Stuart was intrigued by the thought of mobile VR. He had played on VR systems such as the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, but those systems included controllers that allowed you to mimic real-world hand gestures and interact with the environment in haptic ways. Mobile VR though, intrigued Stuart as he wondered how developers would create experiences without the use of custom controllers. He wanted to give it a try.
It had been Stuart’s Birthday recently and he received a £20 gift voucher called a “One4All” card. This voucher enabled the holder to spend it in not just one establishment or store in the way that most voucher cards are limited. This card allowed Stuart to spend the card at a number of retailers, a sort-of mega voucher as Stuart like to think to himself. One of the stores that accepted the voucher was the British electrical retailer known as Currys. A quick check on the online store showed that they sold mobile VR headsets. Stuart was in luck. A nice simple transaction with the mega voucher and his new mobile VR headset would be there by the next day with any luck. However, things were not meant to be so simple. As Stuart reached the point in which payment methods were required by the online store, Stuart realised that Currys did not accept the voucher *online* and it could only be used in-store. No worries, Stuart thought to himself. There’s a Currys right by my work, I can nip there at lunchtime tomorrow and be ready to play with my new VR headset. Stuart went to bed dreaming about the fun he would have with his new headset and how easy it would be to walk into Currys and buy one with his mega voucher.
But this reality would remain only in dream-form.
The next day Stuart entered Currys. He only had an hour for his lunch and couldn’t be late as he had a class starting back at college at 1:15. He walked in and quickly located the section of the store designated to mobile VR headsets. It was as he suspected, near the phones and stuff. There was a pleasant store clerk eagerly awaiting to serve him.
“I’d like to purchase a mobile VR headset my good man.”
“Certainly sir.” The store clerk was very pleasant. “Why this model is on special offer and works with almost any modern phone.”
“Sounds perfect! I’ll take it.” Stuart began fishing his wallet out of his jeans. He was pleased with how simple the transaction was going to be, it was almost too good to be true.
“That’ll be twenty pounds please” said the store clerk expectantly. Stuart promptly handed him the voucher. The clerk did not take the voucher from Stuart. He left him there holding onto it as he eyed the card with disgust. “I’m sorry sir” he uttered. “We don’t accept those gift cards here”.
Stuart was taken aback. All his careful planning was beginning to crumble around him. But I checked, he thought to himself, online it lists Currys as one of the retailers I can spend this voucher at…
“But, but…” Stuart’s words began to wobble from his lips. “It lists Currys as one of he places I can spend this voucher at”. He was prepared if necessary, to show the store clerk that this was indeed the case by bringing up the voucher website on his phone and pointing at the Currys logo on the Where To Spend section.
“That may be the case sir.” The clerk was becoming less and less pleasant with each passing moment. “However this section of the store is Carphone Warehouse”. Stuart was puzzled, but took a quick glance around him and soon realised that his was standing inside a small square of space within the Currys store which was dedicated to Carphone Warehouse, a British retailer that specialised in mobile phones and associated devices.
“But I’m *in* Currys?” Stuart said to the clerk with a confused look on his face.
“The VR headsets are part of Carphone Warehouse stock” the Clerk seemed adamant to Stuart that he was not in fact *in* Currys, but in his own store that existed within its own right, but just so happened to not have any walls, doors or any store front of any kind and just happened to look exactly like the surround space belonging to the next store along that was equally guilty of not trying to Cordon itself off from this completely separate store. “And we don’t accept those vouchers”.
“So…” The cogs were beginning to turn in the red mist that was stuart’s mind. All he wanted to do was buy a godammn VR headset. “So I can’t buy a go…. a VR headset?”
“You could pay with cash?” The clerk suggested as if this was the solution to all of the problems that were currently happening. It was at this moment that Stuart realised he was still holding the mega voucher that was starting to look not-so-mega after all.
“But I want to use this voucher and it says online that Currys sells mobile VR headsets, that very one that I am trying to buy from you, that one is online on the Currys store. I can spend this voucher at Currys, but not online, so I’ve come in store, where they have the same headset I saw on their online store, the one you are holding now, and I want to buy it, with this voucher, but I can’t because it’s in the Carphone Warehouse bit, and Carphone warehouse don’t accept this voucher?”
