“Did you know you can trade in your old games for credit towards your purchases?”
My eyes glance around the store. A 5-foot tall poster tells me to Go Green Save Money by trading in my old games for someone else’s old games. Empty game cases line the walls, each one’s cover art marred with a bright green Trade Me sticker. I look down to my left, then right. On each side of me is a bin that shouts Recycled and is filled with more games, more green stickers. Finally I look down at the counter, covered in flyers promising me the best value if I trade in the most wanted titles. I could get up to $30 if I trade in The Order, a game I paid $70 for when it came out 9 days ago.
“Yes” I say flatly.
She continues, undeterred. “Right now we’re having a promotion where if you bring in 5 of your old games that are worth $8 or more we’ll give you $100 towards…”
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard her go through this speech. In fact, I had just heard her recite it to the two customers in front of me. The glint in her eyes seems to dim with each repetition. While the words fall out of her mouth in the way only things so rehearsed and meaningless can do, I wonder what she’s really thinking.
“…we’re also currently taking pre-orders on the new Amiibos that are coming out…”
I imagine she was initially really excited to get this job. The money probably sucks and I doubt customer service was her first choice, but the love of games made up for it. Who could complain about getting paid to be around and talk about games all day? I bet it was fun for a while. Thumbing through the shelves each day she probably discovered all kinds of new games she wanted to play. Her first few paychecks likely went right back to into the store. The employee discount was small, but at least it was something.
“…there’s still a bonus if you trade in your old 3DS for the New 3DS, which is compatible with the Amiibos…”
I wonder how quickly it started going downhill. When was the first time her manager took her aside and admonished her for chatting about games too much and touting the amazing trade-in deals too little? Told her it was mandatory to recite at least 5 of the current offers to any customer she cashed out or spoke to on the phone. Reinforced that she should always ALWAYS sell used copies of the games over new.
“Would you like to guarantee your game for only $2?”
How many times has she been told to get those guarantee sales up? How often is she compared to her obnoxiously overeager coworker who always has a smile plastered onto his face and is unphased by the dirty looks he gets as he goes on, and on, and on.
“No thank you.” I smile in a vague attempt to offer my sympathy for having to ask this question..
“Are you sure? In case of any damage or scratching we’d replace the disc…”
As much as this overly long sales pitch makes me want to scream, I stay quiet. It’s not her fault this is what her job requires of her. She knows this is a racket, that her place of employment is basically picking the pockets of the game companies, a number of whom make games she loves (and some of whom she couldn’t care less about). That fact is probably easy enough to put at the back of her mind though, while me telling her what I really think of her sales pitch would not be so easy to ignore.
I shake my head.
“Do you have an Edge card?”
I’m sure she’s seen her fair share of customers who are less concerned with being polite. Seeing people’s eyes glaze over as she begins the checkout process is probably the best she has to look forward to. Outright verbal abuse hopefully doesn’t happen often but she’s a sales associate, so I’m sure it does happen.
As I hand her my loyalty card and payment I hear her coworker haranguing a couple browsing through the XBox One games behind me.
“Did you know you can trade in your old games for credit towards this purchase?” he asks eagerly.
“We don’t have any games to trade with us.”
“That’s okay, if you bring them in with your receipt later on I can reimburse you for the value of the games.” I glance over my shoulder and see that he’s standing very close to the couple, nodding as he talks.
“Well, I’m not sure our son has anything he’d be willing to part with,” the woman responds, glancing at her husband.
It’s not hard to tell that the couple is uncomfortable and just want to pick out a game.
“Well, you can bring in anything, even if the discs are scratched…” he just keeps going.
I think back to when I was a teenager and I used to like visiting Electronics Boutique. The walls were lined with shiny new copies of Playstation, Nintendo, and big box computer games. Now the PC games are all but gone. If there was ever a valid argument for the merits of PC gaming it’s that game stores don’t harass you about recycling them.
I quickly take back my cards and the bag the woman at the cash hands me and start rushing out of the store.
“Don’t forget to bring your games back to us when you’re done with them.”
I promise myself I won’t go back there. Again.