Sam's Club Won't Let You Buy A Wii Because They're Saving It For Later

Shawn is a Sam’s Club member and on a recent shopping trip to buy a Wii he thought he’d snagged the very last one, but when the cashier tried to ring the item up something went wrong. Turns out that Sam’s Club was “saving” that Wii for a “Grand Re-Opening” party and refused to sell it to Shawn and his girlfriend.

My girlfriend and I decided that since we have extra pay cheques this month, we were going to purchase a Nintendo Wii for ourselves. Like everyone else who seems to be searching for a Nintendo Wii, we became giddy when we think we’ve finally found one.

Last Saturday I found myself picking up a few items at Sam’s Club (335 Fanshawe Park Road W. London, ON Canada) with my girlfriend. I wandered over to the cage where they keep the electronics and asked the woman working if they have any in stock. Surprise! They have one last one left. Speaking to the girl in the cage, she tells me she can hold it for 30mins at most while we finish shopping. I skipped like a little girl to find my girlfriend and explained we have 30mins to purchase said Wii. Within 10mins we’re at the cage to make our purchase…..only not.

At first, the item won’t scan. The woman, who was friendly and very helpful throughout what will become an ordeal, tried to scan it several times. No dice. The woman attempted customer service but made no head way and continued to scan it. Something must have sparked in her head because she checks to make sure she can even sell it, which according to the book she can. Next she calls her manager, she explains the situation up until that moment, and apparently they have 100 in stock, but can’t sell them until Thursday for their grand re-opening! The woman helping even asked her manager why they would have one in the cage and 99 hidden in the back. Not being happy with the answers, no fault of the woman helping me, I asked her to have her manager come over so I talk to her personally. Guess what? She’s too busy to talk to me about something so trivial on a Saturday morning. I was told if I wanted my Wii so bad, I could come to the store the following Thursday morning at 7am and wait in line to perhaps get one. It’s not like I have to work full time in order to pay for items or anything.

Not losing my cool, I thanked the woman attempting to help us, as she spent a fair amount of time trying to help us as much as possible, which was greatly appreciated (I wish I had her name to thank her, but alas, I was pretty angry at this point) and walked over to customer service to get a district managers phone number. Of course, they “don’t have a district manger”, but was offered head office’s phone number.

I’ve now made three phone calls to head office, once after hours (left a voice mail), twice during business hours (again, voice mail….does anyone actually work there?). I’ve yet to have any of the phone calls returned some two weeks later.

I’ve often sang the praise of Sam’s Club, even purchasing memberships for 3 other members within my family (my parents, my brother/sister in law, her parents), but this just isn’t right. I just want to know why they have items for sale but refuse to sell them, why a manager won’t speak to me regarding an issue within the store and why head office refuses to return phone calls. Considering we have to purchase a membership for the privilege to shop, I would think I at least deserve an explanation.

So Ben and gang, aside from cancelling the membership (which we use often having two kitties and our tummies to fill), what can be done to get their attention? Please help!

Aside from posting your complaint on the internet, which you have now done, you could give Walmart’s upper management a shout. Here’s some Walmart contact information. We understand that they’re holding some Wiis for their little party, but if it was out on the floor that was their mistake and they should have tried to compensate you for the inconvenience. Maybe you should switch to another warehouse store?

(Photo: Jason_Percival )


Edit Your Comment

  1. charliux says:

    Fine. Go somewhere else and buy it there.

  2. wgrune says:

    Threaten to cancel your membership. Maybe that would have put the fear of god in them…

  3. snoop-blog says:

    I’d look at it this way. You and Wii, were not meant to be together. Go buy a PS3…

  4. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    Are they still hard to find?

  5. dtmoore says:

    buy a ps3? that’s just crazy talk. Cancel your sam’s membership and join costco, much better place :)

  6. Szin says:

    I say join Costco.

  7. wring says:

    @charliux: who let you in here?

