Internal GameStop Memo Says 'Vast Majority' Of Employees Aren't Misleading Customers

Today, following yesterday's Kotaku report on GameStop's controversial Circle of Life program, the retail chain sent out a memo to all stores condemning some of the actions we spotlighted and claiming that most of their employees don't behave that way.

Credit: Invision/AP

"While the behaviours described in the news article are disappointing, I know they don't represent the vast majority of our associates and how they treat our customers," wrote GameStop COO Tony Bartel in the memo, obtained by Kotaku and printed in full below. Bartel also denied that the Circle of Life program "placed pressure on store associates to mislead customers on the value of certain products".

In yesterday's story, I spoke to several GameStop employees who complained about the company's aggressive new quotas. Those quotas, employees said, punished staffers who sold new copies of games and have led to some GameStop staff deceiving customers or pulling other shady techniques to ensure that they hit their quotas.

Since the publication of that story, I've heard from dozens of current and former GameStop employees. Although some said they believed situations like the ones we outlined were "edge cases", almost all of these employees agreed that the new quotas have placed significantly more pressure on them and their stores. Some said they were fired as a result of the Circle of Life program. Others wanted to emphasise that they do not lie to customers or participate in the shady practices outlined in the story.

As one store manager said: "All GS employees are sick and tired of this CoL metric, and sick and tired of corporate threatening our jobs over this."

Here's the full memo:

Special Message From Tony Bartel

February 2, 2017

GameStop family,

I want to take a moment to address an article that called into question our Circle of Life program and the exceptional service you provide our customers every day.

In the article, there were behaviours described that indicated our Circle of Life program placed pressure on store associates to mislead customers on the value of certain products.

Let me be clear on this, nothing could be further from the truth. You and I know, at GameStop it is absolutely our mission to help our customers get the best advice and price on any product we sell through buying, trading, pre-ordering and earning points.

We want every customer to get the product and deal that is right for them - whether that be a new or pre-owned video game product, digital game or collectible. The Circle of Life generates great value for the customer. Consider these facts: GameStop issued approximately $US1 ($1) Billion of trade credits to our customers last year. 70% of the time, those trade dollars were immediately spent on new gaming products.

I've heard from many of you concerning this and know that you work very hard to make sure our customers have a great experience. Thank you for that! While the behaviours described in the news article are disappointing, I know they don't represent the vast majority of our associates and how they treat our customers.

Thank you again for all your hard work on creating great customer experiences. Your passion, knowledge and commitment to excellence motivate me, and it's what sets GameStop apart from all others.

Keep up the great work and Power to the Players!

Tony


Comments

    So does EB pull this Circle of Life shit? It would sorta explain a few of their shitty tendencies.

      I have spoken to an ex eb rep who still has contacts. He advised that the use the same metrics.

      I was wondering about that too. I'm unclear on whether this is a global GameStop thing or just a US GameStop thing.

        Preowned stats are definitely tracked and emphasised prominently (about on par importance-wise with presells and customer surveys) but no, this particular program doesn't run at EB.

        *Worked there up until a fortnight ago but still have many friends keeping me informed.

      When I worked at EB you had to have a certain percentage of pre-order sales, trade ins, disc protection and console extended warranties.

      The console extended warranties were fine to sell because you got a commission and therefore had incentive (unless you worked with that pony-tailed fuckstick of a manager Jason at the Broadmeadows store (who would wait until he saw you about to finalise and ring up a sale on one and then order you to go do something out the back so he could finalise the sale and get the commission)).

      That said, this was over 10 years ago. Couldn't tell you what their policies are now.

        That's evil, I probably would have lost my job by letting him have it in front of customers. Nothing short of theft.

        Oh Jason - i used to work with him at Playtime. Do I have some stories for you...

    What a bunch of corporate fluffery. Why would this metric make sence. If i was a share holder i would be outraged at how staff are being treated. Surely it makes more sence to base a metric off total sales and more points given to products that profit margins are bigger on... or do they just use this as an employee whipping tool?

      Sadly, shareholders very rarely care (or even know) about how the staff are treated, and despite everything the various business press and experts may try to make you believe, the majority of businesses - large, for-profit business at least - care very little for the wellbeing of their frontline staff. Sure, there's tokenism by executives cawing about wellbeing programs and sharing articles on progressive management to LinkedIn, but in the meantime staff are still seen as just another number in the profit equation.

    Snort. Of course the internal memo says that. Because they fucking know that paying people fuck all for stressful conditions makes your communications network leakier than a fucking sieve, to the point that all internal memos might as well be soft press releases.

    Ha, so disingenuous, I actually was expecting this at some point. Of course they'd never encourage employees to act like that, but they certainly have created and enforced a system that makes such behaviours the only possible way to keep your job.

      Akin in a way to the US Bank crashes. The employees were never told to act in an illegal or corrupt manner but doing so was the only way to meet targets. So employees get punished and management gets off.

    I was just let go from Gamestop and this is 100% accurate. Beyond the CoF Koolaid all higher level manager consistantly sip on, the words and wording used a lot in Gamestop now is 'Coaching'.

    They don't view it as a threat when they things like "Get your numbers up or you will have to get a coaching." because to them wording is important. They get off by using that word when they should be saying "...or you'll get a writeup." Get enough 'Coachings' and you are 'Coached Out'. They try not to use the word fired.

    My store was doing great in a sense we made our daily goal overall. That didn't matter to Gamestop. They wanted us to hit THOSE FOUR NUMBERS only. Our store was not the lowest in the district money making wise but we had trouble doing trade ins and selling game protections since we were a small mall location.

    Our store was known for selling Pop Figures and Plushies. It was our bread and butter. They implemented this new 'Circle of Life' and things changed. A customer could walk up with a 200$ purchase of Pop figures and we would FREAK OUT. Of course we could help them no question but the District Manager would see the numbers and demand someone be 'Coached' for it.

    Try it for yourself. Go into a Gamestop and buy NO GAMES and see how quick or rude or different the service becomes. They may even tell you something can't be sold as was a practice done by associates near me.

    In the end, my store was closed NOT because we did not make money but because we didnt HIT their SPECIFIC group of numbers. We didnt sell enough Game Protection and no one was coming to the mall to trade stuff in.

    To make it more simple: Imagine a Grocery Store that sold everything. That store can only stay open and the staff can only get hours if they sell oranges, baby wipes, coca cola, and lottery tickets. Anything else bought by a customer works against you. That is how Gamestop works.

    I lost my job because of their flawed system. I made their money but didn't scam enough folks into buying the memberships, protections, and used games. I was even told before I was let go to call friends and tell them to trade stuff in or to trade my own stuff in and buy other used stuff. It was fCked.

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