Why You Should Think Twice Before Pre-Ordering Stuff At GameStop

New and used game retailer GameStop is well-known for its culture of encouraging pre-sales. Employees convince customers to reserve copies of future products by paying all or part of the balance in advance, pleasing their corporate overlords. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and in rare cases customers can get stiffed.

Blonde Nerd (warning: there’s a bit of salty language in the post) tells one such harrowing story. She pre-ordered the guide to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but when it came time to pick up the purchase at the store, was told GameStop was out of stock because it hadn’t ordered enough copies. A clerk took down her information and promised a call if more guides came in.

After several days passed, she checked back in and was told the store didn’t have her pre-order registered in its computer, even though she still had the receipt that proved she placed the order. After she was told GameStop wouldn’t be receiving any more copies of the guide, she gave up and ordered it on Amazon. Rubbing salt into a wound thought healed, she later found that the GameStop at which she placed the pre-order had the second edition of the guide in stock.

While this is by no means the norm at GameStop, the outcome is not at all impossible, and something to keep in mind when considering pre-ordering items there or anywhere else that doesn’t have your full trust.

Dammit, GameStop. [Blonde Nerd]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Kuri says:

    So we should swear off a retailer entirely because of an extremely rare occurrence at one store. Mmkay.

    • dolemite says:

      No, there are many other reasons to swear them off. Lack of stock, pushing memberships on you, inept employees, and high prices.

      • kayfouroh says:

        Don’t forget opening copies of new games to remove competitor items, resealing the copies and selling them as new.

        • MutantMonkey says:

          Don’t forget that when they agreed to stock that item, SQUENIX did not mention such an item being part of the package and lets not forget that SQUENIX apologized to GameStop for the mess.

          • Kestris says:

            Add another reason why I will never buy another Square Enix game.

          • SabreDC says:

            All is well since they apologized to GameStop, right? Forget about the fact that the customers bought a new game that was opened and stripped of contents that were built into the retail price.

            • MutantMonkey says:

              O_o You think that a slip of paper advertising a competitive digital distro service had an affect on the price? Really?


              • SabreDC says:

                You don’t think advertising dollars affect prices of goods? If company A pays company B money to advertise in product X, you don’t think the cost of product X reflects the income that company B receives from those advertising dollars?

      • Kuri says:

        None of which I have ever run into, so to me that means it’s not the company as a whole, but the stores people are going to.

        • samonela says:

          I agree. And of all the times I’ve ever slammed heroin while having unprotected sex with my favorite crack addicted hooker, I still have not died or contracted any diseases.

          So why should I stop?

        • superml says:

          That’s my view too.
          I’ll keep continuing to give stores such as Gamestop/EB and Best Buy my business until I personally have a bad experience, no matter how many horror stories I see here.

    • Taliskan says:

      If you check Consumerist you can find dozens of mroe stories on why to avoid GameStop.

    • Charmander says:

      My family has never had a problem with pre-ordering items at GameStop.

      But now, after reading this article – I’ll never shop there again!!!!!!


  2. MutantMonkey says:

    Oh, is it time for “Over Reactionary Theater” already?


  3. MercutioGeek says:

    For anyone who, like me, hates Gamestop, this is good for a laugh.

  4. Nobby says:

    More articles about SOPA please.

  5. Bladerunner says:

    There’s nothing rare about GS effing up preorders. Whether it’s promising preorder bonuses that they then say are “limited” and on a “first come, first serve” basis, thus negating any benefits of a preorder (all I wanted was my SH:Shattered Memories soundtrack but noooooooo), or losing preorders entirely, you can count on GameStop to take your money and…well, take it.

  6. deathbecomesme says:

    I only buy used games at GS. And only if I can’t find them cheaper on Amazon or Craigslist first, which is hardly ever. I will never buy anything from them that came out within the last two months because they sell it for ~$4 cheaper than buying it new elsewhere.

    I only buy used because of their 7 day return/exchange policy. Otherwise they are sh*t

  7. Raekwon says:

    This isn’t as rare as people seem to think. I have many friends who run into this problem.

    • dolemite says:

      Long ago I ran into this issue (not with a book, but with a preorder). So…I drive all the way out to the mall to pick it up after they tell me my preorder is ready, and…oops we are out of stock. Come back when we get another shipment. Last time I preordered with them.

