Saturday, March 17, 2007

Un-Wii-sonable Wait

I’ve been trying to locate a Nintendo Wii since November. My wife bought me a copy of the new Legend of Zelda title, for the Wii, with the plan of also securing me a Wii for Christmas. Unfortunately, the near impossibility of securing a Wii in my little town proved too much, and I ended up with the game, but no system on which to play it. Shortly after Christmas, I bought a second game for the system, believing I’d be able to play it after a short while, when stores became able to stock the system more regularly.

After 5 months, still no Wii. The problem with obtaining one in my town can be broken down quite simply, by store. There are only 4 stores locally that sell the product, so if you want a Wii, you have to get it at one of those 4 places, unless you order online. Online poses a problem, as just about everyone who claims to have a Wii for sale will only sell it as part of a ‘package deal’, requiring that you also purchase a handful of other merchandise as well, in order to buy the Nintendo Wii. There are many places to order a Wii online, I’ve discovered, without a ‘package deal’ but these are almost always overseas, and are selling the PAL version (the U.S. version is different), which means I’d forever on have to order my games from Europe or Japan, not buy them here, in my town, as the local games would be incompatible with my system. I am also unwilling to pay a vastly marked-up price to the scalpers on eBay. So, online is out, for now.
No Wii for you, young man.
Why don’t I have a Wii? Here is a description of my encounters with the 4 stores locally that sell them:

1. K-Mart: After months of phone calls, I’ve discovered that K-Mart seems to never receive a Wii in their shipments. They hint that they do sell the product, but I have no proof of this and, as far as I know, they haven’t received a Wii ever. While most store personnel won’t give out times of freight arrival, you can figure it out pretty easily. After checking back time and again, they just never seem to get a Wii. They had some at launch (they say), but after that, as far as I know, they’ve never had another. I consider calling or going into K-Mart to look for a Wii is pointless and I’ve about given up on them.

2. WalMart: This is pretty much the only place in town that seems to be receiving Wiis in their freight shipments (or so they tell me). Unfortunately, WalMart employees are very fond of telling me that they have absolutely no foreknowledge of when their freight will come in. They say it’s random, and have no idea what time of the day or night it will arrive, much less the day. Could be 2 in the morning, early Monday, or it could be Thursday around 4 in the afternoon, or any time before, after, or in between... just anytime. They have no idea. So, getting a Wii from Walmart is, for the most part, a random occurrence that you can’t plan or strategize for. You simply have to be the lucky, random person standing in front of the display case on that lucky, random day or night, when they unload their lucky, random freight, which has that lucky, random Wii inside of it. No amount of waiting in line or staking out the area seems to help. I may as well be waiting for one of Willy fucking Wonka’s golden tickets.

Of interest: WalMart does guarantee you a Wii online. Hearing this, I went to check it out. It was, of course, a ‘package deal’. They’ll guarantee you a Wii and hand it over, if you buy a certain number of other pre-selected items from a check-boxed list. I think you have to buy seven items, and they’re all quite spendy. The cheapest you can get away with this is for $628. Considering that’s nearly 3 times what the Wii costs (and the cost of the Wii is a major selling point), that’s a pretty disgusting business practice. It’s also a hell of a lot more than I have to spend. I kind of want to just buy the product at its advertised price with the money that’s been sitting in my pocket for 5 fucking months.

3. Sam Goody: After dozens of phone calls over the last two months, several stops into the store to speak with employees and whonot, I was finally told by a manager yesterday that their Sam Goody store hasn’t received a single Wii since launch. That was 5 months ago. In 5 months, they haven’t received one. Not one. Is my small town too insignificant for the heads of these companies to send a couple of Wiis? Apparently so.

4. Fred Meyer: Many of my friends managed to get Wiis in the last few months, so the question has to be asked, how did they do it? Where did they go to buy a Wii? Fred Meyer, for most of them. Apparently, Fred Meyer was getting Wiis in somewhat regularly after the November launch. That’s where everyone seems to have gotten their Wiis. When I heard this, I was stoked. Perhaps I’d get one soon! No. Perhaps not. In February, I began staking out Fred Meyer, believing that the launch/Christmas craze had died down and I wouldn’t have to wait outside of a store for a day-and-a-half to buy a Wii. I figured things would be more relaxed now. Well, ‘relaxed’ is one word for it. I went to Fred Meyer for my first 3-hour sitting session in the store, waiting on the next freight shipment (I know when the electronics freight arrives at Fred Meyer, and so am always there when it arrives, twice a week) at the start of February. It is now half-way through March and they haven’t received a single Wii since I first started showing up for their freight arrivals. That’s nearly 7 weeks of freight arrivals I’ve sat in the store waiting on, and still nothing. Over and over and over again. In what way can you say you sell a product if you never have it? I pose that same question to K-Mart and Sam Goody. If 5 months go by without you being able to supply a product... guess what? You don’t have it. You don’t sell it. You haven’t been able to carry it. Stop advertising that you’ve got the product, because you don’t. You’re lying to get my business, hoping I’ll come in and buy a bunch of other shit.

