On the Joys and Pitfalls of Online Shopping, or: The Saga of the Missing ‘West Side Story’ Steelbook Continues

(C) 2022 20th Century Studios via Best Buy

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning in Lithia, Florida, on Thursday, March 17, 2022. It is a cool – for Florida standards, at least – spring day in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 72˚F (22˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 83% and the wind blowing from the west-southwest at 5 MPH (8 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 69˚F (21˚C). The forecast for today calls for sunny skies and a high of 84˚F (29˚C). Tonight, skies will be 58˚F (14˚C).

Yesterday my quest to acquire three different variants of Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s 4K UHD/2K HD/Digital Copy multi-format release of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021) had mixed results.

On the positive side of the spectrum, I received my package with Target’s exclusive Art Edition via the U.S. Postal Service in our mailbox at 12:18 PM Eastern Daylight Time, along with a paperback copy of Stephen Bungay’s The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain.

(C) 2022 20th Century Studios via Target

Essentially, the Art Edition is nothing more than a “standard” two-disc black plastic “4K UHD” jewel box with the Tony-and-Maria photo poster art used for the basic West Side Story home media release packaging. The beautiful vivid artwork in Target’s promotional image is reserved for the outer slipcover, which has a book-like front flap that holds two foil-etched prints and a small easel to display them on (one at a time).

Not shown: the 4K UHD Blu-ray case or the easel for the foil-printed art. (C) 2022 20th Century Studios via Target

I watched West Side Story on Disney+ on March 5 – my 59th birthday – and by the time that I decided to check out the 2K disc, it was already past 8 PM[1] and it was too late to watch the feature film. I did, however, check out the extras on the Blu-ray disc – The Stories of West Side Story and a couple of the songs that you can choose from so you can listen to specific numbers by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

I have yet to try the 4K UHD disc; if I am in the mood for it, I will test-drive it later. Maybe I’ll even watch the whole feature film, although I doubt it. I am still pretty mad at Best Buy for fucking up my pre-order. More on that topic in a bit.

(C) 2022 20th Century Studios/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

My Amazon order of West Side Story – Ultimate Collector’s Edition was supposed to arrive either today or tomorrow, but yesterday I got an email from Amazon telling me that it had not shipped and that it will arrive either on Saturday the 19th or Sunday the 20th.

As for that vexing Best Buy exclusive steelbook, I don’t have good news about that order. My order status now says Shipped (Delayed) and it has a UPS tracking number. However, UPS – which is in a better position to know – says only that the package is marked as Ready for Shipment but is not On the Way.

Frankly, I don’t want to start another chat with Best Buy’s Customer Service representatives. I did that three times yesterday and got nowhere. I was told that the Brandon store had several West Side Story steelbooks in stock, so I told the “helpful” Best Buy agent we’d try to do the “in-store pickup” option. Unfortunately, that person did not edit my order (only an agent can do that from their end) to make that happen, so when the Caregiver diverted to the Brandon store, she called me so that the sales clerk at Best Buy could tell me that (a) there were no West Side Story steelbooks left, and (b) that even if there were, my order still showed as Shipped and could only be edited by an authorized Best Buy agent – which he was not – or I could cancel and re-order…with no guarantee that I’d get that shipment.

I tried dealing with another online representative but got nowhere. My order still is marked as Shipped from Dublin, Georgia (it might as well be Dublin, Ireland, for all the good that location has done me), so – to make a long story short, I told Best Buy that if I do not get my order on Wednesday, March 23, I will cancel the order for a full refund. I want the steelbook, but I’m not going to cancel my existing order just to re-order it again – and have this same bullshit happen again.

As I said yesterday, my theory is that since the steelbook is a Limited Edition exclusive, someone on the supply chain side (either in Best Buy’s Dublin, Georgia warehouse or at the UPS receiving facility) made off with several steelbooks last weekend and sent them to third-party sellers on eBay. It’s a plausible theory, and on the forums at Blu-ray.com, other frustrated customers who pre-ordered the steelbook from Best Buy have seen some eBay auctions of this packaging variant of West Side Story.

To wit:

In the West Side Story – Best Buy Limited Edition Steelbook discussion thread, user WBMakeVMarsMovieNow (obviously a Veronica Mars fan) wrote this yesterday:

I actually see a couple copies on auction at eBay for under cost. And a few more at close to item+tax+shipping cost.   

And member Blusea wrote this reply to my post about my issue with Best Buy telling me one thing, and UPS telling me quite another:

I am in the same boat.

Got an email that my preorder was shipping from GA and was going to arrive Tuesday.

Now UPS has “Label made; no Delivery Estimate.”

All the stores nearby are out of stock.

I’m hoping it was at least shipped and it is just late.

I’m dreading the “Your order has been canceled” email.

As I said earlier, I’ll give Best Buy (and UPS) another six days to deliver my West Side Story steelbook. If it shows up in good condition – and judging from other commentators on this Blu-ray.com thread, some of those lucky customers who received their pre-orders, there’s a good chance that it won’t – I will rejoice. If not, I’ll cancel and call it a day – and will never try getting a retailer-exclusive steelbook from Best Buy again.

Updated to Add: Best Buy informed me this morning that since UPS has not updated the tracking information since Sunday, and because West Side Story – Limited Edition Steelbook is almost entirely sold out – there’s no stock available for reshipments, it had no choice but to refund my credit card and apologize for the inconvenience. Best Buy is aware that shippers sometimes are lackadaisical about updating tracking information. It’s also aware of the third-party black market, but there’s little the company can do about it.

I, reluctantly, accepted the refund. I want the steelbook, yes? But if inventory is non-existent and I do not want to reward the third-party resellers by going to eBay and buying one from them, I don’t have much of a choice. I have the Target Art Edition set and Amazon is sending me (sometime this weekend) the Ultimate Collector’s Edition set. If someone out there can, by some miraculous stroke of luck, find a steelbook and give me one for Christmas, fine. I can dig that.

But I’m not going to put myself through this kind of stress for a cool packaging variant of a Steven Spielberg film that I own in a newly released home media edition.

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

Well, I don’t have any more news from lovely Lithia to share, so I’ll just close this post here. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things,

Source: Blu-ray.com, West Side Story (2021) 4K Steelbook (Best Buy Exclusive discussion thread

[1] I was also in a foul mood over my missing steelbook.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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