Roll the (store) credits

Planet Puzzle League came out this week, and as a big fan of Tetris Attack, I was all too eager to pick up the update. I realized I had a few games and DVDs lying around that I should trade in, even for a little credit, just to reduce clutter around the house. Also I had these two really, really old EB Edge store-credit cards that I kept meaning to redeem. They had, between them, about $3, but you wouldn’t throw away $3 in spare change, would you? Me neither. So I gathered up some stuff I knew I was never going to play again — quite a lot of it, really, about 20 games from various platforms and even a gray DS which had since been supplanted with a DS Lite — and hobbled off to the store with Kat.

When I get to GameStop, there’s a sign in the window that said “Trade in 5 games and get 30% bonus credit.” I’m thinking, holy shit, we’re going to be able to get the game and maybe have a little left over. Jeffrey at the register cheerfully tallies everything up and says “If you sign up for Game Informer, you’ll get 40% instead of 30%. Literally, I’d be paying you in credit to take the subscription.” Now, GI is a direct competitor to OXM and the 800-lb gorilla of the game mag biz, for exactly this “tied to a discount card” reason. Since your “subscription” is really a $15 customer affinity program, they follow different circulation rules — but for some reason, they’re still allowed to play the same numbers game as traditional newsstand/subscriber publications and win. I feel more than a little awkward about supporting that tricksy methodology, but I don’t currently get GI and should, to be responsible, keep an eye on the competition on a regular basis anyway. If nothing else, I’ll bring it into work for reference for the staff. I say what any good American consumer would say: “I’ll do whatever gets me the most trade-in credit.” Gimme gimme gimme!

Jeffrey double-checks everything three times so he doesn’t rip me off. “You’re going to get a hell of a lot of credit for this,” he says. Guess that means the little DS game is covered. I look at Kat and ask if there’s anything else she wants — games, accessories, gifts for friends, whatever. When she says no, I figured, hell, if it’s a LOT of money, I’d love to get the HD DVD drive for my 360. They sent one to the magazine and I borrowed it but never really got to use it. The nerd in me wants it, and if it’s essentially free with trade-ins, why not?

When the tally comes through with the 40% boost, it’s close to $150 in credit. Holy cow. But with the $200 drive and the $35 DS game, plus tax, I wind up owing $100. Okay, fair enough; that’s still basically a free DS game and the HD drive for half-price. I’m grateful. “Oh yeah,” I remind him, “and I have, like, $3 on those two old cards; let’s at least zero that out so I don’t have to carry them around any more.”

“Man…these cards are old!” Jeffrey says. We look closely and find that one of them doesn’t even mention a URL. Jeffrey points to his young co-worker, saying, “When this card came out, this guy was in kindergarden!” I’m just hoping that they aren’t demagnetized; they have been kicking around a lot over the years. Maybe they’ll ring up zero; maybe they won’t ring up at all.

“Whoa,” says Jeffrey. “This one’s worth $62.” The only thing I could articulate was “…really?” “…And this one’s worth $40. Wow…you’re going to owe me, like, three bucks.” Sure enough, store credit and mystery cards combined left me with a final total of…$3.77. I paid in cash.

I have dim memories of a few times that I went into the EBX at Hillsdale Mall with trade-ins years ago, left with store credit because they didn’t have what I came in for, and forgot how valuable the cards were. I don’t think it was a computer error; I think it was merely a memory issue.

Today is a good day.

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