Wal-Mart Can't Decide If The Web Is A Lawsuit Target Or A Marketing Opportunity

from the thanksgiving-tradition dept

This is becoming something of an annual ritual. Every year, websites obtain leaked copies of retail stores' day-after-thanksgiving sales circulators and post the prices. Every year, retail stores sue those websites claiming they're guilty of copyright infringement. And every year, Techdirt points out that prices are facts, and facts can't be copyrighted. The New York Times had a good write-up of the controversy. The offenders this year are Wal-Mart and Macy's both of whom have sent threatening letters to a site called BFAds warning them not to post information from their ads. The Times story has a couple of interesting tidbits. When confronted by the reporter, Wal-Mart couldn't provide a specific explanation of what was illegal about posting prices. We also learn that at the same time Wal-Mart is sending BFAds threatening letters, it's perfectly willing to send them money as part of its "affiliates program." You would think that the operators of BFAds would take a stand and refuse to do business with them until they retract their lawsuit threat. Meanwhile, a story in USA Today suggests that Wal-Mart might be realizing that the web is an important part of its marketing strategy and not just a place to send cease-and-desist letters. They've started offering special online sale prices for Black Friday, and they offer free shipping to customers who choose to have the purchases sent to their local Wal-Mart store. Maybe next year Wal-Mart should spend less time looking for people to sue and more time looking for ways to attract customers online.

Filed Under: black friday, thanksgiving
Companies: wal-mart

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  1. icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), 23 Nov 2007 @ 1:54pm

    Too bad that BFAds...

    Too bad I couldn't reach any of the links on BFAds. Seems the crapware list in my hosts file blocks all of them.

    "Black Friday" (much like Christmas) is basically a pain in the ass, anyway. I had been ignoring it in the past, but I got a notice from Fry's about some things I thought I might like to buy at pretty good prices, so I actually went out there at 5:00 this morning. I was expecting maybe a couple of hundred die-hard shoppers to be waiting at the door, and I was planning to just park in the far part of the lot and wait in my truck for the line to get in.

    OH. MY. GOD.

    I was off by about two orders of magnitude. Not a parking spot within a quarter-mile (not even any illegal ones left).

    I'm somewhat embarrassed that I factored myself in with the epsilon-minuses, even just this once. But, lesson learned; never again will I lose any sleep worrying about getting to the store on time to get a Black Friday special.

    Fry's is now on my list of places to avoid until at least the end of January. Sorry, but there isn't a hard drive or LCD display priced low enough to make me stand out in the cold for over an hour while the Fire Marshall makes sure that the building capacity is not exceeded. I don't care if the damned things are FREE!

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