Thoughts on the lines and vouchers.

edited April 2021 in Graphics Cards

I had some time off today, first time in a bit. So I decided to try my luck and head over to the Microcenter near me a little over an hour before opening. When I got there though, I found a very long line wrapped around the corner. Suffice it to say, I just turned around and headed home. I found it unlikely that by the time that line filtered through the open doors in an hour, there would be a voucher left for me to get the card I was hoping too.

Why, in this day and age of technology are we still having to camp out in front of the store for a sliver of a chance to purchase one of these cards? While we see that there are people that are fortunate enough to have the time or have a job that gives them either flexibility or different work shifts, many people do not have that going for them. If I stand any chance of getting the card I want right anytime soon (soon being months even), it's burning off weeks of PTO to camp out each morning or pay the exorbitant prices scalpers are hawking the cards for.

A technology based queue system would be immensely easier on all parties involved, and with the right people could probably be stood up in a fairly fast turnaround.

My thoughts:

  • Sign up on the queue list must be completed in store at customer service. You must provide valid photo ID, whether state issued or even a passport. This way there is a method to track who is purchasing and whether or not the person who comes to claim the card is the person who signed up.
  • When you sign up, you select either
    • Specific card(s) you would prefer
    • The series card you want. (ex: if any 3070 card came in and you signed up, you would be in queue for all 3070s)
    • All cards available as shown as stock on the website for that location.
  • Provide valid phone number, mobile preferred for SMS notifications perhaps.
  • When you come up as next on a respective card's list, the store either calls or sends an automated text to tell you a card is available for you at the store. You have the same day to come and make the purchase, otherwise you are removed from that cards list until you come back in and re-signup for that waitlist. If you don't make the purchase by close of day, it goes to the next person on that list the following morning.
  • To avoid scalper related issues, the photo ID information can be retained to ensure people are not purchasing multiple cards over days/weeks/etc.

This presents a fair opportunity for all to get on the queue without having to get lucky and show up at the perfect time to get a voucher, as well as eliminate people having to sacrifice their time to camping out in front of the store. It will certainly allow Microcenter to still move stock fairly quickly, even if they hold a card for a whole day. I'm sure there are unforeseen loopholes I'm not covering, but this system seems more reliable to me than what is in place.

The backend to this doesn't need to be overly complex either, you could stand up a Microsoft Forms page that spits the results into a spreadsheet on a Onedrive account and even use automation to send texts to the specified number for notifications. Not saying that should be the solution, but just an example of simplicity of some of the tools we have at our disposal these days.


  • DrF33LG00D

    I've been saying this for a while and thinking about it for a little longer. Of all the types of different stores in the country, Micro Center would have all the the tools necessary already inhouse to make this easily possible. They could be a beacon of light for people like you and me wanting these in-demand parts and even as well for local business in the face of an increasingly online economy. But they're choosing to do basically nothing? What TF? Why? It doesn't make any sense.

    I have a guess about the answer though. It's all about getting people to still buy stuff in the store even though they couldn't get a GPU when that was the only reason they drove down. I get it, It's good for business, but it's still pretty shamefull. You can see it in the way employees answer questions about stock both online and in-person; they are trained to tell people that they have no idea when's the next time an item will be instock and the only way to find out is to just show up. The online inventory seems to be perfectly accurate and able to update every 15 minutes or so for everything except for GPU's. Again, it doesn't make any sense unless it's all about getting people to spend extra money in the store.

    Couldn't they offset these losses by charging some kind of fee? $50 extra to sign up for the exact system you described (I thought you described a good system BTW that covered a lot of the bases). I would happily pay. That's way more worth it to me than gambling with close to 20 hours of my life waiting overnight in front of the store and basically a 50/50 chance of being able to spend a bunch of my money on a computer part.

    It's difficult for me to blame them 100%, this is just capitalism, kinda like a force of nature. Just like I don't blame scalpers, or miners. It's just mostly the retailers I blame, including MC. Is customer loyalty worth absolutely nothing within the realm of business? Again, they could be a beacon of light in this desolate landscape. On a similar note, Amazon, could I please just get a little bit of preferential treatment after having the same very active account for 2 decades? Maybe have the ability to create a waitlist for me and anyone else that's been paying you for 10 or 20 years.

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