Reminds me of a TV show (the clip).
RENTAL CAR AGENT: I know why we have reservations.
JERRY: I don't think you do. If you did, I'd have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to *hold* the reservation and that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.
Come to think of it, I think I'll start offering reservations for Wii's. Only $10. But, um, please do keep in mind that, as I cannot control production and shipping issues by the manufacturer, a reservation deposit does not guarantee receipt of a system available to purchase at launch. Or, honestly, at any other time. You may drop by and play my NEX, however, if you call ahead. Limit ten (10) per household.
The major game chains took a major credibility hit during the X-box 360 launch.
Now many of them are either putting hedge language like this in their agreements (which I don't think would stand legal scrutiny -- if it doesn't guarantee the reserver a system then what is he paying for?), or offering absurdly low numbers of pre-orders, like my local EB games which ran out of Wii reservations after 30 minutes (and it's not even anticipated to run out of systems with with Nintendo promising 7 million of 'em available by the end of the year).
There is a small local game store near me, called "KB Games." They probably chose the name to attempt to confuse people into buying there, but I still like them for some reason. They seem to have a little bit more of a soul to them than the ConHugeCo that runs EB. The guy who runs it seems a little iffish about Wii though -- shame, as those little shops could stand to really clean up if they were to offer a decent preorder system.
All of this preorder business is a lawsuit waiting to happen when the wrong customer doesn't get little Johnny's PSwhatever after putting whatever ridiculous amount they ask down.
And I agree, taking money without guaranteeing a product is probably shady business as far as the law is concerned.