Updates [And Struggles] In the Anime DVD Bayou — An Essay

Hey guys, Samurai here. Just wanted to share with you a few new updates that I have to my DVD Collection and one special device that has changed the rules of the game with regards to viewing and reviewing anime. This last week, I had the distinct honor to welcome the Complete Collection of “Eden of the East” to my collection. This is not only an awesome series, but it is the first series in my collection that comes in both DVD and Blu-Ray formats. At present, I don’t have a player for the latter, but should I ever update my equipment, it’s nice to know that this set has both versions for my convenience. HOW I managed to procure this particular set is a story all in itself. Sit on down and let me fill you in. 

About a month ago, I was able to watch this show on streaming from Netflix. From episode one on down I was enthralled. “Eden of the East” has EVERYTHING I ever wanted in an anime–an intelligent, engaging story, awesome characters, beautiful animation and music, and a dub that is as natural and fluid as the original Japanese. I just had to have a physical copy.

After striking out at some of my local brick-and-mortar stores [Well, actually, FYE had it, but the price was so stupidly expensive, I stormed out the store extremely ticked off…] I decided to check online. Wal-Mart, surprisingly, had the DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Pack on sale for around $25. SCORE! Before my fingers knew it, I had logged in, made my purchase, and arranged, as I typically do when I order DVD’s from Wal-Mart, set it up for Site-to-Store delivery. Site-To-Store is awesome for me; I save on shipping and handling and I can go to whatever Wal-Mart store I designate to pick it up, thereby avoiding the crushing feeling of seeing the “Sorry We Missed You!” sticker on the front door from the FedEx guy. So I place the order on the 19th and carry on with my daily life, waiting on the email/text message to let me know that my package was ready for pickup.

The 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd came and went. Not counting weekends, I waited around for about a week wondering where the heck was my “Eden of the East”. Under normal circumstances, I would’ve had the DVD in hand by week’s end. The tracking number I was provided was giving me less than accurate information…in fact, for about four days it gave me NO information. That following week, I got a nice little visit from a little storm named Issac. Everything was thrown into chaos as nobody knew what the heck the storm would do. Naturally deliveries were delayed, and, for the first time in a week, the tracking information updated–“DELAYED”. With an eye roll and I sigh, I waited a few more days, understanding that naturally things would be delayed all across the board.

A ween after Issac, I decided to give Customer Service a call and I spoke with a guy named Brian. I explained to him my situation: that I was waiting for the better part of three weeks for a package that I should have gotten two weeks ago especially when you consider that I placed the order WELL IN ADVANCE OF THE HURRICANE. Brian pretty much said “Okay, I’ll take care of it” and started clicking on his keyboard. No apology or anything. He tried to play “Small Talk” with me, asking about what the show was and all, but by then, The Angry Cajun Black Man mode was about to activate and I pretty much told him, in no uncertain terms, “Look, I don’t want to small talk, let’s just get it done.”

What IS the Angry Cajun Black Man I hear you ask? Well the Angry Cajun Black Man mode, ACBM for short, is my dormant personality mode that I keep tightly under wraps. Typically I’m a laid back mellow person with the habit of being a spazzy dork at times [As my friends OtakuAndrain and TWWK can attest…]. However, if someone or something presses the wrong button one too many times, I get really, really, REALLY angry. I’m talking angrier than Yomi from “Azumanga Daioh” on a failed diet. Angrier than Akatsuki from “Aria” without Alicia. Angrier than the Ohta Faction on “Iron Chefs” after Morimoto-San beat their 3rd challenger in a row. Angrier than Greg Ayres without hair dye. Long story short, I get pissed. My speech gets faster, louder, condescending and short. My fists begin pounding on the nearest object or tabletop. Try to tell me to calm down, and I will snap. It’s like I’m a completely different person. My southern temper rages. I’ve learned to maintain some kind of control to keep me from getting violent and from lashing out in a public place, but I’m not going to hold back verbally. In any case, I was about to give good ol’ Brian a taste of ACBM mode when he said “Okay! Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll just resend it out to you. It looks like the DVD didn’t make it to the store. I’ll just ship it back out.”

