The feverish consumer demand for the iPad 2 highlights a lack of appropriate planning by both Apple and by the retail stores that promote the device, but fail to have it available to sell.
Seeking to buy an iPad 2 for my wife here in Singapore, I soon discovered that they are currently difficult to find but retailers seem happy to keep advertising, knowing full well they can't fulfill their promises to provide stock.
This is despite comprehensive signage at major electronics stores here in the Lion City promoting the iPad seemingly on every available space. But not one word about limited availability.
At one major outlet, that I shall not name, the sales lady received a lecture from me after she told me that they had no stock of the iPad 2 and did not know when they would have more stock.
"Then why does your store continue to heavily promote the iPad 2 with all this signage," I said. "Surely this is false advertising if you claim to be able to sell it, but don't have any in stock and don't know when you will have more stock."
The poor sales girl simply said it was beyond the store's control but had no answer when I asked why the huge signs did not feature the words 'Stock not currently available'.
Retailers seem happy to drive the iPad mania, but are less forthcoming about their advertising about availability of stock. Others take the approach of using the high demand to jack up prices which, again, is an attempt to extort consumers.
Of course, a cynical person might think that Apple HQ deliberately uses this shortage of supply as a marketing tool to boost sales. I've noticed a lax approach in Singapore to retail advertising. There are often full page ads in the local paper where retailers offer free gifts, bonuses and bargain prices, then have finer print saying 'for the first 10 customers'. It seems the stores are left to self-regulate about accounting for these 10 customers, but you can't help thinking that it is just a ruse to get consumers into the store.
It took me a couple of hours visiting a number of outlets before I finally found the iPad 2 that I wanted for my wife. I couldn't help myself; I went back to the sales girl and showed her my purchase.
I gave her a second chance because I wanted to buy an iPad case which incorporated a keyboard, only to be told again, that despite the walls of iPad accessories surrounding the counter, they were out of stock with this item too. I tried not to laugh.
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