Where to buy Wiimotes and Wiichucks (Wii controllers)

As previously mentioned (I’m too lazy to add a link to the previous post), I picked up a Wii yesterday in the form of the CostCo Bundle, including The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Excite Truck. In the tradition of gaming consoles of recent memory, the Wii only ships with a single controller. Admittedly, the Wiimote + Nunchuck is decidely cooler than most previous controllers, but it’s still only one simultaneous player. (I like “Wiichuck”, personally — I don’t think I’ve seen it previously, so you heard it here first!)

I, however, have a second person who would want to play; if I wanted a chance to play later, I had to get a second controller. ‘sides, I had purchased some two player games, bring it on!

Short version: The only store that had ANY controllers left when I spent over an hour on the phone yesterday, and the only store that indicated they would be getting more stock: Walmart. I picked up the last Wiimote at the Lynnwood Walmart on 164th just off I5; the Tullalip Walmart 24-Hour Superstore indicated they had a larger quantity when I called. I also was an idiot and asked what time they closed, so… BUT! That’s really your best bet.

Mandrina hates Walmart; I’m not a big fan. However, they get a large supply of items. They also had some of the best phone manners in the deal. But that’s the long version.

I called, in no particular order, every Gamestop, EB Games, GameCrazy, Fred Meyer, KMart, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Circuit City, and one other store I can’t recall the name of, that I could find between Redmond, WA, and Everett, WA. Nearly every store was sold out of everything related to the Nintendo Wii. Some stores seemed inclined to mock me for trying, some seemed tired of answering — one or two was generally helpful.

I will, for the sake of causing problems, and getting more hits to my blog, now elaborate on the customer service of each of the above (and by immediately I mean within two rings):

Gamestop/EB Games: **** – Phone was answered immediately, by a real person. They then rattled off a spiel about buying and selling used games, and some game they’re currently trying to sell. After that, they knew (in all except one case) immediately what I was talking about, and that they were out of stock. Some elaborated (once of their own volition, otherwise by my questioning) that they were sold out of all accessories in combination with simply the pre-order purchases. Universally the date given for restocking was consistently “After Christmas.”

GameCrazy: **** – Phone was immediately answered by a real person, similar problem to EB Games / Gamestop: they wanted to tell you about something before you spoke. One GameCrazy location in Woodinville had a Wiimote, if I remember correctly, but no Wiichucks. No information offered on date of next shipment, was fairly laid back in conversation, was not at all brusque.

Fred Meyer: ***** Phone was immediately answered by a central operator, who directed my call immediately to the appropriate department (Electronics). The person who answered knew the answer to my question immediately, did not make me feel hurried — and expressed hope that they would have another shipment by Black Friday. Yes, I bet you’d like to have a shipment by then. The one store made a point of mentioning that they usually get deliveries on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I should call back then to find out if any came in.

KMart: **** One button to get the operator (I think). Phone was answered immediately, then transferred to the appropriate department. The first person in Electronics who answered didn’t know, but checked immediately, not placing me on hold. No information offered on when.

Target: * Phone was answered immediately by a computer. The computer immediately opened with a spiel about where they were located, then their hours for the current week, their holiday schedule, etc. At no point was there an option to immediately choose a particular department. I blindly guessed “0”, and got transferred to their central operator. In only one case did I get put through to the Electronics Department. In every other case, the operator asked if I was calling about the Wii, then tried to use a list of available items to handle my call without putting me through to electronics. The operators, by and large, did not know the appropriate terminology — a “Wiimote,” or a “Nunchuck” — but did understand “Wii controller.” It was a fairly frustrating experience all in all; I appreciate their desire to minimize unnecessary bouncing of phone calls and possibly hold time, but I ended up feeling like a second class citizen. I greatly appreciated the one lady who said, “I don’t think there are any left, but I’ll pass you through.” Other than that… I gave them a star for answering the phone.

Walmart: ***** Up there with Fred Meyer as the best experience, oddly enough. So much for hating Walmart. My call was answered on the first ring, and immediately transferred to electronics. I had next to no wait time on the transfer, and my questions were, in two cases, answered immediately. In the third case, they had to check the shelves to verify, as they thought they were out (they were) — but the person came back with both the fact that they were currently out of stock, and when they expected to get the next shipment in. Their score isn’t hurt by the fact that they were the only one who actually had the item in stock. Also, after my startling stupid question of asking when the 24-Hour Super Walmart closed that night, the person on the other end put me at ease almost immediately — very well handled, even though I’m sure he’s been asked that before.

Best Buy: *** – Required two keypad presses to get to a person. One to say departments, then one to say Movies and Games. Phone took a few rings to answer, but was answered. They had no information on when a new shipment was coming in, and seemed in a hurry to get off the phone with me. I realize you are, but be nice about it, darnit!

Circuit City: ** – Required three keypad presses to get to a person — one to say I wanted to check stock or pricing, one to narrow my search down to Music, Movies, Software, and Games, and one to narrow it to Software and Games. When it was answered, the person had an immediate answer, but no information on when they expected a new shipment. CC is narrowly beating out Target; there was one CC store where the phone was never answered.

CostCo: **** – At two of the three stores I called, I went to List Departments on the phone system (again, no person), and had no “Electronics” department listed. I then was disconnected. However, on the second go-round when I selected the administration option, I was immediately answered by someone who connected me to the Electronics department. The person on the other end had an immediate answer, and was able to provide the best information on when they expected a shipment; one store had already received and sold out the night before, and didn’t know when they were getting another shipment. The other store expected them tomorrow (read: today), as they had not come in today — the person I spoke to suggested I call the next day at 10am, when they should know for sure. The third store (the original one in Kirkland, WA) did have a Department listing for Electronics, the phone was answered in only a few rings by someone knowledgeable. He also gave me the best news of the day, that they had just come in, and there were 48 left.

Admittedly, the CostCo shopping was for the Nintendo Wii itself, rather than the controller, but I still thought dealing with so many electronics companies in the space of a few hours was interesting. By and large, the “small” stores — EB Games, Game Crazy, and Gamestop — (and yes, I know they’re a chain) all answered in the space of a ring, and almost all knew exactly what I was talking about. They had an immediate answer as to their current stock level, but were extremely vague about when they were expecting new items. The larger stores electronics stores had moderately pleasant computer systems available. Not as fast as a human operator, but more cost effective — and more what you would expect from an electronics store. The people I spoke to knew their stock status immediately, but had no information on restock, and didn’t have any interest in trying to find out. Larger S-Mart-knock-offs (I’m sure Bruce Campbell would prefer that nomenclature) varied: I was willing to put up with a slight bit more difficulty due to the fact that they were not exclusively electronics or games locations, and was thrilled with the far more positive experience of Fred Meyer, KMart, Walmart, and CostCo. CostCo had the best guesses as to when missing supplies were coming in. Walmart had the most responsive assistance in terms of checking low stock, and checking expected arrival dates without being asked. Fred Meyer provided useful information without being asked, but it was only a guess.

Target, in a word, sucked. An incomprehensible phone system, combined with overly intrusive attempts to be helpful, made the experience of dealing with Target the most negative of the bunch.

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