Countdown

06 December, 2005

It's getting to be that time of year. No, I'm not talking about the time for Christians around the world to celebrate the birth of our Lord. No, I'm referring to the blatant abuse taken by countless brainwashed consumers. The day after Thanksgiving, known as 'Black Friday' (likely because often it's the first weekend all year that many retailers' bottom line finally transitions from red to black) is the day that normally civilized people will get up before the crack of dawn to wait in line for hours in the hope of saving $20 on something that they don’t really need anyway..

I leafed through the ads in the Turkey Day paper to see if there was anything that that would make me want to get up that early (I didn’t even realize that there was a 5:00am!). There were some good deals, (LCD TVs for a few hundred dollars, DVD’s on the cheap, computers and accessories at or below cost, and the list goes on..) but nothing tempting enough to get up before the sun to stand in line. A friend called me Thursday night and advised me of a good price for some digital media (about ½ the cost I paid for the one I have now). I told him to get me one if he went. He called me Friday afternoon to say when he got there a bit before opening, there were nearly a thousand people in line. By the time he got to the part of the store where this ‘killer deal’ was, they were long gone. There was a wait of over an hour to pay for the ‘screaming deals’. Thanx, but no. I’ll pay the couple extra dollars for the couple extra hours sleep, and avoid the lines.

But the prize I was looking for was made available for purchase 3 days before the madness begins… The much awaited for, highly touted follow-up to Microsoft’s entry into the video game console, the X-Box 360, launched on the 22nd.

Several months ago, as the hype became greater, I broke down and put a deposit down to be sure that I was one of the first to be playing the ‘best of the best’. All summer I bought myself gift cards to buy down the cost of the system (figuring to be around $500 for the package deal Media Play was offering). That way, upon launch day, I would only need to come up with about a hundred dollars or so.

As the magic date approached, I read on several websites all about the system and the games that would be available on launch day. I had narrowed it down to a few and the count down began, I even took the day off to play. I had read the rumors that there would be an artificial shortage, but as many times an article accused the software giant of short supplies, there were quotes from MS brass strongly refuting such claims. I wasn’t worried, especially since I had pre-ordered one to ensure come the 22nd, I would have sore thumbs and crossed eyes from staring at the TV all day.

In cases of great anticipation, many retailers will open at midnight on launch day to start selling their products as soon as legally possible. Media Play didn’t sell enough pre-sale to justify the early release, but they ensured me that I would be all set when they opened at 10am.

You can imagine my dismay when I made it into the store and was told I was going to have to wait. You see, of the nearly 900,000 units ordered, Bill Gates, in his infinite wisdom shipped around 40% of them. According to the manager, Media Play was expecting to receive 6 units, but got 4. Which leaves 2 possibilities, someone screwed up, or two employees got theirs before I could get mine.

The only solace to the whole situation is the laundry list of reports that came out several days later about the high number of defective boxes that went out. (with the equally adamant response from MS brass that the number of defective units paled in comparison to the total number shipped)

Long story short, as I type this, on the 6th of December, I am still sans 360. They tell me the next one they get will be mine, but they don’t know when that will be.

What am I going to do with it when I get it? Will I bust it open and pull an all-nighter? Perhaps.. but the first thing I will do is check eBay. If they are still going for 2-300 above retail, I’ll make someone else’s Christmas a bit merrier, and wait a couple more months for either Halo 3 or Knights of the Old Republic 3 to be released and get one then. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Stay tuned to see what happens…

In the mean time.. if you were one of the fortunate ones to get one, let me know what you like or don’t like about your system and what games you have.

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