Today, I went down to Fred Meyer for the shipment (I’ve got it down to a science now, and don’t have to wait long at all), and was informed by an employee that their regional office sent a letter stating they ‘probably’ wouldn’t be getting a Wii for at least the next several weeks. That would make it, if ‘several’ means 3, about 2.5 months that I’ve been waiting for a product I can’t get. The sad thing is that no one else is there. I’m the only guy waiting for a Wii at Fred Meyer. It’s just me, by myself, patiently waiting time and time again. So, if one comes in, it’s mine. I’ll get the Wii. I don’t have to beat anyone else to it because the line starts and ends with myself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter that I’m the only one waiting for a Wii, because it never shows up.

What pisses me off most is how many ‘package deals’ online you can find. They’re all over the place. Think about it: a ‘package deal’ admits that the company offering it does, in fact, have a supply of Wiis to sell. They just want to make more money off of you (probably trying to recoup the losses they’re seeing in the PS3). What irritates me is that these stores are taking many of the Wiis they get and setting them aside for their money-making schemes and package deals and whatnot, instead of selling them to the people that want to buy them. So, one of the major reasons I can’t get a Wii yet is because certain bottom-liners want to cash in on the lack of stock, by cranking up the price. This is illegal, of course, as the price of Wii’s are somewhat fixed, so they arrange these ‘package deals’ instead. Best Buy does it. Wal-Mart does it. Toys R’ Us does it. Look online... everyone’s doing it.

So I have games at my house I can’t play, and I already ditched my old system. With thumbs this anxious and unappeased, it looks like I’ll simply have to twiddle them for a few more months until Nintendo stocks the United States, and the stores therein stock their urban counterparts, and then, by trickle-down availability, the stores in my small town will finally get a couple of Wiis, hopefully one of which I’ll manage to buy.

Also, eBay needs to fuck off. Scalping is illegal in real life. Why is it tolerated online? Probably for the same reason email scams are tolerated online. Nobody wants to fuck with it until something jabs at them, personally.

Either way, this wait for a system is un-Wii-sonable and disheartening. You don’t realize how inconsequential big business thinks your small town is until demand for something kicks up. When that happens, you start to get it: Your yokel-cash isn’t as good as metro-credit, and you’re just going to have to deal with it.

I should say that my take on this is subjective. I haven’t really done any research on whether the larger, metropolitan areas are having such a Wii drought. It might be interesting to call the Portland or Seattle Sam Goody and Fred Meyer stores and inquire as to the last time they got a Wii in their shipments. Something tells me it wouldn’t amount to months.

UPDATE 4-11-07: Though I was told by Fred Meyer that they wouldn't be getting any Wii systems in for at least the next several weeks, it seems they got three of them in yesterday, and promptly sold them. They tell me not to come in for a few weeks, at least, and so I stopped going in. Then, when I'm just about to reinitiate my shipment-waiting at the store, I find out they actually got a few and sold them when I wasn't there. Now I'm pissed. I suppose I should have been rigid, and resumed my active wait a week sooner than they told me. To their credit, they did try to call me and tell me they got three Wiis in, because the store personnel I've encountered thus far at Fred Meyer have been very nice to me. Unfortunately, my baby boy broke the phone a week ago and so I've been having to use my cellphone solely. I didn't get the call. I didn't get a Wii. I really hope those three Wiis weren't the only shipment they're getting for the next two months, like last time. I'll be even more pissed if I go down there and have to wait another nine weeks because I missed the one damn shipment when the product arrived.


sandy said...

Next time you want something call your Aunt Sandy and I am actually willing to go and stand in line at 7am to get you one, because we can get them down here....... I played one this weekend and it was a blast. Not good at the tennis though..........
Thats right call your Auntie she loves you!!!!

sandy said...

Also I want to add, that I have a APPLE store minutes away at the mall right by my house.... I almost lost your grammie in that mall..... its a scary place...