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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 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.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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