  8. donnie5 says:

    @Jaysyn: They can be found, but you still have to put in search time. Gamestop (the god-forsaken video game store) has them at least once a week.

  9. wring says:

    ack, just when i was thinking it’s already safe to buy a wii :P i refuse to buy one until they’re regularly stocked and i can walk in my target and buy one off the shelf. good luck with your hunt though.

  10. acknight says:

    I can understand if they’ve already released ads for it (saying something to the effect of minimum 100 in stock – where there being 99 would cause an issue)

    That being said, it’s still poor service.

  11. freshyill says:

    @charliux: Good luck with that.

    @wgrune: Good luck with that one too.

    They are probably required to have a minimum number on hand for this event. That’s why when you see ads (particularly on Black Friday) that say “Minumum X in stock” or something to that effect, they have to have that many. Usually, they’ll have a lot more than that (at least with the shitty loss leaders).

    You can usually guarantee that if you walk into a Best Buy (for example) on a Friday, and you ask for a Wii, they won’t have one. But they probably have 20 of them in the back, but they’re unable to sell them, because their Sunday ad will advertise a minimum of 20 in stock.

    Sam’s Club doesn’t really have a “back,” probably just an upstock. It probably got moved down by mistake.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  12. jeadie5 says:

    I had a similar experience at Bestbuy. I looked online and it said they had some in stock. I drove over to be told by the sales associate that they sold out. When I spoke to a manager about it, low and behold they had several in the back. Looks like the employees are holding them for themselves. All the associates had a look of surprise as I walked out with the Wii. I would be surprised if this was the first one this store had actually sold in weeks.

  13. MeOhMy says:

    Dang, they could have done *SOMETHING* – set it aside for you to pick up at your convenience after the reopening, perhaps?

    I would agree with the recommendations to switch to a different wholesale club. That will fix their wagon!

  14. Jaysyn was banned for: says:


    The Super Wal-Mart in my small town *always* has them, you just have to ask. They don’t display them, which is pretty dumb if you ask me.

  15. donnie5 says:

    By the way, I greater than three ( <3 ) Costco. There is no other warehouse club.

  16. RokMartian says:

    Back in my retail days, we often had to remove items from the floor to ensure we had them on hand for the next ad that came out.

    My guess is that they were holding them for an ad/promotion.

    I didn’t get the impression that the Wii was out in the open for everyone to see – my guess is the salesperson jumped the gun before realizing it could not be sold.

  17. looks like he threw a different kind of Wii “fit”

  18. jimv2000 says:

    Wahhhh…come on, just come back Thursday like they said and buy it. Believe it or not, it really could have been the case that the manager might have been doing something more important than dealing with a customer who was trying to buy something that wasn’t for sale yet.

  19. sleze69 says:

    Only buy a PS3 if you want to watch Blu Ray. Go somewhere else and buy your Wii.

  20. joellevand says:

    I understand that they probably already put out ad copy that says minimum 100 Wiis in stock, and like many retailers, will probably have 100 tickets/vouchers to hand out to people in line on the day of the launch, which might cause a problem if the 100th person in line doesn’t get one because they’ve been sold early.

    Having said that, they could have easily told the OP that they’d special order or otherwise get a Wii for him. It wouldn’t be the same as going home with it that day, obviously, but having a guarantee that you’ll get one at the store you want to buy from can make a good deal of difference, customer service wise.

    Also, perhaps they could have called around to see if another Sam’s or Wal-Mart had more than 100 and could let the OP get one?

  21. parad0x360 says:

    Target holds Wii constantly for weeks at a time. They will get a set in and wont be allowed to sell them because 8 weeks in the future they are in the ad and they think people who come in for a Wii will shop the rest of the store after they are pissed off because Wii’s are sold out.

    Best thing is will often shows stores having them instock and when you go to the store they wont let you have one.

  22. boss_lady says:

    @discounteggroll: Bah-dum-ching!

