Wednesday, 14 August 2013

GameStop Being Taken to Court Over Used Games that are More Expensive than New

Time for more lawsuits!

Not going to lie, this is kind of an awkward one, because there's a lot of things that can and should be questioned regarding the situation that I'm about to write on here. This past week GameStop was sued by a handful of people who bought used games from them, the reason for the lawsuit is the alleged failure of GameStop to make clear that the used games also needed online passes for their online components to work, and said passes would need to be bought separately.

I can understand and even appreciate the idea that something should not be misrepresented, or rather that any representation should be as clear as possible in the first place in order to avoid potential confusion and accusations of misdirection on the part of the representative. However, that in and of itself is where things start to become somewhat muddled.

"Jamar McGhee of Beverly and Hakana Ozdincer of Blackwood also alleged that GameStop deceived them when they bought used games. Each paid $45 for used games: McGhee bought Madden 2010, and Ozdincer purchased FIFA Soccer 2010. Both had to pay an additional fee to play it online."

Ultimately, the games cost $59.95 MSRP brand new, and as a Polygon article helpfully points out, the cost of the used games after the online passes are taken into account is ... $60 even. That's a difference, sure, but one of only five cents.

The argument can be (and probably already has been) made that in a situation like this it's not really about the money so much as it is about being misled. Well, there are some problems with that as well, at least in my viewpoint. First of all, there is the idea that the buyer should take the onus for at least some of the research involved in the purchase of a product. I cannot confirm it for sure, but I'm fairly certain that games must advertise that they require an online pass to get at content if they've put one in.

Likewise, GameStop has a comprehensive return policy, as stated on their own website: "This pre-owned product has been carefully tested, and is guaranteed to work. If you are not completely satisfied, simply return the product within 7 days for your money back or identical exchange within 30 days of purchase."

Again, citing a lack of an online pass is a reason to be "not completely satisfied" and thus should be something that you can get a refund for as long as you don't take more than a week to do so. So the question here really becomes whether or not information was intentionally withheld, and if so just how damaging said information was.

Although I've never been to a GameStop, I can say that when I've been in other franchises that the employees can range from anywhere between helpful and utterly insipid. Some people can and often do give wrong information, or pressure people into buying. However, although again I cannot state this as an absolute fact, I think that it is the responsibility of the employee as well to point out if a used game has features that a person will have to pay more money for in order to get access.

In the end it really seems like yet another problem that probably didn't need to go to court. Just what we might ultimately see from this is probably small term anyway, given that it seems that the damages being sought are refunds for gamers who bought used from GameStop for a certain period of time. At any rate though, I'll have more as this develops.

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