Nightmares of a Game Store Clerk

"Prior to the Sega Dreamcast launch, our store was sent a Japanese unit to demo. While one of my employees was demo-ing the Get Bass fishing game with the fishing controller for the customers, some kid who couldn't have been older than twelve comes up and asks if he can play. My co-worker explains that it's just for demo, and that we weren't allowed to let customers play. The kid proceeds to pull a $1.00 bill out of his pocket, hold it by either end, snap it and exclaim, 'Mr. Washington says I can.' It was impossible for my co-worker to keep from laughing. Afterwards, he said, 'Damn, the kid could have at least made it worth my while. That wouldn't have even paid for a soda.' "

"I see this little fat kid approach an SNES display box. The store sells used games as well as vintage hardware, like the SNES. 'What the heck is that?' he said. 'That's a Super Nintendo, from before the Nintendo 64,' his dad replied. 'Why?! They should get rid of that stuff.' "

"A regular customer of ours, a red-headed lad of about 11, had no tonal, timing or volume control over his voice. He spoke at top volume, in the most monotone annoying voice you can imagine. We could see him start talking in the parking lot on the walk to the door, and by the time he entered he'd be full-steam into the conversation. '…NEED A COPY OF POKEMON XD I HAVE A RESERVE MY NAME IS JOHN HERE IS MONEY (shoves money into my face, I'm on the phone no less) PLEASE GIVE ME THE GAME I WOULD LIKE TO PLAY IT I NEED A COPY THANK YOU POKEMON XD MY NAME IS JOHN.' He'd keep going until his babysitter would drag him out by his collar."

"One day, this nasty looking man came into the store with possibly the ugliest kids you can imagine. He decided to browse the GameCube section, leaving his children at the demo kiosk. Suddenly, I hear "Brandon! Stop! Brandon!" Apparently, young Brandon had to use the bathroom and young Brandon didn't feel like waiting. As an ever growing puddle of urine spread across the middle of the store floor, I turned to ask the grunt working with me if he could help clean up. He was laughing too hard to hear me... the father and kids had already left."

"I was working with a male co-worker one weekend and I was processing trade-ins while he was ringing up customers. The line grew longer, so I decided to help out. I asked the next kid in line if he had any questions. He just pointed at my co-worker and said, 'Oh, no. I'm waiting for that guy.' My co-worker asked, 'Waiting for me? Why?' Thekid said, 'Because you look like a gamer.' Being a girl had apparently disqualified me as a 'gamer.' "

"I have been threatened so many times, it's not funny. I've had a woman send her husband down to the store to yell at me - "You messed with the wrong sister!" - because her game purchase rung up at a different price than on the sticker." A teenage boy once cursed me out with racial slurs because I wouldn't make a trade. He was furious, telling me that I would be sorry and that he would wait in the store until closing if necessary. Then there was the 40 year-old man who asked me to "step outside so I can show you how hard I punch!"

"My favorite story to tell is of the trade-in gone horribly wrong. I had a guy come in a few days after the first NFL Street released, trying to return it. We had a policy - you open a new game, the best you can do is trade it in. We tell him this and he proceeds to fly off the handle, yelling and claiming that we are running some kind of scam. When he demands to speak to my manager, I explain that I am the assistant manager and that the manager will tell him the exact same thing. This pushed him over the edge. He screams that the game is a piece of crap, then throws it directly at me and storms out. So at least I got a free game..."

"A customer comes up to me in a panic asking for help with a game. 'Hi ma'am, can I help you?' 'I need the new Zelda game for Xbox 360!' 'I'm sorry, the new Legend of Zelda game is available only on the Nintendo Wii right now, but it IS coming to the Nintendo GameCube in about a month. That title won't be available for the 360 at all.' 'That's bullshit! It's on the 360 and I want it. I bet you have it in the back!' 'Ma'am, the game is made by Nintendo. It's a Nintendo only property and will not appear on any other systems.' 'You're lying to me! You already told me it is going to be on the GameCube next month!' 'Well ma'am, the GameCube and the Wii are both consoles made by Nintendo. You'll never see a Legend of Zelda game on an Xbox or even on a PlayStation. Just like you'll never see Halo on a Nintendo system.' 'You're lying to me! This is fucking bulls***! I just want the new f***ingZelda game on the f***ing Xbox and you won't f***ing give it to me!' At this point, my manager came over and asked if there was a problem. 'Your employee is the f***ing problem! I want a f***ing game and he won't f***ing help me find it!' He looks at me and before I can even say something, he sees the look on my face and knows that I'm dealing with an idiot. He says 'Alright ma'am, I'll help you. What game were you looking for?' 'I want the f***ingZelda game for the f***ing Xbox, god damn you!' 'Well ma'am, you won't find that game here. In fact, you won't ever find that game here, and we'd appreciate it if you never found anything else here. Please leave our store and don't come back. That game doesn't exist, it will never exist, and we would appreciate if you would take your vulgar language down to Circuit City so you can piss them off instead of us. We have work to do.' Her jaw dropped, I smiled. 'F*** YOU AND F*** THIS STORE! I'LL FIND THE GAME SOMEWHERE ELSE! I'M NEVER SHOPPING HERE AGAIN!' And she stormed out."

