The stories of retailers with shady backroom policies designed to manipulate associates so that they in turn manipulate customers are as old as the FUBU sweater I keep in my closest in case the brand ever gets cool again. Radio Shack comes to mind, but there are lots of others, including gaming powerhouse GameStop. In fact, GameStop is getting a little attention this week for a community post that alleges the company has a ratio system that forces its sales teams into primarily selling people used products at all costs.
News of the policy comes by the way of Neogaf, and as such, it isn’t substantiated. At least, I couldn’t confirm the policy with any of my own sources. The practice in question seems to be called Circle of Life. Allegedly, GameStop is monitoring the amount of used games, used consoles, used accessories, pre-orders and PowerUp Rewards Pro memberships that each of its associates sells.
“Each store has to have a certain percentage of their transactions contain those items. For every percentage goal reached in each category, the store gets 25% of their COL score. So if an employee has 20% of their transactions contain a new reservation and the store’s percentage goal is 15%, that employee’s COL score is 25%. The rub is that the COL expectation set by the company is 75% so each employee has to meet their percentage goal in 3 out of the 4 categories in order to meet the expectation” Neogaf member 7DollarHagane explains.
He goes on to list the real world consequences of this, like GameStop employees pressuring you to pre-order a title every time you buy a digital subscription or a new copy of Watch Dogs 2.
Understandably, there are few people calling for everyone that reads the forum to boycott the retailer, especially since the company is firing workers who they believe sell too much new product, reportedly. The thread is absolutely worth a read. In my opinion, we’re battling for the soul of gaming.
As a recovering retail employee myself, I identify with the folks being put in this position. Ultimately, the problem is the corporate heads at GameStop themselves. They’ve made other questionable moves in the past. In September the company switched its PowerUp Rewards Program to automatically redeeming the points that users get for making purchases to email them in-store coupons that expire after a month. Previously, you could let the points sit in your account and login to redeem them for a PowerUp Rewards renewal, Xbox Live credit and physical trinkets. I had this happen to me.
I don’t shop there anymore. I also buy most of my games digitally too, but that’s another conversation entirely.
At the end of the day, I’m not in the business of expecting businesses to not act like businesses. GameStop has a responsibility to make as much money as possible. They’ve managed to do that by heavily promoting used gear and trying to convince you that digital games and new editions aren’t in your best interest. It’s us that collectively give them power to treat their employees this way.
The fault does not lie within our stars, but within ourselves.