It started just a few hours ago, with users claiming on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic Forums that the popular US retailer Walmart canceled their preorder of the game due to “lack of product availbility”.
Those users didn’t even receive a mail to warn them of the cancellation, as they happened to notice just randomly checking their status page, as many of us do, when we fervently check on our preorders a few days before the release of a game we are anxiously waiting for.
Rather quickly the news spread, as more and more concerned gamers that preordered either the Collector’s Edition or the Standard Edition went to check the status of their order and found the same cancellation with no warning, no matter when they did the preorder. Some report having done that as early as last July.
More threads have been opened on almost every forum dedicated to the game or to MMORPGs in general, and and at the moment everything seems to indicate that yesterday Walmart has canceled every single preorder of both the Collector’s and Standard edition of the game across the US, without any advance notice or warning, which seems to be a signal of the possibility that the problem runs deeper than a simple case of overselling, and is probably on the side of the retailer itself.
Preorders made through other retailers seem completely unaffected, but for what Walmart is concerned unfortunately it’s the week end, so nothing certain can be gathered for now.
Bioware’s Senior Online Community Manager Stephen Reid stated that Bioware is looking into the issue and offered some advice on the official forum and on other venues:
We will investigate this issue ASAP, although we may not have further details to share before Monday.
I obviously cannot speak on behalf of any retailer, however I would like to let people know who have pre-ordered and redeemed their pre-order code, that their Early Game Access is still secured. You may apply any Game Code from any edition of The Old Republic to your account.
As I said, we’ll look into this ASAP and update you when we can.”
Gamers that preordered from Walmart indeed already received (and probably redeemed) their preorder codes that will grant them regular entrance in the early access for the game and the bonus color stone, so if you preordered the Standard Edition you wprobably don’t have much to worry about, as even if this cancellation was final, you’d still be able to just get a copy from any other retailer with your preorder goodies still secure, as Bioware will honor the code you entered.
The problem is much more serious for those that preordered the Collector’s Edition, as getting another (including its bonuses) this late may indeed be much more difficult.
It may even be early to panic, as it could be something as simple as a system screw up. One thing is for sure, for the moment not even a single user that preordered at Walmart (that I could find anywhere) reported that his order is still standing.
We will follow the evolution of the situation, and we will keep you posted on what happens.
Update: some users are finally starting to receive mail from walmart that reads as follows:
CANCELED //2011-12-03 20:43:15 PT// Cancelled in Order Resolutions: item may still be shipped but due to a temporary system issue the order needs to update to canceled first then again to shipped. if item ships, the system will update to shipped by 12/6.
The mail seems to indicate a system-side issue as I theorized above, but the “may still be shipped” conditional sure won’t helm many feel safe about their preorder.
Update 2: another user reports receiving a mail from an actual Walmart employee, and not a C1 droid:
Thank you for contacting Walmart.com inquiring about the status of your order #######.
We apologize that the automated response did not address your concern. We are more than happy to look into this for you.
Unfortunately, we are experiencing some technical issues with our fulfillment process. However, be aware that we strive to provide our customers with the best online experience possible; with that in mind, please be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to get this issue resolved.
In addition, let us inform that you will receive an email no later than 12/07/11, advising you if the order could be fulfilled or had to be cancelled.
We appreciate your understanding that certain conditions sometimes prevent us from delivering the best shopping experience.
I wonder how many will manage to hold on until the 7th, and won’t just try to look for an alternate source, especially for the Collector’s Edition.
Theories are floating around on the reason for this mishap: one of the most widespread indicates the possibility of a change of shipping date (actually earlier than expected), that would have prompted Walmart to cancel the orders because the outdated system wouldn’t accept such an unexpected occurrence. I’m quite sure thousands of people are hoping that the theory will prove true in the end.
Update 3: Another user on the official forums reportedly spoke with Walmart CS Agent Supervisor “Quinitia” that gave the following explanation:
1) A data error was discovered in the system that effectively forced them to cancel “nearly all” (This phrase was stressed) pre-orders of the product.
2) A manual override was used to kick-start the system into evaluating the amount of orders, which bypasses the automatic reporting function. As explained, this is to “Not worry the customer in the case of an error, as most people do NOT check their order statuses”
3) For Paypal payers only: The system does indeed take immediate payment from Paypal due to the PP Resolution process. It is “easier” to issue refunds than it is to keep an extended hold on Paypal funds.
This seems to explain both the mass cancel and the reason why those who had their preorder canceled didn’t receive a mail. The representative specified that most people that preordered should be fine and that there was no overselling, as the system checks availability in real time and removes the purchase link as soon as it detects that a product isn’t available anymore.
She explained, though, that a small number of preorders may indeed not be honored because of users ordering at the same time when the stocks of the Collector’s Edition had nearly run out. The possibility is very small, but those that preordered are encouraged to check their account on the 6th to make sure that their order is being shipped.