  23. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    I couldn’t buy a Wii!!! Waaaah!
    Dumb? Yes. They are greedy bastards who are monopolizing the Wii’s popularity to increase their own (Grand reopening? Obviously nobody cares!)
    End of the world? Hardly.
    With the price of gas skyrocketing, mortgages going down like a hooker on the Titanic, an implosion of the DNC, war, famine, depression, recession, and rogue Ford dealerships plotting genocide, this is what you are worried about?
    At my store, I have been accused at least once a week of ruining some kid’s birthday/christmas/arbor day because I don’t have a Wii to sell them. Get over it.

  24. Jackasimov says:

    I had the exact same thing happen at Costco! Exactly. From picking up a few items with my girlfriend; to skipping like a little girl; to not losing my cool but being angry (just generally); to making three separate phone calls (to friends over the course of the next few days). Only it was about fudge. They had it, I wanted it. The only real difference was they did sell it to me with no convoluted story and no questions asked. Uncanny.

    I’ll try buying a Wii next.

  25. MerylBurbank says:

    @donnie5: I couldn’t agree more about Costco. < = less than, however.

  26. chris101d says:

    @donnie5: would be less than 3 :)

  27. skrame ? says:

    To those saying to go to Costco, it is not always an option. There isn’t one too close to where I live. I’m not driving 45 minutes to avoid Sam’s Club.

    But if that is an option, certainly try them out or use that as leverage at Sam’s. (Sam’s does give full refunds on memberships, if you cancel.)

  28. As far as I’m concerned, if it’s on the floor, it’s fair game. I wouldn’t have walked out without the box under my arm, or a rain check for when they could sell them.

    In any case you aren’t missing much anyway.

  29. Buran says:

    @skrame ☆: Yeah, there’s one in my area but not close enough for me to actually patronize — or I would go there; I believe in supporting businesses that treat customers/employees right.

  30. Fishy007 says:

    Cancel your membership. Policy says that if you are not satisfied with the service you can cancel at anytime for a full refund. That’s what I did with my Sam’s membership and I went straight to Costco. Didn’t cost me anything but some time.

    When I cancelled, they didn’t even bother to ask why, they just processed the information. You’re one person, WalMart/Sam’s club doesn’t care.

  31. says:

    uughhhhhh more reasons to hate any sam walton establishment

  32. Geekybiker says:

    When I hear stories like this my first thought is always that some employee wants to buy it and said issues are made up.

  33. donnie5 says:

    @MerylBurbank: @chris101d: Dangit! I hate math!

  34. mariospants says:

    Wii sellout stories are getting old.

  35. ilovemom says:

    Don’t shop at Walmart.

  36. kc2idf says:

    Trouble is, they’ve deterred a customer, but they won’t lose anything over it, because they will sell out of them, thanks to the tightly controlled supply.

    Otherwise you could tell them to just hold their Wii….

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  37. Rajio says:

    I would have just opened up the packaging right there and then. Then they’d probably insist I pay for it. …and then it would be mine.

  38. pengajim says:

    Costco > Sams

  39. MayorBee says:

    @Rajio: Even easier…just lick the box.

  40. HOP says:

    why was it displayed when they wern’t gonna sell it??????/

  41. Next time open the box, and let’s see if they still refuse to sell it to you.

    Or lick it.

    Or pantsu it.

    Don’t blend it though. THat won’t work for you.

  42. HIV 2 Elway says:

    I would have sold him mine.

  43. pileofmonkeycrap says:

    Offer to take it back to the shelf and then hide it somewhere in the store. Come back the next day when the sale is going on.

    Oh, then install a modchip in your Wii..

  44. CrazyNyceDave says:

    Just say to yourself: “It wouldn’t scan because it was probably filled with bathroom tiles.”

