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How To Be A Stingy Scoundrel

Written By mista sense on Sunday, August 29, 2010 | 5:50 AM

[GameStop makes a zillion dollars by buying the game you paid $60 bucks for back from you for $8 and then reselling it for $40. Prove you're not gonna take it any more by... running a con? That's what my pal, film critic, Consumerist blogger and former game journo and SVGL-ally Phil Villarreal suggests you do in the following excerpt from his deadpan-sociopathic (and funny, of course) tome Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel. SVGL does not condone, encourage or endorse criminal activities, so if you try this, don't tell me.

Experience with Internet People dictates that despite this preface, some of you are still going to read this and somehow end up thinking I wrote it because it is printed on my blog. SO LET ME YELL IN YR FACES THIS IS A BOOK EXCERPT, PHIL WROTE IT NOT ME, IT IS REPUBLISHED HERE WITH PERMISSION SO IF YOU LIKE IT GO BUY HIS BOOK AND IF YOU HATE IT GO YELL AT HIM.]

Video-game and DVD retailers stick it to you by refusing to accept opened disc packages for returns. Should you accidentally buy a copy of Pootie Tang, Kangaroo Jack, or Kung Pow! Enter the Fist and not realize the error of your ways until you’ve broken the seal, the policy leaves you with little recourse other than lugging it over to a used DVD shop, where you’ll quite possibly be put through the indignity of fingerprinting and a driver’s license check for a measly 50 cents in cash or a dollar in store credit. Sure, you could march the DVD back to the store and appeal to a manager, but ninety-nine times out of 100 you’ll only be wasting your breath. After all, it says right there on the receipt that the company doesn’t accept opened DVDs or software for returns. The manager can just tell you to read the receipt, making you look like an ass in front of everyone behind you in line.

Notice a few sentences ago, however, that I said “little recourse,” not “no recourse.” There’s a devious, deceptively obvious magic trick you can pull that will let you tiptoe around the policy and return your rancid DVD or game for the cash you so foolishly squandered, deflecting the supposedly hidebound policy back in the customer service desk’s defenses like a light saber would a laser gun blast. Employing this Force requires no browbeating, smooth talking, or voodoo sacrifices—just a little bit of moxie and a resolve to keep a straight face.

Now that I’ve backed into the juicy stuff for a couple hundred words, here are the goods: Tell the man behind your desk that your disc is “defective” and “doesn’t work,” which is the whole truth in the metaphorical sense in the case of, say, Kung Pow! because it’s a defectively conceived film and the humor just doesn’t work. Any reputable business will swap out your opened DVD for a fresh, unopened number directly off the rack.

At this point you may be shaking my book and screaming “So what? Now I’ve bought another copy of the same awful DVD. How does this help me in any way?”

Patience, my sinister-minded son. You’re only halfway home. True, you may have a copy of an awful DVD in one hand, but in your back pocket you’ll still have the receipt from the original purchase. This document combined with your new DVD equals cash. If you want to be sneaky and prudent about it, you can just come back the next day and make the return, or you can be a hard-ass and just go for it in the same transaction. There’s a decent chance you’ll have to do some arguing to get your way, but relax—so long as you retain your composure and refuse to give in, you’ll win because you’re standing not only on the moral high ground but the legally firm position. All you need to do is have the manager read the part on the receipt that likely says, “Unopened discs may be returned within seven days” and you make him look like an ass in front of everyone in line.

You’ll be an instant intergalactic hero. Once your opponent gingerly hands you the receipt that says the purchase price has been credited back to your account, feel free to shout the “ZEEEOOOW!” sound of the light saber in an act of glorious domination. The geeks in line behind you will understand where you’re coming from.

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