Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How to Buy Four Nintendo Wii Systems In Just Four Weeks, Part 2

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

wii will rock you

Photo by Tasha Krivonozka

Last Time: The Journey Begins

January 7, 2008

With my first attempt to secure a Nintendo Wii a disastrous and chilly failure, it’s time to think smarter and not stupider. I’ll be turning to my old pal the internet to help me out of this bind.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one trying to get his hands on some precious Wii. An entire underground of Wii hunters has formed, some seeking to purchase them for resale and profit, others just looking to win back their children’s love.

To help them in their quest, many have subscribed to services like Wii Tracker or Wii Alerts that will e-mail them or call their cell phones in the event that an online store has Wii systems in stock. To some, cell phone alerts may seem excessive; but when a shipment of 1,000 Wii systems can sell out in less than 10 minutes, getting an instant call instead of an e-mail can mean the difference between finding a Wii and getting hit with an emancipation suit from your kid.

Unfortunately this Wii search will force me to do something I am loathe to do: keep my cell phone on me 24 hours a day. What if Wal-Mart has them in stock at 3 a.m.? What if GameStop gets a tiny shipment while I’m dreaming about that hot new princess from the latest Mario game? Now I’m covered.

January 9, 2008

Still no sign of a Wii anywhere, but I stumble upon the Wii availability thread at FatWallet. If a Wii is in stock anywhere in the United States, I’ll know… though chances are it’ll be in some far-away state like California or Alaska.

Do you think they have videogames in Alaska? I mean, they have snow like we do, so I suppose they would also have videogames. I guess we’ll never know for sure.

January 12, 2008

Week One is drawing to a close, and the only Wii I have is the one in my living room that I’ve had since Launch Day over a year ago. Lately I’ve been playing NiGHTS, the long-awaited sequel to the classic Sega game. I do enjoy the British voice acting, but the game itself plays like a coke fiend’s nightmare. I did not know this many colors could exist on one TV screen without it exploding.

January 13, 2008

The start of a new advertising week brings many flyers, but none advertising the Wii. Some stores are slowing getting in stock, but they’re being evil and bundling the $250 base system with an additional $500 of required games that nobody really wants to play. I’m tempted by one such bundle from Wal-Mart’s website; for about $600 plus $40 shipping, I’d get a Wii and five or six games. The games could be returned to Wal-Mart stores for a refund or store credit, but I’d feel a little weird returning 20 unopened games—including several copies of the same game—to the store…

Me: I’d like to return these 20 Wii games.
Wal-Mart Employee: Is there anything wrong with them?
Me: I just don’t want them anymore.
Wal-Mart Employee: You sure you don’t want these six copies of Barbie’s Great Adventure?
Me: No. I have three copies of my own at home.

In the worst case, I’ll break down and get these Wal-Mart bundles since they’re now coming into stock on a semi-regular basis. But I still have a few weeks before I have to make that decision.

January 16, 2008, Noon

During my lunch break, a hot tip comes in from the FatWallet gang: GameStops and EBGames nationwide are getting shipments of Wii systems today. Some scouters report their stores empty a few minutes after opening, while others still find them around noon-time. The shipments are coming in via UPS throughout the day, and stores are putting them on their shelves—rather, behind locked, bullet-proof glass cases—as they arrive. Nobody mentions specific availability in my area, but I make a few quick calls…

No Wii systems at any stores nearby.

I return to work after my lunch break, wondering if I should add a GameStop to my morning commute for the next few weeks.

January 16, 2008, 8p.m.

After a long day at work, I’m finally home. I see a commercial for the Wii—those two Japanese guys showing up at people’s houses and asking them to touch their Wii.

“I’ll touch your Wii,” I whisper to the television. “I want it badly.”

For fun, I make one last set of calls to area GameStops and EBGames. Nothing in Gaithersburg. None in Fallsgrove. Federal Plaza had some earlier in the day, but they’re gone now.

I’m about to give up when I dial the final number in the area.

“Yes, we have one new one left.”

I ask them if they can hold it for me. He says they can’t and reminds me that they close at 9 p.m. I look at my watch: 8:35 p.m.

I’m in the car 12 seconds later, back inside for pants 10 seconds after that, and on the road by 8:37 p.m.

January 16, 2008, 8:48p.m.

Somehow, I travel a five-mile stretch of busy Rockville Pike in record time. I park in a mall garage and jet through a Macy’s, or maybe it was a Lord and Taylor’s. The GameStop is 30 feet away. I run for the finish line and throw myself at the front counter.

Me: Hi! (*puff*) Do you (*huff*) still have (*puff*) that Wii?
GameStop Clerk: I’m sorry Mario, but your princess is in another castle.
Me: Huh?
GameStop Clerk: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
Me: What?
GameStop Clerk: I said we didn’t get any Wiis today. Did you mean to go to the store in the next shopping center?

Crap, I did. Turns out there’s another GameStop 1,000 feet away in some shopping center I didn’t even know existed. I look at my watch: 8:53 p.m.

January 16, 2008, 8:57p.m.

My apologies to that poor woman I shoved into the Christmas glassware clearance rack in the department store, though I did say “excuse me, giant woman” three times.

By some miracle of God and perhaps running some stop signs nobody really uses anyway, I’m at the other GameStop three minutes before closing. They have the Wii. I whip out my credit card, gladly willing to pay the $262.49—$249.99 plus $12.50 for our 5% Maryland sales tax.

“$264.99,” says the clerk.

“Huh? Shouldn’t it be $12.50 sales tax?”

And that’s when I remember that we’re now a 6% sales tax state. Maryland is charging me $2.50 more for this Wii today than it would have last month.

I swipe my credit card and leave with the Wii. On the way home, I try to figure out how to do $2.50 worth of damage to state property, but it’s late and I just want to play some Barbie’s Great Adventure before bed.

Next Time: Desperation

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