I didn’t do a preview of the Hot Wheels Red Line Club Lamborghini Countach today because I didn’t have one to preview. Mattel sends one to me when they can to preview, but considering no one has been in the office in awhile, and Mattel distribution centers are minimally staffed if not totally closed, getting a preview model to a blogger of a model that will undoubtedly sell out is not a priority.
Totally fine with me. I am a member of the RLC, and I was ready to make a go at getting one. (Or two. I have two memberships.)
It went…oddly. The notorious RLC site struck again, this time in a new way. The problems have been well documented. The strange waiting room, created to give everyone a fair chance and eliminate bots, is usually good about doing its thing. It is after that the things tend to go wrong. Strange errors, constant sign-outs requiring the customer to sign back in, a general sense of incompetence.
In some ways these problems get blamed for a general frustration about sellouts. Sellouts are not the problem. We humans are an odd species, and while there will be frustration about not getting a model, if Mattel makes one for every account, no one will care about the model. The quality of the model matters. Strangely the inability for everyone to get it matters more. Mattel will ALWAYS make fewer models than they have RLC members, because if they don’t no one will care and no one will join. You may not like it when you don’t get one, but that scarcity is why you are going for it in the first place.
But that is a different kind frustration compared to what the ineptness of the site generates. Today’s problem was odd. The Wheels of Death reared their ugly heads, but only after buyers had gotten one or two steps in. As I always do, I asked for updates on Instagram, and it appeared everyone was having the same problem. For the first 30 minutes or so, most folks were in ongoing wheel hell. 45 minutes in reports starting coming that a few were getting through, after risky refreshes, but it wasn’t everyone. 30 to 45 minutes after that it sold out.
Clearly 12000 accounts got through. Mine were two of them. I was lost in wheel doom, and decided to try the refresh approach. I had to refresh several times along the way on one account, until the order confirmation screen came through.
The other account seemed to hit too many snags before the model sold out. Confirming the order signed me out several times, error screens popped up, the model made it to my cart, but then the site told me I couldn’t have more than one, and wouldn’t let me remove it from my cart to start over anyway, and ultimately the confirmation screen never came.
Except an email did. After it sold out I saw that my card had been charged and a confirmation email had been sent. I got it. Happy about it, but that should not be the experience for anyone.
The site sucks. There is no doubt. We know it, and Mattel certainly knows it too. In fact those at Mattel that collectors interact with the most are probably more frustrated about it than we are. I have no idea if solutions are on the table, but there should be, no matter how high or low a priority the RLC will be. Sadly we all come back, because we want the models.
There will always be frustration. If you were lucky to get this one, you might not be lucky the next time. The incompetence of the site makes it easy to focus it there, but over time we will all miss out. The models do sell, and even amid all the frustration, we all have an equal shot with the waiting room. Compare it to a sale like those at Supreme, where all desired products are gone within seconds, mainly due to bots, and frustration could be even double.
But that is no excuse for the experience that is buying a model on RLC. We are all frustrated. It is known, but it should continue to be known. Let’s see where this goes.