I've been looking at buying a new laptop. Over the last several days, I've evaluated IBM, Dell, Toshiba and Gateway for options, price and availability. During this process, I've built customized configurations based on what I need and/or want.
As of yesterday, the average price of the configuration I was looking at rested somewhere near $2,200. This was consistent across the vendors, although Dell generally had the best options at the best price.
This morning I finally decided to make the purchase. I settled on the Dell model which best fit my requirements, and the price was just right. Consider that I had rebuilt the configurations just last night to finalize the options and prices. The total landed near $2,213, and that was perfect and within the budget I set aside for this.
I returned to Dell's site this morning. Much to my dismay and displeasure, the configuration had changed, so I was forced to start over. Given the same configuration and options, the exact same laptop now costs in the neighborhood of $2,663! Oh, and that configuration drops a few minor options that I was interested in but did not need.
The base model of the laptop I'm looking at went from $550 to $849 overnight. The price of higher end models, such as the one I am looking at, similarly increased.
I'm appalled. There's no shortage of components. The price of the equipment and software did not increase suddenly and excessively. There is no clearer explanation than simple price gouging in time for holiday shopping.
This is a detestable practice. The market does not support or require such dramatic increases. Instead of winning over holiday shoppers with excellent deals, this seems to be counterproductive and a move to alienate buyers who waited one day to place an order.
Dell should be ashamed.
Update: After much digging around on Dell's site, I discovered that the initial prices were increased and a discount was added once you add a purchase to your cart. While this alleviates the price increases as gouging, it represents a level of business stupidity one would not expect from Dell. Instead of showing discounted prices while you browse and hopefully select a PC or laptop for purchase, you don't know about the discount until you actually choose to purchase something — at the heavily inflated price. This will turn away customers who see only the high prices and decide they cannot make the purchase. They will never add an item to their cart and they will never see that a sliding-scale discount is applied. Again, Dell should be ashamed. They're running off customers by advertising prices significantly higher than what will be calculated once you submit something for purchase. As one of my brothers once said, that's stupid; S.T.U.P.D — stupid. (Yes, we all laughed when he spelled it that way!)