Best Buy Claims It Lost $65,000 in a Day Matching Walmart’s iPhone 5 Discount

Best Buy’s price-matching guarantee backfired last month when it lost about $65,000 in one day after Walmart advertised discounts on Apple’s flagship iPhone 5.

iphone5_topAnd it was all my fault.

The fact that Best Buy lost money based on Walmart’s promotion was exposed after it and several other retailers filed complaints against Walmart for false advertising tactics with about a dozen state attorneys general, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In the case of the iPhone 5, Best Buy said it was compelled to match Walmart’s advertised price, even though it “concluded that Walmart didn’t actually have a sufficient number of iPhones available.”

That syncs up with what I reported on Dec. 15 when Walmart’s promotion first went into effect.

On that day, Walmart started offering the iPhone 5 at $127, compared to the original price of $190. It also started selling the iPad for $399, or $100 off. The discounts were only supposed to be available at its supercenters, or about 3,000 stores nationwide.

After calling around to several stores in Washington and California the day the promotion went live, I determined Walmart’s inventory of devices and pricing were wildly inconsistent.

Since it was difficult to find which stores had stock on hand, I recommended going to “one of the many stores that are offering to match the lowest prices this holiday season, including Best Buy and Target.” Over Twitter, at least one person told me that they took the advice and received discounted phones at Best Buy.

Walmart said the false advertising accusations are untrue. According to the WSJ, the company said it shipped double the usual amount of iPhones during the promotion and that the phone was 98 percent in stock at stores that carried the devices.

I hope that means I’m off the hook.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus