Dick Smith's PlayStation 4 Launch Party... Was A PlayStation 4 Launch Party.

It was supposed to be a disaster, there was supposed to be riots but Dick Smith’s midnight launch for the PlayStation 4, complete with 300 unsecured consoles up for grabs was as harmless as any other midnight launch.

No-one was more surprised than me.

The set up was hardly consumer friendly. Dick Smith ran a competition. Instead of allocating 300 units of the console to those with pre-orders it attempted to drive customers to its Facebook page and its store with a competition with a strange prize: the opportunity to buy a PlayStation 4 at its midnight launch in Sydney’s CBD.

That in itself wasn’t the problem, perhaps the most difficult pill to swallow was this: entrants to the competition wouldn’t be informed whether they would be able buy a PlayStation 4 on the night, meaning they would have to travel into the city on a Thursday night and wait for the winners to be announced before possibly going back empty handed.

Seemed grossly unfair — not only to the people taking part in the competition, but to those with existing pre-orders missing out on a console at launch.

And it was grossly unfair if we’re being perfectly honest — yet the Dick Smith launch party last night appeared to go off without a hitch. Not a single complaint really, let alone the all-out riot I was expecting when the wrong names were called out and certain people didn’t get the PS4 they had hoped for

Part of it had to do with the numbers. According to the Dick Smith representative I spoke to there were roughly 600 entrants into the competition meaning that, from the get go, entrants had a one in two chance. When you consider the fact that not everyone who entered ended up heading to the store, folks who actually came to the midnight launch had a very, very strong chance of walking home with a PS4.

And everyone, it seems, knew what they had signed up for. People who might have been angry at Dick Smith’s method of dishing out its consoles most likely didn’t sign up for the competition and they sure as hell didn’t turn up to the event itself.

The winners were shown in four separate ‘rounds’, batch of names that appeared on screens periodically throughout the night. If the PS4s went unclaimed they went back into the pot, meaning that another person would be given a chance in a later round of winner announcements.

It was a strange night. The gamers among the crowd killed time playing FIFA 14 on one of the various consoles set up around the store, whilst those clearly picking the console up for a friend or a relative waited patiently in the food court nearby, wearing the grimaces of folks who’d rather be anywhere else but here. Music blared from speaker, customers gorged themselves with cookies and ice cream and they waited. Then they picked up their consoles and left the store.

It doesn’t make it fair — it doesn’t make it right. Dick Smith still essentially screwed its own pre-ordering customers out of 297 consoles that could have and should have belonged to them.

But the people who were angry, it seems, stayed home last night.


Comments

    Sounds like the launch party avoided drama because most people were sensible and didn't enter this sham for a competition. I have no doubt DSE was hoping for more entrants than 600.

    If you don't like how something is run; don't go to the thing! Has some of the Australian population actually got some common sense!?

      That's probably what happened and I bet that's exactly what the people who ended up going were betting on. Fewer entrants means a greater chance of securing an order.

        I like this, "Greater chance of securing an order". We're not talking about WINNING a PS4, we're talking about 'a greater chance of BUYING' a PS4. You know how you would have had an even greater chance? Not going through Dick Smith.

      some of the Australian population?? 600 people entered, i dont know how big you think australia is but there is a heap more then 600

    I did the back of the envelope maths on this and it went exactly as I predicted. But that wouldnt make as good a story would it? If I had the desire to own a PS4 right now I would have been all over it. A couple hours waiting for a 1 in 2 chance of avoiding a 3 month wait. Seems like a no brainer.

    What bugs me about this string of articles is the same issue I take with the recent criticisms of Kickstarter that have been all over technology blogs: people in each of these cases are fully informed of the situation. No one is beign duped. So why is kickstarter, and in this case DSE, the enemy? I see idiots who dont read before laying down the cash are the fools deserving ridicule here.

      Yep, I see this point. My main issue is with the people who actually have existing pre-orders with Dick Smith are being screwed over.

        Are they really being screwed over? Yes there was perhaps a potential that 300 people could have received theirs now instead of mid December or early next year, but unless I missed something, it's not like they were promised a launch console and then suddenly told "due to unforeseen circumstances we're unable to complete your order."

        So maybe a bit of a dick move but I don't think their customers are really being held over a barrel.

          If you pre-ordered you could also go in on the night to chance getting it immediately. It's like having a queue at a counter... then opening up a second priority queue that anyone else could join(even people in the first queue, although they'd retain their original queue spot if they were unlucky).

