Behind The Scenes Of Those Insane EB Games Sales

We've seen the storefronts. The gaudy red and white stickers, the tape, the t-shirts, the YOLO SWAG SALE.

We've made the jokes. The same ones every year: "Gee I wonder if EB Games is having a sale?". You walk into the store, crack some funnies with the staff. Good times.

But there's an untold story.

We've gone behind the scenes of these bizarre sales. How does it all get put together? What are the instructions? What does it take out of EB's long-suffering staff, and what happens when you have to rip it all down?

We spoke to numerous current and ex-EB Games employees to find out what it takes to set-up an EB Games sale.

Buckle in people.

Some names have been changed to protect anonymity.


The Prep Work

Julie

We would pull every game off every shelves, even the shelves themselves would come off the walls. We would wallpaper the walls, the roof, the counter, everything we could with giant red "SALE" signs. Then we would put everything back together again - the whole store. The games would be un-stickered and re-stickered. The windows filled with flyers. I spent more time setting up and packing down sales than any other task while working at EB Games. It was taken very seriously.

Frank

I remember I spent a whole day's working in the backroom gutting games and their instruction manuals out of boxes in preparation of the upcoming sale, never stepping foot outside or making a single sale that day.

Alex

I actually enjoyed setting up the sales.

Cathy

I heard some murmurings of a "sale" coming up from the full-time staff. The software we used back then started dropping hints of the horrors to come. Merchandise prices were no longer ending with 0.95, but started ending with 0.20, 0.30, 0.50, and other bizarre values...

Woody

I remember the managers always made it a big deal, even though it was literally "make tables and shelves out of cardboard and cover the shit out of it in this red plastic wrap stuff that smelt like melted skin".

Luke

What I find amazing is that I left in Feb 2005 and it is exactly the same.


The Guide

Image: Reddit/Stealingyourpixels

Chris

There is a guide that needs to be followed on what goes where and how it should be set up.

Woody

We were given a guide to go by, for the 'bare minimum' type approach, but I remember the Area/State managers were always like, "make it MORE red", which seemed like a fun joke at the time, until you realised they were serious.

Chris

There was an event on after hours one night where every manager from that district is expected to attend. They set up this one store using the guide. The idea is that everyone can see what level is expected of them. The guide is very specific about the shelving layout, promo locations, counter displays, everything. If you go to two different EB Games during the sales period you should see the exact same layout.


The Set-Up

Jess

Setting up one of these sales takes a lot of effort and had to be done after hours. We were expected to come in after hours - with no pay - to set it up.

Cathy

For the first time in my experience, we were being sent packs of large cardboard boxes - diligently wrapped with plastic tape in bundles of 10. We were lucky to have some off-site storage within the shopping centre, for the box bundles just kept coming... and coming... and coming...

Jess T

The most intense part was wrapping the ceiling with rolls of 'sale' plastic.

Alex

Setting up those sales was basically hanging out with friends, you just happened to be at your workplace. You would come in after close, plug in someones iPod, crank music and proceed to trash the store. We'd get pizza delivered and just have fun. Sure, it was unpaid after hours work, but it was surprisingly fun.

Woody

""Just put more on!" - Area manager, multiple instances.

"Where?" was often our response. The roof, the floor, no surface was safe.

"People have to walk there," we'd say. "They'll fit, just do it" the managers would say."

Chris

The goal is to always make it look like the shop is having a closing down sale.

Frank

Cardboard Box makeshift tables, Red sale wrap and endless rolls of sale stickers was all that we saw for days on end.

We were never forced into helping set-up the store. Our managers were grateful for those that could spare the time and rewarded us by buying us dinner (mostly pizza) from their own money in a way of saying thank you.

Cathy

Now reality was starting to hit. We self-formed groups to set up the store, focusing on the product placement, the banner hanging, STICKER ALL THE THINGS, and so on. The plastic sale banners come in giant rolls, and we unrolled it like a massive Hollywood red carpet and let our scissors and our creative minds get to work with wreaking havoc on the store. We kept to our brief: paint the town red.

Jess

I was quite sick at the time of my one big sale so I said I'd come in for an hour or two to help but couldn't promise much more.

No-one else but the two managers showed up. So it was the three of us trying to get it done before security kicked us out at midnight. Our only direction from regional managers was "as over the top as possible". Just go nuts, they said. The three of us had to work our ass off.

When it was clear we weren't going to get it done in time, my husband offered to come in and help, with another friend with whom he was having dinner. So not only was I giving away my unpaid labour but now people who didn't even work there were coming to help us out.

Let me tell you, there is a lot of plastic going up over lights and ventilation. Going up on ladders with no air and melting plastic in your face does not good OH & S make.


Getting Creative

Chris

Some people really get into it and go above and beyond, making all sorts of giant ornaments out of the excessive sale wrap and dummy boxes you are given. My favourite part was always how it covered up the fluro lighting making it cave like and way easier on the eyes for a month.

Woody

Sometimes a few of us staff would you know, try and be creative and make something fun out of all the wrap and cardboard — a fire breathing sale dragon, for example — but that was often quashed for a more sensible 'cover literally fucking everything in this red stuff that says sale'.

