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AAFES Screws Up Again But Has Yet to Acknowledge It.......


Yesterday I went to the Camp Zama AAFES Exchange (PX) very early to see if I could beat the rush for Sony's new PlayStation 2 (PS2). There were a few people ahead of me, enjoying breakfast while they waited. I had arrived approximately 0820 (8:20AM) after leaving my daughter at the Child Development Center. I decided to eat breakfast and read the paper while I waited. I saw a group of ladies come into the Food Court. They got their food but kept eyeing the front entrance to the PX...I thought, "they must be wanting a PS2 also." I continued to eat while reading this PS2 article in the Pacific Stars and Stripes (PSS) (Page 3, Thursday, 26 Oct 2000). This is when I realized that the PS2s would be released in very low quantity compared to previous release numbers. I had not seen much in regards to release numbers other than in the Electronics Section of the PX, and in the AAFES flyer that was in the PSS and PX's customer services desk.

While the PX's sign in the Electronics Department had mentioned that there would be a shortage of PS2s upon release, it also clearly stated that they would be sold on a 'first come, first server' basis. While still reading Thursday's paper, I noticed that the group of ladies had seen one of the store's managers and started asking him questions. I heard loud voices and the tones of those voices weren't very enthusiastic. I decided then to get my coffee so I could eavesdrop a bit better. What I heard ticked me off something fierce:

AAFES decided to not sell the PS2s that they had in stock. They had decided to rely on a lottery system to determine who could buy them, because they only had 12 of them! They did not advertise this AT ALL, despite what the senior manager, Mr. Harpham, states in today's PSS (Page 4, Friday, 27 Oct 2000). It wasn't advertised that there would be a PS2 lottery anywhere in the store. I was in the store all week, including the day before the 26 Oct release date (yesterday). Mr. Harpham states, "I apologize to the customers out front who either got the wrong word or the misunderstood word." He's dancing around the issue: He didn't state anywhere inside or outside the store (including AAFES flyers and signs) that there would be a lottery for the limited supply of PS2s. This was stated only ninety minutes before the store's doors opened. There is nothing to misunderstand or "get the wrong word" about this situation. They didn't advertise a lottery.

I got disgusted about the whole situation and soon left. I'm upset about the fact that customers, me included, were not informed of AAFES' decision until ninety minutes before the doors of the PX opened for business. I want a PS2 for myself, not for my child. I made an extreme effort to make sure my daughter was cared for while I waited for the PX to open. I made an effort to arrive early. I stayed there for almost an hour before I heard the bad news. I left disappointed and disgusted at AAFES once again. I can't understand why they didn't give the Camp Zama and Atsugi NAS community a 'heads-up' about the decision to rely on a lottery to distribute the PS2s. They have signs all over the store and ads thickening the newspaper but they neglect to help customers make a purchase decision. Customers that arrived that morning wanted the option to be the first ones to buy a PS2. They made an effort. Those that didn't show and who didn't make any effort to purchase a PS2 will probably end up owning one through that same lottery system that the Zama Exchange is hawking. Bottom line: the early-risers were screwed.

I wish not to participate in this lottery. Not as protest, but because I shouldn't have to sign a paper and have someone pull that same paper for me to purchase any item in that store. It's a waste of my time. I don't want a PS2 that bad. I'll wait until I return to the U.S. or buy one at Atsugi when they get restocked with PS2s. I won't be relying on the Zama PX any longer. I'll do my shopping at Atsugi or Yokota, and even then it'll be minimal, essential purchases.

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Last Updated on 10/27/00
By Ron Sinclair
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