Fair GAME? Hardly, say customers who pre-order

21 November 2008

We're all slavishly loyal customers to particular companies. You may have stuck it out through thick and thin, trusted them with your cash even when offered a better deal, because there's a certain je ne sais quoi that keeps you going back for more. So when that company kick you in the balls, it not only stings like a bitch but it's entirely unexpected.

For example, thousands of customers still pre-order console games weeks in advance, despite their widespread availability on the day of release in high street stores. Unless a game creates national mania then there's rarely a problem buying a copy off the shelf, on top of which supermarkets can offer substantial discounts.

So why do people still pre-order games from GAME? Well, in their minds they're guaranteed a particular level of customer service. Perhaps they believe in the way they do business or want to buy from a games specialist. Plus, there's the belief that they'll have the game first before anyone else, and sometimes that's worth paying a little extra for.

Over the past fortnight, Bitterwallet has received several emails concerning GAME and their policy concerning pre-ordering new releases, in particular Gears of War II Special Edition. To put it bluntly, customers feel they've been ripped off. Anyone who pre-ordered the game paid £49.99, for delivery on the day of release. However, within a day of the pre-ordered games been dispatched, GAME reduced the price by £7, to £42.99.

GAME used to have a pre-ordering price policy splashed across the site, which is now impossible to find; you've got to place an order to read the following:

Note: The price quoted for a preorder title is the anticipated retail selling price at the time of release. Should the price be reduced you will be charged the lower price at the time of your order being dispatched. Should the price increase - you will not pay any more! Money is taken just prior to release.

In other words, as soon as the game goes in the post, GAME can immediately reduce the price; even though the game hasn't even been released yet, new customers can order the game that you haven't received for less than you paid - nearly 15% less in this case.

The detail allows GAME to make their margins at the expense of customers who pre-order, but then immediately slash prices to compete with supermarkets and high street chains. That's how customers feel, but is this how GAME sees it? Obviously not, as GAME Customer Services explain:

When a customer preorders an item with us no payment is taken until the item is dispatched.  In our terms and conditions it states that the price advertised when you order at will be the price that you pay for this game even if the price increases; however if the price decreases before payment is taken and your order is shipped you shall pay the smaller price. Many customers have benefited from this policy, including for larger releases such as Grand Theft Auto IV.

But in regards to the Gears of War II title, the payment for this product has already been taken and the price dropped on the day of release we are not under any obligation to refund customers the difference.

Hey, don't cry. GAME love you really:

However as an online service we are keen to be customer focused and as such we issued many goodwill gestures for our customers. The customers were sent a £10 voucher to be used against their next purchase to restore any confidence lost in our preordering system.

So GAME in no way screwed up but immediately already offered vouchers to say sorry. Except the vouchers can only be redeemed at GAME, obviously. Oh, and by the way:

If you require any further information on our preordering system please follow the weblink below;


We have provided this help information clearly and readily available for all customers. We advise all customers to read this section of help section prior to confirming a preorder.

So it's your own fault if you didn't read GAME's FAQ section, but then if you have you'll know it doesn't explain any of the pricing policy stated above.

If you bought the game but didn't receive the voucher, get in touch with GAME. In the meantime, let us know of your experiences of pre-ordering, positive or negative. In a world of 24 hour supermarkets and bulk-buying, is there any point to pre-ordering?

TOPICS:   Games


  • Bulldog
    Can't say that I've ever had a bad experience when pre-ordering games from GAME. Example is my latest purchase... I pre-ordered Call of Duty: World at War Special Edition for £59.99, got an email a few days before release saying that they have dropped the price down to £54.99!! Also, even though I didn't pay for delivery, I received it on release day by Royal Mail Special Delivery!!
  • james
    I pre-ordered Mario and Sonic at the Olympics for the Wii from Game and it was pretty cool that it arrived the day early. However, the supposed t-shirt that was meant to come with every pre-order never arrived. I e-mailed them and they never replied..but I had the game so I wasn't too bothered. Other than that both in-store and online I have found them to actually be a generally outstanding company (but perhaps that is because I rarely do pre-order and like to shop around first)
  • David P.
    I used to use GAME as a 10-day rental but haven't bought from them since they stopped their 10-day money back guarantee. There were 3 stores where I lived so I would alternate which ones I would buy or take games back to avoid suspicion but I'll never forget the look on the shop assistant's face when I took back Halo 2, 10 days after release!

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