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How To Not Be A Jerk On Black Friday

Dead Rising
Dead Rising

Black Friday is the Armageddon of retail, and even has the name to fit. On that unholy day, armed soldiers of capitalism move on local games outlets with just one thing on their minds: new shit for less money.

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This piece originally appeared on November 23, 2016.

Gaming equipment is expensive. We get it. But games retail employees don’t need to suffer for our thriftiness. Every year, they do. This year, in our urgent fury to grab a new, discounted, PS4 Pro (or in your dad’s confused journey to find you the perfect Christmas stocking stuffer), consider the store employees’ side of things.

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They are experiencing the retail equivalent of Dynasty Warriors.

To help advocate for the brave men and women behind our local GameStop, Best Buy or Toys ‘R’ Us counters and in the stacks, we spoke with a few current and former employees who’ve sold games and consoles on Black Friday. They’ve kindly provided Kotaku readers with tips on how to make their Black Friday shifts less miserable:

  • Figure out what you want before going into the store. Call ahead a few days beforehand. Don’t wait in line for an hour, get to the counter and ask a retail employee what’s hot in gaming when there are dozens of people behind you
  • Prioritize. It’s unlikely that you’ll get a console deal, deals on three popular games and every accessory you want at the perfect price. Think about what you’d be okay going without and consider that, often, the console deals are better than the deals for individual games
  • Retail employees are working as quickly as they can. Seriously
  • Research promotions before you head to your local games outlet. All the information you’ll need is online and it’ll take a load off in-store employees if they don’t have to explain the deals to you
  • If you’re being helped by a new employee who doesn’t know the ropes yet, instead of getting upset, just thank them and move on to another employee
  • Know when the sales start. Sometimes, they start Thanksgiving night
  • If you are nice to a retail employee on Black Friday, they will be more likely to help you. Weird, but true!
  • Know the return policy for items you purchase. Also, don’t argue with retail employees about the return policy or cut them off when they’re telling it to you
  • Games retail outlets don’t have an infinite stock (See: NES Classic). That’s not the sales rep’s fault. It’s first come, first serve—especially for the latest console at the lowest price. Don’t get mad if the outlet runs out of something. You can probably buy it online at the same price
  • Don’t get violent! Don’t yell! Calm down. It will be fine. Everything will be okay

Finally—and this is my tip—buy a few things for friends and family! Now’s a great (and affordable) time to get your loved ones into your favorite hobby.

Senior reporter at Kotaku.

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DISCUSSION

I worked Black Friday at a GameStop--once--back in the very early 2000's (I had just come out of undergrad, and was looking for jobs/at graduate schools, and it paid the bills reasonably well—plus, video games).

Never. Again.

I’ve always tried to be nice to retail employees (and anyone in the service industry, really; I tended bar through college—and that, right there, is the one job that probably taught me the most about empathy for the folks on the other side of the counter when I go out for a beer/meal), primarily because when I was a kid, they helped me find things, and once I had worked retail, I knew their pain.

Customers can be assholes any day of the year—but on Black Friday, there’s a special degree of what I refer to as “company shirt syndrome” in effect, and the average shopper suddenly comes to see themselves as some kind of Lord of Retail, there to remind the groundling serfs in their polo shirts and name badges of their place.

Please, don’t be that guy/girl this year—or any year. I can pretty clearly remember one customer, even all these years later, who told me, “If you’d just get an education, son, you wouldn’t be such a loser as to be working here.”

I didn’t want to get fired, so I didn’t tell them that I already had a degree and was planning to pursue a graduate degree as well; bear in mind that just as employees don’t know the customer, customers generally don’t know employees either. By all means, shop on Black Friday—just try not to turn into a sanctimonious shitbag in your search for deals.