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GameStop has allegedly once again abused legal loopholes in order to be deemed “essential” and remain open, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Across our editorial series covering the work of GameStop whistleblower Camelot [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] he, alleged former, and alleged existing GameStop staff accused company of numerous illegal, fraudulent, and immoral offenses at both store and corporate level.
Based on information Camelot received, along with his own experiences, he felt GameStop would soon enter bankruptcy. He also proposed there was a “three stage plan” by corporate leaders.
This would involve doing whatever it took to increase the stock value of the company in the short-term (including closing stores and firing staff) before liquidating the company or filing for bankruptcy.
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. This was via registering the company as an electrical company, making it “essential”.
An alleged corporate source also claimed that if GameStop closes “even for a week or two. They will have to file for Chapter 11 [bankruptcy]. So they are refusing.”
The claims were supported by a recently alleged leaked memo, which instructed store staff to hand a letter to police attempting to close stores, which in turn asked police to call GameStop’s corporate office. Alleged corporate GameStop staff claimed to Camelot that GameStop would sue anyone attempting to close them down.
GameStop also announced they would sell Doom Eternal one day early, in order to avoid spreading the virus, but keeping the release date of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Shortly after the alleged leaked memo, Camelot produced audio from an alleged conference call between executives of EB Games Canada (a subsidiary of GameStop) and store managers. Along with confirming they would keep stores open, they stated they would not pay employees if they chose to self-isolate, and that they were not liable if anyone got sick coming into their stores.
While they stated they would clean stores should an employee get sick, Camelot doubted this would occur, and that the store would remain open. A store manager also pointed out in the conference call that the company was being condemned on social media when they were announcing they would remain open.
Soon after, GameStop were revealed to be closing their stores in California– though not paying their staff during this time- and eventually closing all their stores across the United States, and utilizing curb-side pick-up on orders.
Now, Camelot’s latest video has allegations from supposed anonymous staff, that GameStop have abused legal-loopholes again to classify them as essential and re-open.
One alleged Store Manager from Illinois claimed that despite a shelter in place order from the local government, his District Leader texted them to come back into work (explaining the aforementioned loophole) after it had been shut down by police an indeterminate amount of time prior.
“Now my DL [District Leader] says that if the police show up that we are to get our legal department involved and refuse,” the Store Manager claimed to Camelot in a message. “Again. Like they tried to make us to [sic] before.” As a result of this, the Store Manager claims they have handed in their two week notice.
Camelot also claims he obtained a letter (or image of a letter) that granted employees in a warehouse exception. You can find that image below.
For those utilizing translation for this article, and due to Camelot’s camera partially obscuring the image, the above letter states the following (the obscured section was read aloud by Camelot in the video).
“The individual presenting this letter is employed by an interstate distribution center that is shipping products directly to residences throughout the country. The distribution center is located in Grapevine, TX. The center remains in operation during this time period (3/23/20 – 4/6/2020), and the employee has agree to report to work at scheduled hours. We appreciate your assistance in allowing the individual to proceed to the facility, which is permitted to operate under all federal, state, and local laws.
To the extent there are any unique circumstances or safety issues in the area, please inform our employee, and he/she will gladly comply with any request. Each employee has been issued an ID badge to verify their place of employment, and they have been instructed to show you the ID badge upon request.”
Camelot claims the reason the letter contains no official branding or mention of GameStop, is so that GameStop will have deniability should it become public knowledge. Camelot claims the GameStop warehouse is located in Grapevine, Texas.
This may also explain why the letter has no phone number for police to contact GameStop, should they dispute the letter’s validity. Employees may be told the number to tell police, or a phone number is on their employee badge or card.
One supposed employee claims that their store was open along with curb-side pick-up, and staff hours cut down to 70 a week. Camelot proposes this would be an average loss of 20 hours per week per store employee.
The District Leader also supposedly told them they were “required to take credit cards and gift cards at the door,” and demanded “good” performance numbers. They also told them to “tell the police ‘no’.”
Regarding the credit and gift cards, Camelot cites how GameStop had reportedly told employees to wrap their hands in plastic bags while they continued working, and how it was woefully insufficient to protect them, or customers.
Camelot proposes the cut hours and desperation to keep the stores open is to recoup losses due to having been forced to pay employees while the store was closed.
One alleged store employee claimed to Camelot their store remained open, even after having been issued a citation to have staff appear in court (along with the District Leader and GameStop legal representatives). The store was even “called out” on a radio show and news outlets for remaining open. Camelot proposes GameStop will not fight the case, and will accept any fines given by the court.
Another supposed employee based in Maryland explained how he was informed that all stores were to remain open on March 30th and 31st. When expressing concerns for safety to the corporate office and regional manager, they were told to keep working.
Due to no one being able to cover their shift, they were told that if the store was not opened, they would be written up or fired for refusing to work. Needing the money, they opened the store. GameStop also recently announced they would be closing over 300 stores.
A state officer ordered the store to be closed, and the employee called the District Manager. “He told me it didn’t make sense and we had a ‘legal obligation to stay open’,” the employee claims. “He then called me back, asking if the police were still there and if they weren’t to just resume business as usual.”
Before “leaving in disgust,” the employee claims to have received an email from GameStop corporate. That email can be found below.
For those utilizing translation for this article, the above email states the following (information redacted to protect the anonymity of the source).
News asking for information.
If you are asked by the media for any comments you will need to state no comment.
If the news media reaches out to you, do not respond or speak to them, and notify:
The coronavirus pandemic (also known as COVID-19 officially, or Chinese Flu to others) has affected many worldwide, from businesses to public gatherings and events. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. This includes the postponement of GDC, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, along with the cancellation of E3 2020, and Comiket 98.
The Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering are mapping the virus’ spread [1, 2]. As of this time of writing, there have been over 1 million total confirmed cases worldwide, and over 812,000 active cases. There have been over 59,000 deaths, however over 225,000 people have made a “total recovery.”