Chris

There was a daily bulletin in the system that would show stores that had gone all out the hardest as a sort of competition for managers to make their store look as crazy as possible.


Pushing The Limits

Chris

Every EB would get complaints from centre management because the store front looked so messy.

Woody

We'd often get into verbal scraps with the Westfield concierge for having things protruding from the front of the store, or being an 'eye sore'. This was encouraged though — EB wanted to dominate that stretch of the shopping center.

Chris

We were also instructed to push that main sale table at the front out a little further each day until centre management complains to you.


"A Red-Hued Sweaty Discount Dungeon"

Luke

The worst thing about working with them is the temp increase in the store.

Cathy

Our clean, white, semi-minimalist store had been transformed into some blood-stained, suffocating, and hot sweatbox - the heat from the inefficient lighting bounced off the plastic banners, making the air condition struggle to perform. The smell of the plastic never leaves you.

Luke

All that plastic just radiates heat. We removed the [sales signs] blocking the heater in our old store to make the store habitable to humans. Our regional manager made us put them back up.

Jess

They definitely prioritised the sale signs. If one was being wrecked by an air-conditioner, they would move it but it would take it falling down on its own to free them up.

Woody

I never had someone say "wow, this glowing crimson sauna really makes a lovely shopping environment".


The Customers

Cathy

It's the actual sales period that makes you or breaks you.

Frank

People flooded into our store.

Woody

Customers would get snappy, with each other, and us. It was like the church scene from Kingsmen.

Jess

The best case scenarios were a neutral reaction, no one came in saying "I love what you've done with the place!" Some people hated it but they were fairly few and far between.

Frank

The worst thing about the sale was you got to see how desperate people would get and try and steal things.


The Guy Who Shoved A PSP Down His Pants

Frank

One year we had a demo PSP in-store before its release in September of that year. We kept it on a red lanyard that we tied around our wrist when handing it over to customers to demo in hopes their interest would have them pre-order one. I was on the floor talking to customers with a line-of-sight on the counter and the entrance and spotted a guy just casually walk behind our counter, pick it up from between our two cash tills and shove it down the front of his pants.

I approached him. Never touching him, put out my hand and kindly asked him for the PSP back. He was shocked he had been caught and said, "I just wanted one and can't afford it". I took it back (holding it by the lanyard that hadn't entered his pants of course) and told him to wait right and asked my manager to call the centre security, but when I turned my back he pushed pass me and bolted.

I left the PSP with my manager to spray and wipe with disinfectant.


The Tear Down

Chris

The worst part was peeling the stickers off once the sale was over.

Cathy

Sticker, sticker, sticker product until your fingers bleed out with paper cuts.

Frank

Every year on the final day of the sale, we celebrated — tearing down boxes and sale wrap. We were always surprised by how big our tiny store was once the piles of red sale wrap and boxes were removed.

Chris

Every employee would always get sore underneath their fingernails from peeling off all the darn stickers. Taking down the sale was kind of a silly affair most of the time, tearing it down in a rage, jumping into the sales tables made of boxes, that sort of thing.

Woody

Yeah there was some demons being exorcised in the tear down for sure. It was literally rip and tear.


Looking Back

Woody

It was cult like, how zealous the area managers were about it all. I feel like I learned alot from my time there.

About people. About cults.

Chris

I'm glad I never have to do it again!

Woody

Now that I'm out I mostly feel bad for the staff.

I often mouth "G E T O U T" to them.

They're the ones who suffer.


Comments

    Wow. Unpaid set-up work for folks on retail wages is some straight-up bullshit.

      Unpaid? Is that even legal

        nothing wrong about volunteering to help out

          It is wrong if there's an expectation to volunteer, and if the setup can't be completed without that volunteer work.

          If by 'volunteering' you mean "Come in and work unpaid or else your paid shifts get given to someone else." then sure, totally volunteering.

          My ex had to deal with it and it made her miserable having to 'volunteer' or lose hours, and a friend who somehow ended up a store manager took a lot of heat from his bosses because he didn't actually think it was right making people come in and do unpaid work.

            Where did you pull that information from? sounds like assumption
            I generally volunteer 5 hrs a week at my day job to help out the junior staff and new starters, Its not expected of me, i dont get reimbursed but it helps the business so I dont mind.

            We'd get pizza delivered and just have fun. Sure, it was unpaid after hours work, but it was surprisingly fun.
            When it was clear we weren't going to get it done in time, my husband offered to come in and help, with another friend with whom he was having dinner. So not only was I giving away my unpaid labour but now people who didn't even work there were coming to help us out.
            Sounds like volunteering to me, if my mate at EB called me and asked to help setup for a sale, providing i was free id say yes. it can be fun working with friends / family to help out

              Where did you pull that information from?
              My ex had to deal with it and it made her miserable having to 'volunteer' or lose hours, and a friend who somehow ended up a store manager took a lot of heat from his bosses because he didn't actually think it was right making people come in and do unpaid work.

              That wasn't really hard, he answered your question before you even replied.

              yes they "volunteered" but its about as much a choice to volunteer as it is me "choosing" to give over my wallet to a mugger instead of getting stabbed.

              And by that i mean as other people have said they would lose work hours for not helping so it was not much of a choice.

