Wii Wonder

Yes, I've joined the Wii-playing masses, mostly because my gym is about to close by the time I get out of work most days (it's a great gym, it just doesn't stay open very late). The Wii appealed because it meant I could get some light exercise in and still manage to eat supper before nine PM.

I found a console fairly quickly (thanks to my brother Steve's "fixer" mentality and expansive knowledge of downtown gaming shops), and set things up last night. Everything worked on the first try. It was weird — although I didn't like boxing as a two-player Wii game when I tried it before, I really got a kick out of pummeling the entirely-computerised avatar. I knocked out "Ryan" the generic Mii by the second round. Well, it had been a frustrating week.

I think I'm going to be pummeling more avatars if the customer service I'm getting over Wii Fit keeps up. First I tried one game store in person (that had been recommended to me). I got a fish-eyed stare and a flat "No" as a response to my enquiry. When I asked why, I got a half-baked explanation and a blow-off. I don't like overweening shop clerks, but I don't like being treated like a criminal either, just because I asked for a service the shop doesn't happen to provide.

Not a problem, I thought, I'll just back-order the thing from a big box store. Except their web site wouldn't let me. So I called customer service and asked why. The rep said that they don't allow back orders on sold-out items because it would bog down the ordering system and they would never be able to fulfill hundreds of thousands of orders (hundreds of thousands? really? for an item that few households would order more than one of, in a country with 33 million people?). Then he hung up on me.

Okay, okay, it's a scarce item, I get it, but do I have to be treated like garbage because I'm shopping for a scarce item? I do buy other electronics, after all. Can't someone say "no" politely anymore? Offer some hints on how to buy from them while working with their Byzantine system of order fulfillment?

Consumers get accused all the time of being short-sighted and needing instant gratification. Shops would do well to remember that they can come across the same way, with similarly distasteful impressions made.