          It IS bad, but pre-selecting winners and not notifying them is a bit worse imo. Kind of like inviting everyone who interviewed for a job, but knowing who was getting it and who wasn't in advance. But then again they had a free PS4 and a trip raffle as well?

          I have to admit that if I was one of the people that pre-ordered and didn't get it, I'd be pissed... especially if I went in on the launch night.

          Lets hope this does not start a trend though, you would not want 1000's of next gen console's (PS5, Next box) held hostage because in order to be able to buy one you have to jump though some hoops that only benefit the company that is selling them.

          I mean it's at no loss to the company they know they are going to sell them no matter what... right?

          if I pre-order something then me and the retailer are entering an agreement that they will be receiving supply of said item and when it becomes available they will sell it to me for the remainder of the cost (anywhere from the items price + fee to nothing in the event its been paid off) at a higher priority then that of a customer who has not entered this agreement, if they have enough stock to supply me with what I have paid for and they instead choose to not make it available to me as per the original agreement and instead sell it to someone else (even if they dress it up as a competition) they have not only wronged me morally but would be open to a lawsuit for breech of contract and liable for any damages (in this case most likely the cost of the console).

          I'm surprised nobody is suing.

            Well, probably not. I would assume that they treat pre-orders as offers, rather than an acceptance of their offer. It wouldn't really surprise me if DSE specifically put this in their sales contract as well. The contract for the actual console would only be created once full payment has been made AND they have a console to sell to you. That's why they wouldn't be able to sue you for the remainder of the payment if you cancelled your pre-order. I don't know if there is anything in the ACL that would affect this though.

              if you pay them the full amount then a contract is entered regardless of whether they have the console yet because the agreement is that you'll get the console when they have the console to give, even if you only pay part of the money it's still a contract if it's substantial enough, the only reason they can't sue for the remainder of the fee is because they haven't invested anything themselves and they keep what money you've given them as the price of forfeit.

              they can call them offers if they like, but at the end of the day you are giving them money with the expectation on both ends that they will do something in return, that's a contract however you slice it and by not providing you with the console that they are perfectly capable of providing you with they have violated the terms.

                That's not how it works though. It does depend on what the terms of the agreement call it because, providing they do not breach the ACL and comply with other statutory provisions, the written contract represents the whole of the bargain between the consumer and the retailer. If they state in the agreement that they treat pre-order payments as offers, then the courts will interpret it in this manner as it reflects the intentions of the parties in accordance with the agreement.

                Your argument is only valid if the contract is actually how you have outlined it, which doesn't seem correct. A better construction would be that you are entering into a contract conditional on them receiving a console for you to have, but not necessarily the next available console. It feels like you're trying to state that the agreement is creating a proprietary claim in the future stock which is the only way you could link the payment to a particular console (i.e. the 'next available' console), which is not correct.

                  if they have a contractual obligation to sell me a console and they choose to not honour that and instead sell it to someone who they are not legally required to sell it to then they have breached the contract, they were in a position to fulfill their end of the contract and decided not to. there are things that cover you in the event that you cannot honour the deal, so in the event that they can't get enough consoles to fill their orders before a specific date then it's considered a complication or frustration and you either accept the extended time or you can void the contract, but in this event they have chosen to delay the fulfillment of their obligation contrary to their contract.

                  and me paying them money for the pre-order is not an offer, it's an acceptance of their offer, in order for them to legally label my payment as an offer they would need me to have approached them and provided the option to them, but as is evident by their advertising it is them who proposed the deal to me.

                  from the second you put down your money it is a legally binding contract and they have a legal obligation to sell you a console when it is within their power to do so (it is not, however, at their leisure because the understanding is that they have guaranteed you the sale and must make best efforts to facilitate said sale, selling the stock to someone else when they could have sold it to you is far from making best efforts), by actively deciding not to without the other parties input when they were legally able to they have breached the contract.

                I have to reply to this comment because there have been too many replies. Since we are clearly not agreeing, I will simply leave you with this. Prices as advertised by retailers are not considered offers, they occupy a unique type of request called an invitation to treat. This is the law. Regardless of whether you consider the payment acceptance, this is not the case. The retailer accepts your offer to buy the goods, you don't accept the retailer's offer to sell at the advertised price.