"A friend of mine was working while chatting with me on the phone when a couple of women came in looking for 'remotes' for the PS2. Well, PS2 had both controllers as well as DVD remotes. He put the phone down but didn't put me on hold while he helped them. He attempted to explain the difference between a remote and a controller, but they insisted on wanting a remote. He pulls the remote off the wall and hands it to them. They replied with, 'Nah, we want the remote that you play the games with.' He told them that what they wanted was the controller and not the remote. Their response was, 'You think yer f***in' smart, don't ya?!' They then left the store without purchasing anything."

"Several people have asked if we sell Playboys, which naturally is Game Boy. Or, 'Do you have the X Cube? My son wants one for Christmas.' "

"Me: 'Thanks for calling can I help you?' Him: 'Yeah you guys got handles for the Super Nintendo?' Me: '...controllers?' Him: 'Yeah, handles.' Me: 'For Super Nintendo? No...not for a couple of years.' Him: 'Well why not? Where am I going to get some?' Me: 'Sir, the system came out in 1991 and they stopped making games for it around 1998, so you'll probably have to look in pawn shops at this point.' Him: 'Pawn Shop! I know someone has them around here!' Me: 'We had a few up until maybe 2000, and I had seen some at Target around the same time, but it's been at least two years. I'd try Nintendo's website, they still service their old machines so you could see if they have anything to offer you.' Him: 'They got a number?' Me: 'Do you have internet access?' Him: 'No!' Me: 'Okay...yeah they have a 1-800 number, hang on...' And I feel sorry for the Nintendo rep who dealt with him that afternoon.

"During that very same transaction, a man delivering Federal Express is leaning on the service desk. He leans into the phone and says, 'Well don't even mess with GameCube. The graphics are awful and the games are only about this big.' He makes a small disc shape with hand."

"I started making a list at work one day of how many different ways I've heard people pronounce the Nintendo Wii. This all started after I got a call from someone asking, 'Do you have anymore of the Nintendo Will?' I've heard Nintendo Wii (wee), Nintendo Why, Nintendo Y, Vee, The W-i-i, Nintendo Will, The W2, Wii 2, The WiiWii and Nintendo Wiz. We get over 100 calls related to the Wii each day, and for every 10 Wii calls, there used to be one PS3 call. Now no one calls about the PS3."

"When I used to work at a game store, I'd ask for the morning shift even though I was a total night owl. Nobody who played games bothered to show up at the mall that early - it was mostly housewives and elderly people. Behind the register there was a cabinet for the games, so I could rest my backside on it and doze off, waking up if a customer came in the door. Mostly nobody did, and my manager hid in the back room anyway, so I never got caught."

"Every now and then, we have 'customers' who come in and pompously ask what games for certain platforms are 'hot' right now. This is almost immediately followed by a smug 'Well, I work in the videogames industry,' and it's always, always someone in marketing. One of those guys came in and waited in line for nearly 15 minutes. When he was finally up at my register, he asked, 'So... what Xbox 360 games are popular right now?' This was around the time Marvel: Ultimate Alliance came out, as well as F.E.A.R., so I mentioned those games. He looked like I had just seriously offended him. Of course, he worked in the industry and was upset that all the games I mentioned weren't published by his company. 'Well Splinter Cell: Double Agent recently came out, what about that?' he demanded. 'Also, we're coming out with Rainbow Six Vegas, and that's going to be a hot title. The graphics are really cutting-edge. It's got an awesome story mode and great multiplayer mode.' I replied with, 'Yeah, that's great. Any other questions?' 'Well, I recently moved into the area, so you'll be seeing more of me,' he replied. There was another instance where a man walked in with his kid in a stroller and scolded us for having Loco Roco displayed on its side. 'This game is going to be a big hit, so it should be properly displayed so everyone can see it!' He, of course, ended up being a marketing rep from Sony."

"The company was just ridiculous sometimes. They wanted us to ask every single customer if they had any trades the first second they walked into the store, even if they clearly weren't holding anything. We were secret shopped multiple times and that single question was 50% of the grade. A bad grade would get a manager written up regardless of who in the store didn't say it... three write-ups and they would be fired. Employees are completely and utterly disposable. We were also asked to profile customers - if they were wearing a shirt with anything wrestling-related, we were supposed to try and sell them on a wrestling game pre-order. Baseball hat equals baseball game, etc. It was disgusting."

"For a number of months, we were offering every customer two free magazine trials if they paid with a credit card. For every person who signed up, we were given a $1 'spiff' added to our paycheck. While it's nice to have a little positive reinforcement, we were sent a completely demoralizing poster to go along with the program that really took any goodness out of it. It said something like '…because you're here to make money, right?' No, foul poster, I am here because I love games, and love helping people make intelligent purchasing decisions about them. If I wanted to make real money I would get an office job, or donate blood. Anything pays better than gaming retail."

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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!