Best Buy Will Sell You HP’s TouchPad at Your Own Risk

Best Buy has resumed sales of the HP TouchPad, after getting the message loud and clear that consumers believe the price is right, even if the tablet has been discontinued and the future of its operating system is uncertain.

Over the weekend, HP marked down the 16 gigabyte version to $99 and the 32GB version to $149, representing a price cut of $300 or more.

By Saturday morning, inventory on HP’s online store quickly ran out, and other retailers were scrambling to keep up with terms of the fire sale.

Best Buy previously had declined to sell the devices, but by today, the big-box retailer reversed that decision with a number of caveats.

“Due to HP’s decision to discontinue its TouchPad product, Best Buy® will now provide clearance pricing for all TouchPad 16GB and 32GB models (SKUs 2842056, 2842092) regardless of previously advertised prices or promotions,” according to Best Buy.

Best Buy has been the most transparent through this whole situation, providing updates on its TouchPad product page. Press representatives from HP and Palm did not reply immediately to emails for comment.

UPDATE: A Palm representative has gotten back to me with a number of updates, including comments about support for the platform going forward. “HP is fully committed to the ongoing support and service of customers who purchased webOS devices.”

Yesterday, customers who bought the TouchPad at full price, were particularly peeved that the device and accessories they paid hundreds of dollars for were marked down so aggressively and discontinued only a couple of months later. Now HP appears to be rectifying that, according to Best Buy. It will give customers either a full refund or a check for the difference between the clearance price and the price they paid.

It’s still unclear what kind of support customers will be able to receive from HP in the future, or whether the TouchPad will be limited to a Web browser or glorified picture viewer. While HP has been clear it is discontinuing hardware, it’s less certain what the future of the operating system is and whether there will be any new apps or cloud services for it.

In a statement, an HP spokesperson said that all prices are final, but that “it will honor our product warranties and will continue to provide market leading support via services such as webOS Butler, our free setup support service available to all purchasers of HP webOS products for the first 90 days after purchase.”

In regard to future applications, HP says there will be an over-the-air update that will add functionality, and that it plans to investigate the “best ways to leverage webOS software and grow the applications.”

Retailers are allowed to make their own decisions on accepting returns from customers.

Here are the conditions of sales, as posted by Best Buy:

  • Best Buy will not accept customer returns or exchanges on clearance-priced TouchPads bought through any Best Buy channel.
  • Customers purchasing a TouchPad at clearance pricing will have a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty, fulfilled directly through HP, not Best Buy.
  • Customers who purchased the 16GB or 32GB TouchPad after June 19 may come into the store to get either a full refund or a refund of the difference between the price they paid and the clearance price.
  • Quantities are strictly limited. Limit 1 per customer. Best Buy cannot guarantee availability of inventory at this pricing at any particular Best Buy location or channel.

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