  45. ophmarketing says:

    @jimv2000: You’re serious? He should take a day off work to come and, if he’s lucky, buy the item which he already had in his hand? The item was on the sales floor. It was FOR SALE. Maybe it shouldn’t have been put out. That’s not the customer’s problem. It’s Sam’s Club’s problem. Tough t*tties for them. Maybe moving forward, they should put a little more efort into their stocking procedures.

  46. m1k3g says:

    Sam’s did the same thing to us, except that they had 22 in stock when we called. When we got there less than an hour later the cashier pointed to a guy pushing a flatbed cart loaded with them and told us that he “had just bought the last 15” !!! WTF happened to the ‘one per customer’ policy? I emailed Nintendo America, and Sam’s customer service. They actually had one shipped in from another store and hid it in the managers office until we were able to come and get it. ‘Still switched to Costco though, Sam’s sucks.

  47. dragonfire81 says:

    @HOP: I am guessing some employee put it in there because he or she was not aware of the promotion.

  48. nightshadowon says:

    Is this under the right to refuse sale a retailer/club may have? What are consumer protections for this? Is it a form a bait and switch? Just asking…

    We refuse to sell to you because you actually noticed one was for sale on the floor instead of hidden in the back where you wouldn’t know it was for sale then we wouldn’t have to refuse it to you.

  49. Rajio says:

    @MayorBee: Lol true. they can’t sell it once you lick it.

  50. Munsoned says:

    Using, I scored a Wii on Amazon in under a week. I then scored another one (also on Amazon) a week later. If I was able to do it twice in two weeks, trust me, it’s not that hard to do…

  51. uncle_fluffy says:

    @charliux: 2/10. You need to put some more effort into it.

  52. dmann99 says:

    Wii’s just no that into you.

  53. GenXCub says:

    Way to blame the victim

    Also, Wii’s are definitely still hard to find. It’s nigh impossible in Las Vegas. Southern California is not easy either.

    Any Wii you get your hands on will go for over $300 on eBay.

  54. theblackdog says:

    @Geekybiker: I used to know someone who worked for Wal-Mart, you’re not far off the mark.

  55. strathmeyer says:

    @Szin: “I say join Costco.”

    And what should he do when Costco pulls the same stunt???

    /off to join…

  56. Slayer says:

    @sleze69: Yeah, because I can really play Metal Gear, Warhawk, or Motorstorm on a Wii. Wii 3rd party games are a joke. The only good Wii games come out once every 3 to 6 months. Mario Galaxy….. Smash Brothers….. Mario Kart….. and then I don’t even know what the next big Wii game is.

  57. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    @strathmeyer: Costco will never do that. If in the unlikely event they need to hoard something for an event, they’ll remove it from the floor and place it in the back.

  58. firesign says:

    i bought my wii at the local sam’s club when they were still really scarce. they had one of those pull tickets at the display so i grabbed it. the kid on checkout i brought it to told me it was a “mistake” and they didn’t have any. a manager was walking buy and heard it, and came over to see what item he was talking about. he said he knew he had just seen one in the back and asked the kid if he’d gone back in the restricted stock area to look. he said no. the manager gave him a look, and told me to hang on a minute. several minutes later he came back with the wii, apologized profusely to me for the inconvenience and as i was leaving pulled the kid off the line to his office.

  59. HeartBurnKid says:

    @mrsultana: In case you didn’t read the article, there’s a world of difference between not having a Wii to sell somebody and refusing to sell somebody a Wii that they are currently holding in their hands. Both of them suck, but only one would be your fault. Guess which?

  60. HeartBurnKid says:

    @La Sepultura: Yeah, nobody’s going to actually play MGS4. With multiple 90-minute cutscenes, it’s not something to play so much as to watch.

    I’d make a comment about the rest of the stuff, but I’m really not interested in starting a console fanboy flamewar here. PS3 and Wii are two entirely different animals, and neither is an adequate substitute for the other, IMHO. Me, I prefer the Wii.

