Special: 5 Things both Gamestop and gamers can do to make life easier.
I have a confession to make; I used to be an employee of video game retail-giant Gamestop. I will leave it to the readers to decide for themselves whether or not I should wear a badge of shame or not, but to me it was just a job and not a dirty secret. I can't tell you how many stories I have read on the internet about other people's experiences working with the company and how much my experience vastly differed from most of them. This is probably because working for a company that in many gaming circles is often referred to as an enemy of their own consumers has created a bigger stigma than what it really is. That is why I took it upon myself to write about my experience and hope to shed at least some light on the job, that and I am just a narcissist who thinks that my opinion actually matters? even though it probably doesn't.
For three years I walked in and out of those doors hearing that ringing sound every time the door opened. For three years I made my way behind the counter, put on my nametag, read store emails, and asked thousands of costumers if they would like to pre-order a certain title based on their purchase or offer them a Game Informer
subscription that came with an Edge
card for ten percent off their used game purchases. Though I was always more lenient on asking/begging/making-you-buy-the-thing-to-shut-me-up, it still got asked and people always wonder why. Well, the simple answer is that it was my job, if I didn't ask, I didn't have a job and this brings me to my first thing that Gamestop can do to make life behind the counter easier:
1.Stop Basing Employee's Jobs on Numbers.
Gamestop is a retail business. As a retail business they are expected to make sales to make profits and recent financial reports have assured us that Gamestop makes profits-a-plenty. Those profits come from employees doing their job, which is selling product. Being the only video game-specific retailer in our area, made sure that numbers were not a problem for us and we were further blessed by having a manager that actually only cared that we ask. While that was all fine and dandy for me, a surprising amount of employees at other locations have lost their jobs over numbers. There are a number of factors as to why number goals are not met and most of the time it is out of an employee's hands. As long as the employee puts the effort into asking that should be enough. It should be noted that this practice, while not completely remedied, has been eased on a bit by corporate. Now instead of losing your job, you lose working hours, which again brings us to a transition-spot:
2. Increase the Amount of Hours Per Week.
This was something that really got to me while working there, a serious lack of hours to split up amongst so many employees. On average, our store received only about 90-110 hours per week. Now do the math if your manager, assistant manager, and third-key all have a set amount of hours they have to work a week. Those 90-110 hours quickly depletes leaving what little scraps are left to about five other employees. Hours were once so ridiculously scarce, that there was a Christmas season where only the three mangers worked ? no other help at all and at Christmas time. However, this did become the biggest motivater for us to go into work and try to get those numbers that would get us hours and ultimately receive some kind of paycheck. I guess this could be seen as the humane way to weed out those employees that do not make numbers ? make them quit. This takes us to our next point:
3. Stop Having Stores Hire More People Than You Give Hours For.
While competition for hours is fine in some regards, having stores hire more people than you have hours to give them isn't so fine. I'm not even talking about holiday help either, just actual average help. Our store at one time had seven employees not including the three manager spots. At times I forgot certain people even worked at our store because I didn't see them for weeks. Just think back those depleted 90-110 hours, new hires rarely stood a chance to get as many numbers as someone who had been working there already. A store probably needs four part-time employees maximum for the amount of work that is usually given. But again, they also need to actually give hours to work those four employees or maybe give them another incentive?
4. Increase the Amount of Pay
The only alternative I can think of to not increasing the number of hours. Most tales of Gamestop horror usually stem from the fact that the employee of interest doesn't receive enough pay to care. Seeing as how a lot of people are way underpaid for the jobs they do, this may seem like a whining excuse but it is actually not far off from the truth. Again take into account the amount of hours an average employee gets an opportunity to work and then add minimum wage. Then minus taxes and the end result is not pretty. Now take that end result and add in the stress of dealing with disgruntled consumers who bought a new game only to find out that it wasn't so great and now learns they can only trade it in for less than half of its worth or remain stuck with their horrible purchase or one of the other draconian rules Gamestop policy carries (although now if you buy a new game that has been ?gutted? you get the used game policy, which is much better). While it is probably just a pipe dream that Gamestop will actually increase pay for employees before minimum wage increases again, it remains the best alternative to poor hours.
5. Gamers, Please Stop Working at Gamestop
This one is not something Gamestop can do, but you as a gamer can do. If your dream is not to one day manage your own game store, then please consider other places to work before submitting an application there. While the experience may give you a better idea as to how a retail giant works, it may in fact leave you hating the medium you have come to love. Your gaming ethics will seriously come into play when you are forced to sell a person a horrible game because that is what they wanted and it is your job to give the customer what they want. Besides, most (not all) gamers have poor people skills and this job demands people skills over all else. If you can't walk up to a person completely ignorant of the medium and have some form of conversation with them that does not involve you gushing over your favorite game or going into fifty reasons why the game your customer asked you about blows, then this isn't the job for you. Trust me when I say this people, leave it to the salespeople to work there and the gamers to shop there and we all will be a little happier.
I think that about covers it. If you should decide to one day work at a Gamestop, it isn't all bad. They have some really good insurance for employees and then there is always the discount that does help a little bit on whatever you buy. No two experiences are going to be identical so take the stories you read and weigh the possible outcomes the best you can. This is probably just the narcissist in me, but in case you were wondering why I left it was because I wanted to pursue journalism instead of retail. I bear no ill will toward my fellow ex-employees and still regularly visit the place. On that note we will bring this to a close. Should you have any questions about the article or have further questions regarding life at Gamestop feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org