Specialty retailer gives us a tour of their $7 million, 182,000 square foot facility in Grapevine, Texas and explains what goes into its refurbishment process.
By Eddie Makuch on
For the first time ever, GameStop opened its refurbishment center in Grapevine, Texas last week to outside eyes and ears. GameSpot was invited to Texas to get a tour of the facility and to speak with those who run the operation about what exactly goes on in there. We seized the opportunity, and flew to Texas to do just that.
During our time at the center, officially called the Refurbishment Operations Center, ("The ROC" as its employees call it), we got a one-on-one tour of the facility, spoke with executives like GameStop CEO Paul Raines, and learned quite a lot. Below and on the next page you'll find a gallery of photos from the center, some of which we took, and some provided by GameStop.
Facts and Figures
The ROC is a 182,000 square foot facility that opened in 2010, and is located at 2200 William D. Tate Avenue in Grapevine, Texas, just down the road from GameStop's headquarters. And by "just down the road," we mean just 2.3 miles away. The prior refurbishment center was located at GameStop's HQ, directly on top of corporate offices.
The ROC was a $7 million investment, and an expense proposition that made Raines and the rest of the executive team "very nervous." Ultimately, GameStop purchased the facility, and Raines says it affords the company an "unrivaled competitive advantage." In an interview with GameSpot, Raines explained that having a refurbishment center like the one it operates has allowed GameStop to have great success in the pre-owned market where others have tried and failed.
All discs that come to the ROC are sorted using these machines.
When you trade in a game, console, or peripheral at your local GameStop location, and the sales associate has doubts about the quality of the disc or device, the item is packaged and sent to the center. GameStop charges you a "refurb fee" for this.
Once at the center, the refurbishment process begins. But first, what does refurbishment exactly mean? Or what does it mean to GameStop? According to divisional vice president of refurbishment John Daugherty, "We're looking at repairing it; getting it back to that original factory condition. Not upgrading it, not downgrading it, but getting it back to where it is…you're not just trying to get it working, you're not trying to sell it to a customer and in 30 days or 60 days they have a bad experience with it, because they'll never come back to you again."
Who Works at the ROC?
Games and consoles (and now tablets and iDevices, too) are sorted, cleaned, prepared, and even destroyed at the ROC. To do this, GameStop employs 1,100 associates (divided into two shifts) to get the job done. GameStop says many of the employees are local job recruits who come from varied national origins, including South and Central America, Southeast Asia, and West Africa.
Daugherty said GameStop has never stopped hiring for positions at the ROC, with both hourly and salaried positions always available despite the economic downturn hurting the United States workforce.
"It's so frustrating to me to watch the news and see the stories saying everything's down, there's no jobs. If you are fresh out of high school and looking for your first job, I have an opportunity for you. If you are a degreed engineer looking for an opportunity, there is an opportunity for you here," Daugherty said. "We can grow as fast as we can grow. Our only limit is ourselves."
Quality Assurance is a Big Operation
GameStop stressed it emphasizes quality in the used products it sends out its doors. Of the 1,100 staffers at the center, 85 are dedicated exclusively to quality assurance. GameStop's senior vice president of supply chain and refurbishment Bruce Kelp reiterated this fact again and again, saying GameStop "can't lessen quality" with its refurbishment process. To this end, a quality inspection is conducted at every stage of the refurbishment process. If a disc passes through GameStop's cleaning devices and processes and cannot be salvaged, it is sent to die at the sharp teeth of a low-tech disc-destroying machine. For perspective, more than 17 million discs came through the ROC in 2011, and 3.5 percent (or 595,000) were destroyed. Check out the image on the next page to get an idea about what the disc-destroyer is capable of.
Not every console that comes to the ROC makes it out intact, either. Kelp told us that 15 percent of consoles that come through the center are either dismantled for parts or destroyed. Karp was also clear that destroyed discs and devices are not simply tossed in the trash. They are recycled en masse: in 2011, the refurbishment center recycled more than three million pounds of electronic waste.
