Anger Explodes As Best Buy Cancels Thousands Of Nintendo Switch Pre-Orders
The launch of a new gaming console traditionally brings with it a mixture of excitement and mayhem: Excitement, as fans of a particular manufacturer get hyped up for the next momentous shift in that company’s history; and mayhem, as the masses scramble to overcome the never-ending “limited supply” hurdle to secure the new product on release day.
However, when you start talking about the launch of a new Nintendo console, that pre-launch frenzy unfailingly turns into mild pandemonium, mainly due to the company’s consistent (and rather suspicious) lack of supply for launch day.
This week’s launch of Nintendo’s next console, the hybrid home/portable console known as the Nintendo Switch, has carried on Nintnedo’s long-suspected intentional tradition of severly limiting the supply of launch-day units as a way to increase demand
This has already led to frustrations from fans, who have scrambled to get their systems pre-ordered, only to watch retailers be forced to close those pre-order programs within minutes of being offered.
Today, the frustrations of a number of Best Buy customers has reached a critical mass, after a number of the retail outlet’s customers were notified Sunday morning that their Nintendo Switch pre-orders had been cancelled.
The outrage has exploded into a virtual riot on Best Buy’s own customer service forum, as angry Nintendo fans try to find answers as to what exactly happened, and how the situation can be rectified.
Exact causes have been hard to pin-point, as numerous and often conflicting explanations have been offered. The common thread among those effected by the cancellations has revolved around Best Buy’s failure to authorize the credit cards that were used to pre-order the Switch during the early morning hours of Sunday, February 26th, and the subsequent cancellation of those orders by Best Buy.
The cancellation crisis has even affected me: I watched in horror first-hand Sunday morning as my credit card repeatedly failed to be accepted by the mega-box retailer, and the resulting termination of my Switch pre-order.
First a bit of background for context:
Best Buy’s pre-order system is a bit different from the ordering systems of competing retailers.
When you put in a pre-order for an item on Best Buy’s website, their system will immediately authorize a charge on the credit card that you utilize on the site, however, those funds are then reversed and added back into your account, only to be deducted when they’re finally ready to ship your order. Best Buy can do spot-checks of your account in the time leading up to the release date for your ordered item, which means that consumers have to be vigilant over the accounts used to make a pre-purchase, as insufficient funds will result in a notice being sent by Best Buy to fix the issue – or lose your pre-order.
In my case, I have multiple bank accounts, one of which is used for online and public shopping as a way to prevent fraud. I had been diligently watching my account like a hawk in the previous few weeks and even double checked the previous evening that I had the cash in there in case Best Buy decided to authorize the card.
That attempt came for me this Sunday morning; however despite my account balance more than meeting the threshold needed to by the Switch, Best Buy was unable to authorize my card.
When I received the notification that my card hadn’t been authorized, I received an email from Best Buy telling me to either correct the issue within 24 hours, or lose out on the Switch.
Perplexed, I phoned the customer service line for my banking institution, because I had a hunch that they might be blocking the charge as a potential case of fraud. Amazingly, they were unable to access my account because of a “system outage” which, the young lady told me, was supposed to have been resolved at 6AM PST. (It was well after that time when I called.)
After checking on my balance, and even adding more funds into my account, I attempted to reauthorize the card, to no avail. And my Nintendo Switch pre-order was soon a thing of the past.
I immediately called Best Buy customer service, and while the rep with whom I spoke was quite empathetic, she told me that there was no possible way in which they could reinstate my order.
I was floored – and while this news is certainly a big blow to me; as a fan and as a journalist looking to cover the system – it’s also come as devastating news to a number of fans who are now searching for solutions as they come to grips with the reality that they will not be getting a Switch on launch day.
Best Buy’s gaming customer service forum has exploded with furor from customers who were impacted by cancellations.
The stories that are being told share a similar theme of credit card companies assuming that a 3AM charge to their accounts from Best Buy was in some way fraudulent, however, the responses that have been given by Best Buy and their customer service line regarding the issue have varied wildly. Some reps with the company’s call center told customers that there was nothing that could be done to reinstate their cancelled orders, while other company representatives made reference to a mysterious glitch in Best Buy’s system, and assured callers that work was being done to resolve it.
Incensed customers began flooding Best Buy’s forums on Sunday with their cancellation and customer service horror stories.
“I had preordered the Switch on Jan 13th, the charge was debited from my card and then released a week or two later. I noticed last week my order now showed a failed to authorize notice. I called customer service who stated the authorization went through and it should be fine.
