Video game store horror stories are so plentiful I had to round up a whole new batch to share all the best ones readers sent in. There’s the typical stock of pre-order bullshit, but these stories span ridiculous levels of rudeness.
Note: these stories aren’t entirely emblematic of the stores mentioned. Though, for any managers or retail movers and shakers who might be reading this, it’s worth noting the consistent complaints against pre-order pushiness, sneak subscription enrollments, pre-orders oddly not being honored, and mismanagement of used games.
I’ll be making a call soon for the more pleasant side of the brick and mortar experience, too. Hang tight.
But, for now...
Whoops, That Was Actually Porn
About twelve years ago or so, I had my dad drive me to Best Buy so I could pick up the newly released X-Men Legends.
I was a huge comic fan, and the game looked pretty good so I was pretty stoked. When we got home the first thing I did was to pop that baby into my PS2 and start playing. But something was amiss. When it started playing, it wasn’t a video game. It was some B movie called Palm Springs or something. Ended up being a cheap softcore porn. I ejected the disc (no pun intended) to see if there was some sort of mix-up, but it had the X-Men Legends cover and everything on the CD.
So I had my dad drive me back to Best Buy (it was a 30 min drive, and he was already mad cause he hated video games) and did a simple exchange with the Customer Service Personnel. I even explained the issue with them before they gave me a new unopened copy. Fast forward another 30 min drive home and I get the SAME thing!! It was that stupid movie again with the wrong cover on the disc! It took no short amount of pleading and begging for my dad to drive me back over to the store. I was pretty upset at this point because I really wanted to play that game, and my dad was super angry with me. I asked for the manager of the store, and proceeded to explain the situation. He looked at me like I was an idiot kid! He told me that games usually start off with a short cinematic before they go to the main menu. I played games all damned day, I knew what a cinematic was!! I begged him to just pop it into their demo PS2 or even into a damned DVD player, but he refused. He began to get quite angry with me and tell me off for wasting his time. He then proceeded to disappear into the back of the store, leaving me standing there for a half hour. I finally figured out he wasn’t coming back, and just asked the original person helping me to just refund me my damned money.
I left Best Buy with my refund in pocket, and a chip on my shoulder. They treated me like an idiot, and refused to listen to a damned thing I said. I eventually went to Gamestop a few weeks later and picked up a genuine copy there. Never did hear anything on the news about a bunch of PS2 game discs being mixed up with porn movies. And I refuse to step foot into Best Buy to this day.
You Must Be Poor
I had a bizarre experience when visiting a GameStop once, all the way back in 2005. It started off, oddly enough, as a misguided attempt to be helpful, but descended into unintentional condescension and now serves a cautionary tale as to why one shouldn’t rely on stereotypes to judge other people.
It was around a month or so after Jade Empire had been released, and I was visiting my brother who lived in Chicago at the time (I was attending university nearby). Seeing as I’m a Bioware boy, I decided to check out the nearest GameStop to see if they had a copy. I walk into the store, and it was empty save for me and a very average looking, 20-something year old guy behind the counter. He was reading something, and glanced up at me when I entered. Things started off pleasantly enough. We both greet each other warmly, and I ask him if he’s got a copy of Jade Empire. They do, but since neither of us seemed to be in a hurry, we just started chatting.
Halfway through our conversation, the guy then asks me where I am from (perfectly normal; I’m from India). I told him so, and then he asks, “No no. Where in the States are you from?” Again, nothing unusual. I’ve always spoken English without much of an accent of any kind, and many people in the US simply assumed I was born and brought up there because of that. So I tell our shopkeep that no, I’m really really from India.
“Really? Oh wow! Did you go to school on an elephant?”
Now THIS was a most abnormal question, and it took me completely by surprise. I thought I must have heard him wrong. “I’m sorry, but could you repeat that?”
“Did you used to go to school on an elephant?”
I started laughing. It was an instinctive reaction to such an absurd question. And by laughing, I mean I doubled over, clutching my stomach, gasping for breath kind of laughing.
My reaction must have hurt the feelings of the counter guy, because he had this puzzled yet injured look on his face. So when I was able to control my emotions, I explained that no, I didn’t go to school on elephant, and that no one in India goes to school via elephant, and that we do have cars and such.
The guy immediately became very apologetic and such. I told him it was all okay etc etc. But this is where it gets to the bad part. His follow up question was, “Are you sure you want this game?”
