The Retail Experience

So, I did my bit to boost the economy by buying an Xbox 360. I’ve never been an early adopter of a new console (a subject I will return to in a future column, I imagine) but I judged this was the right time to take the plunge. With pre-owned games cheap and some great new games on the way, it was logical.

First of all, I researched the prices of the items that I would need. I wanted to go for a top of the line set-up, so that included an Elite console. The games I was after were ones I could play online with my brother, and I wanted to be online (with Live membership and a wireless adapter) and be able to buy/download extras (with Live Points) from the start.

So, when I went into the shop my first port of call was to find a couple of games I wanted to go with it. Since there was no Rock Band 2 on the shelf, earning the shop a black mark. I actually picked up Rock Band Song Pack 2 – so I could play it anyway, then import the songs and save download time. My brother had also been unable to find the sequel, but picked up two copies of the original Rock Band in a rival store’s “2 for £30” offer and posted one to me.

Reaching the 360 shelves – now pushed to the back of the store, with the Wii and DS taking prominence – I started to pick up what I needed. But they did not have the bundled game (FIFA09) I really wanted. Another black mark. Instead I picked up a sale copy (not quite enough to remove the black mark) and the GTA IV bundle (a game I would have purchased anyway, having played most of the series extensively).

No official Plug & Play kit. Another black mark.

Wireless adapter still at £59.99, compared to the online price of £39.99. Another black mark.

When the assistant spotted me, he offered to help, but I told him I knew what I was looking for. I don’t like over-aggressive sales techniques, but this guy was fine. I picked up the Points and the 3 month Live membership, then went to the till with my bundle. That was when I spotted the offer shelf at the front of the shop. Here was the wireless adapter at the quoted online. One black mark off. And the assistant was pretty quick gathering what I needed – including the Rock Band in a Box instrument package. The last one in the shop, so I heaved a sigh of relief and felt generous enough to wipe off one black mark (the one for not having Rock Band).

Then he asked me about Game Care. Hmmm. I responded that I wondered if they could do a deal on the price, since I would get a year’s manufacturer warranty anyway. In the end I gave in and decided to take it anyway (so I can’t really call that a black mark). As we were about to finish the transaction, he asked if I wanted a Plug & Play kit – ah, good, and by asking if I wanted it to black to match the Elite, I wiped off the black mark. He was also impressed that I knew what I wanted and had taken the decision to go Elite. Which is nearly enough to make me wipe off the last remaining black mark… particularly when he told me that the Elite came with a month’s free trial of Xbox Live Gold membership and I did not need to use my 3 month card straight away.

The only black left was the cloudy sky as my dad and I carried the bundles back to the car, and the Elite console is now sitting in my computer room

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