As some of you may know, our home was broken in to just before the holidays. I should probably give more details from that experience in another post--maybe I will. I'd like to share some of my recent experiences with the GameStop store in my neighborhood. GameStop is a national chain store where you can buy new and used video games/devices. You can also trade in these devices for payment.
When our home was broken in to, the thieves really only targeted our newer electronics--specifically our Wii, accessories, games and flat screen TV--our older tvs/ DVD players, etc. were left in place. Naturally, we assumed that the criminals had probably done this sort of thing before, as they cleverly thought to use the kitchen trash can to presumably haul out the cords, games and accessories.
Assuming that they'd done so before, they likely weren't keeping our things for personal use, but to resell--which led us to think that the quickest way to legitimately unload the electronics was a mere two minutes from our home. When we inquired if products matching our description were traded within a few days of the theft, we were very rudely informed that store policy prohibited the sharing of that information, because it kept the store from being help libel for our actions based on that information. We weren't asking for names, or a violation of trader confidentiality and we certainly weren't anticipating an "Ah ha" moment, in which we demanded the store return the stolen property. We simply had a general question about a potential transaction history over the past week, in which we could potentially inform the police to further investigate, possibly leading to the discovery of a string of offenses. On the other hand, its equally likely that our things weren't sold to GameStop-- suspicions alleviated, case closed, no hard feeling.
Is fear of a victims actions, actions which only that person should be held accountable for, really a reasonable excuse for GameStop to hide behind? Are we simply to allow companies in our communities to make crime easily profitable? In attempting to selfishly protect its own interests, is GameStop also enabling and protecting the method under which criminals operate? If GameStop chooses to claim no responsibility for self-monitoring the integrity as a corporation, then who is responsible?
Prior to this point, we had had a total of 4 dealing with GameStop, two of which were rather unpleasant, and we swore we would not come back. Our first trip was a window shopping trip while we price checked some games we were considering after we just purchased our console. We found the store well organized and the staff reasonably helpful. Our second trip followed the break in; the disappointment of being so brusquely pushed aside is detailed below. Our third trip shortly followed the holidays, and the store was very busy. We were unhappily shocked by deceptive pricing tactics that made a bundled console and accessories appear to be priced collectively at a savings, rather than individually--again we swore never to return.
Thankfully, yesterday I gave GameStop one last chance and it was able to redeem a spot in my good graces. Their website features a pick up in store option. Essentially, you chose the items you would like and request the item be placed on hold. Upon entering the store with a confirming email print out, you simply pick up your item, pay for it and are on your merry way in no time. Its very similar to the same services offered by our public library. No time wasted wandering the shelves to discover the item you want isn't really in stock or severely misplaced. Toting peanut around while I ran my errands, spending just two minutes in an otherwise fairly busy store made me elated beyond words--especially when he began throwing a tantrum in beside me for no known reason. Seriously, the service is a blessing to multitasking mothers everywhere. If only my supermarket and other stores would offer such convenience.
The clerk who helped us was also super friendly, not just compared to the unenthusiastic to down right rude experiences we'd had in store before, but by any store's comparison, this gentleman truly appeared to enjoy helping others. From his genuine greeting upon entry, through his offer of any further assistance, for a mom stressed by her son's tantrum, it was a delight to have such a warm reception. I feel this a quality one finds very lacking today, especially on a Friday afternoon, especially following the holiday. I believe this employee has truly single handedly saved my ability to conduct business with GameStop.
At any rate, below you may read my letter to GameStop. I am semi-confident that at best, all I will receive in response is a thoughtless mass email showing that no actual person even read my thoughts or concerns, nor will the company make any movement to addressing it's practices. I outline both my possitive and negative experiences, as well as a plea for improvement. While I don't anticipate great change, I feel citizens of communities have a moral obligation to call upon each other to do better. We should all be held more accountable. This maxim is relevant on all level--politicians, and gun owners, as a recent example--we need to do a better job of looking after each other and at voicing our disappointment when others fall short of our expected level of acceptable moral standards.
I have two comments.
First, I used your pick up in store option for a recent game purchase and absolute love this service. I have a two year old son who is very hard to keep wrangled while running errands. It was very nice to place an order that morning and pick it up after work while my son was with me. I walked in to the Navarre Ave location, went right to the desk, met a super friendly staff member who helped me complete the transaction. I spent more time walking to and from my car than in the store even though the store was surprisingly pretty busy. Really a positive experience, which has abated some of my negative feelings toward GameStop.
My second comment is far less glowing. Can you please reveal more about your policy toward purchasing trade ins? Just before the holidays, our house was broken in to and among other electronics, our game console, accessories and several games were taken. We thought it might be worth asking around if anyone had sold these items to GameStop. We certainly didn't want the names of the people, just the possibility that we could report it to authorities who could investigate further. Our logic being that if we were crooks, we'd want to unload "hot items" as quickly as possible, and there is a GameStop which will pay for the items in our neighborhood.
When we inquired at our local store, we were very curtly informed that it was store policy not to release that information on the ground of being libel--in case we decided to take action against that party. To my way of thinking, we weren't asking for a breach of confidentiality; we didn't want names or addresses. We only wanted to know if someone had traded in a game system with our own customizations, serial numbers, a sensor bar missing a cover, game titles that we had owned, etc.
I've never traded anything with GameStop, so I am unclear on the process one goes through. Can you explain to me what if any precautions GameStop takes to ensure that it is not abetting the laundering of stolen property? To what extent does GameStop assist local law enforcement in the recovery of stolen property?
Honestly, I understand that there are a million ways a thief can unload stolen property, ebay and craigslist for example. I would just feel better as a consumer knowing that GameStop was taking proactive measures--to ensure the accountability of those trading in. I know it is not in your best interest as a business to do so, but it is in your best interest as a member of any local community.
My own experience with reporting our break in shows that law enforcement is overwhelmed with the number of thefts, especially house break-ins like mine. I feel as members of a community, we must all do our part to decrease the ease and anonymity under which criminals operate. Why not provide consumers armed with a police report the information that recently a bundle of items matching that description was traded in so they can ask law enforcement to follow-up. (In the case of our Wii, how hard would it have been to check the Mii Characters we could name?) Better yet, why not provide law enforcement a searchable database detailing dates and items traded? As a national chain with international presence, don't you have an obligation to lead by example on this issue?
Thank you for your patience. I know you did not steal my items, and are not directly responsible for their theft. In fact, I really have no basis to hold such a conviction that our stolen property was traded in at GameStop. Perhaps my resentment largely stems from the rude and insensitive response we received in store which led me to feel the store did have something to hide and has no sense of moral obligation to practice any degree of due diligence. I feel as a whole, as a society, we can and must do better. In an era of increasing population sand by extension, therefore anonymity coupled with decreasing law enforcement staff and budgets , we must expect more of each other.
With my sincere regards,