Friday, November 10, 2006

Best Buy: This Year's Grinch @ BW

The retailer cancels Web preorders for the PlayStation 3 because the offer was a mistake, it says. But what about the children?

Blake Lane, a 13-year-old from Irvine, Calif., couldn't have been more thrilled when his dad told him that he would soon have one of the much-coveted PlayStation 3 game consoles from Sony (SNE). PlayStation 3 will be released on Nov. 17, and Blake has been anticipating the system's release for a year now, ever since it was first announced. Gary Lane, his dad, gave him the good news that he had preordered it on the Web from Best Buy (BBY) on Nov. 4, after Blake got back from a friend's birthday party. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," a thrilled Blake told his dad, hugging him.

Three days later, excitement turned to disappointment. Best Buy, on Nov. 7, sent an e-mail explaining that the order had been canceled and that "our system was not intended to take preorders on the PlayStation 3 gaming system." Best Buy says that it will offer the new PlayStations only in its stores on the day it is released. The electronics retailer won't say how many preorders had been placed, but said it was an errant posting. "We want to make sure that we have the most units available on launch day," says Best Buy spokesman Jay Musolf. "We want to express our apologies and have offered the customers a $10 coupon."

Ten bucks? That won't do much to console a heartbroken Blake. "How can they do that?" he asks. Blake is likely one of thousands of disappointed shoppers who had their hopes dashed. Some customers are lodging complaints with the Better Business Bureau. "If I were Best Buy, I would honor the orders—I mean, do you really want your shoppers to have a bad experience where they wouldn't want to shop there again?" asks Ken Godskind, vice-president of sales and marketing for, a Web performance measurement company in Coconut Creek, Fla. "Customers have the same expectations from online shopping as from a brick-and-mortar store, where such customers are usually made whole on such glitches."

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