The hottest gift this holiday season is a new gaming system under the tree.
Microsoft's new XBox Series X and Sony's new PlayStation 5 are the hardest-to-find items this Christmas, quickly becoming the Furby or Hatchimal of 2020.
To make it even more frustrating, some people who ordered one are ending up with nothing after a Kohl's website malfunction, Walmart Thanksgiving night fail, and Amazon package thefts.
Kohl's, Walmart frustration
Jerris Williams is one of the few lucky ones: he showed us his new PS5, which he found at Target the other morning at 6 a.m.
"We finally got one," he said, "and it was almost like a lottery."
He thought he found one on Kohl's website a couple of days earlier, as did thousands of other shoppers.
"Kohl's went live, which means they were starting to sell the PlayStation 5," he said. "And that went on at 1:30 in the morning."
Williams quickly got a confirmation from Kohl's that a PS5 was on the way, only to have his hopes dashed hours later.
"We were happy, excited, celebrating. And then the next morning, they canceled on us."
Kohl's confirms to us that it was unable to fill all PS5 orders.
The electronics blog Techspot suspects thousands of people were left empty-handed by the website glitch.
The one consolation: Williams gets to keep $180 in bonus Kohl's cash for his trouble. Kohl's says it is still giving bonus cash to all the people who had their orders canceled.
"I'm doing the math in my head," he said. "All my friends have the same thing, so that's a lot of money that they are all giving away for nothing."
Walmart website fail
Walmart attempted to do shoppers a favor Thanksgiving night, announcing they were putting up several thousand PS5s at 9 p.m.
But most shoppers ended up like Stephanie Meibers, with an error message when they tried to grab one the minute the Walmart site went live.
"I tried to add to cart," she said. "Then you get the 'oh dear' message, a little dog with antlers, and then I get 'We are getting temporary internet issues.' Then the next thing it said it was out of stock, and 'We have moved it to your save for later folder.'"
Tech sites blame what they call "Grinch bots," automated programs that grabbed the inventory immediately, before shoppers could get out their credit cards.
Complaints of Amazon switcheroos
But Kohl's isn't the only retailer trying to soothe angry and frustrated customers right now.
With Amazon, it's a whole different problem.
Some Amazon customers (most in England so far) areposting photos of other things they claim showed up in their XBox or PS5 shipping box.
Buyers claim they received everything from brown paper, to a foot massager, to a box of Purina cat food.
Amazon believes the game systems are being stolen during or after delivery, and are not occurring in its warehouses. (Amazon employees are checked by security as they exit work each day.)
And this is one case where you do not want to risk a gaming console sitting on your front doorstep for hours: Check for arrival time, and have a family member or neighbor standing by.
Is there anything you can do?
With the $499 XBox and PS5 selling for $1,500 or more on eBay, Williams feels bad for others who had orders canceled.
"With all the problems in the world, this is something that will bring a little joy, and then you get crushed," he said. "It's just disappointing."
Retailers say they will put new XBoxes and PS5s up for sale online as they get them, but you can be sure they will sell out in minutes.
Your best bet is to check sites like Best Buy, Target and Walmart frequently.
Some shoppers are staking out Target and GameStop before the doors open, in the hope they find a few on the shelves at 6 or 7 a.m., as Jerris Williams did. It may be your only chance at this point.
As always, don't waste your money.
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