The store clerk didn’t appear to appreciate Stuart’s confusion. “If I you want to use that voucher then you’ll have to spend it over there”. The clerk pointed about 20 feet away from him to the Currys checkout.
“Can I just take the VR headset over there and spend this voucher then?”
“No, it’s Carphone Warehouse stock”.
Stuart gave up speaking to the store clerk and decided that he wasn’t pleasant at all. He was a bit of prick to be honest. He marched over to the currys checkout still clutching the not-so-mega voucher.
“Hello, can I help you?” A portly Christmas Temp had been unfortunate enough to greet Stuart in his current state as he explained the whole voucher-VR headset-Carphone Warehouse issue.
“So I can’t buy that VR headset over there that’s in your store, because it’s not really in your store and the store it’s actually in doesn’t accept this voucher?”
“No” the Christmas temp at least seemed to appreciate the absurdity of the situation. “However we can order it online for you and you’ll get it delivered next day to your home?”
Hmm, thought Stuart. It’s something at least. I wanted to take it home today, but as long as I can get rid of this sodding voucher and get my headset tomorrow then that’s okay. The temp asked what VR headset that Stuart wanted and Stuart took great pleasure in simply pointing 20 feet away from him and saying “that one over there. The one that there’s a great big pile of in your store”.
The Christmas temp had just started taking Stuart’s post code when a manageress behind him noted that peculiar man he was serving who hadn’t stopped waving a little red voucher card around since he had been stood at the tills. She stepped in.
“You can’t use those vouchers online” She told the Christmas temp. Stuart realised that what was actually happening was that the temp was simply repeating the steps that Stuart had taken the night before when he was on the Currys website. Stuart briefly felt a little insulted that the shop attendants doubted the level of consumer tech-savviness so much that they made it part of their service to just order things online through their own website for them and that this Christmas temp had labelled him as one of these Luddites. I teach Game Design, Stuart thought to himself, I use computers every day. These were the thoughts that occurred in the brief seconds before Stuart realised he still wasn’t going to get his sodding stupid VR headset with this sodding stupid voucher.
Again, Stuart repeated his problem with the manageress. It was really very simple. He had this voucher that he could spend at Currys. Currys sold, on their website, a mobile VR headset that Stuart wished to purchase. He could not spend this particular voucher online, so had come in store to buy it. The store had the same headset that he had seen online, but upon trying to purchase it with the voucher was told that the stock actually belonged to Carphone Warehouse and that they didn’t accept the voucher. All Stuart wanted to do was buy a VR headset from the pile of headsets that *was* (no matter what the clerk said) *inside* Currys and use a voucher that Currys accepted (it said so on the website) was this so difficult? Surely it can be done?
“It can’t be done” said the manageress. “But we could order one in store for you and you could pay with your voucher and it should come within 5–10 working days and you can collect from store when it’s ready.”
Stuart pondered this for a moment. “Order it in store?” he said.
“Yes.” Said the manageress.
“Order in store one of those headsets that there’s a great big pile of over there 20 feet away and are already in your store?”
“Yes.” Said the manageress.
Stuart was defeated. He knew now that there was no hope of leaving this store with a mobile VR headset. “Forget it” he barked at the shop assistants and stomped out of the store.
“You could have bought it in cash” people said to Stuart as he repeated this story several times that afternoon to his students and colleagues.
It was the principle of the thing. Currys accepted that sodding stupid voucher and the sodding stupid VR headset was in Currys, so why couldn’t he buy it? Upon telling the story to his students Stuart joked that their task for the day was to write a 2000 word essay on Why Currys were wrong not to sell me that VR headset. Upon hearing the tale, a colleague offered to sell Stuart his Samsung Gear VR for twenty quid, which would be a much better headset than the one he would have got from Currys. Who’s laughing now Curry’s Stuart would say to himself once he had his new headset, but would be caught off-guard by the red One4all voucher that was sitting on his desk proving difficult to spend anywhere. One4all pfft, more like One4None Stuart joked to no one in particular.
“You know what would be hilarious” said one of colleagues 2 weeks later when Stuart was still telling the story to anyone who would listen to him. “If it turned out that Carphone Warehouse actually *did* accept those vouchers…”