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This was a nice trip down memory lane. I also remember staff finding something they wanted in a customer's pile, processing every other game, then taking a break and meeting them outside.

And the ladies loo in the back office was used as a stock overflow for crystal Xboxes, because it was wasted space otherwise.

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48 minutes ago, dumpster said:

Funny to think back about how ramshackle the pre-owned system worked in that era, specifically the lack of accountability, audit trail or overall management from head office.  There were no lists or guidelines, and no stock records of the actual titles. Everything was made up in the spot in store.  Someone asked how much they could get for their stuff and you'd pull a figure out if thin air based on what you, personally, thought you could get. If the customer asked a different staff member they'd get a different price.  

 

Plus, the margin was there for all to see, because company sensitive pricing info was written on the box.  7405 in marker pen over the barcode meant software (7), for playstation (4) that you traded in for a fiver (05).  I would go into a store and see the game I wanted, and if the barcode showed me they didnt pay much for it, I'd add 30 percent to the barcode price and go to the till and make an offer.  You'd usually get it because the manager aimed for 30% margin.

 

The stock control system didn't keep a record of the titles, so all anyone knew was that you had x number of 7401s, x number of 7402s etc. How abusable was that? See a game in the pre-owned you like, bring in a game from home, write the code from the game you want on it and you're done. No money, no receipt, no trace . That definitely went on in some stores, I'm sure. I did loss prevention for a while and I'd see suspicious pre-owned codes but there wouldnt be a way to track it.  The 7620 on a Mary Kate And Ashley's Horse Riding for Ps1 surely wasn't just an overly generous member of staff offering a good deal, that 7620 probably used to be Halo 2 a week after launch but someone switched it. But there was no proof because the till didn't know what the game was supposed to be, it just knew you paid £20 for it.  If your store sold lots of preowned and you made your margin, everything was OK.  Crazy really, and when I used to audit these things the preowned basket was a good indication if you were in an honest store or not. You might not be able to prove it, but suspicious preowned often meant there would be other fiddles in other areas that you could prove.

 

Then there was the famous 6500 code.  Items you didn't give money for but figured you could sell. Promo items, stuff found in a trade in that you hadnt spotted, that extra disk found in the other half of a dreamcast case. When Andy's Records closed down and they threw a load of stock out, we took it from their bins , stuck it in preowned for a quid a time and the till did the maths as 100% margin. Everyone was doing that to inflate their margin figures.  Likewise, if someone traded in a stack of games, say they had 10 games and you traded them in for £5 each, if there was a game you wanted there was nothing to stop you trading 8 of them for £6 and the other 2 for a pound each.  Then you could buy the one you wanted for trade+40%. This was rife too, and every game sale for £1.40 was suspect. But completely within the rules, because the staff made up the prices as they went along anyway.

 

For a company that placed such a massive focus on the importance of preowned, it is amazing to me that they had this system in place for so long.


Yep, our store’s staff did pretty much all of this in my EB and Game days. Just considered sku-swapping one of the, much-needed, perks of the job. 

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5 hours ago, dumpster said:

Then there was the famous 6500 code.  Items you didn't give money for but figured you could sell. Promo items, stuff found in a trade in that you hadnt spotted, that extra disk found in the other half of a dreamcast case. When Andy's Records closed down and they threw a load of stock out, we took it from their bins , stuck it in preowned for a quid a time and the till did the maths as 100% margin. Everyone was doing that to inflate their margin figures.  Likewise, if someone traded in a stack of games, say they had 10 games and you traded them in for £5 each, if there was a game you wanted there was nothing to stop you trading 8 of them for £6 and the other 2 for a pound each.  Then you could buy the one you wanted for trade+40%. This was rife too, and every game sale for £1.40 was suspect. But completely within the rules, because the staff made up the prices as they went along anyway.

 

For a company that placed such a massive focus on the importance of preowned, it is amazing to me that they had this system in place for so long.

 

I've probably posted about this before but as a punter this was as frustrating as hell. Before reading some of the posts here back in the day I noticed that the second hand stock of a lot of chain games stores just become less and less interesting. Pretty much just kids games and sports games.  But then I had a couple of experiences that would go roughly like this.

 

I'd find a desirable game second hand. I'd take it to the counter. The clerk's eyes would widen and they might say, "Woah, lucky for you" or "I wish I'd seen that coming in." 

 

Then they'd get a sly look on their face. "Ah yeah, let me get it for you. Out back." Most of the games were in the drawers near the desk. But they'd disappear for a bit and then come back. "Oh sorry man. Looks like the disc / cart is missing. Oh well!"

