FYE Bait And Switches Wii Buyer, Gamer Calls For Boycott

In June, this gamer pre-ordered his Nintendo Wii from FYE.

When it came time to pick it up on November 19, FYE wanted to make him buy two additional games and a $25 gift card. These additional purchases, to the sum of $400, were not disclosed when filed the pre-order.

He complained to the manager who said, “you’re just one person, you won’t make a difference.”

Now the gamer made a YouTube video that’s catching buzz. The video calls for a boycott of FYE.

Last year Best Buy tried a similar sales strategy and got an attorney general investigation for their efforts. The AG forced Best Buy to rescind the tied deal and take purchases back from customers.

We’ll see just how much difference one disgruntled consumer can make. — BEN POPKEN

(Thanks to Ian!)

Comments

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  1. Mike Tyson's movie career says:

    Wait. He got his preorder early? Screw him. He should have had to pony up a lot more than that.

  2. Mike Tyson's movie career says:

    Oops. Now that I’ve watched the video instead of just reading the unclear article, i understand.

    new impression- yeah-that’s dirty. But of he waits months to but a wii, he is a tool. Oh, and end your video already.

  3. Trae says:

    Why on earth does it make him a tool if he waits a month?

    And not everyone is all that good at editing, so give him a break.

    I’ve never shopped at FYE, and I don’t plan on it for sure now.

  4. mechanismatic says:

    FYE is one of those stores that I don’t understand why it’s still in business. Between people buying or downloading music online and the store’s prices being insane, it just doesn’t seem like a viable business model. Mall CD stores are just for impulse shopping, so I guess it is supported by the customers who don’t mind throwing away money because they just have to have that new (insert pop artist here) CD now. I’ve seen a lot of these types of stores shut down in the last few years at various malls. Tyson’s Corner is a ritzy mall that tailors to the rich Northern Virginia crowd, so I’m not surprised this would go on there.

  5. Mike Tyson's movie career says:

    He is implying that he will not be able to buy a wii in the coming days/weeks/months. Unlikely. I think he put that in there for people who think this console is as limited as the ps3. It’s not. Hell, he could have gone down to almost any store above a gas station this morning and bought one.

    As for the editing comment-I was just adding in some of that GawkerMedia(tm) snark.

  6. ChazB says:

    Regardless of weather he can get one today, next week, next month, or next year, it was still a dirty, illegal scam and FYE should pay for it. I hope they have their nuts nailed to the wall for it and the manager is severely reprimanded.

    Don’t fuck with the consumer. Especially the one that has access to The Consumerist.

  7. eggfou says:

    My brother also pre-ordered his Wii from FYE, and they told him the same thing. When he went to pick it up, he told them he would not buy two games. He stated that that was an illegal bait and switch tactic. The clerk told him that the rule came from Nintendo, Which he pointed out was wrong because no other store was doing that. The manager came out and she caved rather quick, letting him buy just the system.

  8. Starfury says:

    I will never shop in an FYE store. About 5 years ago I started getting spam from them and it has never stopped. One opened in my local mall and I’ve never shopped there an told my wife not to buy there either.

  9. squidhat says:

    My girlfriend let it drop that she had trouble finding me a Wii for Christmas. She was telling me so I wouldn’t be disappointed… I had to explain that yes, she could almost certainly get a Wii before Christmas and that in some cases 40 people were lined up outside a store that actually had over a hundred Wii’s in stock. Now I know what I’m getting for Christmas!

  10. Jackpot says:

    “Hell, he could have gone down to almost any store above a gas station this morning and bought one.”

    uh, guess again. a huge amount of place were only carrying 5-8 Wiis and queues had already formed. how in any way is this guy a tool?

  11. Karl says:

    I wonder what Nintendo’s take on this is. They have a pretty tight grip on retailers, and I’m sure they could put a stop to this practice if they wanted to.

    Their customer service number is 1-800-255-3700.

  12. homerjay says:

    While you’re talking to the AG about bait and switch, you may want to mention ‘Tying’ which is also illegal. If my memory serves me correctly, it is the act of forcing a consumer to buy something in order to buy something else.

  13. jcmiller09 says:

    Not that I don’t support the calling-out of sneaky retailers, but where is the evidence to convince us all to boycott a retailer. I certainly don’t shop at FYE regularly, as I don’t care to spend $18.99 on a CD, but I would like to see some form of documentation showing their bad practice. Perhaps we could see the original receipt or paperwork, and maybe something from this week showing the new demands.

  14. Grimnir_Markas says:

    eBay Marketplace Policy on Illegal Seller Actions – Circumventing Fees

    “Users may not use the following systems or techniques to circumvent, or avoid, eBay fees.”