              Clearly it's something that would differ from boss to boss, but if you have heard some of the horror stories from EB ex-employees before, you should know that there are bosses who'd implicitly hold hostage shifts to things like this and other unpaid "collaboration". If your source of income is threatened if you don't "volunteer", is it actually volunteering?

              "This situation did not occur to me, Therefore it does not occur anywhere else!"

              Seriously, If you dont think managers pressure people into unpaid work hours you are thick in the head.

              Looks like we found the guy trying to work his way up the EB games ranks to become an Area Manager.

          I used to work there about 10 years ago. In no way was it "volunteering". It was an expectation.

          It wasn't just sales though, was the same every day.

          You were expected to have the store ready to open by 9am (Floats counted, computers booted up, tables arranged, signage posted, high expense stock (consoles, video cards, etc.) and trades gutted. You only got paid from 9am.

          You were expected to close the store no earlier than whenever the centre closed (5:30 or 9pm, depending on day). You couldn't tell anyone to leave, you had to wait until they finished shopping. When the customers left you had to clean all the tables/benches, face up all the games, tidy the entire store, vacuum the floors, bring in all the tables & signage, take out all the rubbish and delivery boxes), count the tills, bank the money (as in, walk to the nearest bank and deposit it) and enter all your closing reports. You only got paid until 5:50 or 9pm.

          If you didn't want to do that? That's fine, but you're going to notice that you don't have any shifts any more. I actually overheard people explicitly being told during interviews that they'd be expected to work longer than the hours they'd get paid.

            Greetings!
            I used to work at subway and was told much the same thing, "everything has to be ready for the open. You'll want to come in an hour and a half before the shop opens. You get paid for half an hour of that."
            Any attempts to claim any of your hours outside the half hour before open or after close were point blank refused. Or for that matter to take a lunch break if the shop looked anything less than pristine. And they would alway take a lunch break out of your hours for the day, regardless if you actually took one or the number of sales you did or the state you found the store in.

            Tl;dr? Retail is a shitstorm of unrealistic expectations and you'll get penalised if you don't perform to them.

          Except for the part where it's against labour laws, and except for the part where it's scummy on the side of the business, sure

            Illegal? Yes.

            However in my (admittedly somewhat limited) retail experience they put a buffer between the owner/company by writing a bunch of incentives/punishments for the managers pay depending on how the store performs in sales and/or pay hours.

            Sure its illegal, but if you pressure the manager into doing the illegal bit then you can sit back and rake in the profits without any of the risk.

        Probably considered volunteer

          Comes down to whether they are 'required' to be there or not. From other EB stories, we've learned that most managers are careful not to say 'you have to participate' but the general impression is that if you don't participate, you'll have your hours reduced (often to zero).

          Of course it's volunteer.

          You either volunteer to do it, or you volunteer to not come back into work.

          You can only volunteer to non-profits, you can't just volunteer at your own job

        It's illegal if there is any pressure put on staff to participate (e.g. the suggestion that rostered hours would be given to those who 'showed team spirit' by participating) which I gather there often was (from a previous Kotaku article).

        The Fair Work Ombudsman would be very interested to hear from any employee who had been pressured to be there on an unpaid basis. https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/unpaid-work

          The problem is its so hard to prove any of it, as they're generally very careful about saying or doing anything directly for this very reason. So the moment you do something like go to fair work they'll pull the old, "We had no idea they felt this way, and they never said anything, and we absolutely didn't say there was any expectation that they had to come in for those hours they volunteered to do." cards.

          As is the case with basically any questionable behaviour in any company... My last job all the employees would get constantly told "If you have a problem, just say something." like it was so simple. When in reality bringing issues to light absolutely got you labelled a 'troublemaker' by the majority of those above you, a great many of whom would find ways to subtly punish you.

          I once had a boss tell me a 'story' out of nowhere about someone they knew who went to fair work and how nothing came of their complaints, and I hadn't even brought anything of the sort up. Its the sort of manipulative bullshit that companies everywhere get away with on a daily basis, because they argue things like the employee took their words out of context, etc, etc.

            You're right, that's what managers are banking on - no-one will have the balls to speak up about it and if they do, the manager can deny it. That being said, documenting the unpaid overtime, making recordings of what is said in relation to said overtime, and showing that hours have been reduced or employment lost as a result of refusing unpaid overtime would make a pretty strong case. Unfortunately, people really want to keep their jobs, and so put up with this crap.

          It's illegal anyway. Pressure or no pressure. Volunteering is for non-profits, and if you're an employee you're required to be paid anyway

            There's a presumption, yes. But as an employee you are allowed to work without pay if you want to - it's just illegal for you to be required to do so.

        Nope it's not legal at all, but a certain area manager who used to encourage breaking fair trading laws and is now in a very senior position always pushed for it. My first manager would pay us and why we as a team enforced that later on. (after he was pushed out of the company by the aforementioned w*ker)

      I worked at EB for a number of year and this was NEVER my experience. Hated working there but paying employees was taken seriously and was never expected to work for free. Set up multiple sales and was paid for every single hour. Not even aware of any myths or horror stories to the contrary.

      Woody

      We were given a guide to go by, for the 'bare minimum' type approach, but I remember the Area/State managers were always like, "make it MORE red", which seemed like a fun joke at the time, until you realised they were serious.

