PS3 Pre-Orders Break Amazon Japan
On October 16th, at approximately 7:10 pm Amazon Japan began taking pre-orders on both 20GB and 60GB PS3 consoles. Sorry, Japan residents only! Customers (like myself) who had previously signed up for email updates on availability, were notified 3 days earlier, giving us the heads up on the “Browser Refresh-O-Rama” that was scheduled to take place on Monday evening. Much like the GameStop and EB Games pre-orders in the USA, Amazon Japan guarantees nothing, but at least I don’t have to line up or hand over $100.
Remembering that Mrs. CheapyD had told me that online shopping is not nearly as popular in Japan as in the USA, and that Japan is only receiving 100,000 PS3s at launch, I figured this was my best chance to score a PS3 in 2006. It was also the method that required the least amount of effort.
Intimately familiar with Amazon’s USA site, I understood their “1-Click” shopping system would be my secret weapon against my uneducated Japanese online shopping foes. As you might guess, “1-Click” allows the properly prepared shopper to place an order with a single click, which would be a crucial advantage in a situation like an online PS3 pre-order brawl. An hour before “go time”, I placed a “1-Click” test order on Amazon Japan, pre-ordering both Resistance: Fall of Man and Genji for ￥ 5,083 each (about $43 US including tax and free shipping). With a successful real-time test under my belt, I was ready to deal massive damage to my credit card.
With several CAGs (Radjago, FriskyTanuki, Wii-A-Holic, et al.) watching and listening to the drama unfold in the CAG Chat Room, 7pm had arrived. Using my trusty Firefox browser, I opened up two tabbed windows on Amazon Japan’s 60GB PS3 page, and had a single tab for the less desirable 20GB unit. As the clock ticked away, the website was loading slower and slower, but there was nary a pre-order button in sight. After 10 minutes of fairly consistent cursing at my invisible enemies, the Holy Grail appeared before my eyes:
Never has a giant bald white man crushed down so hard on an Amazon Japan “1-Click” order button as I did on this day. As the website struggled to hold up under the added strain of its otaku customers, I waited for the confirmation screen to load. 30 seconds later, it slowly spilled on to my monitor and I was filled with a great sense of accomplishment. I had pre-ordered a 60GB PS3 for ￥ 62,980 ($529 US, including tax and free shipping). I shouted aloud so that my fellow CAGs watching and listening in the chat room could share in my victory. A few minutes later, the PS3 consoles were no longer available for pre-order.
At this point, the only thing left to do was to check my order history to confirm that everything was as it should be. As I clicked through to my account page, I was greeted with this not so promising screen:
I could get Mrs. Cheapy to translate, but the Babelfish translation has got to be far more amusing:
There is no excuse. There was error inside the system. Problem already with the record being completed, is the schedule which in the future advances investigation. We applying annoyance, there is no excuse.
“Well, that’s not very comforting”, I said to myself and my fellow CAG onlookers. I checked my shopping cart to see if there were any loose ends and received the same error message. For the next 20 minutes or so, I alternated between placing other items in my shopping cart and checking my order status and still got the same error. Sony’s PS3 had quite literally crippled Amazon Japan’s order processing. Finally, around 7:38pm, the Amazon techies had patched up the problem and I was able to confirm my order history and the online retailer was back in business.
Of course, this in no way guarantees I will actually receive a PS3 anytime in the near future, but at least I worked as hard as I could without leaving my chair. Tune in on November 11th to see if Amazon delivers!
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