I now have a Galaxy Nexus.
First, I went to the Bell store in Commerce Place (downtown Edmonton), and they were sold out. They suggested I go to the "corporate" Bell store, and the one in West Edmonton Mall was most convenient to me.
On my way to WEM, I saw another small Bell dealer, so I stopped to try and buy one from them, again, they were sold out.
Got to the corporate Bell store in WEM and the sales dude asked if I'd like a Galaxy Nexus, and I said yes, I would like to buy one. He said they have stock. I said that I'm currently in a contract with Bell and don't wish to extend it so I'd like to buy out the phone. He said that if I was going to buy out the phone then they weren't going to sell me one. I started grilling the sales guy, asking him if Bell wasn't willing to sell the phone for $659 then why did they put out a press release with that price in it for a "no term" price?
I think I intimidated the sales dude because he quickly developed a speech impediment and went to go get his manager when I pressed him to honor their advertised prices to someone who is a current subscriber of theirs.
Said that they would take down my number and give me the opportunity to buy the phone a week from now. Opportunity? I laughed at them and left.
On my way out I thought that perhaps I should have instead said "okay, in that case I would like to cancel my Bell contract" which I have 10 months left in. Typically that means the company goes into customer retention mode; and I may get to speak to people with more power who might decide it would be worth it to sell me the phone (that they have in stock) at the advertised price. The risk of course is that they'd just tally up the cancellation fee x 10 months and say "thanks for the profit", but I dunno, I imagine they'd rather have the $90/month they normally get from me.
Anyway, then I stopped at Best Buy on my way home and I asked to buy a Galaxy Nexus. The sales guy said that they are only allowed to sell the phone on a contract renewal. The sales guy added that he wasn't able to get one himself for the same reasons.
Right before I got home, I stopped at the Bell store in Spruce Grove and ask to buy a Galaxy Nexus. The guy said "sure", and 15 minutes later I had one, paid $659 + GST, and was setting up my Google Account on it.
So, the experience you get totally depends on which store you go to. Bell really does seem to be telling everyone to only sell the phone with a new contract though.