Guaranteeing Personal Data is Wiped
In addition to working to ensure that discs and devices that leave the center meet quality standards, GameStop stressed that it makes as sure it can that devices (like consoles, tablets, and iPods) are free of personal data like credit card information or log-in credentials.
"We encourage the consumer to erase. We really think that's the best option. If they forget, and sometimes they do, then we have a deep process that guarantees that," Daugherty said. I'm not going into details, because it's somewhat proprietary, but I can go all the way to the depth of over-writing multiple times, hex-coding code…so we can go to quite a bit of depth to guarantee that personal content can't be retrieved."
It's Not All Refurbishment at the ROC
The ROC is not only used to refurbish used products, it is also a manufacturing center and an idea-incubator. GameStop's new $40 wireless Bluetooth controller for Android games is built at the center. Kelp told us that when GameStop's attempt to find a manufacturing partner for the controller fell through, the company decided to build the devices in-house. Many of the parts come from overseas, but the manufacturing of the controllers is done by a team of assemblers in the facility, at a rate of 300-400 per day. Additionally, GameStop is using the ROC to cook up new ideas. The ROC's research and development division hosts the design of a number of projects, including refurbished PlayStation 3s pre-upgraded with a 1 TB hard drive, and a number of ideas still "behind the curtains."
Why Not Move the Operation to Mexico?
Grapevine, Texas and Mexico are just 500 miles apart. Would GameStop consider moving its refurbishment center to that country, where it could take advantage of lower labor costs? According to Daugherty, GameStop won't do this, because it doesn't need to.
"The bad news is we're competing against the rest of the world, and the rest of the world has lower labor rates," he said. "Here's the good news: we can beat them…because of process control. I've worked at lots of factories and I know how hard it is to provide the controls that we provide here," he said. "It does have a cost to us, which is kind of the behind the scenes thing that the consumer never gets to see. They see what we offer in trade and they see what we sell it for. They don't see the process behind the scenes. If they were more aware of that, they would [say], 'It makes more sense to me now. It makes more sense to me why the prices are what they are.'"
What Happens When Industry Goes Digital?
GameStop's refurbishment center is principally focused on physical products, so when the industry transitions to digital, and such a change is certainly happening, will the center be shut down, and all its employees sent packing? According to Daugherty, GameStop will adapt to survive.
"We have always been aware that digital is coming; it was no secret. It was years and years ago when we said 'This is where the future is coming.' So how do we embrace that? How do we evolve our business into that? How do we say to our consumers 'Whatever way you want to achieve your gaming needs, however you want to make it happen, we're there to facilitate that.' So on my side, if discs fade out, then iDevices come in," he said. "Consumer electronics are not going to go away. So we're always going to be positioning ourselves to meet whatever way consumers are trying to achieve their gaming needs, digital or otherwise, we're going to be a facilitator for that. I think we have that knowledge base because of the years we've built up already, to be able to do that better than anybody else."
Just one corner of GameStop's refurbishment facility.
Workers are given goals for hourly input. On this day, workers exceeded expectations through hour three.
Controller buttons are tested here, with a worker playing high button-use games like Street Fighter.
Workers test multiple devices at once to maximize efficiency. Here, DS units are tested for battery life.
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
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View Comments (105)
What does it mean when GameStop says refurbished? ›
Pre-owned means that someone previously owned the device and sold it to GameStop. GameStop says that they go through a refurbishment process to make sure all devices are in good working order before they're resold, and I've never had an issue.Can you trust refurbished consoles? ›
And this is exactly why refurbished consoles are a great choice. Not only are they designed to last, but you won't be left out by having last year's model. Think about it. There really is no reason to buy a new PS4 since an older model from a few years ago is essentially the same as the one being sold right now.Does GameStop fix consoles for free? ›
We operate a no fix no fee policy so in the unlikely event that we are unable to repair your device, we will let you know the reason why we cannot repair the device and a full refund will be given upon collection.Do GameStop refurbished consoles come with a warranty? ›
Yes, there is a warranty on refurbished consoles. They all have a standard 30 day warranty and they also offer the option for 1 or 2 years at time of purchase.Does Gamestop let you return refurbished items? ›
Used defective items can be exchanged within 30 days. Non-defective PCs and their components, laptops, and monitors are subject to a 5% restocking fee; for such items that are defective, customer must contact the manufacturer directly to inquire about a refund or exchange of these items (manufacturer contact info.What are the cons of buying refurbished? ›
- Refurbished items don't give you the history of the device, you don't know how the person before you treated the device, and don't know when it was purchased. ...
