Near the end of July, Walmart sent out in-stock alerts for the SNES Classic Edition. Thrilled beyond belief that I could lock in my preorder before the oncoming storm that would be the fans descending upon the item, I purchased one. I slept well that night knowing the battle was over for me, and that I wouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail for the item when it came out in September.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. My order was canceled soon after in the following week, along with no official comment from Walmart beyond conflicting stories from customer service representatives stating the listing had gone up in error, or that a system glitch had occurred. By the time a boilerplate apology email had been dispatched to customers, myself included, I had lost all desire to continue to shop at the retailer.
I had wondered in a previous article what Walmart was going to do to make this debacle a thing of the past, what the giant could do to do right by its customers. I patiently waited for the Walmart media office to respond to a request for comment I had sent during the beginning of the entire situation, and I heard nothing. It was clear Walmart wasn’t interested in doing anything for me or any of the other customers who had ended up slighted by the company’s mistake.
As it turns out, not only did Walmart not care, but it ended up putting its SNES Classic consoles up today around 1 PM ET without so much as an announcement or any chance for the first round of customers burned by the store’s mistake. The units sold out in about a minute, which was a frustrating surprise for many. Fortunately, I was able to nab one of the units via Best Buy before I ever knew about Walmart putting its systems on sale, but this just goes to show that Walmart, as well as so many other retailers, is handling the situation even worse than how fans think Nintendo has in the past.
By putting up preorders at random times in the middle of the night, failing to notify customers with alerts, and then offering such a short supply of the systems, stores like GameStop, Target, Walmart and Best Buy are failing consumers. Even GameStop, the store that’s meant to serve this kind of niche specifically, has failed those looking to buy one of these coveted SNES Classic systems. For those who did manage to snag the consoles, buying up several at a time to flip and sell them for an inflated price on eBay or elsewhere, this only perpetuates a problem that retailers are making such an issue.
Several customers who went to GameStop in person to preorder one of the systems were forced to wait in line to check out and put down a $25 deposit on the item or continue to try their luck online. To add insult to injury, Toys “R” Us announced via Twitter that there won’t be any preorders available online in its stores, only that you’ll be able to pick up the systems in-store on September 29.
To make matters worse, ThinkGeek had the audacity to begin selling SNES Classic bundles with other items for much higher prices than the $79.99 MSRP the console itself will sell for. The company pulled these shenanigans with the NES Classic not too long ago after the system had been sold out for quite some time, but ThinkGeek decided to pull this nonsense out of the gate.
We can’t very well blame Nintendo for these shenanigans, however. It seems to me Nintendo is only responsible for allocating stock to retailers, and retailers are able to then on list preorders and availability as they see fit. And yet this is how they choose to perform. It’s utter madness, and Walmart’s blatant disregard for its own mistakes the first time around tell me that none of the other retailers are interested in making things right for customers, either.
Whether or not there will be SNES Classics available upon release has yet to be seen, but if this is going to continue to be an issue, perhaps we all might want to evaluate whether or not the consoles themselves are worth all this heartache. Or the scalpers’ prices, which I hope none of you are actually paying.