Be Careful Who You Pre-Order Consoles With

Pre-orders come down to two things when pre-ordering games and consoles: who has stock and what perks are offered by each. While I do not support pre-ordering, if I wanted a Nintendo Switch, I was going to have to. Luckily, when it was announced and other outlets had sold out, Target managed to still have stock. So I was able to snag a pre-order just in the nick of time and even turned a couple of people on to Target still having availability. I gave Target additional business in this regard. So you can imagine that I was ecstatic that I got a pre-order in, at that time.

Normally, outlets like Target and Amazon will run an initial authorization on your credit card and it will drop off in a few days. This means that the charge for the system will not happen until it actually ships. Having pre-ordered through Target, however, I knew the unit would not be received until after the launch day of March 3, which I was okay with, as long as I knew I was getting one. Fast forward a month later and I wake up to a bank account in the negative. I see a charge from Target which was completely unannounced. I actually called the bank thinking it was fraud.

The price of the deduction was $317.99, so I double-checked my order. So in my head I am thinking that one, I’m broke, but two, this was the final charge and maybe I’m getting my unit early despite seeing the delivery date as March 7-10 (almost a week after release). So I reached out and chatted with a Target representative. This turns out it was another pre-authorization. This was unannounced and no information was disclosed when I placed the pre-order that this might happen again. March 3 is only about three weeks away, so it really makes no sense why to do this other than to weed out pre-orders. While the charge will fall off in a few days, it left me handicapped on my funds.

For normal folks like me, we budget, and I had it budgeted for when the time came that it would ship. The Target representative provided no help and I asked if I could un-cancel this order since it leaves an open pre-order and I was told no. There is no option to do this. I cancelled the order out of panic thinking the money would hit my bank account again. It still sits there as I had to borrow money to cover this unforeseen and supposedly “innocent” charge that would fall off in a few days. The equivalent to this would be your landlord coming to your house and telling you you have to leave for a few days but you can come back and still pay rent at the end of the month. No reason for having to leave, but still, you gots to get out.

I attempted to dig more today and I tweeted @asktarget who offered to investigate this more. On top of showing no compassion (neither did the original representative), there was nothing I could do and no reasoning behind it. This was the response: “Hi Cory – When you place a pre-order, Target sends an authorization hold request to your card issuer. If the card issuer allows the authorization hold to expire at any time, Target may resubmit the authorization hold request. Depending on the item’s release date, you may see several authorization holds for the same item. Please accept our apologies for any disappointment. Thanks for reaching out. -Heather.” A later response was that she would “pass my concern on to leadership”. I am now out of a new console, screwed on money until the pending charge drops (let’s not forget it’s Valentine’s Day), and get no respect in return.

What I have learned after all of this is to never pre-order. Pre-ordering something guarantees sales for the software or hardware publisher. There will be a given amount of units to ship. Unfortunately with anything Nintendo, most people pre-ordering the system intend to sell it for double and triple the price. The question is will the demand be there after the confirmed launch lineup? I was able to purchase a PlayStation 4 the morning of release (ironically at Target) without a pre-order. This has honestly set me back enough to publish an article about it. The picture of the conversation is below. It is pretty simple, however. If this was in writing that this would happen or there was a bit more concern out of the retail part of this, I would be okay with it. The timing and inconvenience this has caused has now left me empty handed with nothing to show for it. Now granted, this pre-order was done online and not in-store, it certainly will be the last time I pre-order a console online unless it is with Amazon. I guess I will finally get my PS4 Pro instead of a Nintendo Switch.