GameStop whistleblower Camelot331 has exposed an alleged conference call between EB Games Canada staff- a subsidiary of GameStop.
Across our editorial series covering his work [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] Camelot, alleged former, and alleged existing GameStop staff accused the company of numerous illegal, fraudulent, and immoral offenses at both store and corporate level.
Camelot also recently posted claims by alleged staff that GameStop had lied about sending out hand sanitizer, and were attempting to abuse legal loopholes to remain open during the pandemic. The latter was supported by a recently leaked memo.
Now, Camelot’s latest video features audio from an alleged regional conference call. It should be noted that when this author had previously contacted Camelot via Twitter direct messaging (24 hours before he published the video), he stated he was listening in on the conference call at the time.
The regional call contained store managers, the “head of stores,” and several executives- two of them female. Somehow, Camelot was able to sit-in on the call without arousing suspicion.
Speaking with Camelot on Twitter, he identified the head of stores as Tim O’Reilly, the head of stores for EB Games Canada. “Gamestop is their parent company so its the same corp and same everything,” Camelot explained. “So same protocol.” The conference call does make mention of the EB Games Canada Facebook group.
Firstly, O’Reilly states that corporate staff who would usually have to travel (“field leaders” such as district managers, regional leaders, and human resources) can stay at home. If they need to “reach out” to others, they were encouraged to call or use email.
O’Reilly then highly encouraged managers to reject “rumors” from social media, and rely on a “valid source” such as local government, or corporate staff.
Finally, O’Reilly stated that with hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies, they were “pushing out whatever’s left,” and more cleaning wipes would be coming next week. While supplies are “difficult to get,” more were on the way.
A Q&A session then began. One store manager asked if there were precautions in place for if a member of store staff caught the cornavirus. A female executive by the name of Jeanine answered:
“There’s different aspects to this, there’s different ways that we’re dealing with it, if we did have a situation in store, we had somebody that tested positive, of course we would take that very seriously. And we do have protocols in place to ensure that, first of all if that did happen we would shut the store down, we would bring a cleaning crew in to ensure that the entire store was sanitized, certainly. And then we would look to next steps. But we do have protocols in place, and we have discussed different scenarios, and what would be our course of action with it.”
Camelot feels this “cleaning crew” would be more store staff, with cleaning supplies “that they don’t have.” Camelot further claims that this is likely to mean that those who had worked with an infected college would be expected to continue working.
In a prior video that we reported on, alleged GameStop staff claimed to Camelot they had not received any cleaning supplies, and were told by superiors to buy it themselves.
Camelot also claims that he saw one user post “on the Reddit” (possibly the GameStop subreddit) where an alleged assistant store manager had contracted the virus. While they were sent home, the store remained open. When speaking to him on Twitter, Camelot explained it was one comment in a larger reddit thread. We are attempting to find it.
Another manager asked if corporate staff had had “the conversation” about taking care of employees, after pointing out that in stores that are more densely packed (such as a mall where “half the stores are closed”), and other businesses were compensating staff who self-isolated. He stated the situation was asking employees to choose between their livelihoods and their health.
Jeanine stated that corporate staff had those conversations, but “each situation was unique,” and “it was not a perfect world.” As such, she was unable to answer if they would be able to pay wages for “everyone who chooses not to work.” However it is an “ongoing discussion.”
Camelot feels the phrasing of “chooses not to work” is unfair, as they are being forced by the company into choosing between their health (and the health of their loved ones), or being able to pay bills such as rent. He strongly condemned it as “disgusting,” and dismissed Jeanine’s comments about understanding the manager’s angst as doubtful.
One store manager asked outright “is there a point we’re just gonna put people over profits and close the stores,” and if it was being actively discussed.
The manager then cited a Facebook post (most likely one of these: 1, 2), where EB Games Canada announcing they were still open were met with “150 comments of people just saying ‘you’re terrible close your stores.’ “
Another male executive replies. “It’s a daily conversation, and Jeanine and I were just on a call about it with the rest of the executive team.” He then stated the decision was made “day-by-day,” claiming “the Government says ‘keep everything open that’s fine!’ Right? Some retailers make their own decisions for their own reasons. Some are closing and not paying their associates,” and allegedly making staff use their vacation days.
When the manager re-iterated the question, the male executive re-iterated they were taking it “day-by-day.” The executive then assured the managers they would always be “transparent” with them. Camelot condemned the answer as “corporate nonsense,” and not answering the question.
