Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
27 August 2008
GameStop sells returned games as new
Welcome to another Tales of Teh Suck! with JohnH.

I recently managed to find a copy of Geometry Wars Galaxies for Wii at a Circuit City for what turned out to be $17, even though it was marked $50. It was $17 of the best bucks I've spent on my Wii, an absolutely awesome game, arguably a better sequel to Geometry Wars Retro Evolved, from what I've seen, than the official sequel on Xbox Live Arcade.

It was good enough that I immediately started looking with interest at the copy of Geometry Wars Galaxies DS that had long been on the shelf at the local GameStop, the only place I had ever seen a physical copy of the game. Now this GameStop has, as one of its managers, an acquaintance of mine I knew from college. I don't know him really well, but he's always been pretty decent, and he's actually fairly knowledgeable about games and game accessories.

ASIDE: The thing about game store employees, and this is nearly a constant, is that the moment you're hired to stand behind the counter and accept money for software it's mandated that you consider yourself an expert in all things gamish. The way that the most spurious rumor will get accepted as fact is worse than sixth-graders at recess speculating about sex. Today I heard, in that store, that bluetooth controllers are super-easy to fry by disconnecting them, and that connecting a MadCatz controller, in addition to the usual problems with the discount accessory company's wares, could irreparably damage your console. Ahem.

In any event, I bought that copy of Geometry Wars DS for $19.99, new, from the New rack, and with a white price sticker on it attesting newness, and took it home to discover that there was a save file already on it! Someone named "ABC" had played and unlocked the first few planets already.

What would you do in a situation like this? By rights I should have taken it back and raised hell (and probably be branded Unmutual by doing so), but such was, and is, my mania for Geometry Wars that I didn't. I could just erase the created profile after all and the game would be as good as new.

But I was still bothered by it. Geometry Wars Galaxies DS is easy to revert to a new state by deleting all the profiles, but not all games are so easy. Some can only be reset by entering a special code, one that's almost never printed in the manual. And further, it was sold as a new game. They sell used games at a (often pitiful) discount after all. And I couldn't go back and demand a shrink-wrapped copy because, it seems, none of their DS games are shrink-wrapped. They keep the case on the shelf but the game cards in a drawer, it would seem, as an anti-theft measure. (This may also be true for console games, but I have not made any inquiries or rigorous observations on the subject.)

So anyway, I was in the store today in a bid to rid myself, at last, of CrossworDS, and I saw my manager friend in there, so I brought up the save file. What he told me right there in the store defies belief. He said that "if I'd look up" chain policy on the matter, that they reserve the right to sell returned games as new. While the policy pages on their website do stipulate that returned games must be in saleable condition, it makes no mention that I could find of how they are to be sold, as "used," "returned," or "refurbished." When I bought GWG DS, they didn't tell me that it was a returned copy. Since wear on a game disk or cart is invisible in small doses, it would have been undetectable. I only happened to notice it in this case because they hadn't erased the save file. For console games, which these days are all sold on disk, it would be universally undetectable unless the disk had actually been scratched.

GameStop, you suck.

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--John Harris at 17:31
Comment [ 5 ]

Comments on this post:

Why yes, yes they do suck. They will also sell games that someone else preordered to any random person that happens to show up the afternoon that it goes on sale, if the actual pre-orderer didn't show up early in the day, and then claim that they didn't get enough in. I've witnessed this several times myself.

There's a reason the chain is known as EBGameCrap.

By Blogger Skip, at 27 August, 2008 18:36  

That's moderately sleezy. But I think that game retailers (software retailers? All retailers?) are moderately sleezy if not worse.

Back when I used to work at Babbages (remember them?) -mumble- years ago, we were allowed (nay, encouraged) to borrow software from the store, take it home and try it out. We'd then bring it back and re-wrap it (shrink wrap machine in the back), and out it goes on sale.

I remember one instance of a customer bringing something back and complaining about a polaroid they found in the box. Fortunately, that employee wasn't in at that moment and my manager lied through his teeth and told the customer it must have been that way from the factory.

So, it could be worse. Unless of course your friend the manager's initials are ABC.

By Blogger mhkohne, at 27 August, 2008 18:58  

From a joke device in a Space Quest game, IV I think:

"Work at a major software chain? Like to take the products home and diddle with them? You need the Reshrinkwrap 9000!

The Reshrinkwrap 9000 reshrinkwraps any size software box. Is that game new or used? Only you'll know for sure!"

By Blogger JohnH, at 27 August, 2008 19:11  

I guess one of the questions is when it's appropriate to return a new game as a new game when it's opened. That is, is there ever a time when someone who opens a game should be able to return it *as new*?

Now if you're asking me if you should be able to return Clayfighter on the SNES after paying to rent it and receive a full refund, well...

By Blogger ruffin, at 28 August, 2008 08:14  

The words "sheer unmitigated gall" come to mind, and I think that--should you feel litigious--any jury would agree that the meaning of the word "new" has not changed, which is the reason people feel the need to add "well, new to me" whenever they announce they've purchased a "new" object that been used.

There's a class action suit just waiting to happen here, I think. Someday some lawyer's kid will find out he's been hoodwinked, and no amount of "fine print" stating "new" means something else at a Gamestop will save them.

By Blogger LisaB, at 28 August, 2008 10:25  

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