 

Combine this with "scalpers" (who would either buy new desirable titles en-masse day one or grab every bargain going so they could flip them on ebay) and it started getting to the point where the more unique games could not be found.

 

Two things changed. First a chain of indie stores that sold music as their main product with second hand games being a sideline meaning I could find bargains. But more importantly a large record store chain started selling games and would buy in bulk and undercut the major game stores by $10. Ico was impossible to find on release at less than 150% the sale price (I found a copy eventually in a pawn brokers.) Shadow of the Colossus? Available day one in such numbers that even the richest scalper couldn't corner the market.

 

With those options I just stopped making going into the games chains a habit. In my eyes poor inventory management killed them over a decade ago. I can't really blame you or any other clerks who wanted to buy a bargain or do ebay flipping given the poor wage and unpaid overtime a lot of game store employees had to deal with but as a customer it was always shit seeing a wall of old FIFA / Cricket games and knowing even if I did find a Suikoden title more likely than not it would be one of the staff and not me taking it home that day.

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I thought it gave the manager much needed flexibility to strike a deal with customers. On numerous occasions our manager would trade things in for a little bit more than the normal going rate but secure a decent sale whilst doing it.

 

If the people weren't out to defraud the company, anyway.

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12 hours ago, dumpster said:

Funny to think back about how ramshackle the pre-owned system worked in that era, specifically the lack of accountability, audit trail or overall management from head office.  There were no lists or guidelines, and no stock records of the actual titles. Everything was made up in the spot in store.  Someone asked how much they could get for their stuff and you'd pull a figure out if thin air based on what you, personally, thought you could get. If the customer asked a different staff member they'd get a different price.  

 

Plus, the margin was there for all to see, because company sensitive pricing info was written on the box.  7405 in marker pen over the barcode meant software (7), for playstation (4) that you traded in for a fiver (05).  I would go into a store and see the game I wanted, and if the barcode showed me they didnt pay much for it, I'd add 30 percent to the barcode price and go to the till and make an offer.  You'd usually get it because the manager aimed for 30% margin.

 

The stock control system didn't keep a record of the titles, so all anyone knew was that you had x number of 7401s, x number of 7402s etc. How abusable was that? See a game in the pre-owned you like, bring in a game from home, write the code from the game you want on it and you're done. No money, no receipt, no trace . That definitely went on in some stores, I'm sure. I did loss prevention for a while and I'd see suspicious pre-owned codes but there wouldnt be a way to track it.  The 7620 on a Mary Kate And Ashley's Horse Riding for Ps1 surely wasn't just an overly generous member of staff offering a good deal, that 7620 probably used to be Halo 2 a week after launch but someone switched it. But there was no proof because the till didn't know what the game was supposed to be, it just knew you paid £20 for it.  If your store sold lots of preowned and you made your margin, everything was OK.  Crazy really, and when I used to audit these things the preowned basket was a good indication if you were in an honest store or not. You might not be able to prove it, but suspicious preowned often meant there would be other fiddles in other areas that you could prove.

 

Then there was the famous 6500 code.  Items you didn't give money for but figured you could sell. Promo items, stuff found in a trade in that you hadnt spotted, that extra disk found in the other half of a dreamcast case. When Andy's Records closed down and they threw a load of stock out, we took it from their bins , stuck it in preowned for a quid a time and the till did the maths as 100% margin. Everyone was doing that to inflate their margin figures.  Likewise, if someone traded in a stack of games, say they had 10 games and you traded them in for £5 each, if there was a game you wanted there was nothing to stop you trading 8 of them for £6 and the other 2 for a pound each.  Then you could buy the one you wanted for trade+40%. This was rife too, and every game sale for £1.40 was suspect. But completely within the rules, because the staff made up the prices as they went along anyway.

 

For a company that placed such a massive focus on the importance of preowned, it is amazing to me that they had this system in place for so long.

 

Despite working at GAME around this era i and as far as i know, no one else at more store ever twigged the whole buying a preowned game and then bringing back another game with marker pen on it for a full refund, so this post has been a real blown mind moment for me. Of course we all did the whole buy in for £1 thing and spread the rest across the other traded in games.

 

On top of this though was the price matching. Saw a graphics card at Dixons for 50% off? Okay in the book it goes and 50% came off at the till. Generally customers would be believed if it was a few quid and the local indie store was mentioned, bigger stuff you'd generally call to check but if you couldn't speak to them you'd often give the customer the benefit of the doubt. Then if you had a manager who was a bit dodgy and got on well with you...well im sure you can guess the rest.

 

But now you've made me think about it, it really is amazing how they allowed any of these systems in place and for so long.