    Listings with additional purchases – “Listing an item that requires or offers an additional purchase. Outside of reasonable charges for shipping, handling, insurance, and taxes, the buyer must not be required to pay an additional amount or sign up for a service or any other required action not relevant to the transaction for something as a condition for receiving the item or receiving the benefit of the item. For example, travel certificates that require the holder to buy or pay for something (such as a hotel room for seven nights) as a condition of receiving the benefit of the coupon (such as free or discounted airfare).”

    If it’s illegal on eBay (which has more popularity in the world of commerce than ‘fye’ ever will), then what the **** makes this store think they have the right to do it?

  15. scoutx1 says:

    I hate to burst the bubble here, but it’s not a ‘bait-and-switch’ tactic. Many retailers, not just FYE require bundle packs with the launch of a new system. Here’s the deal – Retailers don’t make a cent on the console, no one does except the console manufacturer (i.e. Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, etc.), that’s where the bundles come into play, that’s where the retailers make their money. Most retailers required this for the PS3 as well, not just FYE.

    Now, according to wikipedia, bait-and-switch is as follows: A bait and switch is a form of fraud in which the fraudster lures in customers by advertising a good at an unprofitably low price, then reveals to potential customers that the advertised good is not available but that a substitute good is. The goal of the bait-and-switch is to convince some buyers to purchase the substitute good as a means of avoiding disappointment over not getting the bait, or as a way to recover sunk costs expended to try to obtain the bait. It suggests that the seller will not show the original product or product advertised but instead will demonstrate a more expensive product.

    There was no other product substituted, the same item was sill present. Granted, the customer (as others, I’m sure) figured they were just getting the system, which can be confusing, but how does that constitute bait-and-switch? It’s like those people who preordered PS3s or Wiis and didn’t make the first wave calling fraud over a guarantee of a system.

    There’s nothing to stop a customer from returning the extra items later. Present the receipt, boom, there you go, you’re fine.

    Now, the $25 ‘gift card’ (it’s actually the Backstage pass, the 10% card FYE offers) was sure as hell not part of FYE’s preorder for the Wii. Either he was mistaken or the store was trying to pull a fast one on him. Iy’s more likely they were trying to talk the card up to him and in his anger he became confused over the spiel. And as far as the manager’s comments, well, I don’t really know what to say to that. I find it difficult to believe a manager would’ve said something like that, but I’ve heard worse, so it’s possible. But that’s one manager of a single store, not the statement of the entire chain.

    I could also comment on the prices of FYE and how it is the store is still in business (hint: FYE is owned by Transworld, look up all their corporate holdings and aquisitions and you’ll see why), but that’s not the issue. I work the video game section at a FYE, which I’m sure some people will call me bias. I hate to tell everybody this, but if you think other stores are so innocent, you guys really need to take a closer look at retail chains and their policies.

    Example: Gamestop ‘urged’ (pretty much threatened) employees who had preordered PS3s to wait until the second wave of systems, and any customers who didn’t recieve their systems at launch had the opportunity to get a free used DVD or video game….and pick it up only once they picked up the system.

    Food for thought.

  16. mmr says:

    Hey homerjay, check it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tying

  17. homerjay says:

    If Wiki is correct, I believe its this line that validates tying in this case:
    “Tying is often used when the supplier makes one product that is critical to many customers. By threatening to withhold that key product unless others are also purchased, it is said, the supplier can increase sales of less necessary products.”

  18. I don’t know that you can call the Wii ‘critical to many customers.’ We’re not exactly talking about bottled water during a nuclear war, here.

  19. Mox117 says:

    Hmmm… My sister reserved her PS3 about a month before EB and Gamestop where taking pre-orders. She’s #5 on the list – meaning second shipment – and is scheduled to arrive on the week of Thanksgiving.

    I’ll be sure to post whatever happens.

  20. aubrey says:

    Umlaut is not the brightest crayon; Wiis are officially sold out according to the news.

  21. Seems to me that it would have been better for the buyer if he had made the threat of calling the BBB / AG before quitting his preorder. I suspect that the threat of legal action would have caused them not to be such jerks, as one poster has sort of pointed out. Of course, it would still involve buying from people he doesn’t much care for, so maybe it’s a wash.

  22. Umlaut is not the brightest crayon;…

    Awww…you flatter me.

    I’d also be very interested to hear Nintendo’s take on this…if my memory serves, Nintendo has been caught price-fixing and found guilty of anti-trust practices in the past…it would be in their best interest to separate themselves from this sort of activity.

    On the other hand…how does a store like FYE stay in business?

  23. gone725 says:

    Has anybody called those numbers?

