Death to Retail

Mitch Hed­berg had an excel­lent bit where he talked about buy­ing a dough­nut. This is how it starts:

“I bought a dough­nut and they gave me a receipt for the dough­nut… I don’t need a receipt for the dough­nut. I give you the mon­ey and you give me the dough­nut, end of transaction.”

He would have hat­ed Gamestop.

There were two clerks at the Gamestop I vis­it­ed a cou­ple of weeks ago: one a young lady and the oth­er a young man. She was obvi­ous­ly new because there was a line of cus­tomers, yet there was only one reg­is­ter open. No prob­lem, my turn came soon enough.

Lady clerk, big smile: “Can I help you?”

Me: “Yes! Do you have a copy of Dis­gaea 3 in stock?”

Lady: “Yes! We do.”

Guy Clerk, no smile: “Wait, wait. We’re not sure. Let’s see, hmm, do we have any left? Let me check.”

(Aside: The guy actu­al­ly paused to say the word Hmm. One of the hard­est parts of writ­ing fic­tion is cre­at­ing dia­logue that sounds believ­able. Writ­ten dia­logue isn’t at all the way that peo­ple actu­al­ly speak, because a typ­i­cal face to face con­ver­sa­tion is rid­dled with inter­rup­tions and mis­pro­nun­ci­a­tions and leaps of log­ic, none of which can exist in writ­ing. Any­way, my first thought upon hear­ing him actu­al­ly force in the word Hmm is: this guy needs to be writ­ten better.)

While the lady unlocked the game vault to get my copy, the guy con­tin­ued, “Did you pre­order a copy?”


“You can guar­an­tee that we’ll have a copy in stock blah blah blah.”

I tuned him out.

When he was done, the lady start­ed to ring me up. “Would you like a strat­e­gy guide–”

“No, thanks.”

“–because this one is real­ly cool looking.”

Ok, that was­n’t soul­less, so I smile. “I’m good, thanks. Just the game.”

“Would you like any oth­er new games?”

“No, thanks.”

“We’re also hav­ing a 10% off used blah blah blah.”

“No, thanks.”

“Blah blah used games blah blah.”

“No, thanks.”

“Would you like to pre­order any­thing else?”

“No, thanks.”

“Can I inter­est you in a time­share con­do to play your game in?”

At what point did this com­pa­ny for­get what it’s like to go shop­ping? I don’t resent either of these clerks per­son­al­ly; this is Gamestop’s train­ing. Way to make my trans­ac­tion as long and painful as pos­si­ble! How about: I give you the mon­ey, you give me the prod­uct I ask for? (I still can’t believe that this com­pa­ny some­how con­sumed my quirky and per­son­able Elec­tron­ics Boutique.)

Gamestop is like shop­ping inside an eco­nom­ic fos­sil. I mean, I walked out of that retail store lov­ing Ama­zon more than I did walk­ing in. Every Ama­zon pur­chase I’ve ever made is noth­ing more than: I give Ama­zon the mon­ey, they give me the prod­uct. End of transaction.

This is a real­ly long way of beg­ging Bliz­zard to let me buy my two copies of Wrath direct­ly from them, digitally.


More Words!

One thought on “Death to Retail”

  1. Hey I saw your post on Jef­f’s blog @ Giant­bomb and decid­ed to see ur arti­cle. Thought the embell­ish­ments were hilar­i­ous haha, not that you need them for a rant about gamestop though :p

    Any­way yeah dude I feel for you. I feel the same way and do most my orders on the web too. You should try out for orders too, or at least check them every so often. They have this thing called 48-Hour mad­ness where they dis­count a slew of ran­dom titles they are try­ing to liq­ui­date. They’re real­ly hit or miss so you just have to check in a lot to see what’s on sale.

    Any­way, nice article!

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