We predicted it! All those eager beavers waiting for the stroke of midnight to fill up their virtual shopping carts with discounted toys. But Big W buckled under the hoards of online crowds and shoppers were left frustrated and fuming at the Toy Mania chaos.
It sounded good in theory! The retailer’s iconic midnight in-store launch of the mega Toy Mania sale was cancelled due to COVID-19 (impossible to social distance with trolley wars). Instead, Big W decided to trigger off the sale online at 12:01 midnight Tuesday 16 June. And then follow this up with extending the deals to physical outlets from Thursday 18 June running through to 15 July.
This should have worked. There is no excuse for this imploding. A retailer this massive should have a super-duper-robust IT infrastructure and genius geeks in the server room figuring out how to welcome thousands of eager shoppers seamlessly onto their online platform. Sure, Big W is traditionally not an online business but they’ve had quite a few months to get their act into gear.
I must admit, I did not try and access the Big W website at 12.01am. There really wasn’t anything in the Toy Mania catalogue that was worth interrupting my sleep. But I know others had long lists and were determined to get their Christmas shopping sorted in the wee hours of the morning.
Join The Waiting Room
If you tried to join the Big W online shop, you were presented with a message:
“Due to a high number of shoppers you have been placed in the waiting lounge. We value you as a customer and we will transfer you to the website as soon as possible. We will update you shortly.”
The BIG issue I have with this is that you have absolutely NO idea how long you could be waiting in this virtual lounge. Are you next up or at the back of the queue of 100,000 people.
There did seem to be some sort of indicative time estimate last night. So perhaps if the wait is longer than one hour, a time does appear. But I think you should always know how long you could be waiting.
This is not so bad during the day (the waiting room is still active on the Big W site) but when you should be sleeping and instead you’re staring at an unchanging screen, this would make me want to scream!!!
Hurry Up And Shop!
When you eventually reach the front of the line, you get the following message:
“You can now shop Toy Mania! Thanks for your patience. Once you are in the main website, you will have 60 minutes to complete your order and you can place as many orders as you want during this time.”
Hours and Hours of Toy Mania Chaos
It only took me about 30 minutes to get into the website this afternoon but frustrated (and very dedicated) consumers said they waited over 4 hours to shop last night.
Big W released a statement on their social media platforms apologising to those unhappy customers:
“Most shoppers checked out without a hitch however we apologise to those of you that were kept up past your bedtime and experienced a few technical glitches.
Our Toy Mania elves are working incredibly hard behind the scenes to keep the online queue moving quickly, and we can assure you that we’ve spoken to our toys, and they can’t wait to be added to your basket, be that in-store or online.”
But Sorry Doesn’t Cut It!
Sadly an attempt at humour didn’t placate the livid customers and they swarmed the posts with complaints.
“A few glitches? Waited over 4 hours to get through for my cart to keep being emptied and then everything doubled then errors it was a mess 4:30 am I got to bed fingers crossed everything I ordered will be honoured,” said one livid customer.
“It was an epic fail actually. Waiting hours in the “lounge” to be let on the site. Every two seconds the site would freeze. Then there was the issue that nearly every second toy was not available for online or was already out of stock. So, fill the cart full of items that were chosen by default, not what was actually wanted, get to checkout and page crashes and sent back to the lounge to wait. No thanks, think I will go elsewhere,” said another.
“We certainly didn’t have any luck. Tried at 4:30am for an hour, and then at 8:30am – both times our order wouldn’t go through,” said on customer of the Toy Mania chaos.
“Website crashed as I was going through PayPal? Money has come out but no confirmation? What a shit show!”
“Still can’t get on it’s ridiculous should start instore and online same time to make it fair,” said another.
“Yeap I jumped on, waited for an hour, only to get to checkout and be kicked off. Majority of the toys I won’t I can’t even collect in-store and when I go to use PayPal it is telling me I have to pay it all upfront!?”
“I’ve given up on trying online. Spent last night getting error messages and 3 hours today with a message saying I would be updated soon on how long I have to wait in the lounge. Big W should have anticipated the huge influx of people online and handled it way better then they are. Now I will have to brave the shop!”
Limited stock has also been a major complaint about the Toy Mania chaos. It sounds like the online store had very few of the hot-ticket items so they were pretty much sold out after a few minutes.
“What a joke. People are boasting that they succeeded in getting 80+ items in their cart, where others couldn’t even get one item! All the Lego sold out before I even had a chance to get online and I was at the page waiting well in advance of midnight. When I tried again this morning there were literally 30 something items left in the whole online store. very disappointing,” said one customer.
Kmart and more recently Thredbo had similar appalling customer feedback for their online sales. It seems like these companies have a long way to go before they should be marketing major online events. It’s certainly not winning them any customers…in fact it’s driving them away in droves.
Did you get caught up in the Big W Toy Mania chaos? Tell us in the comments below.