Rant: Video Game (LAN) Center Abuse

I don’t like to usually put down some of my negative thoughts permanently like this but the last few days I have really been disappointed in the disregard and respect for our store.  I want to share a few of my obvious disappointments recently that just drive me crazy.  I think part of the problem is that customers do not associate their carelessness and recklessness with a cost to them directly.  However every single one of us in ANY business have to pay to repair or replace damaged items and the customers end up paying for it.

Could this guy be the next one to snap???

Is it appropriate to associate rate hikes immediately following these periods of customer neglect?  In our store the average age is around 14 and I feel that as kids grow up they need to see consequences for their actions.  In some cases we do not see the culprits behind the problem but in most cases we can watch our security footage and see who caused the problem.  Instead of charging all customers for a few player’s problems we could directly add a fee to the problem kids on their next trip to the store.

Let’s get to a few of my examples:

#1 – Messy Players.  This one drives me crazy.  I have a feeling that the parents (and maybe even spouses) of these customers allow them to live like slobs at home and either clean up after them or just roll around in garbage all day.  In our store we have 9 private rooms and many stations in the lobby area and customers will leave $10 worth of snack and drink carnage spread all over their station.  Bits of Butterfinger ground into the carpet.  Sticky controllers, counters and keyboards from what appears to have been a “stick as many skittles in my mouth as I can, drool sugary slime all over myself and then use my hand to spread it all over anything possible” party.  Gum stuck about anywhere you can imagine it possible to stick gum EXCEPT the trash can. (Clark where are you going to put a tree that big?  Bend over and I will show you!)

This is one I am considering adding a $5 clean-up fee to the customer’s account when they leave and the next time they will have to pay before they play.  We are not a maid service and their messiness ruins the station for the next customer and all of the customers around them.

#2 Equipment Abuse “Accidental”.  It seems like the list of broken items is never ending.  With so many Xbox 360 stations at eBash one of our big ones is always “I need a different controller”.  I bet this happens once per day during the week and half a dozen times on the weekend.  We try to add new controllers into rotation every 3-6 months but it doesn’t seem to keep up with complaints.

PC headphones and Xbox headphones (the cheap ones we rent out for $1) are also always turning up broken.  Wire snapped off, plastic headband broken, etc.  Luckily this doesn’t hurt quite as bad because the replacement units are only $10 or less.  We just try to keep extra in stock.

A couple days ago the real kicker hit me.  We had an older player, I believe he was maybe college age or older, that rented one of our new $150 3D glasses SIT on the glasses when he came back from getting a drink.  The lenses are cracked and the glasses cannot be used any longer.  He brought them up right away and apologized and I believe it honestly was just a simple mistake.  But man it hurts.

I guess we could just make everything out of wood so it is indestructible?

#3 – Stupid, dumb, intentional, moronic, immature and childish problems.  Much of this stuff can be categorized as vandalism from my point of view.  The bathroom is where the pain starts.  We have situations with poop wiped all over the walls of the bathroom, people trying to urinate in the floor drain instead of in the toilet and kids trying to make the sink overflow with paper towels stuffed into the drain.

Next would be anger issues.  Guys getting mad and slamming the mouse or keyboard, throwing down the controllers and one of the biggest problems I have seen is people punching the screen.  We have literally lost 3 or 4 monitors over the years that have been hit with a hand, controller, keyboard, mouse or something.

This past weekend someone decided to bend one of our “Drop off Zone” parking signs from each of the four edges.  This was another one that kind of set me off.  It doesn’t make any sense but once again the customers don’t realize there is a cost to their actions.  I was able to bend the sign back but there are creases in the sign now and I am sure they will bend it up again.  The signs cost me around $150 to have made and we will have to buy new ones.  If the problems continue I will have to add an outdoor camera to our security system.  Vandalism like this could end up costing the store $1k or more in equipment and time.

I do feel a little better sharing these things and it has been a few days since some of them happened so I have cooled down somewhat.  However I still feel that I should find a way to make the customers who are causing the problems pay directly for their actions instead of passing the cost onto the other customers with increased fees and rates.

