We Warned Target That Some Customers Wouldn’t Get ‘Fallout 4’ Pre-Orders, But They Didn’t Listen

It’s one thing for a retailer to screw up an order because it changed the customer’s payment method, or because someone in customer service was misinformed. But when that retailer is given weeks of advance notice and still manages to leave that customer empty-handed, there’s no excuse.

Let’s flash back to June, when Consumerist reader Tracy jumped at pre-ordering a $125 special “Pip-Boy” edition of Fallout 4 from Target, using her Target REDcard to secure the transaction in advance of its Nov. 10 release date.

Yet, here it is, the morning of Nov. 20, and Tracy still hadn’t received the game she ordered, because Target issued her a new REDcard — but never let her update her payment information.

A Matter Of Bad Timing

Target, in an effort to be compliant with new credit card security measures, recently replaced customers’ REDcards with ones using new chip-and-PIN technology. After Tracy received hers, she contacted the retailer to update the payment information for her Fallout pre-order.

Since her card would not actually be charged until the order shipped, it shouldn’t have been a problem to change it a month before the game’s ship date, she figured. In fact, Target had sent customers like Tracy a letter instructing them to change their card info for “any automatic or recurring transactions.” Tracy assumed that a pre-order fell into this category.

But when she contacted Target customer service, she says she was informed that payment methods can’t be changed at all, for security reasons.

The only solution offered? To cancel the order and place a new one, which would’ve been impossible, as the special edition of the game had been sold out for months.

Tracy spoke to another Target rep who assured her that so long as funds were available in her account, the pre-order “should” go through. The rep made no promises, and couldn’t explain how having the old card number associated with the order would allow the transaction to go through, beyond saying that, “Target knows you got a new card.”

We Tried To Warn Them

Not confident that she was getting a straight answer, Tracy contacted Consumerist, and we reached out to Target — still weeks ahead of the Nov. 10 release — to see if the retailer would clarify whether or not Tracy and others in her situation would receive their pre-ordered games.

At the time, the company wouldn’t say one way or the other, but told us they were “looking into it.”

Then, five days before Fallout began occupying every waking hour of millions of fans, Tracy spoke with a third Target rep. This one assured her that her order wouldn’t be canceled, and that she was working with the vendor to help her and others get their items in case that their orders were canceled, but couldn’t explain how that would happen.

Soon after, Tracy received an email that her order had been canceled… at her request.

What The…?

“Obviously, I did not request this,” Tracy says about the cancellation, so she called the customer service back directly, and says she was told they were aware the order had been canceled, and that again, the rep was “working with the vendor.”

“Strangely, she now claims that the other people whose orders were cancelled was due to a ‘glitch’ and that my particular situation is unique,” Tracy notes.

She’s not alone. Just look at complaints on reddit like this thread and this one and you’ll see that others who pre-ordered using old REDcard numbers were similarly screwed.

Tracy tells Consumerist she tried to call the customer service rep back again, but since Nov. 9, the number she was given has either been busy or rings endlessly.

Wandering The Wasteland

The release date has come and gone, and as of this morning, Tracy and others still didn’t have their orders. Nor did she have an e-mailed confirmation or tracking number for the item that was supposed to replace her canceled order, which she was promised by the rep who no longer answers her phone.

She did reach out to Bethesda Software, the game’s developer, and said that the company was trying to resolve her issue on that end.

“At this point, I have very little confidence that Target will make this right,” Tracy wrote. “I certainly hope that I’m wrong there, but it doesn’t seem like there will be any way to magic up copies of a game edition that is not even being manufactured any more.”

What Now?

We got in touch with Target — again — asking for an update on the situation, and any advice for other customers experiencing the same issues as Tracy.

A spokeswoman told us that guest relations had been in touch with Tracy as of Thursday night with a tracking number for her order, and she should be receiving her item soon.

We’ve confirmed with Tracy that she not only got the tracking number, but she might as well forget any plans she had this weekend because her copy of Fallout arrived today. Though she notes that it shipped straight from Bethesda, rather than from Target.

When asked how a Target customer could avoid this sort of problem going forward, the rep somehow managed to put the burden and blame on the customer, saying that shoppers shouldn’t use a card that will expire before a product’s ship date. That’s all well and good, but it simply doesn’t apply in this case.

Remember, Tracy’s card wasn’t expiring. Target made a decision on its own to reissue these cards with new numbers. How could Tracy or other customers have possibly predicted that the retailer would choose to change up all of its payment cards in that particular five month window?

The spokeswoman apologized for the experience Tracy and others may have had with guest relations over payment issues, again calling the circumstances “unfortunate,” and said that anyone in the same boat should continue to reach out to via Target’s customer service — the same service that repeatedly provided Tracy with incorrect information and refused to reply to her after canceling her order.

“To the extent we’re able to, we’ve been attempting to work with them to provide resolution,” the rep tells Consumerist.

What Target needs to learn is that the best resolution is to not mess up in the first place.

Update: Tracy not only received a copy of Fallout 4 that day from Bethesda, she got a second copy later on Friday… this time from Target. She says she’s going to send back the copy Bethesda sent her so someone else can enjoy the game.

“So somehow, after having none, I ended up with two!” she writes. “It’s a relief that Target did step up and fulfill my order after all.”

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