  8. FreeMarketFan says:

    So they knew how to take the order, but they couldn’t hold the order.

    Anyone can just take take take

  9. SharkD says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a positive experience at a Gamestop.

    Shopping there is usually a slightly less pleasant experience than having your wisdom teeth extracted by an Ford F-350 dually.

    That said, paying a $50 premium for a $49 video game, just because it includes a plastic statue, a belt buckle, a decoder ring and a special retail box seems a bit silly.

    But, then again, I no longer have disposable income, so it may just be sour grapes.

    • BuntaFujiwara says:

      You know you don’t HAVE to buy a special edition, right? And that’s not gamestop, that’s Naughty Dog, etc.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      If you really want the CE edition of a game you are better off waiting. I just picked up the CE edition of deathsmiles for 14.99 shipped from newegg. This was cheaper than buying the regular version, which sells for 19.99 on newegg. That was an easy decision, even if I threw out the contents of the CE I would have been better off getting the CE because it was cheaper.

      It seems that most CE’s are produced in extremely large numbers these days at least for Xbox 360, and are not actually rare at all. In fact since they are the most overpriced editions of the games, they sell less then retailers are stuck scrambling to get rid of the large, oversized boxes that are taking up their warehouse and store space. Sometimes you can get a better deal on the CE even if you throw out the extra stuff from the CE if you don’t want it. At the very least you could sell your CE extras on ebay and make some money back towards the cost of the game.

      I know the skyrim CE has already been 99.99 down from $150 and I fully expect it to drop further.

      You run into the occasionally rare CE, but those don’t come up too often.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I have, but I only buy used there. If I want something new I get it off the Internet. The store at the mall and one up near me in a shopping center will hold stuff for me if they have it in stock.

      There is one down by Barnes & Noble that I never go into anymore. The few times I’ve been in there they COMPLETELY ignored me. I left without spending any money. The shopping center one is the exact opposite. So my purchases go to that particular store. :)

  10. pop top says:
  11. theblackdog says:

    Meh, their online pre-ordering has worked just fine for me *hugs his Zelda edition 3DS*

  12. gizmosprocket says:

    This kind of thing happened to me three times- and while I don’t have statistics for overall pre-order success/failure, gamestop has done this kind of thing 100% of the time I have preordered through them. I no longer shop at gamestop and only go there when the kids have gift-cards to burn through.

  13. nopirates says:

    i order from amazon. the game shows up at my door on the day of release.


    • tsukiotoshi says:

      Same here. It is most glorious.

    • dolemite says:

      I did this with Newegg for Skyrim. Bad idea. I figured they’d do the same thing as Amazon and have release day delivery…nope. It was scheduled to arrive 4 days after the release date (despite the fact it had 3 day shipping and shipped the day before it released). I simply bought it from Steam and sent the unopened box back to them for a refund. Honestly….what’s the point of “preordering” with a company if it is going to arrive almost a week later?

      • nopirates says:

        i’ve heard that about newegg.

        i think the last 5 or 6 games that i bought i bought through amazon. it really saves the pain of facing lines of lack of stock for big releases.

  14. MPD01605 says:

    Reminds me of Seinfeld.


    • scoosdad says:

      I always watch Elaine’s facial expressions during the exchanges between Jerry and the agent. Priceless!

  15. Extended-Warranty says:

    This story really isn’t that informative.

    Either way, there really is no good reason to preorder at Gamestop other than a free gift or locking down a special edition.

  16. Eyeheartpie says:

    I’ve pre-ordered at Gamestop and never had an issue. Like all anecdotes, your personal experiences may not be the norm. This sounds like a store issue, not a systemic Gamestop issue. Every chain has a bad store. That doesn’t mean you should boycott the entire chain. Besides, there are plenty of other reasons to boycott Gamestop that ARE systemic. This one just sounds like a single store having issues.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      In this case I think we can all agree that GameStops policies are what make it a bad experience for most. The employees are just pawns to corporate policies and managers could care less. If they gave employees a little more wiggle room to get customers issues resolved I don’t think you would see as many GS posts on here

      • tsukiotoshi says:

        That is very manager dependent. The Gamestop I worked at had managers that gave us a fairly high degree of freedom to try and pacify or otherwise work with customers having a bad experience. They were almost always within easy access so we could get them to come handle it if we weren’t sure what was in our authority. They definitely pushed the limits of what corporate allows. On the other hand, the next closest Gamestop to us had very strict and angry managers that were unwilling to help out customers or treat their employees like people, so kind of a depressing store in general.

