Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mission Impossible

To start with, please cue up the MI theme song.

OK, thanks.

Why are you listening to that song ans what is going on?

Here's the deal. In our company meeting Tuesday, the topic came to a commonly heard statement by clients shopping for laptops. "I can go down the street and get a laptop for $300." I challenged my team to find a laptop (not a netbook, we all know netbooks are in the $300 price range) in Amarillo for $300. Sure enough the next day a Walmart flier was sitting on my desk advertising a Compaq Presario for $298.

Now I want everyone to understand that cat-man-du does not have a price based business model. In other words, we don't base our prices on competitors prices. We just don't compete that way. With that said, I never want our clients to feel like we price gouge either. So we try to keep our prices within normal and acceptable ranges. We also never get complaints from clients that purchase something and then balk at the price. We just get this one nagging comment from time to time then they go on their merry way.

I took this as a challenge and decided to try and take the same steps that the people looking for the $300 laptop would.

It seems Walmart would be the best place to start, so with ad in hand I drove to Wallmart.

When I got there, there was no laptop that fit the price, so I asked someone. "You have to read the fine print." Sure enough, there it was:

Available at 8:00 a.m., July 26.
Limited quantities available.
Minimum quantity: 10 per store.
No rain checks.

*Side note, cat-man-du doesn't play games like this with our advertising. We don't do bait and switch.

So since it's the 24th there would be no $300 laptop for me. If I wanted to show up Sunday morning there would most likely be 10 for me to choose from. BUT, cat-man-du is not open on Sunday, so this cutomer that I'm playing the part of would (at the moment be SOL).

Here are pictures of what Walmart DID have to offer (Note the least expensive one was not in stock and they were "Rolling Back" prices to $598 & $698):

Now because I feel like I know people pretty well and if I'm going to play the part of this shopper, I feel like I need to go to Best Buy next. After all, I made this statement earlier at cat-man-du and I may even take my $300 laptop (when I find it) back up there just to show them that their $700 Lenovo laptop is WAY overpriced.

So off I went. Now this undercover recon was very difficult at Best Buy because I was recognized by both the employees and several customers as the "cat-man-du" guy. I knew I should have worn my fake mustache. Anyway, as soon as I got to the laptop section, right on the end-cap I found these:
As I walked into the laptop area, I found these:
OK, so now the store employees are all over me cuz they know who I am and because they know I'm up to something. I didn't get to take the pictures I wanted to, but there was NO $300 laptop at Best Buy. The cheapest full laptop (not a Netbook), in stock was a Toshiba for $349 after $50 mail-in rebate.
*Another side note, cat-man-du doesn't play the whole "rebate" game either.
No sir, still no $300 laptop. I have spent an hour of my time and a little gas but I am willing to try again. Where else would I go? Office Max, sure it's right down the road and the have MUCH better prices than that cat-man-du place (which I'm really mad at now, they think they are SO right all the time).

Off I go, walk in and here is the result:

It may be hard to see but the cheapest laptop was the $549 one on the left. It was hard to take pictures in Office Max because I was one of two customers in there and the employees were all over me.

So any way it turns out it WAS an impossible mission. And cat-man-du was right. AND their laptop pricing was in line with the other offerings out there. AND I wasted my time and gas. I'm pissed.

1 comment:

uncle gumby said...

Kudus Ray, and two Fonzie thumbs up.
It take a shrewd businessman to do what you did. Sometimes the only way to prove to your customers why you price a certain way it to do it yourself. I did my best to close Circut City down in the audio dept. Like to think I succeeded. I didn't know you sold laps' otherwise....