  61. dumblonde says:

    I don’t how the laws in your state work but here if a store has something visible on the shelves they HAVE to sell it to you at the advertised price or face a fine. Similarly if you see a shopper in the newspaper advertising a product for a certain price and they don’t have it you are entitled to a raincheck.
    Check with your state’s Attorney General and/or Consumer Affairs Dept or Office.

  62. krom says:

    Sam’s Club is owned by Wal-Mart.

    I’m sorry, do you need more information than that?

  63. DoktorGoku says:

    @sleze69: @La Sepultura: Is this never going to end? Keep the console fanboy or fangirl talk to Kotaku, please, or at least somewhere where it’s more appropriate than here.

  64. fuzzymuffins says:

    sams club = walmart = still evil

  65. search the consumerist for costco.
    talk to people you know that have a costco membership.
    costco>sams club (assuming you have a costco within reasonable distance)

  66. snoop-blog says:

    Yeah wal-mart and your cheap affordable precscriptions can f- off! Seriously, Wal-mart is not evil. My dad for one was not able to afford his rx’s until wal-mart made them cheap.

  67. Jenng says:

    said it yesterday will say it again today…

    Samsclub = Wal-Mart = FAIL

    Seriously why do people shop at either? I will never understand I guess.

  68. DoktorGoku says:

    @snoop-blog: You know, I genuinely think that may be the best thing they’ve ever done. It started a trend, and some other places are thinking of doing the same now.

    Granted, they’re doing exactly what so many other businesses complain about- using their ‘corporate might’ to lower the prices beyond what other, say ‘mom-and-pop’ stores might be able to do… but I think that with prescriptions, that might be ok.

  69. joellevand says:

    @GenXCub: Actually, had a Wii around Christmas time. Ebayed it 3 times with a $350 buy it now price and $280 starting bid. I ended up selling it for $300 on Christmas eve on Craigslist. So yeh, the ones listed on eBay may go into the thousands, but they’re probably not the ones selling.

  70. Optimistic Prime says:

    @charliux: When was the last time you’ve seen a Wii in stock, anywhere??

  71. motoraway says:

    I appreciate the suggestions to join Costco, but we’re members there as well. I would like to cancel at Sam’s Club, but I’m awaiting a response before we make that choice.

  72. motoraway says:

    So they unpacked 1 Wii from what would likely a pallet? Righto.

  73. jimv2000 says:

    @ophmarketing: Apparently it wasn’t for sale. There’s no obligation for the store to sell him something just because he has it in his hand.

  74. Shaftoe says:


    Absolutely join Costco. Sams = Walmart = Satan

  75. evilhapposai says:

    1. Wii is already starting to suck, sure the controls are neat, but the games? PLEH!! ><

    2. They are not all of that hard to find now. See them quite regularly on the store shelves now.

    3. Just go pay a premium to one of those people on Craig’s list reselling them (also the people CAUSING the shortage). The markups are starting to come down because systems are becoming more available in stores.

    LOL can’t wait to read the story about some retard that bought a whole shipment of Wii’s when they are finally easy to get and is stuck with them not being able to sell at inflated price or able to return to store.

  76. lestat730 says:

    A quick look on ebay turned up plenty of new Wii systems for retail price or less (some even had free shipping.) Not only that, but if you don’t mind buying slightly used there are plenty of good deals to be found where you get a handful of games and accessories to go with it to.

    I do agree that the least Sam’s club could do is compensate him for his trouble…

  77. mythago says:

    @mrsultana, with all the horrors going on in the world, YOU choose to post on Consumerist about how you think this is a dumb story? What’s YOUR excuse for whining about something on the Internet instead of saving Darfur?

    It would have been trivial for the store to say “we’re sorry, we don’t have a Wii available right now but we will on Thursday at 7 a.m.” Stupid customer dis-service, plain and simple.

  78. mejimmy says:

    yea they are still hard to find in Canada that I know of, I have a launch console.

