Can Gamers Still Trust GameStop?
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According to a few sources that have confided in Kotaku, GameStop has been implementing a program that pressures employees to lie to customers. Why? Because each employee has to sell certain numbers of used games to meet a quota. The more used games sold, the better. So, even if they have a new game in-stock at the store and on sale, some employees will have to lie to the customer and claim it is out of stock, all so they can sell a more expensive used copy. It's a part of a GameStop Circle of Life program to bring in and move out pre-owned games and turn a profit.

Seems a little extreme just to meet a sales quota, doesn't it? Well, the aforementioned staff members said that GameStop has gone so far as to threaten their job security if they don't sell enough pre-owned games. Though GameStop has issued a formal response to the situation, it does nothing to solve the problem or offer any reassurances to employees. Sadly, these are not unusual tactics. They're actually quite common among similarly large corporations.

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As someone who has worked in retail for ten years now, I can tell you this isn't new. Many businesses that are part of larger corporations, especially American ones, do this sort of thing all the time. Mall and outlet stores are especially bad, in my experience, as each employee has a designated quota to fill every day. The quotas are purposely out of proportion to what the store actually makes on average basis. The better you become at meeting those goals, the higher they will get. GameStop's Circle of Life program is just another means of scare employees into staying. Is it a backwards idea? Why yes, it is. Do they care? No. Companies like GameStop would rather pay you less and threaten your job security, rather than pay you more to stay and not pressure customers. 

This is an extremely common tactic that all retail workers know about. Such borderline unethical tactics remain unchallenged, because doing can cost you a job. Not to mention, the reasons given for such actions are so well-couched in elaborate business language, that employees may believe it without considering the company might be wrong. For example, the letter of denial GameStop sent its employees is an obvious coverup directed at members of the press and consumers, rather than the company's staff. This is especially apparent when COO Tony Bartel described how amazing the Circle of Life has been for the company, as it “issued approximately $1 Billion of trade credits to our customers last year. 70% of the time, those trade dollars were immediately spent on new gaming products.” Whether this is true or not, it is clearly an attempt to justify why the program was implemented by claiming it is all for sake of the customer.

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Furthermore, the customer is at the focus of this letter, not the unhappy employees who have complained about the enormous pressure and threats to their jobs because of the Circle of Life program. Right after Bartel acknowledged that and said, “There were behaviors described that indicated our Circle of Life program placed pressure on store associates to mislead customers on the value of certain products,” he went right back to talking about the customers. He noted, “...at GameStop, it is absolutely our mission to help our customers get the best advice.” He didn't address the pressures placed on employees. Bartel stated that he was disappointed by the situation, like there is nothing to be done about it, and he knew “they don’t represent the vast majority of our associates and how they treat our customers.” Right, and all the stories we've been hearing for years about this exact kind of abuse are fictitious, despite their prevalence.

Basically, this isn't new. Something should be done about it, but we should keep in mind that large corporations have been running this way for many years in very legal ways. It's unethical, sometimes downright inhumane, but it's not illegal for GameStop to do this. These companies are great at talking their way around it and soothing any ruffled customer's feathers without addressing employee concerns at all. If you really want to open the can of worms on why this has been going unchecked, ask your political representatives.

Christine Pugatschew
Christine Pugatschew

Contributing Writer
Date: 02/06/2017

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