Saturday, March 3, 2012

Radio silence and gouging (A follow-up to Black Piday)

It seems that the forums are back up, and have been for 12 hours or so.  So far, there's only 2 people on the forums who seem to have got confirmed orders for Pis from the first batch.  Given that there were upwards of 12K people registered on the forum, and most of them were probably frantically trying to get orders in from 06:01 on the 1st, we can safely say that demand was "underestimated".

Oddly, there seems to be very little spleen being vented towards the Foundation, but some not inconsiderable anger directed at Farnell and RS, mainly over their incompetent and inconsistent handling of ordering and preordering.  This anger is, I believe, misplaced - there's far more wrong with what RS (to a lesser extent) and Farnell are doing than being simply incompetent.

I'll say it now.  I feel that handing over control to Farnell and RS was a massive mistake, and it may cost the foundation much of the goodwill they have accumulated even whilst they were missing their hoped-for delivery dates.

RS are seemingly not acknowledging anything.  Nobody is reporting any response at all from them.  "Register interest" and - nothing, nada, que chi.

Farnell are, logistically speaking, doing better - they (if you can find the link to order in your country) are accepting preorders.  However, they are:

  • Giving wildly optimistic delivery dates on order, which are then being modified in email
  • Advertising and confirming orders at one price, and then subsequently modifying the price (which, as far as I understand it, but IANAL, is contrary to the Sale of Goods Act, at least in the UK)
  • Selling the Pi at inflated prices.  This is the worst, as the price point was the one thing the Foundation have stuck to, and was a major selling point. The Model B (which is all that's on "sale" at the moment) was supposed to be 35 USD plus locally applicable taxes.  In France (and, I believe, the rest of Europe), Farnell are quoting 33.07 EUR before tax, which comes to 42.65 USD.  That's a 21% markup.  The UK gets an advertised 24.65 GBP, or 39.03 USD, but a reportedly subsequently modified price of 26.65 GBP, or 42.20 USD.  Again, a >20% markup.
I cannot understand why the Foundation are allowing this.  RS are advertising at 21.60 GBP, which is, at least, at the 35 USD price point.

Farnell are destroying the Foundation's year-long commitment to a given price point.  The Foundation should pull their licence NOW.

It has been pointed out that, in their defence, Farnell are merely rolling the shipping cost into the purchase price and shipping for free, but that's actually fairly dishonest - it's a "reverse eBay" (i.e. the reverse of the situation where an article is listed with a low price and then the rest is made up by gouging the shipping).  If you were (able) to order more Pis than one, you effectively pay for single item shipping on each and every one (or, put simply, overpay your shipping cost massively).

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