Mere days after closing its stores to customers and moving to a curbside pickup-only model, GameStop is being scrutinized for its insistence on continuing to do business during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in spite of the inherent risks posed to its workers.
Late on Friday, March 27, The Boston Globe published a report including an interview with an anonymous GameStop manager and the text from an official memo on curbside pickup given to stores. The memo tells employees how to process curbside purchases, a cumbersome process that still entails a degree of close proximity between worker and customer.
GameStop store employees working during the pandemic are instructed to wrap their arm in a plastic bag, accept customers' credit cards using the bag through the store's partially opened door, and then ring up the purchases (still using the bagged hand). Afterwards, they're to return the credit card and the purchased goods to a customer in the same bag, inverted to make the surface that touched the card into the bag's inside.
Prior to GameStop's decision to close its store interiors to customers, the company instructed employees to tell law enforcement and other officials wanting to close GameStop locations that the chain should be classified as essential retail because of its non-gaming offerings. A few days prior, Kotaku reported that GameStop has struggled to provide its stores with adequate supplies of protective gloves and cleaning agents. In its official press release regarding curbside purchases, GameStop makes no mention of the plastic bag process nor makes an explicit guarantee that employees will be provided with additional safety supplies.
"I have to make a choice between doing a job that nobody needs during a pandemic and not being paid," says the manager who spoke to the Globe, "and possibly infecting people or being infected."
Business Insider received the following comment back from GameStop representative Joey Mooring regarding the company's newly instituted curbside pickup model:
With employee and customer safety as our paramount concern, we've closed all our stores to customer access. Where provided for by state and local directives, we are only processing orders on a digital basis through our new curbside Delivery@Door pick-up service. Only employees may enter our stores at this time. Importantly, all GameStop employees have been assured that they do not have to work if they are not comfortable, or need to stay home to care for a family member. While GameStop is best-known as a provider of gaming and home entertainment systems, we also offer a wide array of products and devices that are important to facilitate remote work, distance learning, and virtual connectivity.
Regardless of GameStop's move to keep customers out of its stores and its assertion of essential retail status, city and state governments can order the retailer to close its locations down during the pandemic.
Temporary closures brought on by the pandemic may add to the hurt the retailer is already feeling: on Friday, GameStop announced it is closing at least 320 locations over the next year, having just closed 321 in the previous fiscal year while also laying off over 120 corporate staffers, including many employees from the publication Game Informer.
Header photo was acquired and cropped from Creative Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.