      This was more my experience.

    The idea of unpaid work can only ever be pushed onto the young and naive surely. I couldn't imagine anyone I work with working for free.

      If the unspoken threat is that if you don't you'll get less hours if you don't...

    Hard to justify anyone's patronage of EB Games, with the exception of people who literally don't have another choice. There've been stories for years and years about the dodgy bullshit they pull - I remember hearing them from friends as far back as 2005 - and still people support them.

    EB Games going the way of GAME can't come soon enough.

      I often can't buy outright, so any place that offers layby is useful to me

      Yeah - fuck competition and choice (and the employment of a few hundred/thousand people + the other industries who rely on them) - hurry up and go out of business so I can feel better about myself

        Fuck yeah, let's support predatory and unethical business practices that erode workers' rights.

        You're right though, I would feel better if people weren't getting fucked over.

        As an addendum, do you seriously think that EB Games, the prime brick and mortar retailer for video games, is adding competition to the market?

        Their entire business practice since they moved to Australia in the early 00s has been the removal of competition in the physical space. Their contribution to the digital space, obviously in conjunction with other physical retailers, has been the maintenance of high prices so as not to undercut their business.

        Competition for EB Games is the abrogation of any element that will impede their business - the result is not good for the customer.

          Quote: Fuck yeah, let's support predatory and unethical business practices that erode workers' rights.

          I can guarantee you buy products and use services of companies that are much worst than EB - and probably brag about it every day too (inadvertently, but you do it)

          Those electronic devices you use - made in factories whose workers have worst conditions than EB Games workers. Those clothes you wear - made in sweatshops that violate human rights every minute. That car you drive/public transport you use - made of and consumer materials mined/welled from countries with atrocious human and worker rights histories. Hell man, even some of the food you eat (Australian no less) is picked by back-packers who work under terrible conditions to horrible bosses

          So yeah, a few people who love working at a retail game store working overtime IS NOWHERE NEAR AS BAD as the examples I have provided above.

            Don't know why you wasted your time with a bullshit argument. Equivocation is not vindication of EB Games' practices. All of the examples you've provided can be mitigated or nullified with even a skerrick of research and effort.

            Besides tawdry imputations do you have anything of actual worth to say? What's you're rational for supporting businesses that you know do wrong by their employees and customers?

              Mitigated, nullified, skerrick, tawdry imputations. Lol someone got their cognitive dissonance pointed out and is overcompensating with a thesaurus. Besides your faux outrage do you actually have anything of worth to say?

                Hahaha, oh buddy, you're too late to the party. Off you pop, have a nap.

              Who said I supported them?

              I just highlighted how big of a hypocritical dick you are (which you then confirmed by using so many big words I bet your own head exploded typing them)

              The best part was that you did most of this yourself that someone else even jumped in to question your faux outrage (I like that, I might borrow it)

              Anyway - I dont care what you do. But just dont get online and act all high and mighty against one company and stay silent against worse once

              I'm also curious about the evidence regarding backpackers not being exploited in the Australian fruit picking industry - especially when it comes to their visas, pay, exploitation and sexual abuse. But yeah, working unpaid overtime at EB Games is so much worse.

      Problem is that EB is the only significant dedicated games store around now.
      So if they go end up you will have to be satisfied with whatever JB's can be bothered stocking or order from Ozgameshop.

      People don't have to justify their preference to you. I don't shop there but I don't begrudge people personal choices, kind of wierd.

    I was there for the birth of the eb sales crap. Brad (former Qld area/state mgr) walked into my store and laid down his idea of sale signs everywhere. From memory this was around 2002/2003 so im surprised they are still running the same old shtick.

    As an ex-EB Games employee, this was equal parts nostalgic and horrifying. As a bright-eyed, believe-anything youth, it was exciting to get together with the team and setup the store, making it look outrageous. The mention of the prices changing in the system was particularly moving, each integer after the decimal indicated the price or discount that would be associated with the product. Definite fond memories.

    But then the realization that being paid wasn't really a thing, and the desire to simply work with friends didn't outweigh the desire to get paid. Then the de-stickering. Days of peeling off stickers after a sale, fingernails tacky and sticky with glue only to resticker everything for the next sale.

    However, much like a Steam sale, it was awesome seeing people grab up whatever bargains they could.

      I often see 3 or 4 stickers on top of each other. Regular/sale/rinse repeat.

      Was probably nice back when there actually were bargains. Right now, I rifle through the boxes and frown at the 'sale' price basically being within a couple bucks of what I bought the title for on launch from JB Hi-Fi.

    Whenever I sign an employment contract, there is always a clause that covers 'reasonable' overtime (unpaid). The problem is that employers can take advantage of what is 'reasonable'. I've been a victim of this many times. It's an expectation from an employer and if you don't 'fit' that expectation, they will make your life difficult.

    Personally, I love the sales but hate the stores because all I see is an excess of red merchandise that prohibits me from actually seeing products!

      When you aren't getting paid an hourly rate, sure. Back in my tech writing days, I'd charge a per-day rate, but I'd stay late to meet deadlines, and so forth. My record was getting out of an office, with a beautiful manual in hand, just as the sun rose ... ONCE. There's a difference between putting in extra hours during a one-off crunch and being expected to (or penalised when you don't) regularly, as part of the business model.

