Not retailers that's for sure. So below is my live blogging, but I'd like to give a full recap so that people can know how fucked up things got.
This last Sunday, me and hatsumi spent the day going to various retail stores around the island asking if they were gonna be carrying the PS3 and what type of rules they wanted customers to follow as far as lining up. Walmart, Circuit City and Best Buy were the only stores that were gonna have it on Friday and were allowing "walk-ins" (campers). Walmart said we could start camping whenever we wanted. Since I didn't want to take the week off, and the crowd that they draw is not really the type I prefer, that was bumped down the list. Circuit City was a ways away from us, but said that they would let be start camping out when they open on Thursday and that they'd let security know that there would be people waiting outside that night. Limited time frame worked best for us since we had only scheduled Friday off. Best Buy seemed to work the best for our schedule though, they were gonna let people start lining up when they closed on Thursday night at 10:00pm.
So, come Thursday I gather rations for the camp out and make a call to Best Buy to make sure that nothing has changed. I called at 1:53pm and talked to a girl at customer service. She told me that they were gonna start allowing people to line up at 10:00pm when they close (this we knew) and that there would also be atleast three police officers around to make sure that there aren't any problems forming the line (good precaution).
Me and hatsumi were planning on heading over between 8:30pm~9:00pm but I was anxious and meet up around 7:00pm to make sure we were all ready. Around 7:45pm a friend of ours who works with the local TV station calls to tell us that there are people camped outside Best Buy already (what!?) and that they have given out all the vouchers (O.o!?). We immediately gathered our stuff and went to Best Buy.
When we got there and confirmed that there were indeed people camped outside, we went right up to customer service and asked to speak to a manager. The guy showed up and we asked about the PS3 and if the plans had changed. He handed us a flyer (below) and said that he was just following orders and if we had any questions that we should call they customer care number. I dialed it immediately. I spoke with an operator fairly quickly and said I had a complaint. She said that the only departments open were repairs and sales and asked me to call back later. So no complaining.
The thing that confuses me is how did they hand out vouchers to people who weren't there? I called at 1:53pm, and the manager said this came down around 2pm. So in 5 minutes 40 people figured out what was going on and gathered at the store? There are obviously some lies going around.
With hope of getting a system a Best Buy gone we decided to take a shot at Circuit City. We would be showing up rather late in the game, but it was worth a shot. When we got there there was already a line formed. We did a head count and got 27 people in line. We were about to go in the store when we noticed a poster at the front of the store that had information about the PS3. I didn't get a pic of it, sorry, but it said that they had 26 60gb units available and that they wouldn't be giving rainchecks and the like.
With a count of 27 people in line we decided to go ahead and stick around with hopes that maybe someone in line was just hanging out. We got to the end of line putting hatsumi at #28 and me at #29. Shortly after a few more people came and the line capped off at about 34 people for the night.
Around 9:30pm one of the people from the front of the line comes back to us and says "just to let you guys know all the units they have are spoken for". I found this odd, but decided to ignore it. I personally was waiting for a manager to come out after the store closes and talk to the people waiting in line, laying down some rules and what we should expect in the morning. The last employees left around 11pm and none of them really paid the crowd much attention.
The night was pretty uneventful. We sat around played games and ate snacks. Some of our friends showed up to keep us company for a bit but by 1pm we were back to just the two of us.
One of the things that annoyed me throughout the night was that the people in the front of the line seemed to be having trouble staying in line. They kept getting up and wandering to their car or across the street. As the night went on this continued and I wasn't really sure who was in line or not. Around 5am things started looking suspicious. There seemed to be a lot more people in line than when we started and a lot of them I was sure had recently showed up.
6pm rolls around and 3 employees come out and explain the situation. Apparently, 26 people showed up at midnight on thursday morning. The group made a list of who was there and when the store opened informed the store of the list. The staff decided that this list would be what they'd go by for who gets a system. Now so far, I don't have a problem with this, however, its seems to me that people were not there from when the list was made til vouchers were handed out this morning. When they cut off the line, hatsumi ended up #30 in line. We were given a flyer and they took our name and number and said they would call us at 10am they had any extra systems.
My problem with what happen at Circuit City is that the store took no responsiblity for what was going on outside. Really why should they, as long as the systems sell they don't care who gets them. When we showed up there were people in lining not only holding their place, but atleast 2 spots. The whole point of camping out is sticking around through the entire thing. When Walmart handed out vouchers on Thursday morning that doesn't mean that you got a system and you can go home now. This is not a pre-order system. You still have to stick around until you actually buy the system. While I don't like the idea, its alright for you to take shifts with friends so that you don't spend 30+ hours sitting outside a store. But showing up right at the start with a couple of friends and then leaving one guy around to hold the groups spot is not fair to the rest of us.
Best Buy pissed me off for changing their rules on us. But I don't consider that nearly as bad as the total lack of responsiblity that Circuit City took.