It appears that after near-constant requests for more information Nintendo has admitted that Wii U network IDs can in fact be transferred between consoles, but only at a repair facility. Up until now the wide-spread assumption has been that a Wii U owner's online account, along with all associated eShop purchases and membership information, was tied to a specific console. If that console died? Everything is lost or wasted. Now it seems Nintendo can recover that information, only through a specific and still unclear manner.
In reply to Kotaku's request for further details on the transfer of Wii U accounts between consoles, Nintendo issued the following statement:
"Nintendo of America's repair process includes the transferring of the Nintendo Network ID to a new Wii U console if a replacement system is needed."
Even this statement is in question though, as Kotaku also received a chat log from a user who had a broken console and was trying to ensure his account would make the jump to his new Wii U. The customer service representative confirmed that his purchases could be moved across consoles, but that his network ID could not. He would have to create a new one. This didn't sit well with the customer and despite requests to speak to a manager he was told there was nothing to be done.
It's unclear whether this is simply a disastrous design decision or a symptom of rushed development. Nintendo mentions the possibility of user accounts working on different platforms, but it certainly doesn't seem a priority for them;
"Can I Log Into My Nintendo Account on a Different Console?
No, you cannot. A Nintendo Network Account can only be used on the console where it was created. In the future, you will be able to use your Nintendo Network Account with future Nintendo consoles and other devices, such as PC's."
What a bright future we can look forward to. Hopefully we'll hear word on Nintendo plans for network plans soon, but in the mean time it might be worth postponing any eShop purchases. Also, locking up the Wii U in a protective cage or box might help prevent any unfortunate accidents. After all, if Nintendo isn't sure if they can save your network ID, maybe you shouldn't let them have it in the first place.