    I called the store, but then realized I had nothing intelligent to say so I hung up as they answered. A few minutes later I got a call back by a manager at the store threatening that my number has been traced and passed on to the authorities.

    OK pal. I said nothing. I didn’t even moan. I heard “F Y” and hung up – I could have been a wrong number, but you call me back and threaten me!?! Way to win me over.

  24. I called the store, but then realized I had nothing intelligent to say so I hung up as they answered. A few minutes later I got a call back by a manager at the store threatening that my number has been traced and passed on to the authorities.

    *67 is your best friend…and believe me no one…not even the “authorities” gives a damn about your call.

    This is a good resource for this stuff too.

  25. Principia says:

    Wow, they called you back and threatened you? I’m going to assume that means that a lot of people have been calling the store… however, as far as they know, you were just a regular customer who realized you’d called the wrong branch or something. That sounds like a call to corporate is in order.

  26. mechanismatic says:

    Scoutx1,

    Feel free not to give us a sob story about FYE’s motives for the underhandedness, whether it’s officially a bait-and-switch tactic or not. The store wouldn’t carry the consoles if they ultimately never made some kind of profit of them, if only to sell games for the consoles. The store chooses to carry the consoles, so if they have a problem with the deal they have with the manufacturer, they can attempt to negotiate their deal or just stop carrying the items (I know, great set of options). The perception of the bait-and-switch in this instance is that the customer thought they were just getting the console, but then come time to deliver, the retailer insisted on selling the bundle, which is the more expensive item. Whether or not that meets the legal definition of bait-and-switch according to Wikipedia, it’s still a deceptive business practice if the retailer never disclosed the details of the bundle deal at the time the customer reserved their console. The ability to return an item does not make up for the retailer being deceptive in the first place and I’ve never heard of gift card’s being refundable. If you don’t work at that particular store, then you can’t be certain what terms the store offered regarding the purchase of a bundle and you can’t say what the manager would have said to the customer. I’ve worked enough retail to know that different store managers do different things to increase sales in their store. And different district/regional managers encourage their store managers to do different things to increase sales.

    The bottom line is, the bundle deal was a deceptive business practice if it wasn’t disclosed to the customer at the time of reserving his console, whether or not it was isolated to that store or the gift card purchase was isolated to that store.

    It’s enough for a customer to want to avoid doing business with the chain if even a single store manager can get away with pulling that crap and not be reprimanded if not fired. Luckily, I don’t have to boycott FYE since the store in my local mall went out of business.

  27. MeOhMy says:

    I’d love to see a scan of an order receipt or some other proof that there really wasn’t any fine print describing these terms. This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing they spring on you in the 11th hour.

  28. galupo says:

    The District Manager Linda Mattheus old extension is dead but thanks to a couple of calls her new extension is 8294

  29. Datacloud says:

    How do people not go completely apeshit on those in charge when situations like this occur? If I don’t get my way I just belittle and humiliate the manager incessantly until they cave, or start crying. Only once has it gone so far that they called the police. :)

  30. scoutx1 says:

    mechanismatic,

    First of all: sob story? C’mon, this thread has been about tearing apart a store for circumstances that people who don’t work there (or in retail in general) probably wouldn’t understand. I’m not here to sling mud, I’m just trying to offer up insight from the other side.

    FYE’s a chain that’s owned by a large conglomerate corporation, these are not franchises. A single store does not dictate whether or not the system will be carried, that’s Transworld’s call.

    And I’m not trying to say the practice isn’t underhanded, but what business doesn’t have underhanded practices? It doesn’t make it right by any means, but it’s not uncommon. Most video game retailers require a bundle of some sort at launch. After the holidays when the systems are readily available, they’ll drop the bundles. And it’s not like the items that are required for the bundles are things the customer won’t need.

    The ‘gift card’ was not a requirement. I guarantee this. No where in the terms of the bundle was it required. The ‘gift card’ is mistakenly identified, it’s actually the discount card FYE offers. Again, it wasn’t required. And while I sincerely doubt he was told it was required, as I said before, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had been. You even said you’ve worked enough retail to realize what some higher-ups will do. That’s one store/region’s fault and it makes the rest look bad. But just because I don’t work at that particular store doesn’t mean I’m not aware of what generally goes on. I can tell you what the corporate mandate for the bundle was. Whether some stores chose to adhere to what the company told all stores chainwide to do, then yes, that I can’t say I know what goes on. But that’s a certain store breaking corporate rules.

    My ultimate point is that this customer got pissed off over something he wasn’t properly informed over (and I’ll agree, it’s rightfully so), a boycot of FYE isn’t really going to accomplish much, as virtually all other retailers that carry video games have the same practices. An attempt at a class action lawsuit really isn’t going to go anywhere either. If customers could sue every business for underhanded and sneaky practices, there really wouldn’t be many businesses left.