  17. Cat says:

    “A door is ajar.”
    [looks at doors]

    NO, a door is NOT a jar, it’s a fucking DOOR!

    //stupid car.

  18. aja175 says:

    At least they don’t continually auth your credit card until the pre-order is available like best buy does.

  19. tsukiotoshi says:

    Total iIncompetence on the store’s part. When I worked at Gamestop if someone came in with a receipt that proved they paid for the item in question but for some freak reason we couldn’t find it in the database, we would have given them their pre-order anyway. They also probably would have been refunded, or at least discounted, and given the guide as soon as more stock came in if the store bungled a pre-order like that. But, that’s the thing about Gamestop, though, it is so store dependent. The store I worked at had great managers who really tried to work with customers to help them out, but the one in the nearby mall had horrible managers, high employee turnover, and often outright lied to customers.

    Anyway, she should call the regional office and complain loudly and belligerently. The Gamestop in question will hear about it.

  20. chiieddy says:

    For every bad experience there’s a good. Here’s why I will always shop at my local Gamestop.

    A couple of Christmas’s ago, I was looking to buy my husband a Xbox 360 for a gift. I specifically wanted a version that came with a racing game, because my husband loves that game. I called several Targets and my local one said they had the correct one in stock, so I drove over. They lied.

    From the Target, I called Gamestop and they DID have it and I dashed over and got my gift.

    About a week later, I found out Gamestop was having a $50 gift card promo on purchases of Xbox that started the day after I purchased the gift and ended a few days later. Please be aware, the promo was over when I went into the store with my receipt. BUT, because they hadn’t informed me there would be a sale the next day, Gamestop happily gave me a $50 gift card, which my husband was able to use to get a game.

    Excellent service. Customer for life (at least at this location)

    • Kuri says:

      I have similar experiences with my own local Gamestop.

      One example, I was looking to get a second PS3 controller. Without me even asking the the clerk grabbed a package off the shelf that came with LittleBigPlanet, and let me trade in the game right then and there to take part of the price off the controller

    • bfwc07 says:

      “For every bad experience there’s a good.”

      So does that mean that there’s a 50% chance of having a bad experience at Gamestop? I’d rather shop at retailers where for every bad experience there were 10 or more good experiences.

      • chiieddy says:

        No, it means that for every bad story out there, someone has a good one and these things should be treated with a grain of salt. The reason you see bad stories all over the web and consumerist is because people like to complain but aren’t usually willing to go out of their way to praise.

  21. cigsm says:

    Yeah it’s absolutely absurd when you buy a new game for $60 at Gamestop, play it and realize you don’t like it, return it for credit the next day at Gamestop, they give you $20 & sell it USED for $55.

    • arsenicookie says:

      or you could by it from anywhere else for 60 bucks brand new and when you don’t like it they’ll give you nothing at all for it.

    • JHDarkLeg says:

      Gamestop doesn’t force you to buy the used copy, and used copies of older games are way more than $5 cheaper than the new version.

    • BuntaFujiwara says:

      Yeah, I hate when GameStop FORCES me to trade it to them. It sucks that they came to my housewith a loaded gun and made me trade it, such BS!

      Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, Glyde, Half.com all enable you to sell the way you want to, some more inconvinient than others. People trade at GameStop because it’s insanly simple and they will take the game even if it’s taped together shards of a disc.

  22. anime_runs_my_life says:

    GameStop pulled this stunt on me when I preordered Fallout3. It was the special edition with all the goodies in it. I got the call the order was in so I hoofed it over to the store. When I got there, they claimed the following things:
    – No they didn’t get enough of the special editions in, and tried to push the regular version (probable case of bait and switch)
    – When I refused, they then told me that I never really did make a preorder
    – When I showed them the receipt that I was told I’d need in order to get credit towards the preorder, I was accused of forging the receipt.