      I have this written in to my current contract. I don't and never have worked for EB so it's not just them.

      My definition of reasonable differs vastly from other people in my company.

    While unpaid time at work sucks, people who volunteer their time are rewarded by being given extra shifts.

    I'm a supervisor at my job and when the good jobs come up I absolutely give preference to people who have volunteered extra time in the past.

    It also allows supervisors and such to get a better idea of who is more reliable etc. "Can I count on this person? Will they make a sacrifice to show they're willing to do the hard yards?" Why will I bother asking someone who can never help to help?

      Your behaviour borders on criminal. You're enabling exploitation.

        No. Your attitude is what's wrong with many occupations. It's a culture of, "Well if there's nothing in it for me then why should I do it?" But that's the thing. There IS something in it for you. People take notice and all of a sudden you may find yourself with extra shifts (if and when you need them or want them), or even a promotion.

        If you have a car that always breaks down, do you persist with it? Or do you go and get a new one? More so, if you have two identical cars and one of them breaks down all the time you're just going to drive the other one aren't you?

        Take my job for instance. If one of our helicopters can't ever get in the air without something failing, at some point we cut our losses and just fly a different one. When you have a mission to achieve, sometimes you can't just persist with something that never works.

        When we have tradies that continually volunteer extra time to help us out, they will always be first pick when we need to go away somewhere. Or at least they'll get the opportunity first.

        Explain to me how this is borderline criminal?

          Awesome. I bet you don't tell your staff hey show up late whenever you feel like and we will still pay you for an entire shift no questions asked.
          People work to get paid not for the chance to volunteer.

            Well they're all on salary so they get paid regardless.

            Also when you're in the Army you turn up to work when told and go home when told. Volunteering extra time will just go towards recognition and rewards though.

              So your fine with them showing up late then?
              Comparing Army to regular workforce. Wow.
              In retail volunteering just lets them see your a doormat.

                Obviously it isn't ok for them to show up late. But extra hours come up sometimes. If I can't rely on someone when the going gets tough then what justification is there to reward them when the good stuff comes our way?

                When you work hard, you get rewarded. I don't see why that is so difficult to grasp.

                Must be an Army thing I guess.

                  It's not an army thing, it's a "being a dick" thing. That's not aimed at you, it's aimed at an organisation that makes billions of dollars off the back of "volunteers".

                  I suspect much of this practice is purely for the pleasure of the shareholders who would probably take a dim view of the annual report each year if the proper wages were paid and it reflected against the earnings.

                  As for "when the going gets tough", I've got plenty of experience there and many a time have worked back 4 or more hours to help someone out when the system they manage is experiencing technical difficulties. The only difference is that I get rewarded with TOIL or overtime pay. My manager makes sure that we never miss out.

                  That's a culture thing and I firmly believe that the corporate culture that Gamestop pushes on their subsidiaries needs an overhaul but I don't expect it to occur without a possible pay scandal unfolding similar to the Coles or 7/11 sagas.

                  When you work hard, you get rewarded. I don't see why that is so difficult to grasp.
                  Meanwhile you fail to grasp the fact that decent workplaces reward hard work by actually paying those doing it. Instead of believing that mentally checking a person off for the mere chance for more work, that they'll actually get paid for, as a reward for the unpaid work is perfectly valid in exchange.

                  You can dress it up as 'rewards for dedication' or such all you like. It is a blatant carrot on a stick approach. There is no reward, there is not even a promise of maybe getting one, and you exploit people who play your game while acting as if you're the one doing them a favour.

                  And those who can not, or will not play that particular game? Based on everything I've seen from your posts so far, I can only assume the people who don't show their dedication in the way of working for free are deemed unreliable, not worth persisting with, and even just plain broken if we use your car/helicopter analogies.

                  The way you're painting it I hope to god it is actually not "an Army thing", because I bet they'd be super proud knowing that what they've got in common with EB Games is the mistreatment of employees.

          No, You are still the criminal. Saying "Voluteer or else you dont get extra shifts" Is against Australian law. You are forcing people top work without pay. Thats illegal.

          How about you pay them overtime instead for the hours they come in?

            You're twisting my words. I never said that anyone should be forced to work without pay. That's slavery.

            I suppose I've just been brought up believing that a bit of volunteering here and there can do wonders for your career. It did for mine.

            When my guys do the hard yards, we reward them by doing stuff like EKO weeks and giving them extra leave. Perhaps that doesn't work in retail world, but there would surely be a suitable alternative.

            I suppose what I'm trying to say is...Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

              "I suppose what I'm trying to say is...Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

              Lines like that are why events such as the 7/11 wages controversy occured.

                It saddened me to read about that. I stand by my comment though. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" doesn't only apply to wages. It applies to many things. Asking someone to chuck in an extra hour or two here and there isn't necessarily implying that there will be no reward.

                You can have your cake and eat it sometimes. That goes for both sides of the debate. Management needs to give sometimes, just as do the workers. I'm not explicitly for one side or the other, there needs to be a bit of backscratching from both sides.

