Why Does GameStop Need My ID To Accept A Trade-In?

A lot of consumers are concerned — and not without reason — that their personal information is being passed around like bottle of cheap wine around a campfire. At the same time, it feels like more retailers are asking for this sort of information on everything from purchases to returns.

Consumerist reader Sara recently went to her local GameStop to trade in three Nintendo DS games — all of which had been purchased at this same store only a few weeks earlier — for one pre-owned copy of Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.

“My first problem was that I was not given the supposed 50% more trade-in credit,” she writes. “I got $5.00 in credit for a $20.00 game, $3.00 in credit for a $12.00 game, and $0.30 in credit for a $4.00 game. The offer of 50% more trade-in credit is a joke at best.”

When it eventually got around to actually trading in the old games, the GameStop employee asked for Sara’s address and date of birth.

She says that when she asked why this information was needed, “Not a single employee could tell me why… I was eventually yelled at and harassed by a manager who told me that the store could get into a lot of trouble for not having the information.”

Uncomfortable about handing over this information to people who could not provide an proper explanation why it was required, she simply paid for the Zelda game in cash and kept the games she’d hoped to trade in.

As a final insult, when she got home, she realized that the store had given her the wrong game.

Sara put all of her complaints and concerns in an e-mail to GameStop and received the auto-reply that a District Manager would be getting in touch with her soon. That has not happened.

Since GameStop HQ isn’t willing to explain the policy, we asked “B.” a GameStop manager and Consumerist reader if they could explain the reason for the ID requirement on trade-ins.

B. writes:

Being a second-hand retailer, Gamestop is put into the same bracket as a pawn shop. As such, a photo I.D. and full address is required for all trade-ins. Why an employee would be unaware of the reason I do not know (it may have been a new hire).

This is not private information. In fact, my employees use it as a way to comfort a customer because the community is taking measures to retrieve potentially stolen items.

What CAN change from store to store (depending on their neighborhood and general region) is how much information to take. For example, my store is in a neighborhood that’s high on theft and crime.

Therefore, the local Sheriff’s department requires us to fill out a full pawn slip, complete with all Driver’s License information (including DL #), thumbprint and signature.

In addition, those pawn slip stores are required to hold all serial numbered merchandise for 30 days before selling so the police have an opportunity to run the serial number through their theft reports.

Thanks to B. for this explanation. This is the kind of policy that retail employees should be able to explain to every customer who walks through the door, especially at a store like GameStop where trade-ins are part of everyday business.