Stop Lying to Your Customers, RIM

Let's say you want to buy a Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) PlayBook for Christmas.

No, seriously.

Let's say you want the BlackBerry-centric tablet. You wind up at RIM's website. The price points start at $499. You thought they were being cleared out for far less than that, but you shake that off. PlayBooks being sold en masse at $199 for a limited time through some retailers must've been just a dream.

You decide you still want one -- even though now it's priced more like Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iPad than's (NAS: AMZN) Kindle Fire -- but then you see this tantalizing disclaimer:

Notice to Customers: Due to high volume of PlayBook orders, orders may take up to 7-14 business days to ship.

Wow! The PlayBook must really be hot if an order placed today is unlikely to beat Santa Claus to your door.

Where is this high volume coming from, you may ask? Wasn't the PlayBook a dud? Despite having 70 million BlackBerry subscribers, RIM sold just roughly 200,000 tablets during its fiscal second quarter that ended in August.

Well, it's at this point you realize that the clearance sale of $199 wasn't just a fantasy. Just a few days before the end of its fiscal third quarter, RIM did offer Kindle Fire-priced tablets through Best Buy (NYS: BBY) , Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) , and a few other partners at a rock-bottom price. RIM even pitched it on Twitter in a Nov. 21 missive:

The #BlackBerry #PlayBook is at select #US & #Canadian retailers starting at $199. Limited time.

So what's the truth? Is there a high enough volume of pending PlayBook orders at $499, $599, and $699 that the smartphone pioneer can't seem to crank them out fast enough, or was RIM's inventory simply depleted by the $199 fire sale?

And let's cut to the obvious omission: When RIM reports earnings tonight -- and it reports far more than 200,000 PlayBooks being sold in its quarter ending Nov. 26 -- is it going to be honest about how many of those were picked up during its 60%-off sale? If not, will there be a sucker out there who believes the high number, runs off to the BlackBerry website to order one, and gets even more desperate on the realization that delivery is a couple of weeks away?

Did you see RIM top Herb Greenberg's list of the worst CEOs of 2011 on CNBC yesterday? Believe RIM at your own risk.

If you want to see how the tablet battle plays out, follow the players by addingGoogle, Research In Motion,Microsoft,, andAppleto My Watchlist.

At the time thisarticle was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy, Wal-Mart Stores,, and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple,, and Wal-Mart Stores, creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, and writing covered calls in Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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