Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My recent experience with Mattycollector.com

As an action figure hunter and collector I appreciate it when companies like Mattel offer exclusives that you can usually only get at big conventions, especially cons like San Diego Comic Con that I can’t get to.

This year, one of Mattel’s many SDCC exclusives was a Plastic Man figure from the DC Universe Classics line that I collect. The figure comes with a bunch of cool accessories, but if you bought it at SDCC you get an extra suitcase accessory that I can honestly live without. So Mattel announces that they’ll be selling the figure (sans suitcase) on their website Mattycollector.com on August 2 at Noon Eastern (11 for me) and as usual, the website causes frustration and problems for collectors. Click below for my experience:

I’ve made two prior purchases from Mattycollector.com. The first was the Color of Fear two-pack online exclusive that had two Sinestro Corps members (Karu-Sil and Romat-Ru) and the second was their re-release of Wave 5 which contained the Eradicator, Riddler, Amazo, Black Lightning, the Atom and the Metallo Collect and Connect figure. I had exactly zero problems when ordering the Color of Fear set and only about a 15 minute wait for the Wave 5 case.

This time, I see what all the collectors are complaining about. This was easily the most frustrating online shopping experience that I have ever had and I nearly just gave up and waited to search eBay for the figure that I wanted. Here’s basically how it went:

10:45 – My phone alarm goes off reminding me to get on the site.

10:50 – I get onto the Mattycollector.com site and sit at the screen below for about 20 minutes.

For those that have never ordered from Mattycollector.com before, on sale days when you get on the site you get put in a queue that refreshes automatically every 5 seconds which is nice because you can just keep an eye on it and do other things (like catch up on Top Gear in my case). But, the waiting screen gets to be like a big electronic middle finger after watching for an extended period of time.

11:10 – The Plastic Man order screen appears but still says “Coming Soon” with no Add to Cart button. The sale did say it started at Noon Eastern right? I check my location, yup Milwaukee is still one hour behind Eastern time which means time and space have not broken down. I’ll keep waiting.

11:15 – The first glimmer of hope. I get to the Plastic Man page with an Add to Cart button but then it auto-refreshes before I can click anything and I’m back to the waiting screen

11:25 – The Plastic Man ordering page returns and I get to add 1 to my cart. Click on the Checkout button, back to waiting screen for 10 minutes

11:35 – Screen returns to Plastic Man screen and shows 0 units in my cart. What the hell? OK. Click Add to Cart again. Click Checkout. Back to the waiting screen.

11:40 – Once more back to the Plastic Man ordering screen and still no items in my cart but he is not sold out yet. I swear to the collecting gods that this is my last try. Click Add to Cart again and back to waiting screen.

11:50 – Finally get past Checkout button and into order screen. Now comes the funniest (and most frustrating) part of all……the screen keeps auto-refreshing every 5 seconds!!! I basically have 5 seconds to type in my E-mail and Password for the login to try and get past this screen. It’s like playing a video game at this point. After about 12 tries and realizing that my typing is too slow, I pull up a Word document, type my e-mail in, copy it and paste it into the order screen then quickly type my password and hit Submit. 5 or so tries later and we’re in!

11:55 – Luckily at this point all of my info is saved from a previous order and I fly through the payment area with little problem except that I keep forgetting to input my card security code and it won’t let me go any further. That’s my own fault, not Mattel’s.

12:01 – Confirmation e-mail received. Plastic Man is on his way!

12:03 – Check the Mattycollector site…and Plastic Man is sold out. Got in just in time :-)

This may seem like a lot of hassle for just one action figure, and my wife did roll her eyes at me a few times during this ordeal but for us collectors, we know when we want something. The DC Universe Classics Plastic Man was a ComicCon exclusive and since I wasn’t there, I have to get it here or on eBay for some ridiculous price later this week.

I’m not saying that I know how to fix this issue but it seems that Mattel’s online sales have become very popular and the system they are using just cannot handle the volume. They tend to release new items about once a month, so maybe they need to spread out the release of items a bit. For example : release the new DC figures one week, the new Masters of the Universe stuff the next and the new random stuff the week after.

It seems that the Masters of the Universe collection clogs up the system quite a bit since these figures are online only. The DC Classics stuff, except the few exclusives, can typically be found in stores later. Am I going to stop using the site? Of course not, I’m a collector and when it’s the only place that I can get exclusives that I want I’m going to buy from there. The prices are good and the shipping is reasonable, it’s just that the ordering system is downright frustrating. Oh well, chalk it up to one of the “joys” of collecting.

No comments: