I preordered at GameStop and all I got was my $5 back

We’ve all been there…a quick trip to GameStop for one specific thing turns into an information onslaught about upcoming games for the next six months, and the dangers of not preordering them.  Now, if you only shop at GameStop, these threats are fairly true.  Preferring to secure most of their profits as a fence for stolen and damaged merchandise, they often only get enough new copies of a game in to cover preorders, especially if it isn’t a gigantic triple-A title.

I usually avoid these sales tactics like the plague, owing to the fact that ever since the cartridge format went belly-up, games stopped being rare at release.  These days a million stores carry new games, and for every GameStop that doesn’t have it in stock, there’s a Best Buy or a Target that does.  A month ago, however, I went against my better judgement, and took the preorder bait.

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record  is what won me over, if you’re curious.  I was planning to buy it anyway, since the launch price was announced at a reasonable $40, and I like to support Capcom’s wacky fanservice antics whenever possible.  I saw that GameStop was offering a hilarious in-game suit of cardboard box armor for returning franchise hero Frank West, and I said to myself, “That’s something I want”.  I went ahead and put my $5 down and stowed the receipt safely in my wallet.

Flash forward a month to yesterday and I get my call that my copy of Off the Record will be available for pickup as scheduled on October 11th.  I couldn’t make it earlier in the day, so I showed up around 8pm to claim my game and virtual cardboard box armor.  At which point, after some shuffling around behind the counter, and some phone calls to other GameStop locations, I was told that they had only gotten a handful of copies in.  Exactly enough to cover the preorders.  Good thing I preordered it, right?  Apparently, you see, and this is where it gets good, putting money down on a game weeks in advance isn’t enough to stop them from selling it to someone else.

Yeah.  They covered the rest of their preorders, then some random dude who hadn’t ordered it came in, and a GameStop employee sold them my copy.  The manager repeated the same thing over and over again in a few different ways, all boiling down to “Yeah this shouldn’t have happened”.  Which, I’ll admit, I agree to wholeheartedly.  He offered a few different options to correct this, which all involved inconvenient drives to other locations, or coming back to get it the next day at that one.

I chose my own write-in option, the one where I got my $5 refunded and walked over to the adjacent Best Buy.  In honestly under two minutes I had located and purchased Off the Record from their generous and readily available stockpile of copies.  Imagine that, I hadn’t even alerted Best Buy in advance of my interest in the game, nor had I entered into a business agreement in which I would give them money up front to grant me the privilege of purchase.

Look, GameStop…I’ve bought my share of stuff from you over the years.  I trade you some things sometimes, and I sign up for the magazine.  Despite the inconvenience, I do a lot of business with you.  All I’m going to say is that every time you’ve let me down, Best Buy has picked up the slack.  I’ve never encountered a stock issue despite the fact that they do a lot of other things besides video games.  I get my new games there with the shrinkwrap still on them.  And now they’re sending me a magazine stocked with coupons, of which I have used about $60 worth in the last two months.  Even…wait for it…a $10 off coupon on Dead Rising 2: Off the Record.  It takes around a thousand dollars worth of transactions to earn a $5-10 off coupon on a used game from you.

I’m serious this time, GameStop.  Maybe you’d like to come over and look at my living room sometime.  Because I guarantee you, my business is business that you want.

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About Ryan Searles

I like watching movies, and then talking about those movies. Sometimes I write things about them, which you should read. Other interests include boxed wine, video games, the works of Harlan Ellison and HG Wells, and being a general curmudgeon.

Posted on October 12, 2011, in Video Games and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. They covered the rest of their preorders, then some random dude who hadn’t ordered it came in, and a GameStop employee sold them my copy. The manager repeated the same thing over and over again in a few different ways, all boiling down to “Yeah this shouldn’t have happened”.

    As a former manager for the company, I’ll clue you in on a few secrets. 🙂

    Selling a pre-order happens all the time. Yes, the receipt says that “Upcoming release products will be held for 48 hours,” but that’s actually in conflict with another policy, that if someone comes in looking for a game and the store has it in stock, no matter if it’s held, it has to be sold to the customer in front of them with the cash. Customer in store trumps potential customer to pick up pre-order every time.

    Why is it this way? That’s a little more complicated.

    GameStop only expects 50% pick-up on pre-orders. Yes, the company’s sales pitch to wavering customers on a pre-order is that if they don’t pre-order the game they won’t get it because GameStop won’t ship extras to a store; I’ve been in stores within the last six months and heard exactly that pitch. It’s a guilt-trip pitch that has the unfortunate fault of being true. But they expect — and historical experience shows it to be true — that half the people who put money down won’t actually redeem the pre-order. From GameStop’s perspective, then, holding a game for that 48 period equates to lost sales because there’s an even chance that it won’t be bought.

    Where this analysis falls down…

    When you’re dealing with a title like Madden or Halo, yes, there will be vast numbers of people who pre-ordered the game who won’t pick it up. First, there’s rampant pre-order fraud at GameStop for multiple reasons (interstore competitions, pre-order numbers determining employee hours and continued employment, that sort of thing), so especially on the big titles the fraudulent pre-orders can be hidden. Second, titles like that can be found anywhere, so people who don’t have the emotional attachment to their pre-order can and will buy it elsewhere. So hundreds of un-picked-up pre-orders on something like Halo 3 (like an employee at my local GameStop was, for some reason, bragging about to customers one time recently I was in the store) skew the numbers. A niche title, where the store had three pre-orders and received four copies, simply doesn’t have the “float” to play with on pre-orders; the fifty percent rule isn’t going to apply.

    I’m not defending the company and its policies. Frankly, I think GameStop is run by raving monkeys. It treats its customers appallingly, and it treats its employees worse. I’m just explaining why it happened — and why it happens every day, and far more often than that store manager told you it does.

  2. That is a big reason we do not shop at game stop anymore. We will buy it from best buy first, at least then we earn reward coupons faster.

  3. This is just a shame to the video game industry as a whole. I know that Gamestop is trying to make a profit of these pre-order deals, but if you are promised a copy that you paid your hard earned money on, then they should honor their commitment and not sell the game to a person who didn’t bother to reserve it in the first place. End of story.

  4. Wow, makes me glad I stopped shopping at GameStop for pretty much anything as of recently. If I want used I go to The Exchange, and I’ll look for new titles at Wal-Mart or Best Buy. I’ve hated Game Stop and their policies since they basically told me I was a liar when I decided not to buy one of their Game Boy Advance cartridges I was looking at because it was a fake. I’d spent a good few hours researching fakes of this particular game because I’d had so much trouble finding a real version. They told me politely that I was mistaken and put it back in their sales case.

  5. This is really making me worry about my Skyrim preorder :-/

  6. this is making me worried about my halo 4 pre order

  7. I am now worried about my Halo 4 and Black Ops 2. definetly wont buy from them tho

  1. Pingback: Dead Rising 2: Off the Record – What’s new and is it worth it? « A Nerd Occurrence

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  3. Pingback: The Preorder Curse Strikes Again. Thanks, Newegg! « A Nerd Occurrence

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