              Your argument is falling on deaf ears. Only people that work in the Defence Forces, Law Enforcement or Emergency Services really understand why it is necessary to put in the extra yard at times because if they didn't usually the public will be the ones that suffer for it.

              Retail though is a different beast. If it is really as bad as they all claim they should go get a different job. Work at maccas or be a checkout chick. Sure it may feel degrading to their pride but it just proves their situation isn't as bad as they claim if they aren't willing to make changes instead of whining.

              Also thank you for your service.

                Haha thank you :)

                I agree. I do like the saying if you don't like it then leave. But it seems a little sour in this case.

                I have greatly enjoyed all this debate. A properly intelligent discussion is a rare thing these days.

      That's shit.

      A person's ability to donate their time and productivity outside of paid work hours is in no way a reasonable metric to determine what work hours they should receive. Aside from being unreasonable, it's highly unethical and plainly a scumbag move.

        I feel like I'm not explaining this very well. It goes more or less like this:
        Boss - "Ok guys we've got a trip coming up. Let us know by the end of the week who you want with you."
        Me - "Well Johnno never used to be available and nowadays he almost never answers the phone. But Richard is a solid worker who's been giving us extra time whenever we needed it over the past few months so he's a sure bet."
        Boss - "Righto then so Richard it is?"
        Me - "Yeah boss I'll call him up."

          There is a massive difference between an errant employee and one who cannot, won't, and shouldn't donate their time and productivity towards unpaid work hours.

          Reframing the scenario to focus on rewarding the employee who will/can do unpaid work doesn't resolve the contention that you're simultaneously punishing the employee who won't/cannot do unpaid work. The latter is where the major problem is: you shouldn't have the expectation that your employees will work unpaid hours. Whether for merit, brown nosing, or whatever rationalisation anyone has, the expectation shouldn't exist.

          Employees work, they get paid. It is simple and resolute. Reward employees for being good at their job, not because they're in a position that enables them to do unpaid work which then makes someone else look good.

      You talk about this attitude that people have of "if there is nothing in it for me why do it" as an excuse to defend "if i can get away without paying for work that i have determined is necessary for my business why pay people for working".

        That's fair. I don't agree with not paying people for work. I am however, a large proponent of rewarding people for a bit of sacrifice.

        What if the manager at EB has to go to some games expo or whatever? If he can do it on his own then fine. But if he can choose a couple of his workers to go too, then isn't he more likely to pick those that sacrificed something for the company over those who didn't?

        There are many ways to reward employees who go above and beyond.

          I think it boils down to this.

          If you are working from 5pm til midnight or something with no extra pay then that's bullshit. I will never condone that. But going the occasional extra mile to ensure that the end goal is achieved? I think that's part of having good integrity as an employee.

          I get it. A company like EB is going to make money regardless, and there will never be any shortage of people who want to work there purely because of what they sell. I personally have no issues whatsoever with throwing in a little of my own time here and there if for nothing else than it helps out guys on the oncoming shift.

          This has been awesome. I love a heated debate. Cheers for the discussion all!

          The debate may be enjoyable for you, but it makes me incredibly angry because I've seen the devastation this has on the incomes and morale of people who feel trapped in these shitty circumstances.

          Your experiences of work culture appear to have blinded you to the reality that young Australians facing unprecedented unemployment/underemployment are forced into the exploitative sectors that happen to be the only sectors hiring at an entry level anymore. I mean, the first clue that things were different should've been on day one, when you signed your life away to 600 pages of laws and regulations that civilians don't have to adhere to. Shit's different in the Forces.

          Out here in civ-land? There is no 'pitching in for the good of the team/nation'. It's for the good of the shareholders and district managers, and it's not 'rewards', it's punishments. Far too many employees are steeped in a culture of intimidation and fear, when people are struggling to get enough shifts to survive. These people aren't salaried. They're giving away time they SHOULD be paid for on the very faint WHIFF of a hinted-at promise that MAYBE they'll earn enough to survive. No guarantees. Only vague threats, sidelong glances, and whispered rumours about 'not being a team player' that lead to reduced hours.

          This is the reality, the context in which this abuse, this exploitation takes place. The reality of 7-11, Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, Miss India, Columbaris' restaurants and literally hundreds of organizations actually fined by the FWO for millions in underpayments in hospitality alone, let alone the ones who HAVEN'T been complained against due to young workers not knowing their rights or simply being too afraid to risk losing their jobs in the face of record levels of underemployment.

          These people don't get sick leave, rec leave, and can be fired at the drop of a hat or simply starved out of the job into quitting by having their hours reduced into pointlessness. In retail and hospitality, damn near every hard-won worker's right has been tossed away in favour of workforce casualization. And now they're losing penalty rates.

          This is the context we're dealing with. I wish you could see that when you advocate in favour of the supervisors who intimidate their teams into working without pay in a cut-throat competition to curry enough favour to be granted the hours they need to get by.

          These people ARE the ones working 5 to midnight on a sale with their only reward being pizza and the sense of relief from the implication only that maybe they won't have their hours cut to 10 a week this month. This IS the context. This is the reality. This is the environment where what you called, 'rewarding volunteers with extra shifts' is what I call unconscionable and borderline illegal.

          I hope you've at least seen that your experiences are far from the norm.

