In late May, I was granted the review of Resistance: Burning Skies for another site. As sometimes happens in those situations, I ended up having to pick the game up myself on release day and, despite a review held back due to multiplayer connection issues post-launch, managed to play through what was, among Vita games, second only to Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted in its degree of awful.
As such, when I was surfing the Best Buy website a couple of weeks later and saw that they were running a 100 percent trade-in bonus sale, I jumped on the chance to pawn off the game (and pick up the Vita version of Mortal Kombat at ten bucks off, so GeekParty’s Team Josh could school me from afar over the Internet).
My first sign that something was amiss should have been the lack of a listing for Burning Skies on the Best Buy trade-in page, but I went into the nearest store anyway in hopes that it was just a glitch or imperfection in the system, the sort of thing that sometimes happens when dealing with a large and unwieldy database. Inside, I made my way to the dedicated trading kiosk (unoccupied) and managed to secure an employee to man it. As I made banter about the less-than-effective bench, pressed up against the kiosk such that one would have to sit facing away from it, or pull it out into the middle of foot traffic, she searched the system for the game. This was soon revealed to be a futile effort.
She left and I milled around, whistling quietly, snatching up what I’d come for, and waiting some more. Five minutes became ten and I began to wonder if I’d been forgotten. But she returned soon thereafter. The game, it seemed, was not in their used system for some reason or another. Too new? Perhaps due to the online pass? She couldn’t say. She said that they could offer me a generic trade-in value of a single dollar for my two-week old game. I scoffed, but still bought Mortal Kombat before I left.
Back home, I hopped on the trade-in page once more and tried to figure out why Resistance: Burning Skies wasn’t there. Too recent? No, because Lollipop Chainsaw was in there, and that had just come out. How ‘bout the online pass? Also nullified by the presence of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
Perplexed, I mulled over the predicament for a few minutes, then picked up the phone. I got in touch with Best Buy’s call center and tried to make sense of what had happened. Walking my first representative through the sequence of events failed to accomplish much of anything, though, and I grew frustrated. My questions became more pointed.
I wanted to know whether they were taking their trade-in program seriously or just throwing it out there to see what stuck, how they could expect people to wait to trade in recent games they’d finished with when GameStop had their trade-in values for games mapped out before the title had even been shipped. I wanted to speak to someone at the corporate office; he told me they were closed, having left at 5. It was now almost 8 my time, 7 for him. Finally, he agreed to try to set up a phone appointment for me with someone higher in the chain, and attempt, in the meantime, to uncover why my game wasn’t up for trade.
An hour later, I received a call back. He hadn’t been able to uncover anything about the game, but he had received authorization to offer me a $30 gift card. I refused; my goal wasn’t to extort money from the company, but to be able to perform a simple transaction that they had advertised. Soon, I was on the phone with his supervisor. She was quick to pick up on the situation and what was wrong, and asked me for a couple of days to do more research and talk to some of those involved in the trade-in program, find out if there was some alternative reason the game wasn’t available to trade. I gave my consent and then waited.
True to her word, she called back two days later. The situation was still unclear, and beyond anyone’s ability to alter with any degree of alacrity (checking the website, it’s up there now for twelve bucks), but she was planning to send me a $50 gift card. Well, all right then.
Two weeks later, after I’d fairly conclusively forgotten about the whole incident, I received a mostly unmarked letter, only a return address to adorn it, beyond its destination. Within, I found the promised gift card, the company’s logo emblazoned on the accompanying letter in the upper left corner, where it had been surreptitiously hidden behind the envelope in which it arrived.
I’m not really sure what I should take from this situation. I mean, it’s an example of customer service seemingly gone right, but it’s a strange society we live in where it’s simply more acceptable, and easier, for a corporation to offer reparations for what amounts to a perceived slight. I didn’t feel as though I’d been wronged, merely inconvenienced, and my priority was to cut through that obstacle and perform my part as a cog in our grand, capitalist machine. Instead, I was given multiple times the value of the original item I wished to trade in (which I eventually relieved myself of at a local GameStop, using the funds to pre-order Code of Princess; check it out, if you have any fondness for Guardian Heroes), but I ended up feeling like I’d somehow let the system down, or helped the system screw itself over.
That said, I spent the gift card today and, with a little extra out of pocket, managed to satisfy my consumerist drive.
Also, my craving for Sour Patch Kid Fruits. The grape ones are fucking addictive.