9 thoughts on “Rant: Video Game (LAN) Center Abuse

  1. Me and Repmilwaukee414 (Jason) were having this discussion the other night and we were saying the same thing, eBash has almost turned into a daycare for instance the lockin on the 16th was Chaos!! Its almost like parents take their kids and drop them off.. Dont get me wrong I came there as a kid and I still do and when I go into rooms and see the joystick on a xbox controller half way ripped off or the xbox disc tray jammed its because people dont have respect for what they have and they try to ruin it for others.. Its good that eBash is getting business but its terrible that we have a group of people that have to ruin the fun for others.

  2. I totally agree… it is very hard to draw the line between the groups. However we are working hard and are going to try a few things over the next few months starting in August with a new style “Tournament Lock-in”. We are thinking with more defined purposes for events and guidelines we can keep everyone more focused.

  3. I think the main problem is the people that see the consequences(rate hikes) for the actions are not the main ones doing these things. The average customer at eBash has their parent paying for everything. So when you raise prices for stuff like that the parent doesn’t really know why, they just see that this place is jacking prices for seemingly no reason. I think there needs to be some sort of disciplinary system in place, maybe three strikes and you’re out or suspended for awhile. Some way to teach the kids that their actions are unacceptable. That’s just my two cents.

  4. Ian I never thought about it that way. Although some of our trashier customers are also 20+ year olds who have jobs and are using their own money the discipline would work the same. One warning (or strike) against them the first time. Second time is a week suspension from the store. The parents who dump their kids at eBash would still be “paying” a penalty because they couldn’t get rid of them for a week! 🙂

  5. I would give them temporary bans, too. Their parents need to know why they can’t come for a few days/weeks and raising the prices isn’t going to educate them. I don’t blame you for wanting to fine them, too. Hmm, maybe a ban AND/OR fine?

  6. I typically don’t have many problems with customers while I’m working since I usually use zero tolerance. There was a kid that came up to one of the other employees asking him “why this chick is so mean”. He was roughly 10-12 years old dropping the f-bomb. I don’t tolerate disrespect or words such as that coming from a kid’s mouth. He was asked to not say those words again or his game will get taken away. It’s harder to do this to the older individuals, but I don’t have too big of a problem with them. I’m typically called the cool chick that plays games or the mean chick that plays games 🙂

  7. Its funny that you wrote this blog. I just cleaned up a huge mess on the stage and was thinking where were my employees when this happened? I have found that a lot of the problems stop when you have a good employee walking around the store checking in on things constantly. I continually ask my employees to make a trip around the store cleaning things / checking on things at least once every hour. Does that happen? Nope but its a work in progress. I remember when I went to Howies Game Shack that they had people walking around asking to take your trash and if you needed anything else. That is the kind of customer service I want at my store. While I cant afford to have a million people working at one time like them I think we can afford to do a little better. When I walk around throwing away trash it usually sets a good example for the kids and I see them wanting to do better. Sadly its like everyone needs that authoritative eye on them all the time or they dont do what they know is right. Also we have stopped renting head sets out because of the abuse there. Now I just sell them to interested customers so they can bring their own in. Our computer section is getting trashed so Im not sure what to do. I am working on two VIP only sections that wont allow food and you have to be a VIP to be there. Im hoping that will increase VIP sales and keep at least those areas nice. Another idea would be a rule that everyone has to check out when they are done at the store and you go inspect their station with them before they leave and make them clean it or pay a cleaning fee. (Probably too much be its getting bad)

  8. I would say first time give them a warning and second time make it a fee (larger then 50c though) with third time being a 2-3 day ban with a fee. I would also pay attention to whats going on cause I know there have been times when I have forgotten somthing to go grab somthing to eat and come right back and its cleaned up (not that I wouldn’t have I just left my drink there with maybe a wrapper just not thinking about it). Also I would make it like a 1$ fee for second offence and increase it on the ban, and future problems.

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