Another store manager asked if they could not take in tech trades, specifically “not the cleanest” controllers. Another male executive then steered the topic away towards handling cash. He stated that while the matter had been discussed, and that despite the World Health Organization’s recommendations, no country had banned or restricted handling cash.
As such, the executive states they will still accept tech trades “without a doubt,” and “like anything else you handle, you want to be careful with it.”
When the store manager asked again if they could refuse accepting a controller, the executive stated that they could if it was “not in a re-sellable condition […] like any other trade, you’ve always had the right to refuse it.”
A store manager also asked why customer service was closed when they attempted to contact them on behalf of a customer. Jeanine denied it was closed, but they were “not taking calls,” and the majority of communication was to be handled through emails.
Camelot theorizes this means that corporate staff (such as those in customer service) are at home, and answering queries via email. He points again out how corporate staff are safe, while store staff are at high risk of catching the coronavirus.
Another question asked was regarding “judgement calls.” As one of the questions when doing a “reference check” on new employees is “How does the candidate make their own judgement calls,” a store manager asks what judgement calls are the company making.
The store manager points out how some of their customers are vulnerable to the virus (such as being elderly), and how remaining open makes their stores liable to spread infection (especially when queuing).
The second male executive, stated that the store staff were only able to control customers in their store (should a queue end up going outside the store), and reiterated that it was a day-by-day discussion.
The executive then stated they were in a “hot location” due to so many being quarantined, and with children not attending school- which would lead to more customers. However, they had no control over people who chose to break quarantine.
He then recommended the store manager speak to the mall manager about managing queues outside the store, or to “invite” customers to buy games a day after their launch.
A store manager asked how to handle staff who felt scared, or concerned the company prioritized money over them. When asking if there was anything human resources could do to disprove that, Jeanine replied that they had already done so (“I think we already did that […] I already sent out communications myself”), and stated it was the store manager’s responsibility to reassure staff.
Camelot felt her answer and tone was condescending, and that the executives should act like true leaders. A male executive then weighed in, praising “Hana” (another female executive) for making 15-minute daily calls.
He then stated they wished to avoid coming across as “fake,” and that emails and letters lacked “authenticity”. He claims they are “leading through empathy,” and would welcome any recommendations to improve, or if any particular staff needed a direct 15-minute call.
When asked if the head office was on reduced hours (as some stores were), this was denied by Jeanine, further claiming they were working extended hours.
Another store manager asked what happened if customers got sick from coming into their stores. An executive stated “it’s out of your control,” citing other examples (catching it from a gas-pump, or from a product at a supermarket). He also encouraged staff to self-isolate if they were sick. The executive also denied they were staying open to save money.
A store manager explained- while fighting back tears- how attempting to stay open was tarnishing the company’s reputation, and how major game releases and sales were encouraging people to break quarantine and get in close contact with others. She asked outright “what are we gonna do?”
Once again, an executive stated it was part of the day-to-day discussion, and that they were “thinking ahead.” The question was ultimately unanswered.
When asked if staff would be paid if a store closes, Jeanine did not directly answer the question- stating they were coming up with a plan of action that would “support everybody.” “We just don’t have all the answers at this point. […] We certainly want to do the right thing.”
When asked about how the company would act on Facebook (particularly with how poorly the earlier Facebook post had done), and if the company would be more “socially responsible,” an executive stated they would discuss it with the social media team.
Since the video went live, Camelot tweeted that it had been flagged due to a “privacy complaint”. Out of the 40 minutes and 23 second video, the allegedly violating content is from 2:00 to 40:00. Camelot states that he believes this was flagged by GameStop.
“Welp. @GameStop was exposed in my conference call video and now they are false flagging it and trying to get it taken down. Using the timestamp of the ENTIRE video. Spread this. This is not okay. They are trying to silence the voices that are concerned!!!”
This includes the postponement and cancellation of GDC and E3 2020 respectively. At this time, Gamescom 2020 is still being prepared, with organizers monitoring local regulations and the virus’ spread.
The Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering are mapping the virus’ spread [1, 2]. As of this time of writing, there have been over 240,000 confirmed cases worldwide, and over 10,000 deaths. Over 86,000 people have made a “total recovery.” On March 11th, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak “can be categorized as a pandemic.”