Nintendo Service Agent Pins Blame For Amiibo Shortage Solely On Retailers

by Mike Futter on Apr 09, 2015 at 09:29 AM

Yesterday, Brian Shea published an opinion piece about the ways in which Nintendo is letting its fan base down. In response to that story, a reader reached out to us to share his interactions with a Nintendo customer-service representative.

Brian Nelson contacted us with a text transcript of his conversation. He begins by expressing his disappointment with the handling of the Amiibo shortage.

I would just like to express my disappointment with your handling of amiibo support, instead of taking preorders and making a supply to match, you have purposely created a shortage of characters and now games with features large amounts of players will never be able to access. Disney and activision have no problem assuring their customers get their toys to life figures.

There's no reason I should have had to wait in line for hours at gamestop yesterday, been the only customer in line and still have to walk away without the amiibo I wanted, you've known of the demand since wave one and still refuse to keep up with the demand for products. Why even make a product you have no desire to make sure people who want can get. You advertise compatible amiibo feature with games, yet don't produce enough for people to even use them in the compatibile software. I hope you see the error of you production currently and offer some sort of solution soon.

The Nintendo customer service representative apologizes for the trouble Brian has had in obtaining the figures he wants. As expected though, he doesn't have much actionable information to share.

Thank you for writing. I apologize for the delay in our reply. I’m sorry to hear of your disappointment with the availability and distribution of amiibo, and would like you to know that we have documented and shared your concerns with the relevant departments here at Nintendo.

Additionally, I’d like to convey that we are aware of the popularity of amiibo and continually aim to always have a regular supply of amiibo in the marketplace. As stated previously, certain sold-out amiibo may return to your local retailer at a later stage. We apologize for any inconvenience you are experiencing now, and thank you in advance for your continued patience in this matter.

That isn’t good enough for Brian, though. He tells the representative that his complaints were “glossed over.”

If you guys are aware of the popularity of amiibo from past waves, why have you not stepped up production of the newer figures.  Especially seeing how you are promoting them with newer games such as Kirby and code name steam.  

Short of Kirby, you can not purchase a single figure compatible with either game.   All of the fire emblem characters are unavailable , many of which aren't even released and are sold out already. Why promote using fire emblem characters in code name steam if the majority of players will never have the opportunity.  If your company is aware of the demand, it would only reason you are purposely failing to meet supply.

Brian makes a hefty accusation here about Nintendo’s manipulation of demand via the supply chain. He does however make a clear point about features locked away (perhaps permanently) because Amiibo figures are impossible to find with any reliability.

Where things start to fall apart is when the representative takes it upon him or herself to explain how the supply chain works. This person, who likely does not speak for corporate public relations, abdicates all responsibility on behalf of Nintendo of America.

While this may not be the answer you were hoping for, all of the issues you're describing are retailer related. Nintendo has no input on when or how retailers sell our products, if or when new products are stocked, or when and how the retailer takes pre-orders. These decisions are made by retailers at the administration level. If you have concerns about these kinds of issues, we can only recommend contacting your retailer.

It may interest you to learn that Nintendo doesn't ship products directly to retail locations. We take orders from distributors (who sell our products and products from other companies), and ship our products to their distribution centers. The distributors then take orders from retailers and ship these orders to the retailers' merchandise centers. Once there, the retailers make all decisions about how to best sell this merchandise. They divide this merchandise up into smaller units and send them to retailers based on sales data.

Please also note that no amiibo have been discontinued at this time. We plan to have different amiibo available throughout the year, and characters which seem to disappear at one time will suddenly reappear in the future. This means that amiibo which are hard to find now will be back in stores.

In order to verify Brian’s story, we were able to call the Nintendo support line and use the ticket number. The representative we spoke with verified the content of the messages we were provided.

We reached out to Nintendo yesterday, giving the publisher nearly a full day in order to provide comment for this story. Unfortunately, we did not hear back by the time of publication. We’ll update if Nintendo decides to comment.


Our Take
It’s important to note that Nintendo corporate PR will likely disown this CSR’s comment placing the blame on retailers. Regardless, this is what at least one customer is being told. Given the detail provided, we have to wonder how many other customers like Brian have been told something similar.

With the gray market swopping in to snatch up as many Amiibo figures as it can, how long will it be before the only place we can get them is eBay and Amazon's Marketplace? That's not a good look for Nintendo and it needs to improve quickly.