A little surprised, replied that yes, of course I want it. Why did he ask?
“Well, games like Jade Empire are a little complicated, you know. Seeing you’re from India, you most likely have never played games before. I mean, I don’t want to be rude, but I’m guessing you’ve never even used a computer before you came to the States.”
Now, keep in mind that when I say I’m old school, I mean that my first computer was an Apple IIC from the 80s, and that didn’t even have any form of internal storage at all (it ran off RAM and ROM, and you had to save everything on 5 and a quarter inch floppies or run programs off said disks). So yes, I’m intimately familiar with computers. But despite that, what the guy said was kind of dickish. Maintaining my cool, I explained that this is/was 2005 and that they are pretty ubiquitous.
“But they can be expensive and I can’t imagine you coming from such a poor country and affording one. So I’m just trying to point out that if you want to get into gaming, there are better, cheaper ones you can buy. Get a feel for what games were like before buying something like Jade Empire. I mean, I doubt you can even afford a rig that can even run it!”
At that point, I figured it would be best if I simply just bought the game and left the store immediately before my overwhelming urge to punch the guy took over.
Way To Make A 10-Year-Old Boy Cry
So maybe 10 years ago, my best friends, my brother, and myself all got into Warcraft 3. Well, my brother wanted the battle chest for it, so my dad and my brother and I went to good ol’ Walmart to get it.
Go back to electronics, find it, pay for it back there, get receipt but no bag as it was too big.
As we head for the exit, the greeter person sees my little brother holding the battle chest and starts screaming at him that he stole it, while my dad is right there. He calmly shows her the receipt that shows it is paid for, but she will not listen and threatens to get her manager.
Meanwhile, my 10 year old brother is almost in tears because this random lady has been screaming at him in public.
Manager comes over, sees the receipt, tells us we can go, and gives the greeter a hard look and tells her to come to the office.
The Aggressive Pawn Shop
I was in my teens and online shopping wasn’t a thing yet. Back then you would normally sell your games to local stores and pawn shops. So being a smart child I hopped on my bike and hit up about 5 stores to see what kind of cash I could get for my NES games.
Store #3 was a game store in the back of a pawn shop that basically offered me dog crap prices on my good games and mediocre prices on my terrible games, the prices were for each game individually.
I sold some of my good games to a different store that offered me the best prices, then I returned to Store #3 to sell them my crappy games. The employee then started yelling at me about how I should have sold all the games to her. Actually yelling. I informed them that I sold it to the store that offered me the most money. She then starts screaming about how I “owed” them the good games which was especially crazy since I had never been there before. 15 year old me told her I didn’t owe her shit, she then physically pushed me out of the door which is nuts because it’s about 4 steps up, I fell on my ass stood up and kicked the door.
Then the owner comes out of the pawn shop yelling about how he recorded the whole thing and was going to call the cops. I told him he should because she attacked me. Choice words were thrown back and forth and I left.
22 years later I still laugh/cringe whenever I drive past that pawn shop. Thank goodness for online shopping.
Blockbuster Memory Loss
In the waning days of Blockbuster, they ran some promotion involving trading in games and getting significant credit toward new releases. I can’t remember the specifics but it must have been $30 to $40 off per game - it was substantial.
You can probably see where this is going. I preordered Madden and Tiger Woods for the 360 - it was the year the 360 launched. After I traded in a bunch of games for credit and came back to collect a couple months later, the guy at the counter told me I had no preorders. He ignored my receipt for the trade-ins and pretended he had never heard of the promotion. At one point he told me there was no way he was going to give me Xbox 360 games in exchange for credit, as if he had suddenly remembered the promotion but arbitrarily decided to exclude 360 games on the spot.
I left the store without anything and never went back - for rentals or purchases. It closed a year later. I never got to spend any of the trade-in credit either. Shitty company got what it deserved.
Xbox One Versus PS4
(via Crimson Sin)
As a customer, when I went to pre-order my Xbox One, the clerk at Gamestop kept trying to talk me out of it and get a PS4. I get suggesting once or twice, but he started being pretty rude with me about it. Almost to the point of making fun of me for wanting an Xbox One. Laughing it off saying stuff like it’s a waste of money to buy any Microsoft product. Luckily when I picked up my Xbox on launch day he was nowhere to be seen.
