Beating the System

by Steve Napierski to Comics

First, I had the idea for the comic and then I came up with the title for it: Beating the System. After that my affinity for puns took over because I began to associate the title/comic with Ross Nover’s popular webcomic The System. Then I started thinking, “Since ‘the system’ is in the title why not make the comic look like The System, as well?” So I did and here we are.

Would this actually work? Not sure. The comic is in reference to my years working at GameStop FuncoLand and Best Buy. Both of these places had the same policy for opened games: Only exchange for another copy of the same title. I guess unless someone had marked on the receipt somehow, to show it was an exchange, you could just take it to another location. Lord knows now that there’s tons of FuncoLands GameStops everywhere. You’d probably only have to go around the block or just wait at the same location for someone different to ring you up.

Have any of you tried this before or something like it before? Did it actually work?

  • Nolan

    That usually doesn’t work, at least from my experience when I’ve had to legitimately exchange a game. Unless they’re new or really distracted, the employee will open up the game before they hand it to you to prevent you from being able to return a sealed copy, sell it elsewhere as a new/sealed, etc.

    • Mike

      That’s what I used to do when I worked for GS. Also, If I had someone who was exchanging a used game that the receipt said was already a previous exchange, then I’d mark “2nd Exchange” on the receipt. Granted, if they just took it as a refund, my note wouldn’t work. But if you can prevent a fraction of those who abuse you as a “free blockbuster” then it’s worth it.

    • Mike

      you should come back with a mustach and glasses and then maybe you’ll get away with it.

  • Xaan

    It works beautifully at big box stores, especially if you pay cash.

    Note that my reason for doing so was completely legitimate – I’d bought World of Warcraft and it didn’t have a CD key. This was when it was just being released, and was somewhat hard to find. So I returned the opened one for an unopened one, only to get home and find that my mother, knowing I wanted the game, had bought it for me. Back to the store, return the unopened copy. Profit?

  • Sharain

    Actually, as long as the receipt is “clean” and you do not go to the same person, but same type of store, this could theoretically work. Just say it was meant to be a gift but you already had a copy of the game or something. BUT, I do believe some stores would take the receipt from you upon exchange, or unpack the exchanged game. I recon it depends on how “dumb” the person behind the desk is and the respective stores policies.

    So, in theory this can work, but unless someone actually does it, we will remain clueless.

  • Winston

    Our local GAME (UK’s Gamestop) had a policy where you could return any game (opened or not) within 7 days for a full refund. We used to get a game, blitz the crap out of it, go get a full refund and get something else. Sometimes we’d even buy the same game back again (on the same visit) if we hadn’t finished with it. For one or two glorious years, saturdays became known as new-game-day.

    But then they wised up and changed the policy…

    • meiriana

      This method still works in some(most) shops in sweden :D

  • Jamie Noguchi

    Oh man, i was beginning to panic a little. I thought you started guest month early! Totally fooled me. I thought Ross did this one for you!

    • Steve Napierski

      That’s funny. No, Ross just supplied me with the means to do this comic a while back when I did a guest strip for The System. Speaking of which, I owe him a guest strip.

  • Daniel

    Well, I actually tried this once. I bought a crappy game, played it a little, hated it, traded it in for a new copy, and went to a different store to exchange it for Super Paper Mario.

    • Sloshy

      Good choice in replacement! I just beat that game recently. Sure it was a little boring in the middle, but the story in the end was just great… A lot more emotional than I thought it would be.

  • Magus

    Any time I’ve ever exchanged any kind of digital media that was defective (CD/DVD/game) they would open the new one they were giving me in exchange.

  • The Anarchyz

    I worked as a computer systems analyst at a big retail chain, what i did to prevent “beating the system” was putting a flag in the purchase record, when the cashier digits the transaction code (only people with their receipt can return) it shows if the item was opened in the exchange, also, there’s an “additional comment” field and all the cashiers are trained to put that info. So if a person gets away with it, it’s because of human error.

  • Coren

    I worked at one of the big corporate game stores *cough*Gamestop*cough* for 7 years. After awhile of getting regular customers I used to bend the rules. Especially when people were nice to me about it.