I blinked. That’s it? “Okay, Sure. Go ahead. Thanks.” I replied. A few more keystrokes and he came back asking “Okay, so are you going to use the same card that you used last time ending in XXXX?” SAY WHAT?!?!? He explained that he was going to cancel the first order, do a refund and just go ahead and resend out the new DVD because OBVIOUSLY only a FOOL would charge me twice for ONE DVD… Sighing, I approved after getting both his name, the new order number and his promise that I will not be double-billed. I hung up the phone with Brian feeling confident that he did the job, but during my lunch break, something in the back of my mind was saying “Samurai…call WalMart back NOW…if for no other reason than to double-check.” Funny how right that little voice is always about 90% right…

I got a hold of a woman named Becky. I gave her my order number and again explained what was going on. After only two minutes, Becky said “Uh-oh…that’s not right at all. I don’t know why he did that.” Right then and there I knew…I KNEW…that I was screwed 7 ways from Sunday. Becky explained that Brian messed up and “I don’t know why he did it that way…that’s stupid…” My voice was saying “Uh-Huh” but my mind was coming up with other “Colorful Metaphors” to describe good ol’ Brian. After about 10 minutes on the phone, Becky came back and said that she got it corrected, played blame game at Brian’s expense a few times, and said that she would process the return order correctly and send me the DVD on next-day delivery after I approve the return VIA email. I got all her information and hung up the phone, wondering if I should just give up now and ask for a refund and just buy everything from FYE. But, seeing as how I was already in for a penny, I decided to be in for the whole pound and see it through. I followed Becky’s directions to the letter.

Two days later, I drove to the FedEx office, signed my name, and walked out of the office the proud owner of “Eden of the East” Complete Collection–almost four weeks after my initial purchase. You would THINK I would be happy, right? Wrong.

You see, periodically I would check my online account just to see if I was refunded for good ol’ Brian’s mistake. Three days passed, and my account was still showing the charge. I sent a message via email to Wal-Mart Customer Care to inquire when I would be refunded. The message I got back said that because I already picked up my package, I was not entitled to a refund. AW HECK NAW. At this point, my patience was gone. I was fed up. I flipped off all my limiters, activated ACBM mode and called Wal-Mart, demanding to speak with a manager. I got one, and I let him have it. I told him pretty much that my entire experience from beginning to end was a sorry excuse for customer service, I was extremely frustrated, and I wanted my money now. The manager listened on the line, apologized once [his acting as bad if not worse than the acting in “Boys Be…“. Yeah, I went there.] and reassured me that the money would appear back in my account in 2-3 business days. “Uh-huh. Yeah, bye.” I replied, slamming my thumb down on the end button.

That next day, the money was back in my account, sitting pretty as though it was there the whole time. And so, for the first time in about five weeks, I heaved a sigh, the experience finally over.

So, that’s the story…Honestly, the whole experience, while it has left me with a bad taste in my mouth regarding Wal-Mart online ordering, I know that at the end of the day, their prices are some of the cheapest around. So, while I will be ordering more anime from them [In fact, I already have, stay tuned…] and continue to recommend them as being easy and cheap sources for purchasing anime, I might not be so readily eager to suggest online ordering. But, there was one thing that I purchased from Wal-Mart in store that I have to admit was one of the best investments I could have ever made.

This is my Sony Network Streaming Device. I picked it up for about $40 at Wal-Mart and it was the LAST one on the shelf. From day one, this little box has paid for itself in spades. While this little box does not have an app for my beloved CrunchyRoll [Thought it might be coming as they already have a Playstation 3 App for it…] It does have plenty of providers of anime like Netflix and Crackle as well as full YouTube access. It was through Netflix that I found “Eden of the East” and its subsequent movies and through Crackle that I found the original subbed version of “Digimon Adventure 02” and “Digimon Tamers” among other things. With the addition of this little Streaming Device, I can now review a lot of online shows in addition to reviewing offline shows that I have in my collection, saving me money, which is always a good thing…as the above has proven. As I have said before, I’m all for supporting the industry, but I still have bills to pay, so I will always try to take the cheaper option!

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