Sneak Magazine Subscription Attack
(via Brass Shadow)
One time when I was checking out at Best Buy, the cashier had me swipe twice. When I asked why I had to swipe twice, he passed it off as a computer error “You know, these machines.” Turns out he signed me up for a magazine subscription for Entertainment Weekly without my permission or knowledge and slipped the receipt for the subscription in my bag. I canceled it right away and complained to the store manager. Apparently at the time the cashiers received a commission for each subscription.
A Wii Accessory Huh
While I’ve never had a bad experience personally, I have witnessed quite a few before. I was in a Target store killing time while my girlfriend was clothes shopping. A store associate and customer were discussing the Wii U, whereby the associate proceeded to inform the customer that the system was an accessory for the Wii. For some reason, I felt the need to step in and explain the differences to this customer so he didn’t end up making a stupid purchase. I think the prospect of buying a whole new system was just too much for the guy and he left, though I’m not entirely sure why he was okay with buying a $300 Wii accessory before I explained the difference.
Please Sell Me Your Hoodie
The last year I went to Comic-con, I had gone to a little press event thing where Bioware was demonstrating a preview build for Dragon Age 2, where I bought a Mass Effect N7 hoodie.
Some time after coming home from the con, I wore this hoodie to Gamestop, and a few of the clerks said “hey, cool” and that was that. One clerk, though, just would not let it go.
He asked me where I got it, and I told him about Comic-Con, but that Bioware sells these hoodies on their website. He asked if I would sell him the one I’m currently wearing. I told him “no thank you,” but he continued to belabor the point. While processing my preorder for something, he asked me three more times if I would sell it to him.
Not only that, but this guy remembered me. I decided to never wear that hoodie to the Gamestop again, but this guy remembered my face. The other two times I showed up at that store, he asked again, and even started getting more pushy with it.
And to top it all off, turns out this guy went to the same college as me, and he saw me at school one day wearing the hoodie and once again ASKED ME TO SELL IT TO HIM. At this time, I was getting really tired of telling him “go to the website” or “leave me alone,” so I just ignored him and walked away. I’ve never gone back to that Gamestop since then, and thankfully I never saw him at school after that.
Outclassed By A Grocery Store
My friends and I would often go to Gamestop together to pick up pre-ordered games. I decided not to pre-order GTA 4, lying to myself that I could wait for the price to come down or for a used copy. Still, I went with my friends who did pre order it after work.
We were in Alaska so by lunch I had seen video posted from East Coast players and knew it was worth buying immediately (nobody posted about the fucking cousin yet).
Despite not having a preorder I figured a game as big as GTA 4 would certainly not be understocked, so I asked the manager if they had any for non-preorder customers.
He looked at me like I asked to eat the flesh of newborns.
Manager- “Why wouldn’t you preorder, that’s so stupid! Why would we have any extra?”
Me- “Well I figured that since this is probably going to be the best selling game of the year you would want extra on hand to sell, make money?”
Manager- “Well, here at Gamestop we respect games enough to only allow those who would appreciate them to have them.”
Me- “What? How does that make sense? So Gamestop is always about the money unless there is an opportunity to screw the customer by not taking theirs?”
Manager- “You just don’t understand how the games industry works. Not that I’d expect someone like you would!” And this cunt sneers at my uniform, my ARMY uniform I was wearing because I was in the GOD DAMNED ARMY and this shitwizard had the stones to try to mock me for that even though there were at least 8 other soldiers or airmen in the shop.
My friends who were also Army demanded a refund and we went to a grocery store. Not only did a damn grocery store have the game, they had an entire PALLET of them behind the counter. The nice old manager there who saw us troops buying the game gave us all a 20% managers discount as long as we promised that we stopped playing in time to get a good night’s rest.
We continued to go back to that grocery store for games and continued to get great service. I haven’t purchased anything from a Gamestop since.
Girls Are Cheaters
So this story happened back when I was twelve years old, a couple weeks before the release of Halo 2. The Gamestop I always went to with my family was having a tournament to celebrate, and my older brother and I were so excited that we even made our own shirts.
So we get in line to enter and already the worker keeps asking me if I’m sure I want to. He doesn’t do this for any other customer but me. At first I thought maybe it was because I was the youngest one there. The employee next to him gave me the sign-in sheet and I was entered.
