Best Buy Hoarding iPad 2 Stock?

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Sure is hard getting an iPad 2 lately (unless you’re in kindergarten).

Despite the latest and greatest Apple tablet’s availability at just about any retail store that’ll sell it, consumers have had a hard time actually purchasing one—especially the $500 model.

Word broke out last night that Best Buy may have been artificially restricting its stock of iPad 2 tablets, with CrunchGear reporting that Best Buy employees were apparently being told to inform customers that, if a store had hit its iPad 2 sales quota on a particular day, customers should be told that iPad 2s were out of stock even if there were some left in inventory.

This tactic upset Apple to the point that the company “declined to sell any more iPads” through Best Buy stores, according to CrunchGear.

The post was later updated with an apparent memo sent from interim Apple CEO Tim Cook to CrunchGear’s source at Best Buy allegedly debunking both the idea that Best Buy was holding back iPad 2 stock and the idea that Apple was going to stop letting Best Buy sell the iPad 2.

But wait. There’s more.

Another source over at sent in a similar story. The source claimed “to be an employee at ‘a fairly large’ Best Buy in the Southeast” reiterated CrunchGear’s claim that Best Buy has been holding back iPad 2s, but didn’t say anything about it being because a particular store had hit a daily sales quota—just that store managers were told not to sell iPad 2s and employees were instructed to tell customers they were out of stock.

No explanation, in other words. also claims to have been forwarded a text message that was apparently sent out “to all retail employees at a California Best Buy location” by “Best Buy management,” saying the following:

“NewsFlash: ipads cannot be sold according to BBY. All ipads except for preorders MUST be held until further notice. Cant tell customers were holding them either.”

You’re missing two apostrophes! But I digress…

Again, there was no explanation given as to why stores were supposed to hold back iPad 2 stock. However, Best Buy finally sent a statement directly to saying the following:

“Best Buy continues to receive iPad 2 inventory from Apple on a regular basis. As we’ve said previously, we are fulfilling customer reservations first. Our stores have been asked to temporarily hold non-reserved iPad 2 inventory for an upcoming promotion. This is a customary practice for us when there are supply constraints. Best Buy enjoys a great partnership with Apple, and we’re delighted by customer response to iPad 2.”

No official word, notes, about whether or not employees are “being instructed to misinform customers” about iPad 2 stock levels.

But if you think a Best Buy employee is going to tell you, “Yes, we have plenty in the back but I can’t sell you one because we’re saving them for an upcoming promotion,” instead of, “Sorry, we’re out of stock,” you’re grossly underestimating how badly salespeople and customer service reps want to avoid dealing with irate customers.

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