I will NEVER forget the Xbox 360 Launch. I was the Store Manager of Gamestop 1595 in Trussville, AL -- a few miles outside Birmingham. We were the busiest store in the region. We took something to the effect of 120 pre-orders before GameStop told us to stop taking them. We were told repeatedly that the company was getting enough units and we were even encouraged to collect the full dollar amount of the system to simplify the check-out process for the masses on release night.
Then the news came a week prior to launch. We were getting 12 units. TWELVE. We had 120 orders, about 75ish were FULLY PAID. First thing I did was cancel my employees orders as well as my own. It went over like a lead balloon but it had to be done.
Then as store manager I had the wonderful job of calling the 108 people who had put all their hopes into us making their and their child's christmas and inform them that no, we will not have their unit. It was the worst thing I ever had to do. The company informed us that we would not be compensating them for this issue, since it wasnt our fault. Of course, I'm not going to say that. The company also wanted me to push people into turning their pre-order into a gift card which they could later use to buy a 360. Imagine giving that to a kid on Christmas.
Oh the real kicker: Tell them you can convert the order into a PSP purchase (the PSP had launched earlier in the year) -- GameStop's rationale: The PSP was also new technology therefore people hunting a 360 would want it too. Jeez.
Then of course people are showing up to get their money back and hoping to God they can find a unit elsewhere a week before launch. The problem? We dont start our day with a ton of cash to issue refunds with. After one or two $300-400 refunds, I'm tapped out until I collect more cash. Or they could wait 1-2 weeks for corporate to issue them a check.
It was awful. My customers hated me and I couldnt blame them.
I ended up camping at Walmart for 20 hours to get my launch 360. Good times.
Anyway, heres hoping that the Wii U launch isnt similar.
Edit: Keep in mind this was circa 2005. I havent worked for GameStop for a long, long time and I hear they have changed many procedures over that time. I'm quite sure they wouldnt let this happen again. Well, not entirely sure....
Another reason not to shop at Gamestop, lol. Just kidding. That really sucks though. I don't know how you did that. I wouldn't be able to do that. I remember I was running around like a mad man trying to find a console as well. I couldn't find one for the longest time. I was constantly go online to read specs and reviews so I would know which games I should buy and whatnot. I had to wait until my birthday (March the following year to get one.) I randomly checked a EB Games, and they had two Pro systems left right before close. I called my dad for some extra cash, and I was one happy gamer! Prior to that, my school hosted a thirteen hour game-a-thon so I played Call of Duty 2 LAN MP for hours along with Madden and Perfect Dark. I don't know if it's just me or whatever, but I'm glad I don't have to dish out money for a console for a long ass time. I bought a Vita beginning of the summer, and I love that thing. I know I'll be playing current gen games when the new systems come out unless they wow me. Full backwards compatibility etc. Time will tell.