    One example was a woman bought a game for her daughter that was too hard for her (some ice skating DS game) so I let her exchange it, no problems

    Another example was I recommended a game I liked to a regular customer, he came back two hours later and said he was sorry but he didn’t like it, so I exchanged it for him.

    It was when the customers who were “I f–in hate this stupid game! This game sucks! Why can’t I exchange it!?” is where I drew the line.

  • Triaxx2

    Done that. Didn’t like to do it. Would do it again.

  • 06th

    RAWR, TRADING GAMES IS EVIL! But seriously, if you’re going to buy it used, just pirate. The company that made the game gets exactly the same amount of money. Better yet, pirate it and donate money to the company based off what you think the game was worth, do so anonymously with a description of what aspect of the game each portion of the money is for. Also, in my limited experience, used game stores are screwing you with the price anyway.

  • Houkama

    I tried this at Walmart once, but they unwrapped the new copy before handing it over.

    • Tinq

      Yeah, my Ex used to work at Wal-Mart and that was the policy. When Twilight Princess came out a couple of kids brought in their copy to exchange and she told them they could only get the same game. So they took her up on it, and even though she opened it they came back a few hours later to try again. She wasn’t at the desk, but she was still in the store. Stupid kids. There was a Gamestop next door!

  • Ghoulston

    I just buy pre-owned games from GameStop, play it for a week, and return it within 7 days for my money back. Their return policy says preowned games can be returned for cash within 7 days, and when they ask me why I return it I just tell them “I didn’t like the game.” This is a great method to use on games you played 5-10 years ago and aren’t sure if they are actually any good.

    I had no idea how awful Sonic Heroes really was.

  • Tenshi

    As someone who works in a big retail chain, this does not work at my store. All of our service desk workers are trained to unseal the package on an exchange to prevent this exact situation.

  • Lemiwinks

    California has a law about gift cards that says retailers have to cash them out on request of the customer, only if the balance is below $10.

    *Walk into Old Navy with $25 gift card*
    “I want to cash this out”
    “We can’t do that because it’s above $10 in value”
    “Okay, I want to buy 2 $10 gift cards.” (Cash out remaining $5)
    “I want to buy 1 $1 candy bar with each card card” (Cash out 2 cards for $9 each)
    “I want to return the candy and cash that out.” (Get remaining $2 back)

    8-10 transactions later, I walked out with $25 and hadn’t spent any cash at Old Navy.

    • Steve Napierski

      I’d hate to see how many transactions transpire for a $100 gift card.

      • The Anarchyz

        I did it once with a $75 GC, not pretty at all, but my former girlfriend was shopping, so it was going to be a while anyway…

        • Irrrrrrrrr

          They wouldn’t just let you get 7 $9.50 gift cards and a $8.50 gift card?

          Wish my state had that law, I have a 42 cent Blockbuster card, a ton of $10 starbucks cards, , $6 Bestbuy cards, at one point I had my $7 Target card split into 7 $1 gift card just because the customer service girl was really rude, but then I was stuck with some $1 gift cards.

      • Lemiwinks

        A lot. Honestly it was the corporates own fault since they will not allow a cash out greater than $9.99 for a gift card. The only reason that is in the system even is because it’s law. Stores HATE giving you your money back for any reason.

  • BigLord


  • Nate

    Have to chime in on this with Wal-Mart. Yeah, that’s the policy. But I worked the electronics desk and saw how VERY many times the service desk didn’t follow through and open the new one. At the time, we were still sending expensive items up to the desk for later exchange. I’d leave it with instructions to be opened. That mostly worked. So, yeah. Try it with a big box store. Works the best.

  • Kira

    I’ve worked in retail for some time and customers in electronics trying to return games generally have these (broad) characteristics: they are Honest or Suspicious and Relaxed or Annoying.

    You could make a grid of the four combinations, and you can generally get an impression of how to deal with each catagory.

    Honest and Relaxed: Generally, these people earnestly have an issue and are just looking for a resolution. They weren’t satisfied but understand store policy. I sometimes bend the rules for these people because they are the ones I like and wish all customers were like this. You can’t always be sure about someone’s honesty though, these people can pull the wool over your eyes sometimes.

