I don’t understand the world of commerce

May 12, 2012

So we finally bought an Xbox 360* after a good deal of deliberation, and the venerable Playstation 2 has been retired (keep your eyes on Ebay folks!). Of course we signed up for the free one-month Xbox Live Gold membership so we could do all those new-fangled media centre things like YouFlix and NetTube, and so that MiniBish1 could fraternise with his cousin in online alien-creaming adventures.

And so came the dread day when the free one-month trial expired. Forced to look at paying for our new online habit we checked the Xbox Live website and found that for a single membership Micro$oft wanted forty of our Earth pounds. Fair enough; I don’t at all mind paying for the service because it does look to me as though they have taken a bit of trouble over it to keep kids safe and out of the way of nasty content and people, but it’s only human to look around for a bargain so I did a bit of elementary surfing.

And here’s the thing: Amazon sell 12-month membership cards for thirty Earth pounds. That’s 25% cheaper!

Yes, it costs ten pounds less to generate a magic code, print it on a little card, put it in a load of glossy packaging and wrap it in plastic, send it to an Amazon warehouse fulfilment centre, take my order at Amazon, pack the lot into another envelope and have a man in a van drive it across the country to my house where I type the code into the Xbox and send it back over the interweb to Micro$oft; than it is to carry out a completely computer-based operation to take a payment and update a database at M$HQ. And it works!

That simply cannot be right.

And yes, my web search did turn up some of those sites that just generate codes for you electronically for even less money, but frankly I wasn’t convinced that they were straight-up honest. I’m willing to accept evidence to the contrary  though, ready for when the dread day comes that our new 12-month membership expires.

*Oh and while I think of it: boo to the first delivery company who left the Xbox in our driveway in the middle of the day making it inevitable that someone would just walk off with it, and kudos to Amazon for taking responsibility without demur and sending another via a different courier. That’s the sort of customer service that invites repeat business.

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