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Botched Rock Band release, anger and gift cards

Rock Band rocked its way onto retail shelves today and, just as promoted, Best Buy held a midnight launch event earlier this morning. And I, the wannabe rockstar that I am, made my way out to the local Best Buy with my uncle to partake in the midnight Rock Band fun. But there was a problem. A problem so mind-numbingly impossible it nearly resulted in my inner Dustin from ever being happy again and guaranteed that I wouldn't be rockin' to Rock Band into the early morning hours. The botched Rock Band midnight launch story unfolds ...

After talking with a friend and agreeing to go halvsies on the Rock Band bundle, me and my uncle (who was making a purchase for himself) decided to take on the frigid Minnesota weather and stand in line at our local Best Buy's midnight launch event. It was only 6:00PM, but I figured I'd make a stop at Best Buy to see if anyone was in line and to get an exact number on how many units they had in stock. Upon arriving at Best Buy I noticed one frozen soul plopped up against the building with white iPod headphones in his ears connected to, what I later found out to be, a 30GB Zune. Seeing that there was only one person in line, there was no need for early waiting, but I still headed inside to learn how many Xbox 360 Rock Band bundles they had in stock.

After entering the store and being greeted by the yellow shirted Best Buy employee, I made my way straight to the customer service counter to get answers. I asked specifically about how many 360 Rock Band bundles they had in stock and if they'd seen anyone lining up for the midnight event. The customer service lady confirmed that one person had been waiting outside for a few hours already (the iPod Zuner guy), but she didn't have any details on how many they had in stock. Perplexed by her answer, I asked how she couldn't know how many bundles they had seeing that the game was releasing in a few hours. She responded by saying that they had eight PS3 Rock Band bundles, but didn't know how many Xbox 360 bundles they received. Even more perplexed by her answer I posed another question, asking how she knew how many PS3 bundles they had in stock, but didn't know how much 360 Rock Band inventory they had. She finally cracked and told me that they didn't actually have the 360 bundles yet and that they were on a delivery truck headed to the store this very moment. Odd I thought, but if they wanted to cut their time that close and only receive shipments a few hours before midnight then so be it. I bid her a farewell, walked out, said a friendly hello to the iPod Zuner and headed home.

I updated my uncle on my semi-informative news that I gathered from my Best Buy trip and we agreed that A) we had nothing better to do tonight and B) we wanted Rock Band at midnight. So, at 7:00PM we made our way to Best Buy with lawn chairs and blankets in tow. We arrived at Best Buy and the iPod Zuner was still waiting there by his lonesome, so we setup our camping shop second and third in line and were ready for our five hour wait. We even scored some Diet Mountain Dew and pretzels ... we were serious about our Rock Band mission.

A few hours went by and the line only grew by a handful of people, all lined up for the Xbox 360 version of Rock Band with no PS3 purchasers in sight. I had already dismissed figuring out exactly how many units they were getting in stock seeing that we were second and third in line, nearly guaranteeing us a bundle at midnight. So, the long drawn out video game discussions were made, complaining about the cold ensued and a few hours passed. Then, someone started talking about how many 360 Rock Band bundles the store would be getting and if they were really all that limited. This somewhat piqued my interest and since it was only around 9:30PM I decided to head back to customer service to get official Xbox 360 Rock Band bundle numbers. Back inside I went, again greeted by Mr. Yellow Shirt and I made my way to customer service.

I asked about the 360's Rock Band numbers and how many units they had in stock (to see if they were all that "limited" or to see if it was all a marketing scare tactic). And again I was told that they didn't know, but that they had eight PS3 bundles available. PS3 bundle talk again? What the hell! I wanted numbers on the 360 bundles not the PS3 ... so, I asked about the 360 bundles again. Then, suddenly, the calm and collected customer service dude got all nervous and fidgety. And after stuttering a bit, he again responded that he didn't know. Super duper perplexed I pressed him more, seeing that they had to have the bundles in the warehouse somewhere. How couldn't they know how many they received? A female manager came over to clear things up and she calmly stated that they couldn't reveal exactly how many 360 bundles they had. She then told me that I'd just have to wait in line. Hmm, I could see that she wanted to play hard ball. Then hard ball we will play. I said my goodbye, walked away and figured that Rock Band was in plentiful supply and they were simply hiding their bundle numbers to make it seem like the game was limited. Dirty, dirty Best Buy.

Heading back outside I informed the masses about my customer service adventure and everyone was fine with not knowing seeing that the line was so short we all knew we were getting the bundle. Another 45 minutes passed and then another Best Buy manager guy came outside (without a jacket I might add) to "update" us on the midnight Rock Band release. And this is where the midnight fun takes a turn for the worse, dive bombs into the ground and laughs in our face while poking our gut with a drumstick. Mr. manager guy informed us that they had eight PS3 Rock Band bundles available tonight (is that all they talk about, PS3 bundles?), but they did not have ANY Xbox 360 bundles at all. My jaw instantly dropped, was this guy serious? He told us that the shipments somehow got delayed and that the 360 bundles did not make it to the store that day. With those words the tension instantly got fierce, violence was about to break out and Rock Band anarchy was knocking on Best Buy's doorstep. That was until he told us the good news. News that made our Rock Band midnight fun not so bad and actually put a smile on this blogger's face.

The manager guy told us (including the iPod Zuner) that they expected the 360 bundles to be delivered sometime Tuesday (today) or at the latest Friday and that we could all get a rain check tonight to pick the bundle up when it arrived. I wanted to tell Mr. manager guy to take his rain check and stick it somewhere we shall not speak, but he continued talking and I didn't want to interrupt. He then informed us that as a "we're sorry for screwing up the Rock Band release" consolation gift, we would receive a $50 gift card for all our troubles. $50 gift card ... my ears and spirits instantly lifted. Mr. nice guy manager guy told us that all we had to do was wait until midnight, get our rain check, come back in the next few days to pickup our 360 bundle when they got delivered and they'd give us a $50 gift card. My Rock Band sadness instantly went away ... a $50 gift card was mine!

The line never really got all that big (only ten or so people stayed), with some leaving for Wal-mart to get their midnight fix. But my uncle and I continued our camping mission for the Rock Band rain checks. Midnight came, we filled out the rain check form and headed home for some sleep time. Currently, I'm Rock Band'less, but am more than satisfied in knowing that the wait will not only result in eventual Rock Band bliss, but will also score me $50 in sweet Best Buy gift card love. Though, looking back on the whole ordeal, me, my uncle and the iPod Zuner could have easily picked up the PS3 Rock Band bundle. Because, you know, they did have eight in stock.

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