Another Ex Gamestop Employee Tale of Termination Part One
I worked at Gamestop. Unlike many, I wasn't hired from within. I didn't work for the company for years in hopes of making management. I was hired off the street due to my previous executive management background. Why? I suppose it had to do with the new face of Gamestop. A more professionally run organization at store manager level anyway. After all, who wants a guy with ear rings in his nose and tattoos down his neck and smells of smoke telling a customer they can't get a refund on a game they just opened? That's a joke people. Meant to drive home the point. Gamestop knows what they have in terms of existing employees left over from the Funco and Babbages, EB era... They will push those people out if they don't fit in with what the future of Gamestop is determined to be. Which I'll elaborate on as I go forward.
You may ask why I wanted to work for Gamestop. Here is your answer. It's the economy. With children to feed and tough times, you look outside your comfort zone and do what you must. For me, if I was going to work for Gamestop, I was going to do the job well. I was proud that Gamestop looked to me as a cut above what they attempted to cultivate in house. I'm not saying good employees don't start off at ground level in Gamestop. They do, but more times than not, the long term investment doesn't pay off. Hate me for saying that, but I could see a difference in what I brought to the table as a manager and what SOME of the existing managers embodied. From the first day on the job, I could see what Gamestop was looking for. In a word, maturity. Suddenly here I was a well over 30 something working side-by-side with teens and twenty somethings that quite frankly were both naïve and hard-working. Not all, but most. There was also a blend of hip attitude and cut throat deceit. Add in a measure of fear of the company and you have your prototypical Gamestop employee. And yes, most Gamestop employees develop a fear of the company. I myself didn't want to buy into the hype but over time, the threat of big-brother was drilled into me so hard that I too began to think I could be fired for just about any infraction.
I say every employee because you see, most employees at Gamestop are not lowly Game Advisors better known as GA's. What is a GA? They are usually seasonal help or part part timers that won't get more than 10 hours per week on the clock. A GA's responsibilities are mundane for the most part, their goal is to work register otherwise they are expected to walk the floor filling holes (open slots on the walls). With duties no greater than a janitor, these employees are exempt from the fear, yet strangely still just as vulnerable. If they don't meet a manager's expectations a GA doesn't get fired, they get marginalized. In short, they fire themselves. Don't put a GA on the clock and they get the idea that they need to find another job.
The bulk of the crew at any Gamestop are managers. Store Managers, Assistant Store Managers and Sr. Game Advisers with manager level responsibilities. Understand that If you've been there a year, you are promoted in responsibility while earning almost the same income of a GA. That's about $8.00 per hour. My first week on the job I learned everyone wants to be a manager. They all want to be the man. In my first week , I was treated with both decency and disgust. They knew I was hired off the street to be the man. I was an M.I.T., manager in training. I was placed in a high volume store with associates brought in from other stores as an all star cast if you will allow me to call them that. Even the Sr. Game Advisers felt they knew enough to 'run the store' and they were all quick to tell me so. The Assistant Store Managers on the other hand, they were the ones living in fear. According to them, EVERYTHING could get you fired. I came to learn that was absolutely true. If only I didn't witness favoritism which now looking back makes me feel good that Gamestop lost me and is left with 'thieves' in their midst. I'll get to that too. Let's stick with the fear mongering for now.
In my first week, all I heard was, "Do this and you'll get fired" and "Don't do that, and you'll get fired." Examples being, set a console on the register counter and if the District Manager comes in the store, or it's viewed on video, you'll be fired immediately. The store manager was supposed to fire you too, but there appeared to be a sense of teamwork to cover this fact up. Another example, don't work off the clock or you'll get your manager fired. I looked into this with HR and they emphatically told me a different story, but that was a bold-faced lie. Now, I'm not saying every company shouldn't have rules. Nor am I saying these are not fireable offenses at some point or at some degree. I would think you should expect a warning or maybe even to be 'written' up to show an employee has a pattern of disregard or proof they can't follow rules. You get the idea, and I hope you would agree. In fact, Gamestop claims to have these rules.
Well, within two weeks of training I've found that if I'm to learn all the operational procedures in running a store are to be met, I should have some formal training. Shouldn't I? Shouldn't anyone? After all this is a fortune 200 company! Instead, I'm told by my district manager that it is "on the job training." There is no manual... oh wait, there is. It took me three weeks to get that answer. And the manual is on a clunky in house web site called GoStores. But you can only read it while on the clock. It can't leave the building EVER and there is never any time on the clock for you to read it. This is not a joke. You can't read it during your lunch, because that in effect is working off the clock.
To call learning that this is how Gamestop operates a surprise is an understatement. I was concerned thinking to myself, "I'm going to run a store and be expected to know all the detailed operational procedures in three months by standing behind a cash register most of my day?" Nuances of the job leaped at me daily. One customer bought a used Iphone with a Gamestop replacement plan. Two days later he came in and I watched the store manager for a half an hour work his way around replacing the phone due to a crack under the screen about half the length of a small fingernail in the top corner of the device. That day I learned that FOR ME, ethically if I was going to sell replacement plans (and my employees) I would want every buyer to know that damage of that sort couldn't be covered. In this area I understood how on the job training applied. But when it came to training me to understand the numbering of inventoried product and daily work flow of how to accept shipments, pack shipments or handle a return of product bought in another state accounting for a different tax rate, no one set aside time to train me. I was either asking for help, witnessing them done ONCE or fighting for a moment to look up any conceivable answer in the company procedures in their GoStores documents. Reading from a half baked technical manual is not training.