Today, at 12:30am I received an email from Best Buy stating the order was cancelled because the payment could not be processed, contradicting what I had been told over the phone on Wednesday. I never received a previous email asking to update or check my payment before it was cancelled. After waiting on hold with my bank, they said the charges should have gone through and weren’t sure why it wasn’t processed.” said user SionVangeles, who noted that a similar experience was shared on Best Buy’s forums regarding a cancelled PlayStation VR pre-order.
SionVangles, along with user petescalzitti, went on to note that Best Buy customer service reps had claimed that there had been a “glitch in their system” and that agents were working on a resolution to the problem:
“I just got off the phone with customer service and can second SionVangeles- they told me there was a glitch and that they’re working on it- I should call back in 48 hours for “a resolution”. He was really nice, seems like they’re dealing with a lot of these.” – petescalzitti.
The response given during Jiludwig9’s multiple calls, echoed the explanation that there was a problem in Best Buy’s system:
“I have now spoken to 3 different Best Buy customer service associates. The first one explained there was nothing I can do, but even was perplexed to hear that it was auto cancelled, and not the usual 24 hour notice. I also explained I had sufficient funds, and would have loved some more explanation of the process when I first placed the order. He then said there was nothing he could do, and came back after I asked for the supervisor. He then said that this was a big problem this morning and they were receiving an overwhelming amount of calls. He said to check back in later and would have something of a ‘special consideration.’
I then called a 2nd time and spoke to a customer service woman named Wanda. She then said ignore the email, my order would arrive on Friday. I then proceeded to ask what about the rest of the masses, she had no explanation, and couldn’t email me confirmation that it would arrive on Friday, but also gave her personal assurance that it would and I would have nothing to worry about.
A bit skeptical by this – I called a third time. Spoke to an associate named Dustin. He then checked the order and said it was cancelled, and tried to leave it at that. I explained the situation with Wanda and how there was a mass amount of people with the same problem. Also, explained that this is the 2nd time they charged, and why wasn’t i notified or given 24 hours. He then did explain that he saw the problem being reported overwhelmingly and they are working toward a solution. He said Wanda should never have given me her reassurance and that they would email me the resolution.
Regardless, they all confirmed the fact that something was inherently wrong with this particular process, and it’s very atypical for them. They also mentioned they were coordinating with Nintendo, whatever that may mean.
I find the spectrum of different answers disconcerting, but unfortunately am not surprised by it, yet again another customer service experience that reflects disarray. For the future, I find it difficult for myself to spend as much money at Best Buy as I have (loyal customer for over a decade, Reward Zone highest tier at certain point), or any for that matter, especially when Amazon consistently has amazing customer service, and rectified any issues with lightning fast response.”
While the prospect of a potential waiting list provided glimmers of hope for those impacted by the cancellations, other callers were given a completely opposite story during their interactions with Best Buy’s customer service representatives:
“Update as of 9:15am, 022717. I called Best Buy again because I’m still upset and they said it was canceled because they don’t have enough inventory and there’s not a waiting list.. im not sure why I was picked but my sister is still in good standing for hers and she pre ordered hers AFTER MINE. I officially hate this company and can’t believe how they handled this situation” – Tdilorenzo
Another member, geothefaust, was given a more disturbing story by the service reps that they contacted, which led the member to believe that Best Buy had oversold pre-orders of the Nintendo Switch, and were now having to enforce cancellations in order to meet demands:
“This has happened to me, too. Right from Sunday when I was told the issue should be fixed in 24 hours, and to expect an email Monday morning. That didn’t happen either. I called back today to find out what was going on. Basically, from what I can gather based on the information I was just told, is that best buy allowed too many pre-orders, and cancelled them at random to meet the amount of systems they actually had. Speaking to a supervisor will not help, they don’t have the systems to sell to us.”
The most epic documentation of less-than-stellar Best Buy customer service experience came from a user named chadarn:
“Called Sunday (2/26)
Call 1: Employee disconnected from line 6 minutes in
Call 2: Employee unable to explain why it was canceled, said that there was an authorization issue. I asked why the unit was not set aside and why I was not told to simply input another card, etc. etc. Employee reiterated lines until I asked politely to talk to a supervisor around the 30 minute mark. Employee checked in a couple times saying that there were no supervisors available over the next 15 minutes and then dissappeared around the 45 minute mark. I kept the phone on speakerphone for another 35-40 minutes with music playing and no one picked up. I disconnected call.