            Well said. I honestly wasn't aware of how bad things had become in the other sectors. I mean I'd heard bits and pieces but never knew the full extent to which workers were being screwed over.

            I think something I said has been misinterpreted. I never once advocated in favour of these practices. I was merely expressing my own point of view based on my own experience within my chosen field. I think it's deplorable that people in these jobs are trying to get on their feet and are being screwed constantly. They absolutely deserve better.

            Obviously what I said struck a nerve, and although I didn't mean to offend anyone, it's good to see that people here are above simple name-calling and other bullshit. This was the most intelligent discussion I've had in a while. If nothing else, thank you all for that. I hope that going forward, these sorts of acts are quashed because our industries will be doomed otherwise.

              That's fair. I know there are definitely environment where a little give and take seems natural and goes without saying. When I arced up at you, it was definitely on seeing you as encouraging the attitude that's lead to the inexcusable behaviour we've seen multiple reports on at EB specifically (which you may not have read, but take a squiz if you want your blood to boil: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2015/07/inside-eb-games-when-the-dream-job-becomes-a-nightmare/ ),and what I've seen not only first-hand in hospitality but in news reports on the Fair Work Ombudsman's investigations and reports on fines across many casual-heavy industries with minimal worker protections for job security. Casualization makes workers vulnerable, and the industries have been taking advantage of that. It offends my sense of natural justice so... yeah. Apologies.

              Last edited 08/06/17 4:36 pm

                It's no problem. I can understand my point of view, especially without any context of what I do, could come across as being supportive of the practices in question.

                I think I actually did read that particular article, because I remember when I was younger I wanted nothing more than to work at a videogame store. It was quite disconcerting to find out that an occupation that I once held in such high esteem was deep down a terrible reality of mistreatment and abuse.

                Finally, if you can't arc up at someone when having a heated discussion, then it isn't a heated discussion. They bring out true feelings and passion can be seen in the comments. It's refreshing. 👍

            There are really 2 disconnected work environments going on hear with an overlap of action.
            Full time staff with a fairly solid job that stick around after work to finish up tasks or help out with something they need/want to finish.
            I have always done extra work as required, deployments needing to be done after hours or working through if there is a critical bug that needs to be fixed and patched. I never expected additional pay for doing this as my salary package covered this.
            I have staff like this and as a 'reward' you can be flexible with them. If they turn up an hour late or have to leave early occasionally that isn't a problem, let me know and they can do it. It is a bit of give and take and there is no obligation on people doing that.
            However is a staff member is clock watching at gets in right on the dot and leaves the moment it hits 5pm then I would be less forgiving of them turning up late, taking days of with medical certificates.

            The other side is what you are talking about where people are struggling to get by and decisions by management having a direct impact on the ability to survive. That is total and utter bullshit and should be called out.
            I have a feeling that @jusking3888 hasn't dealt with that sort of thing before and what he is suggesting is to do with rewards rather than punishment. If you have a reward on offer, eg. trip to expo, giving that to somebody who has done above and beyond is fine with me.
            It is the punishment side of things that often goes with shift and/or minimum wage positions that is the horrible place.

            tldr The was nothing explicitly wrong with what was said in the context I think they meant but within the context of this article it is bad.

              Yeah, I get that now.

              I mean... I know I used to put in a lot more time than I added to my timesheet because it meant that if I didn't, the work just didn't get done. (I've since found that I do need to add it anyway, because perceptions can change, and you won't necessarily get that unspoken credit for the shit you do, but that's a work culture thing.) My GF checks her work emails after hours and on weekends to make sure a client doesn't need something urgently and to prioritize her workload for the week ahead because she gives a shit about what she does, and her boss doesn't know she does it and doesn't pay her for it; the boss just considers that she's bloody amazingly well-organized, and knows that when it comes time to ask for a day off for us to move, that it's fine, because they know it won't impact on the business. There's a balance. A middle ground.

              These EB guys, though... it starts out that way, but in that sector, they push it. They push it past what's reasonable. They outright exploit. And in my mind, that abuse has lost them the moral right to claim it as 'discretionary'. They need to be pursued for what we've seen they do. For the pressure they use to manipulate young workers.

              Leeway works both ways, and EB (and most of the retail/hospitality sectors) have taken liberties, all the way into abuse. The only fair recourse I can see is rigid adherence to fair work laws, with swift and severe penalties for infractions.

      Better idea - if you need people to work extra hours you ask for volunteers who get paid their normal hourly rate (o whatever their award/contract entitles them to).

      Then, if the person does quality work, by all means reward them by offering them the extra work first next time. Then, as a leader, you can be confident your getting value out of your wage bill.

      I don't understand why employers (some, at least) wonder why employee engagement and productivity is terrible when they pay their staff shit and treat then like idiots. Have some respect and support the people helping you make money. Works out better for everyone involved.

      Your employees are staff, not serfs.

      They agree to work a certain amount of time for you, and in return you pay them for the hours they work. That's what hourly rates are for. You are banking on their desperation and lack of negotiating power, and acting like it's their fault when they insist on their basic right to be paid a fair wage for the work they do.

      Using inability to volunteer as a punitive strike is an abuse of power. It penalises, for example, working parents and caretakers. Or those working more than one job. Or those without reliable, safe transport. So, really, you're kicking the most vulnerable members of your workforce when they are down.