    Honest but Annyoing: They have a problem, but they believe that our sole purpose on this planet is to resolve it for them. These people generally are obnoxious and irritating and while I try and fix the problem for them, I am loathe to try and make them happy when they are aggravating me.

    Suspicious but Relaxed: These are the ones that are the worst to deal with sometimes. Not because they personally are hard to deal with, but the line between suspicious and honest is a fine line which is hard to find and you aren’t sure whether or not they are trying to screw the system. If there’s any doubt, stick rigidly to the rules and go from there.

    Suspicious and Annoyed: Probably the easiest to deal with honestly. These people I want out of my department as soon as possible. I’ve seen many people tell me I’m trying to screw them over, when it’s really the other way around. You typically need to get the manager involved with these customers, but I like passing the ball off to someone of authority who will shoot down their stupid arguments. Sometimes they win their arguments, and that’s when they turn from easiest to deal with to hardest, because they go from annoying to smug about their accomplishment. And you just shake your head.

  • Kaminari

    I worked at a service desk at a store in the midwest called Meijer. Its exactly like a Walmart just a 5 state wide chain and had a policy of no refunds on open games. You could only get the exchange if the game was not working due to a defective disk and only for the same game. So if we got someone that said I didn’t like the game for the reason of return we’d say sorry no refund. Then they would flip and say “WTF!” And I usually said you can get at least half back at gamestop down the road other then that I would open the cases of any sealed/high theft items if exchanged and mark the receipt.

    We also had a no game system return policy even if defective. Once had a lady try to return a WII at three different stores and inside the box was the Holy Bible. This ironically was just 3 days after Christmas too.

  • NickNackGus

    Very funny! Please note that the apparent relationship with Portal is merely a coincidence. Make no further attempt to leave the humor testing area.

  • DS

    I actually tried this a couple days ago. About a week ago I bought Rage from Walmart, only to find the game was terrible.
    Feeling like I was cheated, I tried to return it to Walmart only to have the associate cut the plastic off with a pair of scissors.

    However, I used to have Battlefield BC2 which was defective and the console wouldn’t read it.
    I took it back to the store (the same Walmart as the incident above) to get it swapped with a new copy.
    Thinking I wanted a refund instead the associate offered cash for the opened game before I told her I wanted a replacement.

  • Matt

    Funny, I just got done reading today’s The System, clicked over here, and was confused for a moment.

  • Allen

    I had a friend who did this at Target back in the early 90s when he bought a bad SNES game. I told him to exchange the opened game for an unopened one (no receipt needed), then had someone else take back the unopened copy with the receipt for a full refund.

  • Chilame

    Bought Guitar Hero world tour online, disk kept telling me to put it in an XBOX-360 in order to play it, so i sold it to one gamestop and rebought it at another.

  • Robert

    So I’ve seen this work but only once and a long time ago. My dad got me Mario Is Missing for Christmas the year it came out (my folks wouldn’t let me get an SNES and this is the closest I had seen to SNES graphics on the NES and hey it had Mario, how could I go wrong??). After I beat the game that afternoon, my dad was furious that such an expensive game could be beaten so easily. So he took it back to Wal-Mart and tried to explain the issue. All they could offer him was another copy of the same game so he reluctantly took the deal. We then headed to the next Wal-Mart an hour away. He gave them the game, explained he lost the receipt and was able to get them to give him store credit. He then sent me to find a game I would like. I went home with a copy of Zelda II (one of my favorite games ever) and I think another toy of some sort since there was money left from exchange.

  • Phaelin

    A bit to the reverse of this, I won Project Gotham Racing 4 in a raffle and tried to sell it, but they would not take it due to shrinkwrap. So I yanked it off, and magically, they took it!

  • Sora

    Once I bought the Collector’s Edition of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for $100. Came home, opened the box (but not the sealed game) and realized I didn’t need any of that stuff. So I put everything up in the box the way it was arranged and took it back to the GS where I had bought it.

    The asshole behind the counter said they couldn’t take it because the outer box had been opened. So I went down the street (literally not even a mile away since it used to be an EB Games, but was now a GS) to the other GS and amazingly, the lady behind the counter took all the tape off and basically just opened everything up and then returned all my money. I still have a grudge against that asshole at the first GS though.