- Lifespan is unknown. ...
- Refurbished devices don't come with warranties.
Pre-owned product guarantee states the original manual or box may not be included.Are refurbished Xbox from GameStop good? ›
A: If it's company refurbished then that's pretty good, (but that also means some may have been wrong with it in the past) Pre-owned only means previously own and used which potentially means it's still good. All up to preference. I've had mine for 4 or 5 years (pre-owned) and still works like gem.What is the difference between preowned and refurbished at GameStop? ›
What's the difference between pre-owned and refurbished? A: normally preowned means means exact that. it has been owned and refurbished is an item that has been sent back to the manufacturer and been tested for functionality and defects.Does GameStop wipe consoles before selling? ›
Our pre-owned and refurbished consoles are reset to factory default settings.
Can GameStop fix broken consoles? ›
Gamestop does not do repairs of any kind. GameStop would offer to allow you to trade in the system as defective for a greatly reduced price towards a replacement.Does GameStop check if consoles work? ›
A: GameStop tests all of their games, consoles, and accessories when they are traded in.Which is better pre owned or refurbished? ›
Refurbished products are typically those that have been returned to the manufacturer and then restored to like-new condition; they offer more reliability than preowned items, but may come at a higher price tag.Does GameStop refurbish games? ›
When you trade in a game, console, or peripheral at your local GameStop location, and the sales associate has doubts about the quality of the disc or device, the item is packaged and sent to the center. GameStop charges you a "refurb fee" for this. Once at the center, the refurbishment process begins.What's the difference between renewed and refurbished consoles? ›
It might come as a surprise that renewed and refurbished mean about the same thing! Both terms usually mean that a product was used and returned to the original seller who repaired and replaced any damaged parts. However, renewed products might be less used and be in a more “like-new” condition.Are refurbished items okay? ›
Refurbished goods are one way to save money on large purchases. But if you are unfamiliar with purchasing refurbished items, you may be concerned about the quality. Don't worry, though. Refurbished purchases from reputable companies can deliver experiences just as good as those from brand-new items.How do refurbished items work? ›
Refurbished products may be unused customer returns that are essentially "new" items, or they may be defective products that were returned under warranty, and resold by the manufacturer after repairing the defects and ensuring proper function.How long is GameStop refurbished warranty? ›
Accessories - 90 day to 5 year limited* warranty. Hardware - 1 to 3 year limited* warranty. Used & Refurbished games, accessories & hardware - 30 day limited* warranty.What are the pros of buying refurbished? ›
Refurbished products also lower the strain on the environment for raw materials. Instead of needing a full new set of parts, refurbished products replace the faulty parts, reducing the need for parts and materials. From production to disposal, refurbished products reduce the strain on the environment.Does refurbished mean returned? ›
As for the actual meaning of refurbished, the term is generally used to denote a product that has been returned, inspected, repaired if necessary, and then resold. In the case of refurbished computers and mobile devices, the device also has its data wiped and is restored back to factory settings.
Does refurbished mean like new? ›
Refurbished: A product restored to like-new condition, though the definition of "like-new condition" varies. Factory-refurbished or manufacturer-refurbished products are likely to be the best refurbs — but also the most expensive.Why are refurbished items so cheap? ›
Products that are labeled “refurbished” are fully functional but they can't technically be sold as “new” anymore, for reasons that vary by manufacturer. Because of this, they're typically cheaper and you could save hundreds of dollars depending on your purchase.How can you tell the difference between original and refurbished? ›
- Tap your Phone app and open up the dialer.