  31. cronos12 says:

    Let me point out a few facts that people are missing…

    1) it is not “bait-and-switch” to force a consumer to buy a bundle pack on a pre-order. The rules of the pre-order were not laid out by FYE as to what the preorder would be, so if someone pre-ordered under the pretense that they were simply preordering the WII was only assuming that, and had no actual paperwork to state that it was only the WII. Their receipt simply stated Wii-preorder, listing not the sku for the actual item, but a sku made up by FYE itself. This means that no matter what FYE wanted to sell as a bundle was allowed. No one forced the consumer to purchase the items.

    2) Far more stores do far worse “underhanded” activity. Every chain’s employees know the little tricks that those stores use to drive sales. (an example would be the underhanded activity by Best Buy, who tells the employees in their computer section to toss the most expensive cables into a customer’s cart to drive up accessory sales and if the customer asks if they need the cables, just to tell them yes, and not to offer them any choices.)

    3) Wiis only have a markup of .05% and PS3s are even less than that. Stores make money on accessories and games, the same as the game manufacturers do.

    4)How does FYE survive? Many people in the industry wonder that one.

  32. divinity669 says:

    I am an employee for FYE. I am at a different location and learned of this this morning when I started my shift… First of all there was nothing stating you had to buy anything with the system. Second of all no customer should be treated this way! The guy which “helped” you is only tring to get his sales up because he is Lindas little bitch… and he is telling people that they have to get a backstage pass ( $25 card which gives you 10% off every purchace) Hmmmm that is why he is always getting 100s of these when the rest of the employees are only getting 25-50… you are not required to get the mags or the passes or anything for that matter!!! It just sucks that the other stores have to suffer for other dumbasses ways… but I understand. And yes we are over priced but we have awesome prices for the first week of new releases… oh and by the way Linda changed her number not sure what it is yet but she had 500 messages!!!!

  33. Sentroid91 says:

    I’m having similar troubles with FYE. While the whole “bait and switch” doesn’t bother me as much, the whole idea of them being somewhat secretive with their pre-order information is downright ridiculous.

    For more information: http://www.mstiegate.com/effye.html

  34. livid-consumer says:

    My son Pre-ordered a WII system from FYE on September 24th, for his birthday in October. No system in October or November, but the store manager assured us that reserved orders would be placed 1st & that he was in the top 10 of the next batch of systems. We got a call yesterday December 18th, that the system was in and that when he came to pick up the system, he would HAVE to buy 2 games. I went to the store & told him my son was not made aware of this policy.. The store manager told me it was not a “policy” but a memo was issued after October 16th that anyone buying the system HAD to buy 2 games. I told him the salesperson never said anything about any additional purchases needed for the system. He then told me that the sales people are not supposed to tell the customer, that the customer has to “prompt” the salesperson. I asked him what the salesperson was “supposed” to tell my son, if he asked, when the memo went out weeks later. He then informed me that I was being unreasonable & that all 36 pre-order customers were VERY happy to have the system & they had sold $10,000 worth of video games with NO complaints…BUT MINE!!!
    He then told me that I could get my refund back, I continued to make my arguement, when he told me he was contacting his district manager to see if he would over-ride the “2 game bundle rule” But that if it was up to him – he would NOT do it. Well today, he called & said they were going to make an exception in my case & they would sell the system ONLY to me (HOW GRACIOUS)
    P.S. He told me other stores in our area were requiring 2 games plus accessories in order to purchase the WII- NOT SOOO – we called.
    I have a complaint being mailed to me by NYS Attorney General….
    Who said they were stronger arming me & it is againt the law.
    I WILL NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM ….EVEN IF THEY SOLD ME SOMETHING FOR 2 CENTS.

  35. durranng says:

    I feel horrible for anyone that has had a bad experience with preordering wii from fye. I work at for them for 5 years and been there for the coming out of Nintendo DS, DS lite, PSP, XBOX 360. Whether people want to believe it or not we dont make money on systems, we carry them because if you dont carry the systems why sell the games, which we do make money on. Since day 1 on all the game preorders we have done, you have to buy the bundle. That is why I am embarrassed that people(employees) saying that they were not told about it until the day off. At my store the day people preorder we tell them you will have to purchase the bundle(2 games, no gift card or member card is required). we then make them sign the preoder slip acknowledging that they understand the bundle. When they come pick it up if they still have a problem, after agreeing to purchase the bundle, we reduce it(this maybe at my store only) to 1 game. It seems to me that most peoples problems have been to imcompetant employees and dishonest workers(which every company has some of). So please do not judge an entire company of over 800 stores and thousands of employees becaise of a few dumb ones.