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The biggest problem nowadays is that most of the old 'dump' codes and retro lines were deleted from the system so even if someone did bring some retro in it would likely be refused. And end up in CEX instead.

 

01412 Unboxed Gameboy WHY CAN I REMEMBER THIS BUT NOTHING OF ACTUAL IMPORTANCE???

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It's a funny one.  I ran a tight ship, with flexibility to keep the team happy. As long as customers were not being cheated and the (very weak) rules were not being broken I was happy. But there were stories which usually came out after someone was fired, people came up with the craziest of schemes. To be fair, if you made your sales target and also your margin target then the company was happy. If you were a manager back then it gave you great opportunity to actually manage, to make your store successful or to make it fail by your own rules. Like, if you didn't hit target there was obviously some problem with your own ability.  But it also gave you many opportunities to fiddle the books and those that did, even with the smallest of fiddles, usually got used to doing things that way and the fiddles became that little bit more elaborate and more and more until they got found out.

 

When the systems changed to become fixed rules, I don't know how this affected the manager's ability to actually manage. For example, if the till tells you what price to trade in at, what to sell at, then surely the company can't bollock you for not hitting your margin target.  I know when EB bought Game that planograms and fixed layouts became much more of a thing and stores became more standardized, hours budgets were reduced and there pretty much became one "correct" way to do it all because you didn't have the staff or systems to let you do things in your own way. No fiddles, but also no opportunity for creativity for the genuinely talented managers.

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On 13/10/2019 at 08:48, moosegrinder said:

When I worked for an indie we found the notion of midnight launches fucking hilarious because the profit made on each unit wouldn't pay for the wages or electricity used during the hour or so you were open, especially as (as has been said) it was easier for people to just go to a super market and get it from there without fannying with parking and what not.

 

I remember at GamesCentre we did a few midnight launches. It was only when we did one for Need For Speed (Rivals I think), and we had no pre-orders did we find out that EA had funded the running cost for the stores to do it. 

 

That's why head office wouldn't let us cancel even though we had 0 pre-orders. We came in with a pizza, played Battlefield on the demo screens for two hours and then went home. 

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18 hours ago, Down by Law said:

The biggest problem nowadays is that most of the old 'dump' codes and retro lines were deleted from the system so even if someone did bring some retro in it would likely be refused. And end up in CEX instead.

 

01412 Unboxed Gameboy WHY CAN I REMEMBER THIS BUT NOTHING OF ACTUAL IMPORTANCE???

 

GAME never really understood pre-owned (I still don’t think they do) and that second hand games could increase in resale value. Their trade in prices just seem to drop as games get older. When they sold DS games they offered £4 as trade in for Dragon Quest V for years. I remember buying Cave Story 3D second hand from there, for around £15. CEX were selling it for £45 or so at the time. The person who served me helpfully told me if I didn’t like it CEX would buy it off me for £25.

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21 hours ago, Down by Law said:

The biggest problem nowadays is that most of the old 'dump' codes and retro lines were deleted from the system so even if someone did bring some retro in it would likely be refused. And end up in CEX instead.

 

01412 Unboxed Gameboy WHY CAN I REMEMBER THIS BUT NOTHING OF ACTUAL IMPORTANCE???


01412 just brought back a flood of memories, you bastard :lol:

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On 20/10/2019 at 09:18, Horribleman said:

How much was a decent manager paid back in the good days?

 

I feel like it was around 14k, only slightly above what full time sales assistants earnt yet many more hours and much more responsibility including key holding.

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1 hour ago, teddymeow said:

How far back?

 

As an ASM for GS I was on £16,500 (2003ish) and as an SM I was on £21,500 (2008ish).

 

Christ. I was on £12,700 as a Deputy Manager at GamesCentre in 2012. Managers were on £13,200.

 

It didn't even have a high staff turnover. We loved the job. Yet they still managed to go bust. 

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That branch with the midnight launch sign is inside a shopping arcade and sometime in the past they didn't do midnight launches because the centre didnt allow it.  I just saw the local indie is doing it, so probably the Game has to follow suit.  

 

Indie is Lees Games , Morecambe promenade , it's brilliant.

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Mate I love the enthusiasm but those displays are terrible.

 

What strikes me is that in retail, you set up conditions absolutely ripe for corruption. You pay meagre wages, offer long hours, responsibility and you reward very particular stats that can be gamed.

 

I would be surprised if most people who didn’t stick around a long time in such an environment didn’t have some sideline going on. Whether getting games for under market value from unassuming punters, straight up stealing, some more complex methods involving game values etc. 

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  • TehStu changed the title to Video game retailers

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