    I walked out after that and went to the local Best Buy where I used a RewardZone certificate and got it for $20 less than what I was going to pay for it.

    They got $5 from me and they haven’t seen a dime since. I won’t buy from them and I won’t recommend them to anyone else.

    • Portlandia says:

      How can you fucking FORGE a receipt??? That’s ridiculous.

      • anime_runs_my_life says:

        I wish I knew. The guy behind the counter came out with the lame excuse. Before that, between myself and my husband, we’d bought tons of games for our Wii, DS and Playstation. After that, we scaled back. GameStop was one of the few retailers that actually had decent prices on used games.

  23. BobOki says:

    No, I am pretty sure that IS the norm at gamestop. They call it Gamestop becuase they truely try to stop you from gaming. They have botched the last 4 pre-orders I did, the last one being WoW: Cata, and I will never shop with them again.
    How does a company as big as GameStop for a launch as big as WoW for their midnight launch “forget” to ask the mall to allow them to be open, “forget” to order enough copies for their pre-orders, “Forget” to tell everyone that pickup will be a parking lot about 6 miles away from the store on the bad side of town, “forget” to mention cash only, and finally “forget” to credit the accounts of everyone who canceled their preorder (full paid) for these mistakes. Amazing that Amazon was able to get our copies next day where Gamestop could not.

    Other issues I have had with them, they “forgot” to give out the pre-order special items, “forgot” to give out the pre-order month frees, “forgot” your made pre-orders and when you complain their managers, GMs, and corporate “forget” to call you back.

    I will look back with a smile the day we “forget” they used to sell games.

  24. backwerds says:

    I hate my local gamestop; I’ve never been treated with more rude attitude regarding getting games the week they come out than there. Basically anytime I attempt to get a game 2-4 days after release I get scolded about how I should have pre-ordered the game and that I’ll never be able to find it anywhere in the city without pre-ordering. Unless of course, I happen to drive to the Target, Walmart, Best Buy or Meijer, all located about 5 minutes from this store and pick up one of the dozen copies of the game they each have.

    • some.nerd says:

      Why don’t you just go there first? Seems like you’d be cutting out the middle-man and saving yourself a lecture on the merits of pre-orders.

    • satchow says:

      YES! They give me the same “You’re stupid for not preordering it, now you’ll never get it anywhere.” attitude whenever I try to buy a new game also. What’s ironic about that attitude is that even if you do preorder it there, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it then either! What’s the purpose of a preorder and that attitude if a lot of times it ends up with the same result, no game.

      Get your games on release day with Amazon guys.

  25. Portlandia says:

    More importantly, why would you buy a freaking physical copy of a guide when all the exact same information and video walkthroughs are available online FOR FREE?

    • Kestris says:

      Because some of us prefer to take the book away from our computers to other rooms, especially if the game console isn’t in the same room as the computer or don’t play that particular game on our computers.

      Me, I prefer to have a physical copy of a book.

  26. some.nerd says:

    Don’t hate the player, hate the GameStop?
    As a side note, why aren’t there more Play-N-Trades? Some of us still play Atari and NES, dangit!

    • delicatedisarray says:

      My local Play-n-Trade went under. It made me so sad when I pulled up and the building was for rent! The guys who ran is were great, plus I got free stuff all the time (which if they were doing that with lots of people could explain why they had to close). If I bought a three-five NES games they would let me have a $5 or cheaper one for free. If I pre-ordered with them they would give me a poster or advertisement from the wall. On top of that they would fix scratched disks for way cheaper then the other guys in town. I really miss them, now all we have that sells older stuff is FX and they are expensive.

  27. Kestris says:

    Knock on wood, I’ve never had any issues preordering through Gamestop.

    I got my copy of the guidebook for Skyrim at that evil place called Best Buy, personally. They had a stack of roughly a dozen there.

  28. ShinGetterPoPo says:

    My last time with preordering at Gamestop was when Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistance came out. There was a special edition for it, and the cashier there sold it up so I preordered it. The day came and I went to pick it up and the morning guy had sold my copy.
    To himself.
    That day the special edition was up to 100 or so dollars on ebay and was no where to be found. The morning guy kept his job, my copy of the game, and gamestop basically told me to shove it and deal with it.