Already there seems to be tension from the first employee, Ryan. I will not forget that guy’s name for as long as I live. The competition starts and everyone is having fun and fangirling about Halo, it was great! Then it was my turn and I was nervous but excited. Everyone else was a lot older so no one really expected me to do well. And I won my first round, I was able to go to the finals. That’s when Ryan shows up and tells me it isn’t right to cheat. To clarify, I played Halo like crazy with my brother before the tournament so I’d be ready. I worked extremely hard to be a good player. He drops it and everyone else gets to play.
Now it’s the finals, three other guys and me. I went for the same controller as I had last time and the worker unplugs it and tells me it is broken. Multiple people, including myself, keep telling him we know it isn’t yet he changes it anyway. We start the competition and the new controller is broken. I can’t play. So it ends and everyone is curious what happened. I go to talk to Ryan and he tells me that since I’m a young girl I must have cheated, so he didn’t want me to ruin the fun for everyone else. That I should know my place and know not to be playing video games since I’m a girl.
Now remember, I was only twelve, so I didn’t understand the issue of girls gaming. Ryan, a full grown adult, told me that a girl can’t be that good, that a girl can’t beat men at a game. He then yelled at me and said, “YOU CAN’T BE THAT GOOD! YOU’RE A LYING LITTLE CHEATER!! GET OUT!!”
There is a happy ending however. I found out two years after this incident that Ryan was fired for bullying every female customer that went to that store.
A Case Of Mistaken Theft
I know my parents had been planning to get me one of the new Pokémon games for Christmas last year (2014). I told my dad that I was going out to get Smash for my 3DS, and he asked me if I was willing to go to the EB Games (which is about 15-20 minutes away) and see if they had Alpha Sapphire in stock if he were to go in tomorrow to get it for me. Of course I obliged and went about getting Smash for my DS. I had checked the EB site before-hand and called in to check if they had a copy of Smash in, which they didn’t. I then asked if they had any copies of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire in (the one I wanted) and they said they had one, so I asked if it was possible if I were able to reserve a copy for purchase the next day and they said I had to come in store to do it (certain EB Games allow you to reserve a copy of a game to purchase within 24 hours otherwise it goes back on the shelf).
I went out to the Target near my house and bought Smash there along with a couple other things for my family because they were having a Christmas sale. Afterwards I bussed out to the EB across town and went in to reserve the copy of Sapphire for my dad the next day. Of course, not having a car, I had to bring my target bag in the store with me. I went up to the front desk of an empty EB and asked about reserving a copy of Sapphire, telling him in short the conversation I had over the phone. The guy at the desk mentioned that they hadn’t had any in stock for the last few days, but said that he can quickly check the back for any loose copies. He went to the back and I decided to look around the Nintendo section of the store for any games that interest me. I found none, and when the guy walked out from the back of the store I went back up to the front.
He said that he didn’t have any copies of Sapphire, but that there were a few Rubys he could. I said no thank you and asked when he thinks they would be getting a copy of Sapphire in. He said they should be getting some in a few days and to come back then. It was at that time he noticed the copy of Smash 4 in my bag and asked if I wanted to pay for it. I told him I got it at Target, to which he asked for the receipt. After looking through the bag for a minute I realized that it would’ve fallen out of the bag on the bus, and so I didn’t have it. He said that I would have to pay for it (again) and even after the bar-code turned up invalid and the UPC also, he went to get the manager. The manager came out and after about 10 minutes of trying to get the game to register in the system, was getting obviously annoyed. He told me that he was going to go to the back and get another copy for me. I told him (again) that I had already purchased the game at Target but I had lost the receipt. He responded very angrily with “I don’t care if you say you bought it somewhere else, you bring a game in here and can’t prove you bought it where you way, you’re paying for it again!”
At this point I was also getting annoyed and told him that, if he didn’t give my game back, I would phone the police and report the store for theft. He laughed at me and said, “Well looks like this game is going back into the storage area. I called the police and within 10 minutes they were there. After half an hour the store manager had had enough and said he just wanted to go home and that I could have my game. The police went into the back with him to make sure he actually got MY game. I got my game, got home, and told my dad that they were sold out and wasn’t getting another shipment until after Christmas. I still got Alpha Sapphire for Christmas, though I’m not sure where my dad got it from, but I hope he didn’t have to deal with the same thing I did, 2 hours of wasted time.
GIF by Sam Woolley