Called Monday (2/27)
Employee 1- was helpful, said that this was a common issue and there was nothing they/I could do, offered me a $20 gift card which I politely declined. Asked to speak to a supervisor.
Supervisor-tried to be helpful, said “yes there are a lot of people calling in about the Nintendo Switch, we have a workaround, lets get you on the line with payments and we’ll reprocess.” I’m elated. We connect in a conference call to an employee in payments who says that they will reprocess no problem. She then says that this can’t be done because the Nintendo switch is sold out. Supervisor Mark is furious, and says they do this all the time, why can’t it be done here. Lady in payments repeatedly states that there is nothing she can do but “Don’t you worry, the Nintendo Switch will be back at Best Buy to order online soon.” Mark is furious and is dropped from call at some point, or leaves realizing theres nothing he can do. Employee in payments reiterates “Don’t you worry” line at least 3 times. I am irate but polite, I ask to speak to Mark again or to be transferred back to someone in supervisor role.
Employee 4-I am transferred to someone in sales? She doesn’t understand why I was transferred here. Says she will transfer me to someone who can help with orders again.
Employee 5-I cannot understand Employee 5 much. It is not an accent issue, he’s slurring speech really badly. Makes a comment about how he can’t understand me. We work to the point where I say that I’d just like to speak to a supervisor. He keeps saying things about how he needs to “rehearse” or how I need to “rehearse.” I’m completely baffled. Finally he puts me on hold.
He comes back and I can make out the most frustrating line of all “You just get online and order the gray Nintendo Switch on Best Buy’s website, your preorder will arrive on March 3rd.” I am totally confused, check online while he repeats this and it is not up for sale. At this point I continue to ask to speak to a supervisor and he makes noises. Finally I’m put on hold, 25 minutes of music later I hang up 1 hour and 17 minutes into call.
I’m sorry for typing all of that out. I can’t believe I’ve had this experience. I just want someone to explain or help.”
The fury over the Switch cancellations intensified on Best Buy’s forum through Monday, as each new comment seemed to present a brand new explanation that had been provided through the company’s customer service phone lines; however, the one thing that remained missing, for over 24 painful hours, was a response from an official moderator.
I reached out early Monday morning via a direct message to one of those moderator’s, whom I had noticed was actively replying to people on other threads within the forum. I tried to explain the situation in detail – even let them know that I worked as a freelancer for a gaming website and was in dire need of having my order filled.
My direct request for comment was ignored.
As Monday morning slipped into afternoon, and afternoon slipped into evening, the anger continued to multiply from customers who felt that Best Buy had failed to live up to the terms by which they were supposed to abide in their own pre-order agreements. And even as the negative comments grew and intensified, moderators failed to address the issue – until a comment I left on the forum offering to have people message me with info for this story was swiftly deleted by the forum mods within minutes of its posting:
As speedy as those mods were in removing my call for more info, they weren’t fast enough to prevent my post from being seen, and it wouldn’t be long before I was contacted by a Best Buy customer, Tdilorenzo who had placed an order for the Switch as a gift for her boyfriend’s birthday, and had that order terminated.
These screenshots showing the timeline of events, starting with her notification that there was an issue with the card, the cancellation of the order, and subsequent customer service interactions with Best Buy, were provided exclusively to NerdBacon.
These screens prove that despite Best Buy’s claims of a 24 hour waiting period prior to complete cancellation of an order, they were instead cancelling orders within minutes of a card’s failure to authorize. The funny thing is (well.. not so funny in her case) is that she told me that she had also ordered one for her brother using a different card AFTER she had placed the order for her boyfriend. That latter order is still set to be fulfilled.
Speculation and frustrations continued to snowball on the forum, until finally, at approximately 5PM EST, a Best Buy representative reached out to try and placate the masses:
I can understand the high levels of intensity and anxiety over the status of your Nintendo Switch pre-orders. I am very sorry if I added to that in any way by not responding sooner. While I can offer some clarification, I’m afraid that for those of you who received an order cancellation email my news may not be what you were hoping to hear.
Any time a pre-order is submitted an authorization is made on the credit card used. After about seven days (time is dependent upon your bank’s practices) the authorization will fall off your account and no further charges will be made until your order is processing for fulfillment. When the time comes that we are processing the order a final authorization will be sent to your bank. Once accepted the charge is made and the order will process for shipping or store pickup. If it is declined you will generally receive an email asking you to update your method of payment. If your bank flags the purchase as fraud, however, we will usually cancel the order outright to ensure we are not accepting a fraudulent purchase.
