How GameStop Screws You

by Mike Shea on 29 September 2007

From my senior year in high school to my senior year in college, I worked at Babbages, a small software store. I liked my job and I liked the store. Since then I've always had a soft spot for small video game and software stores. Right now that is mostly limited to GameStop.

A few weeks ago we went from a drought of good games to a flood. Metroid Prime 3, Bioshock, Stranglehold, Halo 3, and Zelda Phantom Hourglass have all come out recently. I decided I would pre-order all these games at GameStop and pick them up the day they came out.

Earlier today I went to GameStop to pick up the copy of Halo 3 I had preordered. They didn't have it. They had apparently exchanged pre-ordered copies of Halo 3 to those who had defective copies due to poor packaging of the special edition. They took my money a month ago. They've been earning interest on it. And then they give my copy away to someone else. Why did I preorder it if I am not guaranteed a copy? Why do I give them my money? Why am I paying sales tax when Amazon will ship it to me for free tax free?

This isn't the only way GameStop screws people. Their used game program is a complete scam. They give you pennies on the dollar for your used games, games that you bought from them for $60 new, and then sell them for about five or ten dollars under the new game. This gives them about a $40 profit per game without having to pay any of that back to the manufacturer. There's no cost in shipping, very little cost in overhead, and all pure profit. Don't trade your games back to GameStop - sell them on Ebay for about $20 to $30 more per game to people who will actually buy it and enjoy it.

There's another way GameStop screws you. GameStop is allowed to open up a game, put the box on the shelf, and put the "guts" (the manual, the game, and anything else in the box) behind the counter. When you're the sorry bastard who buys the last copy, they sell you this opened version for the full price. If you open your copy and try to immediately return it, they will not take it back or will let you trade it in for about 50% of the cost. If you buy their opened copy, however, you have to pay full price. I don't know for sure if they're doing what we did, but we used to play the hell out of those opened games. Customers often got truly used copies for full price. It wouldn't surprise me at all if they still do that.

After they gave my copy of Halo 3 to someone else after I had paid them money to reserve it, I am done with GameStop. I cancelled all my remaining pre-orders with them and from now on I'll pre-order from Amazon.com, pay nothing for shipping and pay no taxes.

I really want to like the smaller shops, but as long as they persist in screwing their customers with used games and failing to meet their own pre-orders, I'll take my business elsewhere.

Send comments to mike@mikeshea.net or follow @mshea on Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please use this link to Amazon.com for your next online purchase.