    My local EB, the store manager does most of it himself. Never calls in anyone after hours, and never calls anyone in if they aren't rostered. Not all managers are zealot lunatics.

    Only one thing annoys me more than scumbag employers expecting staff to work for any period of time with out pay. The staff that actually do it.
    I get the pressure is put on them but if everyone just says no there's not much the employer can do about it. Have some integrity and make it clear your time is valuable.

      When it is expected, I agree that it's no good. But when you volunteer your time then why shouldn't you be rewarded?

        It should be rewarded with paid overtime. That should be the only reward.

        But when you volunteer your time then why shouldn't you be rewarded?

        The "reward" is the pay that you're legally entitled to for working those hours

      So you are saying that employees working 'reasonable' overtime as per contract have no integrity. Way to insult half of the people here.....

      "If everyone just says no"...you have got to be kidding. If the activity is illegal, yes...we all have rights. But we have obligations according to contract and starting a 'mutiny' is not going to help one bit.

    For all the "MORE SALE! SIGNS!" and "Where else can we put them?!?" I'm shocked that they don't have carpets with the word sale on them. There's tonnes of space on the floor they didn't plaster

    I've purposely kept out of this because I know how comment threads on this site go, especially with topics such as these. This one sure did not disappoint. There is great chatter in here, but it's moved beyond silly photos and gallows humour about maybe being injured at someone's place of work.

    I am putting forward the idea/requesting that we can somehow discuss the broader issues that have risen out of this in either a new article, hopefully Mark/Kotaku will have more to say on this in the coming days.

    There's a lot of readers here who feel quite strongly about the subject of EB Sales and what EB staff have to put up with, but that discussion is hindered just as much as it helped when you expand it to include anecdotal examples of other places of employment and 'what I do' or 'what that one person has to do'.

    So yeah, if Kotaku hasn't approached EB for comment (though I admit there's probably little reason to do so at this point) or if there aren't more stories on this topic planned, that's a shame. We all have an interest in the story and while I don't envy EB's rank and file staff, their managers are clearly also put in situations they may not clearly have control over themselves.

    When does this particular current sale begin? My idea for an article would be this: I spotted staff at an EB tonight after hours (the roller was shut firmly) and they were either gearing up or winding down the telltale red plastic. Maybe others could chime in with what they witness with their own eyes.

    This story has made me more aware. Thank you Mark, thank you Kotaku.

    Last edited 07/06/17 9:20 pm

    Legalities aside, it's just completely unethical to expect an employee to 'volunteer' their free time in order to retain, or even increase their regular weekly paid hours, while those who choose not to do so risk losing them. Sure, there's plenty to be said about showing initiative and proving yourself to be an asset to the team and business overall, but I don't understand how that can't be done solely within working hours that you're actually getting paid for? I don't think it's unreasonable for anyone who is busting their ass all day to decide that their free time is more valuable to them than having to work unpaid. It should be up to the individual to decide and not forced upon them with the fear of losing paid hours if they don't want to 'volunteer'.

    These EB stories rarely give an accurate portrayal of what life in EB was like. It seems to be told from the point of view of burnt casuals.

    As someone who worked as a manager at EB for 5 years, I can tell you there were some great times, and some horrible. shit times.
    I hate the company, and think they are dodgy as hell, but in my capacity as a manager, I made sure that all my customers and all my staff were always looked after, never taken advantage of and compensated for their time. If not at the time, then somewhere down the line.
    I also keep in touch with some people working there, and a lot of the conditions are very different today. (I finished up with them 8 years ago)

    I can tell you now that very few managers were 'in on it'. Sure, there were probably some that were dicks, just looking to save as much in wages to collect their bonus as they could, but for the most part, and definitely all the managers that I dealt with, we were all just as frustrated and overworked as as any of the casuals, even more so. As a manager, I felt it was my responsibility to be a buffer between the bullshit and my casuals and I feel that was many managers' attitude as well.

    After managers, it was area managers, who never dealt with any of the ground level work, but would instead come in and hassle you about cutting down on wages and trying to poke holes in all of your processes that you'd arrive at through months of working out what works best for you and your customers. This is where the disconnect was, and probably still is.

    I'm certainly not sticking up for the company, as my exit was very messy, and came about due to me refusing to work even more hours(50+ a week is more than enough), but I feel it's important to realise that the people in the store aren't necessarily the bad guys. We hated these sales as much as anyone else and the amount of issues that we were left to deal with because of centre management kicking up a stink, was really stressing and way above our pay grade.

    Everyone else here has mentioned the atrocious unpaid work factor.

    One thing I really noticed is how much OH&S violations need to be reported to the relevant authority.

    "OH MY GOD IT'S A FIRE sale"

    I was an Assistant Manager at EB Games.

    I had to set up a sale by myself more than once. One particular time none of the casual workers could come in and the Store Manager was busy out with the Area Manager. Buying a jetski.

    I was there alone from close of business until opening the next morning. Shopping centre security locked the bathrooms at midnight and went home. I had to piss in a bucket in the backroom. When I complained I was accused of not being a 'Team Player'.

    Last edited 08/06/17 10:59 pm

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