If you're a parent of a child anywhere from five to 17 years old (and quite possibly even if you're not), you know that THE hottest gift this Christmas is the Wii game system. You also know that these overpriced, screamingly popular yet appallingly underproduced gadgets are as elusive as Vikings Superbowl victories.
The ultimate blame for the situation of course falls squarely on the manufacturer, Nintendo. This product has been on the market since March--one would think that, in nine months, the company's management team would have figured out a way to beef up production for this obviously hot item.
Where the rubber hits the road with consumers, however, it at the retail level. True, retailers have no control over the supply of Wii consoles or their allocation, but they do control their response to the situation. That response to date has ranged from blatant price-gouging to forcing potential customers to wait in absurd and often ultimately pointless lines, sending most home empty-handed.
Among the worst offenders are Circuit City and Best Buy, though in fairness, no major retailer has handled the situation with any degree of integrity or dignity.
Customers deserve better. And no retailer who behaves this way deserves a dime of your money. But they'll get it, because you have a child (or an inner child), and that child wants a Wii.
Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom