GameStop Is Out Of The Game You Want? Order It For In-Store Pickup, Return 10 Minutes Later

The bad news: the GameStop where Ambyr went to buy a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops for her husband only had enough copies of the game to fill pre-orders. The good news: In GameStop’s universe, to “pre-order” means that you leave the store that just refused to sell you a game, order that game online, and then return fifteen minutes later. Bad for logic, good for Ambyr.

To my dearest Consumerist. I thought you might find this amusing… seeing as how you love GameStop and their wily ways.

Today, Call of Duty: Black Ops came out. My husband is a big fan, and I (who did not preorder it), wanted to have it for him by the time he got home.

I checked online at to find that the store closest to me does have it in stock. I left work on my lunch break and went over right away. Upon walking up to the counter, I see a few dozen copies of the game, in PS3, right behind the cashier. Credit Card already in hand, I asked for a copy. He asked if I had Pre-Ordered, to which I said I had not. “I’m all out, except for pre-orders”. He told me.

Seeing how many are behind him, I know that they very well could have all been preordered. HOWEVER, if the online system says that he has them in stock, I have to assume that either he’s wrong, or it is. One of them is not correct, and I decided to test it out, and see which one it was.

I walked out of that establishment, and into the building next door (Jimmy John’s sub shop, mmm). While eating my tuna sub, I went online to, clicked on the front page button that says Pickup@store, put in my information… and was told that I could go get my game. I waited for my email confirmation to come in to my email. Once it showed up, threw away my lunch trash, and headed back inside Gamestop.

When I got inside, the cashier recognized me. With a slight tilt of his head, he asked me if he could help me. I told him “I’m preordered now.” And showed him my phone. He asked what I had done, and I told him exactly how I had done this as he confirmed in his system that I have a copy waiting for me. He gave me my Call Of Duty after I paid… and I was on my way.

So why is it that when I just want to buy a copy of the game, there are none… but if I go on my phone and “preorder” one, I can have it minutes later?

This is also a useful trick at other retailers: use it to escape Best Buy’s “optimization” upsells, for example.