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Kotaku uncovers new games lent to employees are sold as new

Kotaku has revealed that game distributor GameStop is selling used games as new. New games shipped to GameStop stores are lent out to employees and once returned are sold at full price. Kotaku confirmed this practice is taking place companywide after contacting store managers and employees across the United States who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The written version of GameStop’s check-out policy was provided to Kotaku and verified by GameStop employees.  The policy can be read in full in the Kotaku article. The highlights of the policy state, “Associates are allowed to check out one item of store merchandise for personal use for up to four days. Associates may only check out items from the store in which they work. If the product is returned in unsellable condition, or if anything is missing from the package, or if the product is not returned, the Associate must purchase the product at the current price less Associate discount.”

The last point reveals GameStop fully intends to resell the used software. The process involves taking new games out of the packaging and placing the empty boxes on display shelves. The games that have been opened are then lent out to employees and still sold as new once returned. GameStop gets around customers who question why the game is not sealed by stating it is a display copy leaving out the fact the games may be used.

Kotaku’s sources have revealed it is against official company policy to provide Shop Worn Discounts to the games lent out to employees. The policy states, "Do not apply Shop Worn Discounts to any new, used or checked out games, it may only be applied for damaged packaging and new accessories which have been opened.

In the past, games such as Call of Duty 4 have been sold with cards in the packaging that contained redemption codes for additional map packs. GameStop’s policy would have placed customers at risk of receiving a copy of the game with the redemption code missing or already used.

In its investigation, Kotaku contacted the Federal Trade Commission to determine if GameStop is violating the law. They also had Mark Methenitis an attorney at Dallas based The Vernon Law Group provide his input on this issue.

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This might be a good thing.
By Indianapolis on 4/13/2009 8:12:41 AM , Rating: 3
I really don't have a problem with this policy, since it helps the employees to be knowledgeable about the products they're selling. If you're concerned about it, just make sure you buy a copy that's sealed.

I pretty much do that with everything I buy anyway, since a lot of stores will actually put opened, returned, items back on the shelf as new. Best Buy is kind of funny, because they'll usually mark an item down by 10% if it's been opened, but as prices fall or they have sells, this ends up leaving the open item more expensive than new items.

RE: This might be a good thing.
By FITCamaro on 4/13/2009 10:15:07 AM , Rating: 3
Best Buy will mark down open items if they go on sale. You just have to talk to the staff. I got a X-Fi open box and got it below the current on sale price.

RE: This might be a good thing.
By Hiawa23 on 4/13/2009 3:59:04 PM , Rating: 3
meh, I really don't care about this. I buy most of my games from Best Buy, & Gamefly, only usually buy used stuff from Gamestop. Really not surprised by this at all. If you do have an issue then shop elsewhere. Not making excuses but it is what it is, & there are so many options when it somes to buying games, just not a big deal to me, & with the economy in the state it is in, games fall at the bottom of scale, & if Gamestop is breaking the law then they should be prosecuted if not, what can you do other than if you have an issue with this vote by taking your dollars elswhere.

RE: This might be a good thing.
By MrSmurf on 4/13/2009 12:32:03 PM , Rating: 5
So you don't have a problem with a company who is willing to deceive you? I don't care if I never buy an unsealed copy of a game -- I'm not giving my money to a company who deceives ANYONE. I don't see the point when there are plently of other stores who do not partake in this behavior and actually sell their games cheaper. I see no reason to shop at Gamestop outside of buying or trading in used games. And with so many other companies entering into this realm, I hope Gamestop goes out of business based solely on it's shady practices.

Either you work for Gamestop or you're just plain stupid.

RE: This might be a good thing.
By Hiawa23 on 4/13/2009 6:52:56 PM , Rating: 2
So you don't have a problem with a company who is willing to deceive you?

Like I said rarely do I buy new from Gamestop, so no, I don't really care about this, if you do don't shop there. Not surprised that they would even have this policy. Like I said I buy at Best Buy, Gamefly, there are plenty of other stores to buy games, & honestly, the last thing I am concerned with in these tough times is whether or not a videogame store is selling used games as new. Just more important priorities in my life than that, but continue & fight the good fight.

RE: This might be a good thing.
By crazyblackman on 4/14/2009 1:16:06 AM , Rating: 1
Not surprised that they would even have this policy. Like I said I buy at Best Buy, Gamefly, there are plenty of other stores to buy games, & honestly, the last thing I am concerned with in these tough times is whether or not a videogame store is selling used games as new.

After accepting the 360, what's left to defend, right? Who cares who is ripping me off, right?

To quote you again..."The last thing I am concerned with in these tough times is whether or not a videogame store is selling used games as an idiot like me".

There, I finished your statement for you. At least, that was my interpretation.

This folks, is an actual example of the dumbing down of the modern consumer. Getting ripped off is now acceptable.

You don't mind if the cook spits in your food. You still get to eat for cheap, right?

RE: This might be a good thing.
By Hiawa23 on 4/14/2009 8:18:27 AM , Rating: 2
After accepting the 360, what's left to defend, right? Who cares who is ripping me off, right?

There, I finished your statement for you. At least, that was my interpretation.

This folks, is an actual example of the dumbing down of the modern consumer. Getting ripped off is now acceptable.

You don't mind if the cook spits in your food. You still get to eat for cheap, right?

A cook spits in your food, LOL? what is this a teen response? Talking about videogames here, not the same thing at all.

Your statement is nonsense. Don't label me, no one has dumbed anything down. I make my decisions based on me. I have not accepted the 360, as mine has been fine & I have two of them, one repaired back in June 08, fine since, no probs out of my newer one, so not sure how you arrived at getting ripped off is acceptable, cause it's not. Shop elsewhere like I and many others do. I have not been ripped off as the 360 has been a better gaming value for me than than the PS3 & Wii combined & I own them all, but not surprised how some start with either the labeling or teen like name calling if someone disagrees. I rarely buy games from GS, so not really an issue for me, & the ones I did buy & it was the last copy, I respectfully told the guy behind the counter, if he did not have a new sealed copy, then I did not want the copy that he took out of the drawer & tried to sell as new to me, so I will respectfully disagree, as I have not been ripped off at all. God bless!

By crazyblackman on 4/14/2009 1:28:39 AM , Rating: 1
he is stupid and he works for that stupid Gamestop store.

RE: This might be a good thing.
By FS on 4/13/2009 12:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
"Sealed" doesn't necessarily mean it's new. I ordered a new game from Gamestop few days ago and it came well packaged(original bluray case, well sealed, with booklet etc.) as any other new game does but there were a lot of scratches on the bluray. So you know there is something going on; they even pack the old games and sell them as new.

RE: This might be a good thing.
By someguy123 on 4/13/2009 1:08:25 PM , Rating: 2
I think the problem with this policy is they already have a "used section" that they can easily toss these games into. Instead, they sell them as new.

This is just exacerbated by the fact that the industry is at Gamestop's throats because of their insane profits from used game sales.

RE: This might be a good thing.
By Richardito on 4/13/2009 1:15:05 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares what you think sir/madam. Opening a product and then selling it as new is both immoral and illegal. That's the only botoom line that counts. Opinions are like aholes- everyone has one...

RE: This might be a good thing.
By leexgx on 4/13/2009 1:16:53 PM , Rating: 2
in the UK if not all game stores open the box and put the items in the case into an sleave and put them in an locked place (stops them from been stolen)

This is well known
By the goat on 4/13/2009 7:56:44 AM , Rating: 2
As far as I know Gamestop (and Electronics Boutique) never hid this policy from customers. I always knew that the stores did this. I would discuss the games with the employees to get their opinion on it so that I could decide to buy it or not. The employees are able to assist me because they had already played the game.

The process of removing the game from the package is called "gutting." It is a completely unrelated to the employee lending policy. Gutting is done to prevent shoplifting.

The only time a customer gets a gutted game is when it is the last copy of the game in the store (other wise another fresh copy of the game would have to be gutted for a new display copy). But sometimes with large game releases (final fantasy, Halo, etc) several copies will be gutted so that they can have a ton of display boxes.

Furthermore if the customer doesn't want a gutted copy the store manager should offer to order a brand new copy. Of coarse many of the managers are too lazy to offer this service. I have had EB/Gamestop managers order games for me multiple times. Usually it was to get a lightgun game without the pack-in lightgun, as I already had two (namco guncon games on PSX rocked). But I have also seen people order games to avoid buying a gutted copy.

RE: This is well known
By oab on 4/13/2009 8:15:11 AM , Rating: 3
I remember reading on The Consumerist about a year ago an employee detailing this policy. This is again (as stated above) most certainly not new news.

RE: This is well known
By slashbinslashbash on 4/13/2009 11:13:21 PM , Rating: 2
I worked as holiday temp help for Electronics Boutique (before they changed to EBGames) back in 1999/2000 or so, and this policy was well known even then. I took a couple of PlayStation games home with me to demo them. It was easy to do for games in CD-style jewel cases; you can pull down on the hinge-tab at the bottom of the jewel case and flip the lid up, never touching the seal over the top of the jewel case. They also had a shrink-wrap machine in the back room to apply new shrink-wrap to employee-played games. It is a harder with games in DVD cases, as their hinges don't come apart like CD jewel cases, and it is impossible AFAIK to get that re-seal that seal over the top edge of the case so that it doesn't look obvious that it's already been opened.

As long as employees aren't hurting the games then I have no problem with this policy. It isn't like a car or other mechanical item that can get "worn out" with normal use. GameStop employees don't get paid very well, so it is somewhat of a labor of love for many employees. Without that perk I bet they would have more trouble getting worthwhile, knowledgeable employees.

RE: This is well known
By just4U on 4/14/2009 4:18:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I don't have a problem with it either. It's going to be a hit and a miss anyway since chances are your almost always getting one that's not seen any use. As long as it looks completely new inside and out I am fine with it. EB Games has a pretty good policy overall and I don't have any complaints.

Car Dealers
By transamdude95 on 4/13/2009 9:17:53 AM , Rating: 2
I know some car dealerships will allow the sales associates to take a car home. The specific dealer I know of would give the employee the option of choosing between a personal car to drive at their leisure (unlimited mileage/time) or a monthly stipend. The cars would be sold as new with no deduction in asking price.

RE: Car Dealers
By MarcLeFou on 4/13/2009 10:36:21 AM , Rating: 2
In that case, that dealership is a crook.

I know multiple people who work in dealerships (GM and BMW specifically) and salespeople indeed get cars to drive home. However they are part of what they'll call a "demoline" and will be used to test drive for customers as well as be sold at a demo discount to the customer (usually around 1000$ less than normal).

A car isn't like a game because a game doesn't get significantly worn out over time if proper care is used nor lose its value the more its played. In the case of a car, it does get worn out and loose value so they are in essence devaluing the product the customer is buying and the customer should be compensated for it.

RE: Car Dealers
By transamdude95 on 4/13/2009 10:41:28 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with you. You gotta make sure you check the mileage of the 'new' car before you buy it. A 'new' car with 1500 miles really isn't so new. The guy I knew that worked at the dealer would use his take home car for pizza delivery to make extra cash. Pizza delivery equates to some pretty hard miles.

RE: Car Dealers
By MrSmurf on 4/13/2009 12:36:55 PM , Rating: 1
Cars have odometers though. If you're buying a new car with thousands of miles at the original MSRP, you're dumber than 'Indianapolis'. These cars are sold as "demonstrators" and given a discount. So WTF are you talking about?

From an old employee
By 7Enigma on 4/16/2009 2:12:05 PM , Rating: 2
I worked at Electronics boutique (who changed their name to EB Games, and then Stop & Save, and now who knows what) and I can tell you this went on back then as well. We could borrow games for a night or two and would put the box and instruction booklet in our private drawer and just take the cd/game home. When we returned it to the store we would shrink wrap the game back up and it looked as good as new.

Now it sounds like they aren't even shrinking the games anymore (I guess because most don't even have a wrapper on them after switching to the smaller boxes). Honestly as long as the product is undamaged and there is no scratches on the disk/etc. it really is a new game and I don't see a problem. But if they wreck the manual (do games even have these anymore!?) or scratch the disk, or get grubby hands on the jewel case then I agree it is not right.

RE: From an old employee
By 7Enigma on 4/16/2009 2:15:27 PM , Rating: 2
I would like to add back when I worked there (1995-2000) online content was near nonexistant, MMO's were just coming out (and we were obviously not allowed to borrow any games that required accounts), and the *horrible* draconian pirating countermeasures was requiring a serial number to install and the disk to be in the drive.

RE: From an old employee
By 7Enigma on 4/16/2009 2:34:28 PM , Rating: 2
I saw an earlier post about "gutting". That term really brought me back as I haven't heard it in almost 10 years. We would gut any non-PC game and put the empty jewel case on the floor. We had huge drawers behind the counter that contained the jewel case insert shrink-wrapped with the disk and labeled in alphabetical order. Only the last game was gutted, the rest were in full sealed packaging also behind the counter. You'd check first for a unopened game, but often it was the last copy and you'd have to rip open the shrink-wrap, put it back in the jewel case, and then depending on whether it was a gift or the customer wanted it wrapped, we'd reshrink it on the spot.

I can't remember how many times we would have the empty jewel cases stolen from the store. We'd do inventory every couple months (horrible, horrible job), and there would be STACKS of guts that didn't have jewel cases. More than a few times the "customers" would come back in claiming they bought the game, nothing was inside, and oh, they forgot the reciept. We'd open up the jewel case to see no insert for the really stupid, or a different colored insert for the semi-stupid, or a clear insert where we had to still refuse a return since no game and no reciept = no luck (unless they complained enough to let a store manager give them one which was rare).

Oh the funny stories working there through JH and HS:

-I had a dad with his son that almost tried to kill me after I refused to return a destroyed Pokemon game that I told him before he bought it that it would brick his system (some old glitch with a certain configuration)....and my name was on the reciept as the salesman.

-I witnessed countless "important" people that would try to ignore lines, demand rediculous things, and curse at me. In retail being disgustingly sweet but by the book is about the best revenge you can have on an irrate customer.

-I had would-be theives get caught at the door by their parents, drop products on the way out and run, steal and then open the product outside the GLASS WINDOW of OUR store.

-But the best stories of are the slow nights (I worked in a strip mall that didn't get near the traffic of a mall) where we would have one person standing at the counter and the other playing the games, or even completely dead both of us playing the games. We were connected to a BC collectables (comic books and sports stuff) and would play football and catch between the two stores.

Well back to reality...

Other products
By jvillaro on 4/13/2009 12:56:02 PM , Rating: 2
Guess this explains why there has been Ipods and other MP3 players sold with content like pornografic pictures and stuff

RE: Other products
By jvillaro on 4/13/2009 12:59:43 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I was intending to say that if others stores (not just Gamestop) have similar policies then that could explain why this has happened

Stop the Presses!
By Lifted on 4/13/2009 6:52:31 AM , Rating: 3
False alarm, nothing to see here folks.

News to me
By gamerk2 on 4/13/2009 8:02:42 AM , Rating: 2
I have never brough a new game from a Gamestop (I've got 5 near me) that was not wrapped in its plastic wrapping, with the exception of a dispaly copy being the only copy left. And even in that case, the staff will usually take back the game, no questions asked, even after a month provided I keep the receipt.

By SlipDizzy on 4/13/2009 9:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
I worked at GameStop a few years ago and I knew about this policy before I even started. The policy was in place at the store I worked at, and it definitely gave me some experience in game genres that I normally wouldn't buy/play. The only rule that I can recall is that we weren't allowed to take out games that required CD keys or subscriptions. I also faintly remember that almost, if not all computer games were off the list as well.

Yet another reason...
By jeff834 on 4/13/2009 12:20:54 PM , Rating: 2
why I don't buy games at Gamestop. They rarely have copies of new games past their preorders for one. 99% of the time you ask for a game that came out that day at Gamestop, and if you didn't preorder they laugh at you, but you can go to Target or Walmart and get it immediately sometimes even at a discount. As for used games their prices are usually pretty high and they give little trade in value. Fact is ebay or amazon always have pretty much every game available for less, and when you want to get some cash back for used games you can sell them there for more. They're pretty much a monopoly when it comes to straight video game stores as they bought up the entire competition, but they continue to make money because people just don't know any better.

Common practice?
By crleap on 4/13/2009 1:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
Funny, I was just being cranky about a similar situation at a bookstore chain here in town (Books-A-Million). My roommate worked there 5 years ago and they allowed employees to "check out" books and return them to be sold as normal. Funny (or not so funny) thing is, he would always use them as toilet reading material.

Fast forward 5 years, he goes back to working there after being fired (from there and the job in between), and on day 2, here he is with another off-the-shelf book, reading on the toilet.

Personally, I don't shop there. If I buy a "new" book at full price, I don't want to wonder if the schmuck behind the counter selling it to me had his toilet hands all over it last week. Not so "new" anymore when you think about it, I'm sure not paying full price (or at all!).

By Tacoloft on 4/13/2009 7:21:06 PM , Rating: 2
I am not surprised by this article. Firsthand experience right here. The old bait and switch happened to me at a local GameStop. I thought I was purchasing a new game and the rep slyly slipped in an opened un-wrapped copy of the game into by bag. I walk out of the store and quickly check my bag and sure enough it was not shrink wrapped. I did a 180 and promptly returned the game and asked for my money back even though they had a shrink wrapped copy. I will NEVER buy a new game (used) from Gamestop again.

What about Frys? :)
By The0ne on 4/13/2009 10:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
If you're upset at this what about Frys? Hell, the repackaged used products right there in plain view with the machine! And these prices range from being more than the regular price to lower. It just depends who's working on the sticker :) And yes, they're suppose to marked down a percentage but that's not always the case.

Imagine grabbing a sealed product, looking at it and noticing it looks like crap. That's Frys for you. Still a good place to shop though :)

Oh, and the few gamestop I asked the same question does this. It appears this is standard practice for the company itself. They let the employees review the games prior to the release dates.

This confirms it,,
By unprofor on 4/14/2009 7:07:24 AM , Rating: 2
3 years ago, I bought a copy of Madden for my pc at gamestop.
The cd worked fine but when I tried to play online, the serial number had already been used, I spent a lot of time on the phone with EA tech support.

Back then I didn't have a fax and the customer service rep told me the only way I can get a new serial without buying another copy is to mail a copy of the receipt and the box!

I was pissed, went back to GS and opened another box in the store and got the code that way. I know, I ended up screwing over the customer that had picked up that copy but GS started first

By callmeroy on 4/14/2009 8:42:30 AM , Rating: 2
All I can say to the folks that are replying in shock over this story is --- wow, do you live under a rock?

You know what stores are very big in doing this sort of thing --- music stores. Its not such a huge thing these days with more and more folks using P2P methods to get music anyway...but in the "heyday" of CD's when the vast majority of us actually went into brick and mortar stores (Sam Goody anyone? LOL) -- the employees used to take CD's home *all the time*, listen to them a few days , bring them back they re-package them, re-seal them -- boom....*you* come in and buy it thinking its brand new.

By noirsoft on 4/13/09, Rating: -1
RE: Fallacy
By fleshconsumed on 4/13/2009 8:21:49 AM , Rating: 5
There is a problem with this policy if the game requires online activation and can only be activated, say, 5 times. Employee registering game means you only have 4 activations left.

RE: Fallacy
By TreeDude62 on 4/13/2009 10:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
I have a few friends who work at GameStop. They are not allowed to take a game which requires an activation (I believe all PC games are off limits as well).

As long as the games are checked before being sold I don't see the big deal. I always have them notate things like that on the receipt in case I need to return it, so I do not have any issues.

RE: Fallacy
By murphyslabrat on 4/13/2009 10:16:24 AM , Rating: 2
We're likely dealing more with console games here, largely nullifying that argument. However, yes, if it were a PC game, than I would hope that would result in being in "unsellable condition"

RE: Fallacy
By Wierdo on 4/13/2009 12:07:52 PM , Rating: 2
If a game is open then it's not new, simple as that. I don't think Gamestop should sell games that are opened and used as new products.

I don't think it's hard to fix the problem either so doesn't make sense to me why they'd do something silly like this. Why don't they just make it a policy to only allow used games to be checked out by employees, or new games provided that the employee pays the new->used price difference which is usually just a couple dollars? Tada problem solved.

RE: Fallacy
By FITCamaro on 4/13/2009 10:13:40 AM , Rating: 5
I wouldn't buy a game that's open as new. It's been opened. Pure and simple. If they can sell an opened game as new, why can't I return an opened game as new?

RE: Fallacy
By theapparition on 4/13/2009 11:37:12 AM , Rating: 2

But who are the morons that are buying opened "display" copies for full price? If it's not factory sealed, I won't pay full price. Period.

RE: Fallacy
By xti on 4/13/2009 11:41:18 AM , Rating: 2
Yup - if I am paying full price there only better be the manufactures fingerprints on anything under a seal.

RE: Fallacy
By MrSmurf on 4/13/2009 12:40:50 PM , Rating: 2
I remember when Gamestop used to allow you to return NEW games (PC games included) within a certain timeframe for a full refund and they would sell them as new again. Don't think I didn't take advantage of that with my brand new 2x CD Burner!

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