Front Lines, pt. III: I Got Kids to Feed Too


The customer service department isn’t the most glamorous part of the video game business. For one thing, it’s the same at any consumer products company. Calls and e-mails filter in and are gently deflected; on rare occasions, action is taken.

At one publisher, the department manager would frequently requisition dozens of copies of the latest titles— it was a big company and they sold a lot of games, so surely there was a lot of customer servicing to do. People would bring home their new games from Best Buy or Wal-Mart and find the discs scratched or broken inside the box. The customer service department would take care of them. Nobody really bothered to check in on it very closely. It was just boring old customer service after all.

One day, though, someone was at the fax machine and noticed what looked like an eBay receipt, and it turned out the department head hardly needed as many games as he was requesting. Instead, he was selling them online to supplement his income.

After firing the manager, the company instituted much tighter controls and greater scrutiny on those parts of its operations. The department had earned a little notoriety.

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