Typically, we'd expect a company like Best Buy to be looking out for its loyal customers coming in to pick up some bleeding-edge mobile tech (by US standards, anyway), especially when they're willing to pay super-premium prices for the privilege. Imagine our surprise, then, to get a promotional email from Escape (Best Buy's pet project for high-end electronics in Chicago) advertising LG KG800s -- that's the original Chocolate for those not up to speed on LG's model numbering convention -- at a stiff $520. That in and of itself is neither surprising nor interesting; KG800s are relatively easy to come by, even in the States, and plenty of importers are willing to ship one to your door. What is interesting, though, is that the KG800 doesn't support GSM 850. Why would a giant in the American electronics retail market push crippled, not-intended-for-US-sale phones, knowing full well that the buyers are going to have a subpar experience? And furthermore, couldn't they come up with an actual shot of the KG800 rather than using Verizon's press photos of the VX8500, a phone that doesn't even look the same? We called Escape yesterday and were told that the phone had sold out pretty briskly after the promo email had gone out, which doesn't surprise us -- we wouldn't expect the average Escape customer to think twice about the compatibility of a shiny new phone in their showroom. If it has Best Buy's blessing, it must be at least usable... right?
Update: To clarify, the KG800 being sold by Escape is a tri-band GSM model with reception on the 900, 1800, and 1900MHz bands. While 1900 will buy you reception in the US, 850 is accounting for an ever-increasing percentage of coverage. We're glad to see a store like Escape accomodating the needs of cash-flush technophiles, but we'd like to see them make it a little clearer in the future when certain phones might not give the best experience -- particularly for 850-heavy Cingular customers.