Recently, I came forth as a once excited virtual reality evangelist who pre-ordered the Oculus Rift CV1 in the first seven minutes of Oculus launching its order page. Despite the original promise of shipment at the end of March, this did not come to pass. The original one to three week shipping period announced for me and other early minute pre-orderers ended up expanding into a one to three months of wait time. Although orders have continued to trickle out to both Kickstarter backers and pre-order consumers, they have felt unbearably slow for those of us still waiting. Then something happened which shook the community up even further after this multi-month wait.
Oculus Rift units began being available for order and quick shipment via Best Buy and Amazon online. These are bundle units exclusively, which require you to buy a brand new PC along with a Rift. Of course, many hungry to snap up a headset as soon as possible bought them anyway and then refunded the bundled computer. I did not touch upon the prospect of retail shipments of Rifts going out prior to pre-orders from Oculus’ official storefront because, at the time of the writing, it seemed an absolutely implausible scenario. There was no way Oculus would make such a move, right? It would make people outrageously angry. Well, it did happen, and people got mad.
There’s likely some retail agreements between Amazon, Best Buy, and Oculus which required Oculus to supply X number of headsets to them by an allotted time. This is almost certainly true for Best Buy in particular since they are offering up Oculus Rift kiosk stations. Without an agreement to be given a shipment of Rifts, they would have most certainly not just provided the company demo space in their stores. Even though the business behind all this checks out, it does nothing to temper the anger from pre-order customers who feel taken advantage of at this point. What was the point of clearing out a few hours of the day obsessively refreshing the page in order to force a pre-order to go through? In comparison, until they sold out, orders of Rifts on Best Buy were as easy to get in as a purchase of anything else on their online store. These folks now have Rifts.
This annoyed me, but I decided to hold firm to my Oculus Rift order as it was promised with a release window of early to mid May. Better to simply wait a bit longer than fuss with canceling the main order and picking it up elsewhere and needing to refund an expensive PC. My waiting was worth it as on Monday I received the coveted email stating my order had been processed! Soon, I would receive official shipping confirmation and be just a day away from a Rift in my home. I’m writing this on Friday, Rift-less because Oculus made another business move which is quite frankly pissing people off. What did they manage to do wrong this time?
Well, the reason I’ve yet to receive my Rift is because the shipping was switched from UPS expedited shipping to UPS ground. This means that instead of the next day shipping which all pre-orders up to this point received, the rest of us will now have to wait around 3-5 business days on average. For me, this means it’ll be six days from shipment to the headset arriving at my door because, despite having a California distribution center, they’re shipping mine from Kentucky. On its face this probably seems a meager complaint, but to an aggrieved base of customers, it feels like one final slap in the face.
Sure, it makes sense that they had to cut out expensive expedited shipping at some point after they promised free shipping for thousands of customers as a make-good effort after initial word of delays. To then revoke this in a manner of speaking by delaying shipments to a far cheaper shipping method was simply not viewed positively by customers, especially given the only official statement of this change came from a single post on Reddit. Many would have rather simply paid the exorbitant fees because impatience is finally getting the better of them. I’ll calm down…. Once my Rift finally arrives. Here’s hoping the darn thing was actually worth all this grief.