- Using the touchscreen keypad, dial ##786# (aka ##RTN#). No need to press dial; the phone should automatically open up to the RTN screen. ...
- Scroll down the RTN screen to Reconditioned status.
What to look for when buying a refurbished item? There are a few important things you should keep in mind when purchasing any refurbished device. First, verify what your device comes with. Since you're not buying something brand new it might not come with original packaging, chargers, or any extra accessories.Does a refurbished Xbox have a warranty? ›
All certified refurbished prodcuts are restored to original specificactions and approved by Microsoft, and the console is sold and dispatched by Amazon so you know you'll be getting an authentic working product. There's also a 1-year warranty so if anything does go wrong Microsoft will repair or replace it.Do refurbished Xbox ones have a warranty? ›
(c) "Warranty Period" for Xbox One means one (1) year from the date You purchased it; (90 days for refurbished Xbox consoles and all Xbox accessories except Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 from the date You purchased it), subject to article 2 below.What is certified refurbished Xbox? ›
Introducing Xbox Series S (Certified Refurbished). This console has been put through a rigorous certification process, tested to confirm it's working properly, and inspected for hardware and cosmetic quality. Experience next-gen speed and performance at a great price.Do refurbished products last? ›
But these devices have a bad reputation because sometimes products labeled as "refurbished" just, well, aren't. A true refurb has been inspected and repaired so it can function like a new unit, though it may show wear from use.Which is better certified refurbished or refurbished? ›
Usually certified is the better purchase, because of the expertise and the tooling used in the factory. Although there are some very respectable third party refurb shops that are doing great job renovating those machines. Refurbished will usually land you better price between the two, and certified the longer warranty.What does GameStop do with unsold items? ›
can't take advantage. After all, each of the games and accessories that are thrown out are still accepted by Gamestop for store credit. So in order to prevent someone from getting “something for nothing,” the items are destroyed.
Does GameStop throw away good stuff? ›
When does GameStop throw away their stuff? They usually throw away any items that are: Taking up space on their shelves but not selling. Broken items or items with broken packaging.Will GameStop take a Opened console? ›
We do not accept returns of:
Any product(s) that has been opened (taken out of its plastic wrap). Any product(s) not in its original condition. Any product(s) that is damaged, played, or is missing parts. Any product(s) that were sold as part of a bundle, unless the bundle is returned complete.
Recycle your console instead of throwing it into the trash. Because electronics contain many damaging chemicals, you'll need to recycle it at a dedicated e-recycling centre.Will GameStop take consoles without cords? ›
Hardware/Accessories devices require applicable cables, power adaptors and one controller per console. See associate for complete details.Does GameStop give cash back for consoles? ›
You can choose to receive in-store-credit for max-value on your items, or get paid in cash. And remember, PowerUp Rewards Pro Members get 10% extra in value on most items.Does GameStop check for roaches? ›
GameStop will turn you away if you show up with a roach-infested console hoping to trade it in.Why does GameStop take your fingerprint? ›
According to GameStop, it is following a local law that says the retailer is allowed to collect thumbprints. These scans eventually make their way into a database that helps law enforcement nab thieves who seek to use GameStop as a pawn shop of sorts to unload their goods.Can you return a console to GameStop without a receipt? ›
You'll need your GameStop receipt or order number to get a full refund. GameStop is pretty strict with this policy, so be sure to hold onto your in-store receipts.Why is refurbished more expensive? ›
Refurbished devices tend to be a little more expensive than second-hand ones, but this is due to the cost of supplying a warranty, and any cleaning and repairs carried out. Obviously, the price will also be reflected in the grade you choose: pristine-condition devices will cost more than those with cosmetic defects.Is refurbished 2nd hand? ›
Refurbished, however, differs from second-hand because Refurbished goods are checked and overhauled. Refurbished goods are thoroughly tested for quality and function and, if necessary, parts are replaced or repaired. Then the device is cleaned and the data is deleted.
