An Amazon Preorder Problem

Fair warning, this post isn’t going to be like most of my other posts.  Most of them have something constructive to offer.  Or, at least, intended to be constructive.  Like, you’re supposed to be amused or inspired or enlightened or struck by how cool and sexy that Aether guy is or something like that.  This post is just me mildly ranting about something that’s largely inconsequential, with maybe a hint of consumer notice.  One might wonder why I’m even spending the time here on it.

Because I feel like it, that’s why.

Businesses like pre-orders.  It’s good for them.  For producers and retailers, it gives advance economic information on what the likely market for this product is going to be, gets a committed buyer in you, and gets people purchasing items for the intended price, before market forces have the chance to adjust it.  For consumers, the advantage is really only if they expect there to be an insufficient supply of the item, which for games has been fading in the world of cheaply produced storage media and digital distribution.  So game publishers will sometimes add incentives for it.  Preorder bonuses, what not.  Because they want you to get preorders, because it’s good for them.  Sometimes you just preorder because you know you’ll want the game at launch either way.

But however you do preorders, a central conceit of them is that once the item is out, they’ll actually send you the thing.  Apparently, Amazon is trying a maverick new business practice where instead when the item you ordered is released, they just don’t do anything.  That’s right, this is a marvelous new feature where you can take all the time you were going to spend on that item you were hotly anticipating and spend it bonding with your friends and family, going out and volunteering, and overall making your life better instead of enjoying time with your new item.

So… yeah.  I kind of like buying games to commemorate things, when the opportunity presents itself. One of the very very few odd things about me, I guess.  Souvenirs and other simple visuals I’ll inevitably end up sticking somewhere and largely forgetting about them, clothes and useful things will get worn out and destroyed eventually, but games will come back in memory and in turn remind me of the events and people around them.  Every time I think back to Final Fantasy Adventure, I remember the childhood road trip with my Grandpa in which he got me the game.  Metroid Prime 3 reminds me of one of my old, departed, college professors, as I bought it with money I earned helping him put his property in order in the last months of his life.  And early last year, I put a couple of month’s work into a competition, ended up winning a chunk of money in it, and thought I’d get myself the physical release of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove to create some memory callbacks to the experience later.

So I preordered it.

On Amazon.

That was a mistake.

The early parts of it weren’t their fault.  When I originally preordered it, it was coming out in May of last year, but then the developers delayed it indefinitely  Eventually they announced a release of December 10th.  So… there’s like a six month delay between when I expected I’d get it and when I actually should have gotten it that has nothing to do with Amazon.  I use my family’s account, so that holiday season, I couldn’t check in on it for fear of getting Christmas spoilers.  But December 10th came and went with no Shovel Knight.  Well, sometimes things get delayed, and the holiday season’s a busy one for both Amazon and the postal service.  Maybe it’s just running late.  But then a week passed with no Shovel Knight.  Then two.  Then Christmas.  Still no Shovel Knight.  Check the order now, and it’s saying it’ll be there by January 4th.  Never actually was shipped.  I call up Amazon Customer Service, trying to figure out, hey, what the heck, is this actually going to come for real?  I was told it will definitely be shipped out, and would be there January 4th.  It wasn’t.  Call Amazon Customer Service, it’ll definitely be there January 27th.  Check Amazon later, it’s saying January 29th.  For a game that had been out almost a month, and I had preordered almost a year ago.

So I cancel that, order the exact same game through Amazon (Prime shipping is addictive) and the game is in my sexy hands two days later.  Leading me to wonder what the point of preordering in the first place was.  It literally got to me faster and more reliably ordering after release than it did through preorder.

I’ve heard Amazon can be a little hit and miss with preorders.  I rarely preorder games, but have done so before through Amazon without issue.  And I get that Amazon is an organization moving a lot of product, and quantity leads to mistakes, and they’re high pressure as well, which also leads to mistakes.  Things can happen.  But what galls me here is that Amazon had multiple opportunities to detect and correct the problem, at least the times I brought it to their attention, and it didn’t happen.  No problem here, move along sir.  No idea how representative this is of typical preorder on Amazon, or if this might possibly be a nefarious plot by one of my many enemies, but, beware, I guess.  Could happen to you.

Maybe.

But hopefully not.

9 responses to “An Amazon Preorder Problem

  1. I’ve pre-ordered two things from Amazon: one was a game (I know) and one was a graphic novel. The game came on release day as promised, and the graphic novel wound up getting canceled, even though the novel itself had actually been released. So… 50/50 from my experiences.

    Yeah, they’re a big company, moving lots of product in high-stress situations, but it’s still disappointing or baffling when things like that happen :/ I’m glad you got your game in the end, though, and hope it gave you the memory callbacks that you were looking for 🙂

    • It is giving me the good memory callbacks! A little bit divorced from the original event, but with the manufacturer delay, that was going to be happening wherehter or not Amazon got it out on time. I can still build the mental link, at least.

  2. Yikes! I used to pre-order games from them but they never delivered on launch day so I stopped 😅 I’ve been using ShopTo for physical games now. For years they show up on launch day or a day early… been super happy with that 🙂

    • That’s always been my fantasy when preordering, that they’ll mix up the days they’re sending it out and get it to me before street release date. I’ve never been so lucky, but a man can dream.

  3. I preordered one game, Zero Time Dilemma, from Amazon years ago, and it was such a disaster that I never preordered another game from Amazon again. Most of us got the game several weeks after the game’s actual release, and some of us (myself included) never even got the bonus that was supposed to come with it. I think I used up every curse I knew at the time over it, so many that I’d have to learn different languages just to use fresh ones.

    So I can sympathize with you here. For as efficient as Amazon Prime is, they seem to have a real problem dealing with preorders. Maybe when all their staff are replaced by robots like we all know Jeff Bezos plans, they’ll get it right.

    • Man, missing out on the preorder bonuses has to be the absolute worst thing I’ve heard of with Amazon’s preorder troubles here. Were they able to get that worked out, get the preorder stuff to you in the end?

      On the flip side, for as bad a reputation as Gamestop has, I remember a couple of times where I bought the game several months after release date, and they still sent me a code for the preorder DLC out of the blue a few days after the package arrived. That was a nice bonus.

      • I got the game, but I never got the bonus. To be fair to them, they did give us all credit in place of it, but I don’t care: I’ll hold a grudge until the day I die.

        Gamestop’s bad reputation seems to come more from its aggressive sales tactics, trying to sell me things I don’t care about. I have heard terrible stories recorded by staff as well about the job.

  4. Sheesh, Amazon really went downhill in the last few years, didn’t they? I don’t think I’ve had your problem, but I have had a lot of packages come damaged, which is highly irritating. It’s gotten to the point where I tend to get physical items at stores – even if it’s slightly more expensive.

    • Well, Amazon’s still getting me tons of free games through their Twitch Prime deal, so I really can’t complain about them overall, but this was a rather irritating moment, yeah. ANd yeah, also gotten several packages in damaged. It’s never been enough to ruin the item itself, but it’s left me worried more than a few times.

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