  29. Patriot says:

    I miss Software Etc. (No history lessons on how it eventually merged into Gamestop. I’m talking about Software Etc. when it was Software Etc.)

  30. Outrun1986 says:

    Games are cheaper elsewhere than Gamestop, even if you do want a preorder you can usually get one much cheaper from Newegg or Amazon. A couple days ago I think Newegg had a preorder for Mass Effect 3 for 47.99 which is about $12 less than what you would pay at Gamestop for the exact same game. $12 is well worth it to wait a day or 2 for your game to ship.

    If you want to save even more your desired game will likely drop down to $40 within a month or 2 of release especially if you follow the sales, wait even longer and its bound to drop to $30 then to $20. But personally I’ll wait for the GOTY edition to come out so I can get the complete edition with DLC right on the disc so I don’t get fleeced for DLC costs like all the other early adopters. Its not like I don’t have enough games to play in the interim.

  31. ducktownhusker says:

    I’ve never once pre-ordered a game.

    Halo 2, Halo 3, Gears of War 3, NCAA 2012 and Arkham City were all games I picked up off the shelf the day they debuted. Just go to Target or K-Mart instead of the game story boutique places like EB or GS.

  32. Nuc says:

    I’ve never had an issue with Gamestop. Guess I’ve been lucky.

  33. Geekybiker says:

    I found out long ago that I’m more likely to get a copy on launch day by driving down to best buy than pre-ordering with gamestop. Them screwing up pre-orders is hardly a rare occurrence. Their goal is to have zero new copies of the game on the shelves and only sell used games. Consequently they seem to order less pre-order copies than they have orders for since some people never pick them up. Or they just decide to sell your copy to someone who randomly wanders in on launch day.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Best Buy or Walmart will usually have 50+ new copies of the game on the shelf so I see no need to go to Gamestop at all as well. Your experience with GS is exactly what I have experienced, they only stock enough new games for the preorders, with maybe 1-2 copies extra. Thus you are left hanging if you don’t preorder the game while BB and Walmart can stock more than enough for the gaming public, I have never seen either run out of a new release game on day one in at least 5 years. They expect a certain number of these people to trade in the game in shortly after they buy it so they can then sell the game used to those customers thus making more profit for themselves.

      They basically intentionally understock new games so they can make profit off desperate people who have GS store credit by pushing the used game on them.

      They really don’t care if they sell new games, because they make almost no profit on those, their profit is in the used games, they will give you $20 or $30 in trade in if you are lucky for a game that you just bought the day before and played once then turn around and sell it for $54.99 used. Used copies also don’t come with DLC so you are screwing yourself if you buy a GS used copy for $5 less than a new one that comes with DLC in the package. As you will just end up paying more for the DLC later on.

  34. MaytagRepairman says:

    Last time I bought a newly released game I went to the store and was told they had the game in stock but they were saved for people who had reservations. I walked down the street to my apartment, reserved the game at that store location, and returned to pick up the game. Today, I can do it from my phone, or maybe I will just ask the guy point-blank if I can reserve a copy on the spot.

  35. Piddles says:

    You should never pre-order guides in the first place, or non-collector versions of games at all. It’s not 1995. No one is going to run out.

  36. Brian Cooks says:

    Don’t pre-order it at gamestop, pick it up release day at best buy. In my experience they won’t lie to you about how they have no copies available because you didn’t pre-order. They generally order crap tons of every new game and stock the extra copies.

  37. amuro98 says:

    Welcome to 1990.

    Pre-ordering always was, and always has been a scam. Seriously, do people think the video game companies just won’t ship anymore copies, ever?

    Ok, so now Gamestop is working with game companies to offer exclusive items for pre-ordering (e.g. a special costume or extra gun for your character.) Big deal.

  38. clydesplace says:

    Here’s the thing I like about Amazon. While initially their price on an item may seem higher when you pre-order, chances are you won’t pay that. You get the lowest price the item was offered for up until it’s release date. Sometimes they do have to issue a credit, but it’s done automatically. Other times you simply get charged the lower price if the lowest price is the release date price. I can’t remember the last time I paid the price that an item was when I pre-ordered it.

  39. 8bithero says:

    Preorders are for suckers. I have yet to want a game, that I have not preordered, and walk into a store and them not have it in stock.