Second Unnovation Award Winner – HP and Costco


I’m in the middle of trying to buy an HP Pavillion dv6700t Special Edition. I tried to buy it from Costco because you can configure it at costco.com for about 10% less than buying through HP directly.

Days passed, the promised ship date passed and an e-mail arrived saying that the wireless mouse I had “ordered” was out of stock. I was told my shipment would arrive late with a wired mouse followed by a month later by my wireless mouse.

Wireless mouse I ordered? I didn’t order a wireless mouse. Phone calls ensued.

It turns out that HP, convinced people will only buy a laptop if a free wireless mouse is involved, had decided one must be included with every laptop order before it can ship. So I called, and asked for the laptop to be shipped on time sans mouse – no dice. Apparently, HP laptops are built and shipped directly to the customer from China, so Costco is only able to place or cancel orders, never modify.

Then this week an e-mail arrives in my inbox from HP announcing a Presidents’ Day sale including 25% off the very laptop I had ordered from Costco. So, I promptly place an order on shopping.hp.com (at a $260 savings), and called and cancelled my Costco order.

Imagine my surprise when 36 hours later I get an e-mail from Costco saying that my order had shipped (my order from January 23). When I cancelled my Costco order they said I would either get a shipping or a cancellation confirmation but they had no idea which one. Which brings me to my points:

  1. In 2008 how can this happen?
  2. How can a transaction that should be nearly instantaneous, still not be executed 36 hours later by an undisputed technology leader and seller of technology consulting services?

Financially this snafu won’t effect me (I can get an immediate refund at my local Costco), but it will affect Costco and HP. Costco will lose money executing the return. HP will lose money executing the return and also lose $260 because of their delay that allowed me to re-order at a lower price.

All because of a “free” mouse.

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Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a Director of Innovation and Human-Centered Problem-Solving at Oracle, a popular innovation speaker and workshop leader, helps companies build innovation cultures and infrastructures, and plan organizational changes that are more human and less overwhelming. He is the author of Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden has been advising companies since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School. Follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.

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