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GameStop is causing COVID-19 superspreader events over game consoles

GameStop Closing 62 More Stores

The song and dance of wading through online stock trackers and thousands of news posts has been playing out for months online when hunting for a PS5 or Xbox Series X. And it would seem that one retailer is content to let people literally die for the sake of profit. GameStop is still holding in-store promotions that draw customers to cramped stores in the hopes of getting a console.

As the Reddit threads on this terrible idea report, things didn’t go well. At least stores don’t have to deal with people camping out in their parking lots, they just get a whole new gaggle of problems. Sure, some people got their consoles,  but a lot of people were less lucky and wasted hours for nothing.

Let’s be clear, this is something that GameStop has been doing for a while. During Black Friday in the US last month, the console bundles were also available and shopping was plagued by many of the same issues. Computer glitches and crashed points-of-sale were common then, and they’re plaguing the system still. This all led to dozens of customers stuck in lines, potentially with other people who refused to wear masks, for hours on end. All of this happened while many stores lacked proper staff and even warning that this event was going on; which points to a lack of leadership awareness at higher levels in various districts.

At a time when most companies have been refusing to offer in-person orders or shopping, the North Texas gaming company bucked the retail industry this holiday season as the only major chain that’s offering the consoles as an in-store exclusive. And with the variable nature of stock levels, it means that some stores were woefully underprepared for this new promotion.

All of this is combined with the usual foibles of a rush to buy something, leading to what can only be described as a disaster. Customers and employees reported everything from broken online order forms to a lack of available stock, and everything in between. In short, this was a terrible plan that was even more terribly executed. The entire mess led to many stores across the US who either had no idea the promotion was occurring or being stuck with angry customers while said employees helplessly refreshed the order page, hoping it would work this time.

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Keep in mind that all of this happened while the company has been doing what a sane person would consider the bare minimum to limit COVID-19 spread. Masks and massively reduced occupancy limits are largely the only things keeping people safe while shopping in-person, and it’s up to the employees to enforce this. Of course, some people still don’t care, and GameStop leadership certainly doesn’t. Because when a couple of employees are expected to somehow manage dozens of people who are all expecting something for their hours-long wait, things get chaotic really quick.

On top of all of this, employees were expected to conduct the usual business tasks like setting up other promotions, rotating stock and more. Imagine trying to do that while someone screams at you about their PS5 and how they’re exempt from wearing a mask. Really doesn’t sound fun, does it?

I for one don’t care if GameStop is struggling, there’s no justifying this. The amount of recklessness demonstrated by these promotions is enough for me to feel like the corporate structure doesn’t care how many people they kill. This is the same company that has been roundly criticized for its incompetent handling of the pandemic, including trying to defy lockdown orders in some areas.

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