Walmart Discounting iPhones and iPads With Apple’s Blessing

Say_anything_iphoneIf you’re looking for a discount on the new iPhone or iPad this holiday, they’re out there — but good luck finding one.

Walmart is slashing the price of a few iPhone and iPad models — including Apple’s flagship iPhone 5 — in 3,000 stores, reports Reuters.

The 16 gigabyte iPhone 5 will cost $127, compared to the original price of $190 (with a two-year contract from Verizon Wireless, Sprint or AT&T). Wal-Mart is also selling the 16GB iPhone 4S for $47 — nearly half off. The 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi will cost $399, or $100 off.

Interestingly, the 30-day promotion has Apple’s blessing. A Walmart spokeswoman told Retuers that the discounts were arranged with Apple. But, after making a few inquiries, the discounts proved difficult to find in a handful of locations in Washington and California.

I was told that the iPhone is only carried at Walmart Supercenters, which, if true, should make the hunt easier, since there are only 3,100 supercenters in the U.S., roughly the equivalent number of stores where Walmart is supposedly offering the discounts. Instead, I found the inventory and prices to be wildly inconsistent.

My advice, if you plan on taking on the challenge, is be patient. It takes awhile to find the correct person in electronics to answer your question on the phone, and hold times can be long. In one case, I was hung up on; in another extreme case, a representative simply told me that the iPhone 5 would cost “a lot.”

After calling the stores close to my home, I found that some only carried phones for Verizon Wireless and sometimes AT&T, but never Sprint. Additionally, inventory was limited to the 16GB iPhone 5, with none carrying the higher-capacity 32GB model.

Finally, after calling two stores in the San Francisco area, I found one Supercenter that was selling the iPhone at a discount. The Walmart in American Canyon, Calif. said the phone from Verizon Wireless would cost $127 with a two-year contract, but the iPad remained at its original price of $499. The Supercenter in Napa continued to charge full price for all the devices.

Here’s one idea: To save time and the headache of calling around, go to one of the many stores that are offering to match the lowest prices this holiday season, including Best Buy and Target, which have both vowed to honor some competitors’ prices. Perhaps you’ll have better luck there.

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