Man ditches PS3 plan
Columbus dentist hired temp workers to stand in line for pricey game console
BY BRAD BARNES
The frenzy for the latest piece of video game hardware reached a new high in Columbus, as a man hired workers to stand in line at Wal-Mart stores to purchase PlayStation 3 consoles.
"This is the only way I can get what I want," said Murray Newlin, a Columbus dentist.
Newlin wanted to buy 15 of the consoles as Christmas gifts for grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was prepared to buy available units from Columbus and Phenix City Wal-Mart stores, as well as Auburn and Opelika, using a crew of 60 workers he cycled through in eight-hour shifts, according to one of the temps he hired.
Midday Wednesday, Newlin abandoned his bold strategy, after other potential PlayStation customers got wind of his plan and began complaining -- to him, the store managers and the employment agency he used.
The next-generation PlayStation goes on sale at midnight tonight. Demand is expected to far exceed the new unit's supply, as with the launch of the Microsoft Xbox 360 in 2005 and the Sony predecessor, the PlayStation2, released in the year 2000.
The PS3 is loaded with new technology, including graphics optimized for new high-definition televisions, a Blu-ray disc player and wireless Bluetooth controllers. It also comes with the heftiest price points for game systems yet -- $500 for a basic unit or $600 for a more advanced one.
Undeterred by either the high price or Wednesday's pounding rain and threat of tornadoes, eager gamers stood outside the Airport Thruway Wal-Mart, waiting for its release.
"They're outside," said store manager Bill Abercrombie. "We've told them as long as they stand organized, we're not going to say anything to them."
He wouldn't say how many units he expected, only, "Nowhere near enough."
Other stores were giving hopeful shoppers bad news early.
"Our initial plan was to pass out tickets at the entrance equal to the number of units we had to sell," said Joe Cortner, manager of Columbus' Milgen Road Kmart. "But we were informed recently that there may not be any units on (Nov.) 17th."
Industry reporters say that Sony has similarly told many retail chains that they will receive hundreds of thousands of units fewer than initially projected.
At video game specialty shop GameStop, anyone who's not on a pre-order list is out of luck. And the store won't be starting another order list now. Any new shipment will go straight on the shelves for the first to grab them.
With such a shortage, Newlin's plan for an en masse stakeout might indeed have been the only way to lock onto enough of the boxes to put under Christmas trees.
But that was no comfort to shopper Jennifer Revis, who wants to buy a PS3 for her boyfriend.
"I took off work (Thursday) and Friday so I could sit in line for him," she said. She still plans to queue up at a Wal-Mart today, but she certainly would have been out of luck had Newlin not retreated.
Her friend, Candy Williams, was even angrier. She had been told that today was the first day people could line up at Wal-Mart. She learned otherwise when one of her out-of-work friends got a job standing in line in the dentist's place.
"I only want one, but I know there's other people that are going to want them, too," said Williams, who has a 7-year-old son. "I just don't think it's right that you are paying people to stand in line for you. You're using your money and authority to pay people for what you want, and that's wrong."
Newlin checked with store managers to make sure he wasn't violating their policy before sending his work force to the stores. But he backed out, saying, "It's not worth the brouhaha it's causing.
"I don't feel like I've done one thing wrong," Newlin said, "but there's plenty of other Christmas gifts I can get the kids."
Hes lying last year I heard rumors during the 360 launch that he did the same thing but on a smaller scale. He turns around and flip them for a profit. I think he should be shot taking the ps3s from the kids.