Confessions of a Game Store Clerk - Part One

GamesRadar: Anything else you do regularly that you're not supposed to?

#3: We play games when it's slow and that's a big no-no.

#8: Talk about the customers...

#4: Offer to give customers cash for their trade-in games so we can get them for cheap.

#6: Place overpriced merchandise behind boxes in the storage room until they drop significantly in price so that we can then purchase them with our employee discount.

#1: And we buy stuff for friends and family using our employee discount, too.

#5: We all stole sodas. All of us. And chips. And candy. I never stole games, but that was done too.

GamesRadar: But what will actually get you in the most trouble with store management?

#6: Having low numbers - reservations for upcoming titles, as well as subscriptions for the discount card and magazine.

#2: Not selling extended warranties or batteries.

GamesRadar: Really? What's the most useless thing you're forced to push on the customers?

#1: Warranties and magazine subscriptions.

#2: Buyer protection plans. They're pure profit for the company, but I hate pushing them.

#7: They cover hardly anything - officially - and are just a way for the store to get money.

#5: "Hey! If your disc explodes we'll replace it!" Seriously, I have cartridges from before I was born. They still work. You do not need insurance.

#2: I will never personally buy one and I think they're a complete waste, so I have a lot of trouble recommending them.

GamesRadar: What about the games? Are you supposed to push particular ones over others?

#7: Certain companies pay to push their games and then our corporate offices track how well we're selling those games. Every month we had a different "Vendor of the Month" that we were forced to push. Telling people that Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter or Enter the Matrix are great games and that they should definitely buy it.

#1: We have "focus titles" that we're supposed to push reservations for, but I usually wouldn't back a game that I thought was lame.

#6: But if your store's numbers are low, it makes for a miserable conversation with the District Manager.

GamesRadar: We've heard horrible things about District Managers...

#7: If there is one person that everyone dislikes, it's the District Manager. He is that really nagging parent that constantly reminds you to clean your room... except he isn't nagging about your room, he's nagging about reservation numbers. And he isn't nagging so much as issuing veiled threats to fire you.

#6: District Managers are like anyone else - some are good and some are bad. I was extremely privileged to have the absolute best District Manager imaginable. You wanted to do well because he made you feel great about it when you did. Then I got a new one and she was the complete opposite - a total nightmare. She thought that if she called you everyday to berate you about how badly you sucked, it would make you want to do better. There was no reward to the job any longer. I quit three months after she took over the district.

#5: Other than being a typical douchebag, there's nothing memorable in my mind.

GamesRadar: What's the stupidest thing you've been asked to do by a manager?

#2: Too many things...

#1: Go pick up food for him...

#3: My second manager asked me to do something illegal. Let's just say he wasn't around very long.

#6: Make phone calls to 200+ reservation customers for a game prior to its release. We had to call them to let them know when we were expecting the game to be in, let them know about trade-ins, and ask them to come in prior to the game's release to reserve the strategy guide as well. 98% of these customers didn't hear a word we said following the expected release date. Once we'd completed the task, the company informed us that the release date had changed. We then had to call everyone back.

GamesRadar: What about stupid store-wide policies?

#7: That officially we are not allowed to play videogames.

#6: And if you check out a game, but don't bring it back within the four-day limit, you'll get written up. It's permanently put into your file at the corporate office.

#3: I would have to say the dress code. Guys have to wear slacks, dress shoes and a collared shirt tucked in. Yes, it's a business, but we sell games.

#2: We don't get games that are M rated because they don't "fit in with what the company is all about," i.e., violence. We don't carry toy guns, and just recently we got rid of a bunch of Star Wars blasters because they looked "too real."

#1: Or... "Oh, we can't take that 'used' game as a trade-in, because the shrink-wrap is still on it." In other words, it's been stolen. "But, if you take the shrink-wrap off, we can take it in."

GamesRadar: Any horrible policies from outside the company?

#2: Pushing credit card applications on customers as they're checking out. "Every customer, every time."

#6: Advertising required by the mall. We had to participate in a commercial one time as part of our lease. It was poorly done and they replayed it forever. We had price points behind the counter that were highly visible in the commercial, as well as advertisements that flashed throughout the commercial that years later were no longer valid.

GamesRadar: What about the infamous trade-in value? If your store buys back used games, do you personally find the rate fair?

#6: Fair? Not a chance in hell. They'll give $20 for a game that came out last week and cost $50. It can be flawless, still in the wrap, but no receipt, and you'll still get less than half of the original price. The company will then slap a "Used: $44.99" price tag on it. Ridiculous...

#3: I rarely trade my games in because I know that they will just be making money off of me when they resell it.

#8: I do trade in, but I know we all get screwed.

#1: Considering that the price will quadruple when it goes back on the shelf? No.
Considering that the people trading the games in most likely stole them? Yes.

GamesRadar: Before we move on, what other store practices would the public be shocked or angry to discover?

#6: The shrink-wrapping of returned merchandise and reselling it as new.

#2: We also hold systems that people want until an ad breaks. Every other week or so, we sit on about 40 Wiis but keep telling customers that we don't have any. They cannot be sold until the ads come out. And another thing... we know where and when you bought your "broken" systems, so stop trying to bring them back to stores you didn't buy them from.

Continue on...
Part Two - The Coworkers, The Customers

Charlie Barratt
I enjoy sunshine, the company of kittens and turning frowns upside down. I am also a fan of sarcasm. Let's be friends!