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article imageOculus Rift pre-order shipments delayed, company to pay shipping

By James Walker     Apr 4, 2016 in Technology
Oculus has apologised to customers who have pre-ordered its Rift virtual reality headset, acknowledging that shipments aren't currently being delivered as planned. The company will waive all shipping fees for existing pre-orders.
Oculus had planned to start shipping the Rift from March 28. Although some orders were delivered on that date, many others have yet to be dispatched, leaving eager VR early-adopters without a headset to play with.
Over the weekend, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe apologized for the delays, blaming an "unexpected component shortage" as the problem. Iribe reassured customers that their pre-order is still valid and it will be dispatched as soon as headsets become available.
In an attempt to compensate customers, Oculus announced it will be footing the bill for all shipping and handling costs on initial pre-orders. The offer extends across all the Rift's launch countries. It will ensure customers aren't left out-of-pocket after paying for pricey delivery options but not seeing the Rift arrive.
"First set of Rifts are going out slower than we orig estimated, so we're giving free shipping for all pre-orders, including international," announced Iribe on Twitter. Eligible customers will have received an email from Oculus apologizing for the delay and explaining the shipping situation.
The first Oculus Rift consumer edition to be delivered to a customer was handed over in person by founder Palmer Luckey last week. Luckey travelled to Alaska to give the first order to customer Ross Martin. Martin had no idea Luckey would be delivering the headset until he rang to confirm delivery.
Luckey later told games news site Polygon that he wanted the "satisfaction" of delivering the first Rift, a project he has worked on for years. "I'll be damned if some random delivery guy is going to get the satisfaction of delivering the first Rift," the founder said. He added "That's mine."
Other customers haven't been so fortunate though. Many Rift pre-orders have arrived on time but the shipping delays have left others still without their $599 device days after it should have been delivered.
Initial reviews of the Oculus Rift have been largely positive but also cautiously restrained. Criticism has been directed at the VR content currently available. There is a very restricted launch line-up of games, many of which only extend their existing PC versions with basic virtual reality interactions.
"The promise of VR is thrilling, but the experiences the Rift enables right now are just scratching the surface," wrote PC Gamer's Wes Fenlon. Polygon described the Rift as "an interesting device in that it already feels like a luxury item, but there are obvious areas that need to improve in future iterations."
Rival VR headset the HTC Vive also began shipping this week. HTC has been facing its own problems with getting pre-orders out the door though, running into issues when processing customer credit card details.
Unlike Oculus, the company hasn't been so forgiving, simply cancelling pre-orders when verification fails. HTC has since set up a help line to assist customers. It will try to reinstate pre-orders where possible.
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