Walton's World

Walton's World
The Other Side of the Counter

Joe Blancato | 3 Jan 2006 11:03
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One of our more annoying regulars - we'll call him Paul - had a weird ability to get under anyone's skin. Everyone has their version of Paul; kind of a small kid, dressed out of his element, ultimately wanting to be accepted by someone, anyone. He's someone entirely tolerable, if slightly pitiful. We let him hang around the store, because, like so many other kids who spent time there, he had nowhere else to go.

It was a busy night, and Paul was hanging out, as usual. My co-worker was manning the store alone. He was a new hire at the time, and was in way over his head. According to him, there were 30 people in the store, all banging on the glass and demanding his attention. Someone asked to look at a GameCube, which we kept on a high shelf, so light fingers couldn't walk out of the store with a $120 console. My co-worker grabbed a ladder and placed the Cube on the counter. Then, he made a fatal newbie mistake: He went into the back room to grab something for another customer. He heard a bit of a racket and went back into the main area, just in time to see a familiar form racing out of the store with a GameCube tucked under its arm. Paul, the snake, saw an opportunity, and he took it. The problem is, everyone who worked there knew Paul, and we had his address in our computer system.

The best part? We didn't have the heart to press charges. It would've been like sending Gollum back to Mordor.

The Ugly
If The Bad was just too run-of-the-mill for you, The Ugly should be right up your alley. These are the stories that don't just make you shake your head or give you silver lining to discover, they just leave a bad taste in your mouth.

As with normal retail, gaming retail is extremely numbers-driven, but since the returns on the majority of new items sold is so low, we're forced to "up-sell" anything we can. This is why we try to sell you strategy guides you don't need. "The worst part was the numbers game, trying to kowtow to the corporate machine," Brian tells me. "You had to sell a certain amount of product to get some average that determined how well you were selling.

"You always had to get more items per sale, and due to this, you had to try and push stuff on people that they never wanted, like strategy guides and accessories. I hated trying to push stuff on people that they didn't want, but knew I had to, just so I wouldn't be bothered about it. There were other ways they tracked your performance, like selling discount cards and magazine subscriptions. I basically just wanted to give the people what they wanted with no fuss, but taking on this extra crap seemed contrived and greedy to me." And he was forced into it. It's hard to fault the corporations for trying to promote incentive sales, but when your employees call it "contrived and greedy," you have to question how they're spreading that message.

While I remember the same pushy managers as Brian, the ugliest thing I ever witnessed working where I did centered, again, around Paul.

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