We’ve seen several rocky merchandise releases in a row over on shopDisney. We all know what the problem is, but will Disney find a solution?
This past weekend, there was another release of limited edition merchandise on shopDisney. This time, it was the May installment of the Minnie Mouse Main Attraction collection.
The Latest Release: Minnie Mouse Main Attraction
The May collection was themed after Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and consisted of a Minnie Mouse plush, pins, a mug, a backpack and a pair of Minnie ears.
Like many fans of the Walt Disney World resort, I love the Tiki Room and was eager to score some pieces from this collection.
Steps Disney Has Implemented Did Not Work
When I logged on just before 10 a.m., I was placed in a virtual waiting room. Upon gaining entry to the site, I selected the items I wanted and then attempted to check out for about 45 minutes.
In addition to the virtual waiting room, I noticed that Disney had added a Captcha, where you click on pictures to prove you are not a robot. I had hoped this would thwart the actual bots from purchasing the items ahead of regular guests.
But neither the virtual waiting room nor the Captcha seemed to have any effect on the bot’s ability to purchase the collection.
Beyond the Bots, Site Issues Abound
Even for items that were still available, regular guests were unable to check out. In some cases, guests had multiple pending charges on their credit cards but no confirmation email that their purchase had gone through.
Personally, it seemed like each time I attempted to check out I got a different error message. It was a very frustrating morning.
At 10:29, half an hour into the release, Disney tweeted that they were aware the site is having technical difficulties.
Previous Limited Releases This Spring
This latest release was just another in a long line of botched releases that have occurred ever since retail locations closed this year and forced all of us to purchase on the site.
Possibly the most frustrating part is that once the bots purchase the items, they end up being resold on eBay for huge mark ups. The Tiki Room Loungefly backpack was sold on shopDisney for $75 and is now on eBay for over $250!
What Disney Could Do
Plenty of social media users have blasted Disney for not doing more to control the bots. Some even accuse Disney of being indifferent to whether the items are sold to people or bots hired by eBay resellers.
Maybe the naysayers are correct, but I like to think that Disney understands that their true fans wish to build their collection without paying eBay markups.
If the items are expected to sell out quickly either way, wouldn’t Disney prefer that regular guests purchased them? If for no other reason than to avoid the negative attention on social media?
A quick google search of “shopDisney bot” turned up at least one site willing to lend their bots for the next release for a fee of $59.99. Perhaps Disney could start by getting such sites shut down?
Another option would be for Disney to review duplicate orders or orders shipping to the same address and cancel them.
There’s supposed to be a limit on the items. As I recall, the limit listed for the Minnie Main Attraction was 1 per guest. However, the owners of bot sites bragged on social media about their ability to score multiples and have them shipped to the same address.
The bot site referenced above claims on twitter that it is not “evil,” it is only providing better tools for its subscribers to enhance their shopping experience. In my view, shopping in order to sell for a mark up on eBay is not exactly a fairy tale ending.
Another way to combat the bots would be to wait until shops and parks reopen to release limited edition merchandise and only sell the pieces in store. Combined with limiting how many items a guest can purchase in one transaction, this would enable many more fans to score their favorite pieces.
The Next Release
The next release is on Saturday, May 22. Harveys is releasing their new Monster’s University collection on shopDisney. Many of the members in the Facebook Harvey’s group I’m in aren’t even bothering with it.
We know that unfortunately, we can’t compete with the bots. Luckily they just released a Monster’s inc. collection a couple of months ago on the Harvey’s site, which does not have the bot issue. So, many Harvey’s fans will just wait for the next release on the Harvey’s official site.
Now that we and Disney know that bots are ruining the online shopping experience on their site, will Disney do anything about it? It’s hard to say.
It does feel like they want to combat the bot issue, based on their implementation of the virtual waiting room and the Captcha. But now that we have seen those measures were ineffective, what else can be done?
I don’t know much about internet security, but I do know that unless an item is an absolute “must have” for me, I will be sitting out these online releases. It’s bothersome that so many guests and legitimate Disney fans feel that way.
The upcoming Minnie Mouse Main Attraction collection in June is totally adorable. I love Peter Pan. I love the ride, the setting, the character… but I don’t love the frustration of buying items on the shopDisney site. So I will more than likely abstain.
-Rebecca W Davis