Fortunately for me, I was a customer before I was an employee and I understood the basic strengths of Gamestop. We all do right? Used (pre-owned) over new, and Powerup cards for discounts. From the day I was hired I met and exceeded the goals. I was always over 14%. I say this because sure enough some Gamestop employee somewhere is going to be looking for reasons to criticize what they are reading here and speculate on why I was fired. And yes, I was fired. Gamestop threw away an asset. I wasn't some half-hearted college aged gamer whom would call out or not show up to work because they resented a $7.00 per hour 10 hour workweek paycheck. I was hired to brand a better image. I was hired to win long time customers, not just the standard issue school age gamer that was going to come in REGARDLESS. I was hired to keep the parents coming back. I was hired to win over adults and the younger crowd alike. I was hired at 35k per year once I met my 90 day probation completion. Until then, I was at least getting $15.00 per hour. Hard to feed a family on that pay, but I was happy for it in this economy.
You can say this is easy money, but at first - I had to learn the store. I had to learn retail. I wasn't born into retail, I wasn't raised in retail. I managed white collar businesses. I was a project leader, and marketing guru. I was a sales professional. And this is why Gamestop hired me. If you as a customer think Gamestop is about video games, you are kidding yourself. They have but one cause. To find a way to UP the average amount of money you spend in the store. Think I'm kidding? They track daily how much an average sale is, and managers are graded to a point of bonuses based in a number of dollar oriented factors and DPT (dollar per transaction) is one of them. You and I would call it average dollars per sale. They expect each customer sale to be no less than $60.00 and as high as $100 during holidays. Walk in a Gamestop and ultimately you are the magic number of $60 to Gamestop.
What's amusing is that Gamestop then pressures the employees to 'connect' with customers and build rapport through trust in knowledge of games and genuine concern for them as a human. Think this is a joke? Again, guess what employees are graded on? Those receipts surveys that each Gamestop employee practically begs you to fill out. And should you give them less than a 10, it hurts them and the store. I'll digress from my story a bit more and give you a secret. Ever want to really hurt an employee? Give them a 2 on the survey. District Managers are expected to read all of these surveys from stores. God knows they don't do much to earn their paycheck so this is one area they pay attention. Employees pay a heavy price for those surveys.
One day, about three weeks into the job, an Assistant Store Manager, (ASM) whom I originally thought I'd butt heads with but ended up being perhaps the nicest guy in the shop to work with accidentally revealed (I overheard him on the phone) to me he was getting a raise that put him just over $10 per hour and he was thrilled with it. Imagine, working 37 to 40 hours a week for $10.00 per hour. Seem like a lot? Well, consider that this guy really did have all the skills to run the store and ASM's are store managers many hours of the day. They complete inventory shipments inbound and out, they do large volumes of inventory counts and clean up inventory messes. They help do employee schedules, they fulfill daily banking duties such as closing all registers and completing all the number calculations for the day and the list goes on and on. A lot is expected of Gamestop employees from marketing materials being changed all over the store to loss prevention and on and on and on is expected. It's not uncommon the get an e-mail from a district manager demanding the sky on short notice OFTEN LATE IN THE DAY while expecting you to complete all your regularly scheduled tasks. Hey, this is okay by me. That's what it means to have the responsibility, but Gamestop doesn't pay people what that time is worth. Sure in the business world you must maximize your employees output, but it's Waaaaaay out of line here. $10.00 per hour is a joke. At $15 I was feeling like, yeah, I'll take this no problem during training. So after 120 days on the job, I was about to ask for the promised raise I had not yet received. Never got to that...
So if I was such a company man and made no mistakes that you can see in this article so far, what was I fired for? I'll tell if I see there is an audience for the rest of this story. Because it does get better and it IS in progress.
I will say this much. I'm writing about this because after what happened to me, it's one of those things where I can see I'm just a little peon in Gamestop's world. I was used and used badly. I was treated with a great deal of disrespect and I believe for the most part, no one will read this and give a damn what happened to me. I liked my job as crazy as it may seem, mostly because I felt I was going to be part of a better future of Gamestop. What a joke. Now I don't want to buy at any Gamestop, nor does my family and friends. Everyone is just mad and disgusted.
I'm not saying that I have children doesn't matter. That tears me up. The day I was fired I wasn't just humiliated and angry. I was sad that now my children's future was unraveling. All because of what? So are you curious? Wondering if I did something to deserve it?
That I did my job well, did not matter. And despite myself witnessing deceitful people try to hurt me and other co-workers ...I believed I operated above such behavior - it didn't keep me employed. That I witnessed racism and raunchy sexist jokes by teenagers and twenty somethings and didn't participate in risky conversations didn't win me any good karma either. Don't judge me as a bore. I wasn't a gdam stick in the mud either. But come on, I was hired to be a store manager. I couldn't risk losing my job by trying to act years younger. If it means anything to you, I'm a good looking guy so I had nothing to prove. I'm athletic and know my way around gaming. I fit in, I'm just older and willing to know my place in the big picture. So what got me fired? Do you really want to know?