Is it OK to buy refurbished PS4? ›
Generally, buying a refurbished PS4 is a safer move than buying used. If you're investing in a PlayStation, you'll want it to be in the best condition possible so you can enjoy playing your favorite games for years to come.Does GameStop still buff scratched games? ›
No. if a scratched game comes in the GameStop they simply defect it and ship it off to a warehouse to get it fixed. Some of the mom and pop game stores like game exchange have some though. A lot of independent pawn stores have machines that will repair scratched discs.What does it mean when a game system is refurbished? ›
Refurbished is basically Gamestop taking the original console and they'll either fix anything wrong with it or just reconstructing it a bit. It's far more likely that the console will last longer than if you buy pre-owned.Is buying a refurbished console a good idea? ›
And this is exactly why refurbished consoles are a great choice. Not only are they designed to last, but you won't be left out by having last year's model. Think about it. There really is no reason to buy a new PS4 since an older model from a few years ago is essentially the same as the one being sold right now.What does GameStop refurbished mean? ›
Pre-owned means that someone previously owned the device and sold it to GameStop. GameStop says that they go through a refurbishment process to make sure all devices are in good working order before they're resold, and I've never had an issue.Why is refurbished better than new? ›
A refurbished device was either pre-owned or used as a display item. However, refurbished products go through the same testing process as new devices do, so any defect is found and repaired, and any faulty part is replaced. They work as well as new products but have a discounted price because of their refurb tag.Is it okay to buy refurbished? ›
Refurbished goods are one way to save money on large purchases. But if you are unfamiliar with purchasing refurbished items, you may be concerned about the quality. Don't worry, though. Refurbished purchases from reputable companies can deliver experiences just as good as those from brand-new items.Is it better to buy used or refurbished? ›
In the majority of cases when buying a second-hand product, refurbished is the way to go. The device will have been returned to a close-to-original condition and will be cheaper than a new model too. Certified Refurbished products go a step further, adding a manufacturer's warranty into the mix.What is the difference between refurbished and pre-owned at Gamestop? ›
A: normally preowned means means exact that. it has been owned and refurbished is an item that has been sent back to the manufacturer and been tested for functionality and defects.Does refurbished mean it was already used? ›
Refurbished devices include some cleanup, repair, or other maintenance: Refurbished units lie somewhere in between used and new. They may be units that were returned shortly after sale, or they may be used items that undergo maintenance before being resold.
Why is refurbished so much cheaper? ›
A refurbished device was either pre-owned or used as a display item. However, refurbished products go through the same testing process as new devices do, so any defect is found and repaired, and any faulty part is replaced. They work as well as new products but have a discounted price because of their refurb tag.Why is refurbished better? ›
Buying refurbished helps reduce e-waste by keeping older electronics out of the landfill. Even better, when computers and other devices are refurbished, they are repaired to meet manufacturer standards and reconditioned to be nearly as good as new, giving old electronics a few more years of life.Does refurbished mean damaged? ›
As for the actual meaning of refurbished, the term is generally used to denote a product that has been returned, inspected, repaired if necessary, and then resold. In the case of refurbished computers and mobile devices, the device also has its data wiped and is restored back to factory settings.Does refurbished mean like-new? ›
Refurbished: A product restored to like-new condition, though the definition of "like-new condition" varies. Factory-refurbished or manufacturer-refurbished products are likely to be the best refurbs — but also the most expensive.What is the best refurbished grade? ›
This is the highest possible grade and reflects that the product is in excellent or very good condition and can be reasonably considered to be 'like new' or similar. Some Grade A items may have minor cosmetic marks or light scratches, or shiny areas from use on the keyboard or mouse / trackpad.What happens when a device is refurbished? ›
What is a refurbished phone? A refurbished phone will have had a previous owner but, unlike a second-hand phone sold by an individual, it is sold by a network, manufacturer or retailer who will have repaired it, run checks and ensured that it's a certain standard.