customer can’t get the item that they want,” she said. “Promotional items came in limited quantities and that’s what our ad said – ‘while supplies last.’ We did the best we could with the numbers that we had to ensure a fair distribution to our stores.”
Mr. DiNunzio told the paper he plans to file a complaint with the New York Attorney General’s Office.
Moderator’s Comment: Do consumers accept out-of-stocks when it comes to limited quantity items or do retailers, in effect, do themselves more harm than
good by advertising such items? –
George Anderson – Moderator