    The other thing that is near impossible to find is WiiFit now, and I dont feal like paying $150 on ebay for it when it only costs $80, Im already fit, and I already take yoga classes so I think I can live without it.

    I would go costco though, I dont have a sam’s club about a hour east of london.

  79. rikkus256 says:

    One word: Costco.

  80. comicgeek77 says:

    i really lucked out with the whole wii hysteria. about a year ago i was in a toys r us feeding my action figure habit and i saw somebody buying one over in the games/electronics department. i went over to see if they had any more available because i wanted one for myself and because my brother had been looking all over for one and had a birthday coming up. they had ten or so left but there was a one per customer limit. after sweet talking the very nice saleslady for a bit she called on the manager who then explained to me that the policy was in place to keep their stock from getting wiped out by resellers. after hearing my story he bent the rules and let me buy two of them but said they had to be rung up separately because the computer wouldnt let them ring up two at once. the manager was way cool about it, and the sales lady was really kind and helpful (and cute). that toys r us has gotten plenty of return business from me on stuff i would usually buy from other places as a result.

  81. @Captain_Collide: I wouldn’t have walked out without the box under my arm, or a rain check for when they could sell them.

    What about in handcuffs? Would you walk out then?

  82. ShariC says:

    Costco treats it’s employees well and pays them more than “necessary” such that its stockholders get irritated. Sam’s Club = Wal-mart with all the badness that comes from working there (no health insurance, lowest possible wages, etc.). Anyone who has a choice between Costco and Sam’s Club and wants to live by a code of ethics will support the company that chooses to anger stockholders and pay employees well.

    I’m not sure why anyone would ‘sing Sam’s Club’s praises’, but I’m all for bad experiences that drive people to Costco.

  83. mikemar42 says:

    You should have just stood there screaming: I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!

  84. sleze69 says:

    @DoktorGoku: Wii Rules!

  85. CPC24 says:

    Yawn…Another Wal-mart/Sam’s bashing thread. FWIW, I showed up at a Wal-Mart at 11:45 PM the night of the launch and got one. Two ticketholders didn’t show, so they had a raffle and my wife won one. Evil, evil Wal-mart.

  86. dragon:ONE says:

    @donnie5: I beg to differ: []

    BJ’s <3.

  87. gover57 says:

    @dumblonde: “Check with your state’s Attorney General and/or Consumer Affairs Dept or Office. “

    Wont do much good, seeing as they aren’t in the US…

    “”Last Saturday I found myself picking up a few items at Sam’s Club (335 Fanshawe Park Road W. London, ON Canada) with my girlfriend.””

    I’m in his town also, and there are 2 Costco stores within a half hour drive (one less than 10 mins…).
    He should have just pushed harder to talk to the manager and say its on the floor and should be sold. if they don’t then bring up the cancel membership stuff, along with all the other memberships he bought. then drive ten minutes and sign up with costco.

  88. KatherineLongus says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree with ‘mrsultana’ as the mortgage rates are not making me feel anywhere as close how good a hooker may (regardless of which ship she is on at the time,) make me feel.

    Honest Answer:

    The retail store I work for has weekly sales, and random sales during the week (though mostly Saturday-only, or Fri./Sat.). Sometimes we get Wii’s in, and sometimes we don’t. However, if we have one out, and a customer asks for it, it is theirs. Regardless if it was meant to be on sale that day or the next Sunday… if it’s in plain sight and after the ‘official’ (note: Official dictated via the developer, not the retailer) release date, there should NEVER be any trouble.

    However, now you know the pain of Wal-Mart. Sam’s Club/Wal-Mart are perfect examples of a lot of things that wrong with the consumerism process lately. Find other outlet’s to get your Wii. I waited outside of a Target for 2 hours to get mine 1 1/2 years ago, and my buddy from work came in early one day, two weeks ago to get his. They aren’t very rare nowadays… Just find a better retailer.

  89. Mudpuddle says:

    You should have licked the package making it yours.