While that is built into the system to ensure your financial security, it can cause disappointment at times when we are not able to accept new orders for the item that has been cancelled. Regrettably there is no way for us to reinstate an order once it has been cancelled. Bringing that into focus in this context, that means that any of you who received an order cancellation for your Nintendo Switch will be unable to submit a new pre-order ahead of the release this Friday.
With that said, it is still possible that you could purchase one, as every Best Buy store will have a limited amount of consoles available for purchase without a pre-order either at a Midnight Opening Event if they are participating in one, or when they open Friday morning. While I hope you each are able to secure one, I understand how this has been a disappointment and I appreciate that each of you have taken some time out of your day to share your feedback with us.
While Mike’s response offered a feasible explanation as to the hows and whys of why the orders were cancelled, it offered little consolation to those whose hopes of participating in the excitement of the Nintendo Switch launch day were ruined.
It’s also odd that Best Buy representatives have been so flippant about reaching out to anyone over this issue. In today’s modern world of social media, one bad mention of a company’s name on a social media outlet can often warrant a response from savvy corporations looking to salvage a bad situation.
Casually negative tweets that I have posted about experiences with a few different companies have often been enough to procure some sort of contact. My negative mention of my banking institution on Sunday, resulted in a telephone call from them on Monday evening to try and rectify the situation. Those types of moves provide a personalized level of service that wasn’t possible 10 – 15 years ago, and they DO go a long way in reassuring a customer that someone out there does actually care about their business.
Best Buy attempted none of that – refusing to respond to requests via social media, and dragging their feet as long as possible before addressing the situation on their own website. While it’s understandable that they may have been trying to work on a response to the situation, common decency would dictate that they at least let their customers know that their problems were in the process of being addressed.
Most surprising though, was the fact that despite the knowledge that there was obviously a big problem that occurred, no attempts were made to try and find a solution.
Adding on final insult to injury, was Best Buy’s announcement today that their stores would have a “limited supply” of Nintendo Switch consoles available to those without a pre-order. One has to wonder how many of those systems will come at the expense of those who had gone to the trouble of actually pre-ordering the system in advance, only to suffer the despair of having that bubble of anticipation burst a scant few days prior to the systems’ launch.
As for me – while I realize that in the grand scheme of things, the Nintendo Switch is a material good, and as such, I will be able to live without having one right away; as a co-owner of this site, it’s a pretty serious blow.
It’s serious because this means that the time, effort, and excitement that I had put in to build up and prep for NerdBacon’s Switch launch day events, is now on hold – and likely cancelled at this point.
But aside from that, I feel terrible about this happening because I feel that I’ve let you, our readers and our viewers down.
While we at NerdBacon have been quite favorable in the past to Best Buy’s retail operations, and have repeatedly talked up their Gamers Club Unlocked rewards program, the abominable way in which they treated their customers throughout this entire episode, along with their repeated refusal to respond to me directly (even after I told them I was a freelance journalist that is relying on having his order honored by their company) has left me with a sour impression of the company and its practices.
Even as I prepared to submit this article late Monday evening, more contradictory information continued to arrive concerning the status of Nintendo Switch orders:
“Well, end of the line. Finally spoke to someone in the states. Evelyn, located in the Ohio call center, spoke to me and knows exactly what’s going on.
Evidently we are all being transferred to Canada, Mexico, or the Philippines, who are not experiencing any of the cancellations we are. Hence why they kept spouting off information about insufficient funds or fraudulent transactions. She confirmed the glitch and noted they’ve had a team working on this issue since Sunday morning, but as of yet haven’t been able to get a response regarding it.
They said they are working diligently to restore the cancelled orders and will reach out when it can be solved. The estimated expectation is Wednesday for some news.
The agent was very friendly and said they will process a Best Buy gift card to be sent to me for the inconvenience. So maybe there is hope, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
She also told me there are almost 1000 cancelled orders due to the glitch so they will definitely be trying to fix this before it escalates further.” – SionVangeles
I sincerely wish all the best to those of you who had your Nintendo Switch pre-orders cancelled, and I hope that you’re all able to get a console as soon as possible.
Trust me, I’m in the same boat that you are.
Did you have a similar experience with Best Buy or other retailers regarding your Nintendo Switch pre-order? Let us know in the comments section below.
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