I consider myself a collector, but I’m not an obsessive collector. I don’t feel the need to collect everything associated with something that I love. I’m a specific collector. For example, I love SteelBook packaging, but I don’t buy every movie that’s given a SteelBook Blu-ray release. If I love a movie, I’ll fork out the extra cash and go extra lengths just to get my hands on the best or most unique releases. I know that not everyone liked Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ as much as I did (that’s an argument for another day), but anyone who collects in the same way that I do will share my frustration upon reading what WBShop did this week to buyers who preordered the Limited Collector’s Edition of that movie.
Let’s get this straight; the ‘Man of Steel’ Blu-ray release was wonky from the get-go. As a big fan, I wanted to get the biggest and best version of the Blu-ray possible. The special 3D/2D/DVD/UltraViolet edition caught my attention. The moment I saw the displayable steel shield case, I knew that I had to have it on my shelf. However, I immediately became concerned at how the pre-orders were handled. First, the item appeared to be a WBShop exclusive. While Amazon also put it up for pre-order, the item descriptions between the two retailers didn’t match. (Amazon listed it as a numbered limited edition release, but WBShop did not.) Shortly after putting the product online, Amazon yanked it. Since WBShop’s was still open for pre-order, I placed my order with a sweet $10-off coupon that a friend shared with me. For $36 (and change) and free shipping, I couldn’t have been happier. Pre-order, check!
But then Amazon relisted the item. The description had changed – it no longer claimed to be numbered or limited – but I didn’t care because my WBShop pre-order had a lower price than Amazon anyway and it was already set. Or so I thought.
I don’t pre-order often. I have to really want something to order in advance. The last time that I pre-ordered anything from WBShop was the ‘Inception’ briefcase. When I ordered that, rather than pay for expedited shipping, I chose standard shipping. Several days before street date, WBShop sent a confirmation email stating that the item had shipped and that my credit card would be charged. I can’t say exactly what day the ‘Inception’ package arrived, but it was no more than two days after street date. I expected the same pleasant experience with my ‘Man of Steel’ pre-order. Unfortunately, that’s not at all what happened.
Every day for the last week, I’ve been waiting for a shipping confirmation email from WBShop, and every day for the last week I’ve been disappointed. I’d log into my WBShop account to check the status of the order, but the only detail there said, “In Process.” What the hell does that mean? Because my card hadn’t been charged yet, I took it as “Still Not Shipped.” I kept thinking, “Maybe they’re not actually shipping orders with standard shipping until street date now,” but even that wasn’t the case.
Throughout work on Tuesday, I’d pull up my email and WBShop account for updates. Nothing. By this time, I was furious. The moment I got home from work, I called WBShop’s not-so-easy-to-find customer service phone line. (I’d emailed them in the morning, but didn’t receive a prompt response.) I was shocked at the information that I was given over the phone.
The first thing I was told by the outstanding customer service agent who took my call (Mind you, this is not word-for-word what was said. I didn’t record the call. These are fractions of our conversation that I can recall) was that I was the sixth person to call in regards to this item in the short time that the agent had been at work that day. As expected, I’m not the only ‘Man of Steel’ fan out there. What he said next was appalling: “WBShop moved that product back into pre-order status. At this time, we do not have the stock to fulfill orders. Tomorrow, it will move into backorder status.” First off, how in the hell does the distributor of a product not have enough product to fulfill pre-orders? Shouldn’t they have known how many they needed? Secondly, what sort of business pulls a quick one by moving a product back into pre-order status just to avoid day-one commotion? To me, that’s a deceitful move.
Considering how angry I was before the call, imagine how furious I got when I received this news. Don’t worry, I wasn’t rude to the agent. I’ve worked in many customer service departments in my day and I’ve only seen one other instance of corporate dishonesty and lack of integrity greater than this. That particular example was so bad that I actually quit because of it. That same disgust came to mind after hearing this news. So, in a similarly disappointed defiance, I canceled my pre-order with WBShop. Walmart’s SteelBook sounded pretty good at this time, so I decided to head out and pick one up.
I live between two Walmart Supercenters. One is slightly closer, but because it lies on a highway frontage road on the border of two highly populated cities, I decided to go to the other. The second store is a few miles from the interstate in a pretty wealthy area. It’s the cleanest Walmart I’ve ever been to in my life and it typically has everything (that I want) in stock. As I poked around the display stands for the $25 BD/DVD/UltraViolet SteelBook edition, I couldn’t find it. I pulled out my phone to look up Walmart locations with this packaging in stock, but all stocking details were “Unavailable” at the time. I next went to the desolate electronics department to ask a bored employee about it. “The SteelBooks are only available online right now…” Dammit, foiled again. ““…but I have this.” Much to my surprise, he held up the full Collector’s Edition that I’d just canceled with WBShop! “I’ve got one more of these left. We received two, but didn’t have any shelves big enough to put them on, so I’ve had them back here behind the counter all day.”
Walmart’s online price for this edition was $39.96, just three bucks more than my WBShop order. But sometimes the online price is lower than the in-store price, so I took it to a mid-aisle price check scanner just to be safe. Imagine my surprise when the machine beeped and the total read $24.96! That’s the packaging and the 3D/2D/DVD/UltraViolet combo pack that I really wanted at nearly one-third the cost! Eff you, WBShop! I just stuck it to you and saved $11 in the process!
For anyone who pre-ordered this set from the WBShop and didn’t receive it, now you know why you haven’t gotten it. As I looked at the packaging while standing in Walmart, I was surprised to see that (just like the ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Cowl Blu-ray set that I also proudly own and display) this edition of ‘Man of Steel’ is in fact limited. Mine is number 43,544 of 50,000. Taking that into account, I don’t see how WBShop will ever be able to fulfill those “backordered” items.
If you’re one of WBShop’s victims that didn’t cancel your order, good luck. Let me know how it goes.