Imagine this: you’ve beaten the crowds to successfully secure a pre-order for a next-gen Xbox, you’re counting down the days until release – and then an email lands in your inbox telling you the price has increased by £2000. Wait, what?
This was the situation some Currys PC World customers found themselves in yesterday, as after pre-ordering an Xbox Series X or S they were informed by Currys that the upfront cost had increased to £2449 and £2249 respectively – albeit only temporarily.
“Because demand is so high and to make sure your pre-order is prioritised when orders open online, we’re increasing the upfront cost of the Xbox Series X by £2000”, said the email (which can also be viewed on the Currys website). “But don’t worry. This won’t change how much you pay!”
Customers were told that to finalise their pre-order, they would need to follow a series of extra steps: put the relevant Xbox in their basket, enter their payment and delivery information, and then input their voucher code to receive a £2005 discount, thus allowing them to purchase an Xbox Series X or S pre-order at the regular price (and covering the £5 deposit). There are some caveats to how this works, however, as the voucher codes can only be used once (meaning you have to be ready to pay up when you use it), and customers have until midnight on 18th October to redeem the codes.
Just popping in to say a few things. First I’ve finally got around to placing my Xbox Series X Pre-Order after reserving my console over the last 5-14 days & inputting my coupon code sent to me by Currys.@DonJoewonSong @sootielive @Brokenvegetable @W89PL @ConnerSpeed6 @AlieTacq pic.twitter.com/RRXxsV4kz1
— Jamie Wynder (@Mr_Pebb) October 13, 2020
As explained on the Currys website, the £2000 Xbox vouchers are only being given to those who already pre-ordered a console and placed a £5 deposit. Those who try to place an order without a voucher code will have their pre-order cancelled, with a refund sent within three to five working days. According to those who have (rather optimistically) tried to place a pre-order with Currys under the new pricing system, they have not yet received a voucher code via email.
The decision to “bump” up the price obviously took a fair few customers by surprise, with some asking whether the email was a scam, or even just a joke. “This email Currys have sent me about my Xbox pre-order is the maddest thing I have ever read,” tweeted Network N’s Jack Ridsdale. “‘We’ve put the console price up by £2000″‘?? What?”
So, what the hell is going on here? The only explanation from Currys is that the voucher codes are intended to prioritise customer pre-orders. Currys’ customer support account similarly told a customer on Twitter that the price had been temporarily raised “to ensure only those with a pre-order can purchase it this week”. Given the £2000 voucher is only being sent to those who have already placed a pre-order at Currys, it seems likely the extra steps are being used as a way to weed out scalper bots from the previous round of pre-orders. The unique codes require manual input, making it more difficult to finalise pre-orders en mass. While Currys is keeping this method of finalising payments open on the website, bots scanning websites for pre-order prices might also be put off by the £2000 bonus fee, thus preventing the site from becoming overloaded. Eurogamer contacted a PR representative for Currys PC World for comment.
Even if the strange new system is designed to deter scalpers, it seems some people are now trying to resell the pre-order voucher codes on eBay. A quick search for Currys Xbox pre-order codes brings up a full page of results, with one auction currently sitting at £92. And that’s just for the code to pre-order the Xbox: combined with the retail price, an Xbox Series X bought this way would set you back £541. Some people are selling the codes because they managed to acquire a pre-order through other means, but I can’t help but wonder if some are hoping to profit from the wider shortage of Xbox Series X pre-order stock.
Another question that remains unanswered is why Currys is not using this technique for PS5 pre-orders, which are currently listed as sold out on the site. The whole thing is rather bizarre, and seems like a particularly alarming way to ensure legitimate customers get their pre-orders finalised. I know an email like that would certainly wake me up in the morning.