My HP Touchpad scavenger hunt success story

First off, based on what I know right now (August 25th), it is my belief that Best Buy is pretty much done as far as availability goes. That can change anytime pending some policy change but it appears they have depleted local distribution inventory and are sending back the rest to HP.

First off, based on what I know right now (August 25th), it is my belief that Best Buy is pretty much done as far as availability goes. That can change anytime pending some policy change but it appears they have depleted local distribution inventory and are sending back the rest to HP. None of this is confirmed so take it with a grain of salt. A log of people are interested in how to successfully navigate Best Buy to the elusive treasure.

Let me preface my story by telling you that I already own an iPad so getting the Touchpad was just a value bonus, not a necessity. My life will not change if I didn’t get one. But it did become a challenge to score one in this once in a lifetime retail opportunity. My goals and conditions were simple. Get a Touchpad for minimal time and effort. Any extreme measures like camping out overnight is not worth it for me. So if you’re willing to do much more, you will have better results given the same opportunities. But the truth of the matter is that the opportunities are slim to none at this point in the brick and mortar avenue.

A bit of history

I’m not going to bore you with this but here some background on my failed efforts.

  • I found out about this about 3 hours after it started on Friday night. By then, it was already too late to order from HP. They had already stopped taking orders just as I was adding it to the cart.
  • Next opportunity was Barnes and Noble and we all know how that went. I had little confidence in B&N being able to ship so I ignore that order altogether.
  • Next up was Office Depot in the middle of the night / early Saturday morning. They only offered the 32 g so I didn’t order. Two people who did order at that time got delivery confirmations.
  • Saturday morning trip to Best Buy which is only 5 minutes away. They said they were not selling them and returning them all to HP.
  • Tried Staples B&M. No stock.
  • Called Radio Shack. No stock.
  • Spent Saturday afternoon at Starbucks trying to get on HP SMB site without success. No luck with calling either.
  • Went to a BBQ Saturday night and returned to find out Best Buy changed their mind and subsequently sold out online.
  • Placed order with Onsale via Amazon so now I have 3 on order.
  • Between Sunday and Wednesday, all my orders got canceled and I had no luck ordering from any other online vendors.

Now for the Best Buy adventure

  • Went to Best Buy four times on Wednesday. It’s next to my favorite Starbucks so it was basically drink coffee, check in on Best Buy, back to coffee, repeat. First try: Blue shirt door guy said no stock, not getting any more. Second try at the computer area, the blue shirt guy had no info. Third try, another blue shirt guy at the computer area had the wrong info. He said something about them coming in on Fedx trucks throughout the day.  Finally spotted a non-blue shirt employee who had a headset and was directing the others. Just walked up to him and asked if he worked there, chatted him up a bit and asked him to check a s sku without saying Touchpad. He looked it up showing a screen with all the local BB with in stock and in transit numbers. He advised me to try the Marin City store as they are a low traffic store (See the avg weekly sale on the pic compared to Sunnyvale). But he could not tell me when they would get it. It could be an hour, could be 2 days. 2011-08-25 15-51-28 - 0009_resize
  • Search the Slick Deals thread on Best Buy and noticed not a single person reported anything for Marin City. That means less competition for me.
  • Woke up at 6 am to see that HP had changed the status from ‘check back soon’ to ‘out of stock’. That made me nervous. Also noticed Best Buy had updated the useless web stock checker to show stock for Colma which I know was not true. So this is a great diversion for my competitors.
  • I stayed in bed for another 10 minutes contemplating it but decided all the stars were aligned even though there was no guarantee they would get the shipment this morning.
  • Arrived  at 8:15 am and the placed was empty.
  • Casually got breakfast and parked right in front of the store. Pretty stress free at this point.
  • Saw a huge white truck pass us so I followed it around the back and confirmed it was for Best Buy. I even took a picture just in case an employee tried to pull a ‘we didn’t get any deliveries’.
    The mysterious Best Buy truck that brings the goodies
  • At around 9am, one other guy showed up so now it’s 3 in line for an expected 36 units.
  • At 9:30 am, about 15 people showed up all at once. They were at another nearby store which opened at 9 am and was not able to get any units.
  • There was a Best Buy employee in line to get her personal unit. That was reassuring to know they had to wait and could not hold the units for themselves.
  • Talked to another employee and confirmed they had stock in the truck, they were doing a voucher system, and there was enough for everyone in line.
  • When they opened, there were 18 people in line and everyone got a 16 or 32.
  • Paid for our products and went across the parking lot to Starbucks.
  • We then headed back to Best Buy to see if they had more. They said no so it’s a mystery what happened to the balance of the expected shipment.
  • The lesson here is blue shirts are useless, clueless, or lying and at least one Best Buy store is actually honest.

Will this work for you this late in the game? Who knows. Is it worth it? I wouldn’t camp knowing there are no units inbound. Happy hunting. There’s always HP.com when they release their second wave which I think will be substantial. All those who bought for resale are in for a rude awakening.

  • Ed

    Haha good story. I was in line with you. I was wearing the SF hat. There were three employees in lined actually.

  • Dumb

    Best buy employees are buying the units to sell them later at ebay at about $100 more

  • Why doesn’t the stock checker screen show that there were 36 in transit to the Marin store?

    • That shot was taken the day I got the Touchpad so the units had already arrived and sold. I saw the screen with the inbound units the prior day.