                Also, as I have said previously, if your construction was correct then the retailer would be entitled to sue for the remainder of the price should you choose to cancel. You said that upon payment you would be legally entitled to the console but the retailer has no legal right to your money. If you choose to cancel an order this is repudiation, not frustration. How can you have an enforceable contract for one party but not for the other? It doesn't make any sense.

                  they invite you to treat, you go to the store and enter negotiations, you say you'll pay this much money for the console, they ACCEPT and you give them the money, it is now a legally binding contract.

                  and the reason they can't sue for the remainder of the fee is because they state that if you back out you're forfeit to whatever money you've already invested, that's what they have deemed to be the value of the damages, while they stood to profit from the sale of the whole product they still have said product and its worth.

                  once an exchange is made and they accept the money as payment towards a specific thing (they even give you a receipt) it ceases to be an offer and becomes a contract. no matter how you slice it once the money is given in exchange for something it becomes a contract, and you give them money in exchange for the promise of a product when it becomes available.

            They have (hypothetically) morally wronged you? They're open to a law-suit? I'm sorry but at this point I can't help but think this:

            If you're havin pre-order problems, I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems but a console aint one

              I didn't pre-order any console, just pointing out that DSE are leaving themselves pretty open to to not only be hated but in a legally justified manner.

        Mark, you still didn't acknowledge that the people entering into the draw could have won a FREE PS4 and a trip to E3, just for turning up. That makes it a bit less "grossly unfair", don't you think?

        And what about the FREE PS4 for the best Sony character cosplay, just for turning up. And what about the FREE PS4 for the winner of the FIFA comp, just for turning up.

        It smacks of a media beat-up when you ignore these points in favour of bemoaning the unfairness of having to turn up for the chance to buy a PS4.

      DSE are the enemy if you were one of the ones that pre-ordered, but missed out.

      Say you read about the PS4 and decide to buy it... so you go into your local DSE and pre-order it. They had 300 PS4's allocated and you're the 302nd person pre-ordering, so you have to wait until the next batch. Tough luck, you were too slow. But first in, best dressed, right? Through a miracle of supply, another 300 PS4's are arriving, but before you get the friendly "Guess what? You can get your PS4 on launch day after all!" call, some guru in marketing decides to cblock you by making a launch party event where this new batch is reserved.

      Whether you attend or not, you should have priority. You shouldn't be the 602nd person to get one.

      Kickstarter is different to this.

        This is exactly the point.

        AND... it was a failed marketing event at that.

        It's the release of the PS4, which has hardly any games for it right now, and is being sold by every other retailer under the sun.

        It's not NYE 2000.

        Gees.

        I seriously don't get this. They're going to sell the exact same amount of PS4s, the only thing they gain is a pittance of new Facebook followers who probably don't even give a shit, and probably a few extra pissed off people at the launch party.

        Still, it's over now. No point discussing really.

      If I run a scam and nobody falls for it, does that make it alright? I mean essentially what went right with this event was that it failed. They sold some PS4s and everyone walked away happy, but only because they didn't get the turnout they were hoping for.

        Yep.

        If you steal candy but the baby doesn't cry, everything's cool, right.

    I saw an image of a similar competition in the US, but the prize was to win the chance to buy either a PS4 or XBONE and it wasn't going to be drawn until the 30th of November... i think that would have been worse than DSE's

    AIght so here is the deal, I pre booked the freaking killzone shadow bundle with eye and an extra bundle and I din get no freaking date for the delivery but just a work saying 2nd week and that was after I paid and everything. Dick smith's are being bunch of dills for no reason. That being said, I am actually pretty much sleepless atm cuz my friend is playing his xbox one atm while i a sitting in front of this computer trying to vent my anger out using keys... aiight ignore me. bye

    Dick Smith are no doubt relieved by an unmeasurable amount that they basically got away with this.
    There should be a business operation textbook, with this scam they tried to pull being added from the 2014 edition under 'what not to do'.

    I went to this event along with a mate. We both walked away with 2 consoles each and there were still 8 left out the back according to staff. We could tell early on that not even 300 people were in attendance. I'm not sure how much of this event is Dick Smith's fault though. I had a good chat with a number of people running the night and they were SONY staff, not Dick Smith. It's possible that it was more "Sony Promotion" than "Dick Smith, dick move". Just seems illogical that Sony would supply staff to one specific launch event but not have a deeper involvement than that. How would people feel if it turns out that Sony withheld the 300 consoles and it was never a part of Dick Smiths preorder allocation?

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