If you recently missed out on picking up an HP TouchPad tablet for $99, you are not alone. The list of disgruntled customers left in the wake of the HP TouchPad fire sale is extensive, and they have taken to the internet to voice their displeasure.
Unless you are not much of a tech follower, you probably heard that HP slashed the price of its TouchPad tablet from the neighborhood of $500 all the way down to $99 a couple of weekends ago. For many, a tablet was not seen as a necessity, but rather a luxury and a fun gadget to have around the house. The immense popularity of Appleís iPad lit a tablet-needing flame in the minds of many consumers, so when they realized they could have a tablet of their own for just $99, chaos ensued. While the TouchPad did make its way into the hands and laps of thousands of happy customers, it only incited anger in many more due to a logistical nightmare.
Simply put, the demand for the TouchPad far exceeded its supply. Itís possible that HP knew such a thing would happen, but even if that was the case, it did not stop many retailers and resellers from experiencing a multitude of customer service and PR problems.
Best Buy is one popular retailer that had the TouchPad in stock, and it caused large lines to form outside its stores for several mornings. Although the chain did have to deal with a rush of customers in person, itís nothing like the drama that unfolded in the virtual world between internet bargain hunters and online retailers.
Barnes & Noble is one of the companies that advertised the TouchPad on its site, but it would quickly become inundated with orders it could not fill. The company had to issue several cancellations and has also dished out $20 to some consumers who were disadvantaged by the sale. Even HP itself was guilty of taking orders that exceeded its inventory on its consumer and business websites, which resulted in cancellations. HP has attempted to appease TouchPad-hungry buyers by providing shipment updates on orders it promises to fulfill, as well as allowing signups for notifications on when the TouchPad will be back in stock.
Itís hard to deny that big names such as HP and Barnes & Noble had their fair share of problems in the TouchPad fiasco, but they pale in comparison to the disaster that plagued onSale, a subsidiary of PC Mall Inc. and a merchant of Amazon.com.
Chicago-based onSale advertised the HP TouchPad on Amazonís website in the thick of the tabletís fire sale weekend. The merchant was selling both the 16GB and 32GB versions of the tablet for as low as $99 plus shipping. Online consumers bum rushed the listing after the deal was posted on Slickdeals, a highly-visited website that lists online bargains. onSaleís listing noted that the TouchPad was in stock, and many customers placed orders for one or multiple tablets in the hopes of selling them for a profit or giving them as gifts to family and friends.
Once the orders were place, most customers received a Shipping Soon status on the page listing their Amazon purchases. At this point, itís safe to say that many people felt a sense of relief that they had just bought a steal, thinking that they would soon have a tablet in their hands for work and play. Unfortunately for the majority of onSaleís customers, the only item they would have at their disposal was speculation and worry once rumors circled that the reseller did not have sufficient inventory to fill all orders. Shipping status remained unchanged for days, and credit card holds appeared on statements. Would they get their TouchPad, or was it all an illusion?
Customers began emailing and calling onSale, but mostly without luck. Phone lines were overwhelmed, disconnections occurred, and onSaleís reputation was tanking. The company tried to add some peace of mind through posts on its Facebook page, but that only fueled anger as many wanted concrete answers concerning their orders. Several days passed, and cancellation emails were finally sent. In the end, thousands were left empty handed, and onSaleís previously strong reputation has taken a major hit.
onSaleís lifetime Feedback Rating on Amazon.com was almost perfect at 97 percent. This was before the HP TouchPad fire sale, however. In just a little over a weekís time, the lifetime Feedback Rating has dipped to 65 percent. onSale has an 80 percent negative Feedback Rating in the last 30 days, and its recent feedback is littered with negative posts containing ratings of 1 out of 5 stars. The resellerís Facebook page has thousands of negative comments in response to its apology posts on the matter, and there are even pages created by angry customers that are dedicated to the companyís mismanaged handling of the TouchPad sale.
onSale has responded by stating that it simply received orders that exceeded its TouchPad supply, and that itís putting measures in place to prevent a similar disaster in the future. If there is anything that the HP TouchPad fire sale has taught us, itís that the internet is a cutthroat arena when it comes to customer service. One slipup, no matter how big or small, could affect your businessí future success, as customers are not afraid to voice their opinions.
If you are still out in the cold and waiting for a TouchPad of your own, good luck on picking one up at the moment for the rock-bottom price of $99. The good news is that HP has announced that it will launch another production run for this fall. Whether or not the price will equal those of the fire sale remains to be seen.
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