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January 12, 2004

Trade-In (In Your Dreams)

I knew CompUSA's twice-annual trade-in period had to be coming, so I was excited when I leafed through their Sunday ad and saw it was here. I was doubly excited when I saw the top-end trade-in value was now $750, a full $150 more than the previous potential value. And then I went to the trade-in partner's web site to get a quote. "Doesn't work" is a generous description of the web application that's supposed to deal with this promotion. In playing around, I discovered: * Apple as a manufacturer is listed three times as Apple, Apple Macintosh, and Macintosh. * Of the main Apple category (the most complete), the newest Power Mac listed is 7 years old. * Entering the production order number for my Mac magically returned a quote, even though no system anywhere near that new exists in the search-by-brand mechanism. * Acer appears both as Acer, with a large product line dating back to the early 1990s, and Ager, who sells an Otebook. * Despite having entries in the search-by-brand system for most of Dell's recent systems (the mysterious lack of the Inspiron 8100 between the 8000 and 8200 notwithstanding), none of them have quotes available. * Anything you can somehow manage to get a quote on has a trade-in value of "$.00". While I love CompUSA's trade-in programs (my past experience is that the values tend to be close to eBay's inflated prices), this one so far is mind-numbingly poorly executed. I would be happy to hand them my current laptop and instantly get a gift card instead of slogging through an eBay listing, but so far it looks like that's not destined to happen. This is a fine example of what not to do when running a promotion. *Update*, 13:09: As of 13:09, the trade-in quote calculator is closed for maintenance. While they should have had all their ducks in a row before that ad ever went to print, it's good that they're taking care of the problems seemingly quickly. *Update*, 13:44: The trade-in calculator is back up. If they made any changes, I haven't found them.

Posted by Colin at January 12, 2004 10:38 AM

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