Ever wonder how long it takes retailers respond to a recall? We got to see first-hand this week after Intel announced a flaw in its newest “Sandy Bridge” processor line.  After Intel issued the recall on 1/31, I was anxious to see which new notebooks were still on shelves during our weekly price collection.

Here is what we saw:

  • Best Buy – Pretty quick response! Ryan, our retail collector in Fort Worth, TX, spotted the Samsung RC512-S01 on shelves on Monday, 1/31.  However, by 2/2, Best Buy had pulled the model from all locations and its website.  The retailer advertised the high-performance notebook two weeks ago and will likely see a flood of returns in the coming weeks.
  • Frys – Fry’s appears to be the fastest-acting retailer to pull the affected products from its shelves, not surprising since the chain only has 34 locations.  Fry’s carries more high-performance notebooks than other retailers and store associates indicated that they had been directed by management to pull all affected products on 2/1.  Although the notebooks were removed from shelves, their tags remained as of 2/2.
  • Office Depot – Office Depot, which advertised the affected Satellite A665-S5183 on Sunday (ouch!), still had the model on shelves in multiple locations on 2/2 (oops!).  The model is not in stock on the website but is still listed with the $100 rebate.
  • OfficeMax – OfficeMax removed affected items from their website but Toshiba’s Satellite A665-S5184 was still on shelves in Orange County as of 2/2.  A follow-up call today (2/3) confirmed that OfficeMax has since removed the notebook after the main office alerted all stores this morning.
  • Staples – Staples may have had the slowest response to the recall.  At least one high-volume store in the San Diego region was still selling affected products on 2/2.  Toshiba’s Qosmio X505-Q8102 was out of stock on Staples’ website, but still available on shelves.  Surprisingly, an associate was unaware of the recall.

Picture taken: Feb 2, 6:00pm, Staples

Since Intel has not finalized return details with manufacturers, retailers are likely out of the loop.  According to Intel, SEC regulations required the company to broadcast the problem to the world as soon as the chip flaw was discovered… yes, even before they alerted their manufacturing partners.  This uncoordinated effort gave us an unprecedented look at how long it takes brick-and-mortar retailers to begin responding to a recall: 1 to 3 days.