Return Policies at Game Stores

If you had a choice to shop at one of the following retail stores, which would you choose?

Both are essentially the same, with minor price variations, particularly for used games, some of which are cheaper at Store B. Both offer similar games in-stock. Both offer the option to reserve upcoming games for pick-up on the release date. Both offer a special discount card giving you 10% off of all used games, used accessories, and used DVDs. Store B offers the discount card at $5 more, but with more benefits, such as a 12-issue magazine subscription. Store A offers the card for $10, but without a magazine. The big difference is in their return policies…

Store A

All used and new video games and accessories must be returned within 14 days, with a receipt. If nothing is wrong with it, and it is opened, the item cannot be returned for any reason. If there is something wrong with it, you may exchange it for the same item, or get a refund. Unopened items may be returned for a refund or exchange.

Store B

All new video games and accessories may be returned within 30 days, with a receipt. If nothing is wrong with it, and it is opened, the item cannot be returned. If there is something wrong with it, you may exchange it for the same item, or get a refund. Unopened items may be returned for a refund or exchange.

Used video games can be returned or exchanged for any reason within 7 days, with a receipt. Even if you think the game sucks, you can return or exchange it, provided you have a receipt. The store is not a rental service. It is at the manager’s discretion to allow returns of this kind, so if the manager thinks the customer is abusing this, s/he can refuse the return/exchange.

Used video games, accessories, and consoles have a 90-day defect guarantee. If it breaks or doesn’t work within this period, you may return or exchange the defective item with your receipt.

Choose

I think it’s an easy decision, and not because I’m soon to be a former employee at the Store B (I’m being hired at an office job, and need to quit my weekend job because a 7-day work week has been burning me out). I shopped at Store A a few weeks ago, and found a hard-to-find (used) copy of Resident Evil 2 for the GameCube. I snapped it up immediately. Later, I found the same game cheaper on eBay. So, I decided to return the game to Store A. The manager gave me a hard time, of course, which is fair enough, because I was in violation of their return policies (I had opened the game). Eventually, I talked him into giving me a refund in store credit, and I also bought a cheap used game to lessen the blow.

This experience at Store A, where I had often shopped prior to my 5-month employment at Store B, has driven home my determination not to give Store A my business any longer. Their return policies are just too inflexible for me. I never bothered to care where I shopped for games, because I usually never made returns. However, now that I had to return something, I appreciate Store B’s policies more.

My decision will be moot in a year, since Retail Chains A and B have completed a merger. But for now, I’ll only be shopping at Store B if I can help it. If you hadn’t already guessed, Store A and Store B are EB Games and GameStop, respectively.

Since EB Games seems to be the ‘loser’ in this merger, I expect that it will incorporate a lot of GameStop’s operating practices. Hopefully GameStop won’t decide to adopt EB Games’s return policies when the two start to fuse in six months or a year.