Kotaku alleges abuse, gross staff neglect at retailer EB Games


blog Wow. If you are at all interested in Australia’s video games industry then we highly recommend you check out this extremely inflammatory article published this afternoon by Kotaku Editor and seasoned gaming journalist Mark Serrels. In it, Serrels claims to have uncovered an odious culture of gross staff neglect and out-and-out abuse at national retailer EB Games. A couple of choice paragraphs:

“[Name] would often work 10 hour days. Only four of those hours would be paid. [Name] would turn up to help out at midnight launches and wouldn’t get paid. Sometimes [Name] did it because she wanted to. Many times because it was expected of her.

[Name] was [Name]’s District Manager, one step above his store manager. According to [Name] he had a reputation for calling up whoever came last, delivering a constant barrage of abuse. “[Name] would verbally abuse us,” says [Name]. “Using phrases like, ‘You’re a fucking idiot’, ‘Fucking bastard’, ‘One more fuckup and you’re fucking gone’.”

The whole article is like this — allegation after allegation of outrageous and possibly illegal managerial behaviour inside EB Games, with the company not taking appropriate action to stop it. When I was a teenager, I worked in retail too — but I certainly I never saw anything like this kind of behaviour in the retail chain where I worked (Big W). I found this article shocking and confronting.

I don’t personally know to what extent the article is accurate. Serrels is a very good journalist with a good reputation, but we only rarely see this kind of highly emotional, highly personal article published by a mainstream media outlet. I highly respect his writing, but in my experience, emotional stories from former employees do also need to sometimes be taken with a grain of salt. It’s a difficult situation.

I don’t quite know what is going to happen from here, but I do know one thing: This is very far from the end of this story. Serrels appears to have let a very big genie out of a bottle, and there is going to be quite a bit of havoc from here on in.

At the very least, I would expect EB Games to be considering its legal position regarding the article — I hope Kotaku is firm in its facts here. I would also expect more EB Games employees to come forward about this issue with further allegations. In my opinion, no matter what, the company will need to start responding to the issue publicly and transparently. Otherwise the higher authorities are going to start to pay attention and the issue is only going to get larger and larger. If there is even a kernel of truth here, the situation cannot be left to fester — it needs to be addressed straight away.

Update: Delimiter has received the following response from EB Games:

“EB Games goes above and beyond to provide our employees with a safe working environment. We have a zero tolerance on bullying and harassment of any kind. EB Games is committed to the ongoing education of all staff to ensure that they are aware of the HR and personal support that is available to them. We would like to reassure all employees that all official complaints reported will be thoroughly investigated and a zero tolerance stance taken”.

Image credit: Mike Kalasnik, Creative Commons


    • Agreed. It did add some new accusations, but at the same time a lot of it was rehashed from the article in May.

  1. Just a quick note to let people know that I will not be allowing names of people mentioned in the linked articles to be published on Delimiter — this is a potential legal situation.

  2. Renai, I’d be very, very careful about using Kotaku (or any of Gawker media for that matter) without cross-checking the facts against other, more reputable sources.

    • This isn’t the first time… SMH ran an article of a person successfully winning a class action against EB Management around May. Just google it up since don’t think it would be kosher to link it =P

    • Mark Serrels actually works for Allure Media, an Australian company that licenses some Gawker content. Allure seems to be run much better than Gawker is.

      • Good to know!
        Given how badly damaged the Kotaku brand has become, maybe they should consider distancing themselves? But either way, it’s good to hear they’re Allure and not Gawker.

        • I don’t know about Gawker in the US, but Serrels is an excellent journalist of good repute — I respect him highly. He does a very good job with Kotaku in Australia and has a strong following as a result.

        • From scuttlebutt I’ve read, they’ve considered it for those reasons, but launching a new brand, and thereby giving up on the news content and redirect from the US site, with the fairly lean operation they’re running didn’t make sense at the time.

        • It’s actually common concensus to any aussie reading the au version of Kotaku that any article worth reading is 9/10 usually one penned by the AU folks =P

  3. Jeremy: Kotaku Australia has nothing to do with Gawker – it licenses the name from them but the website is run by the 100% local Allure Media.

  4. I worked at EB Games in 2004. Like stated in this article, it was my dream job to work at EB Games. I basically walked straight into an Assistant Manager role which at the time I thought was too good to be true. Turned out, it was too good to be true. I was only there 3 months. I can TOTALLY understand (and confirm) a lot of the points in this article.

  5. Unfortunately not exactly “breaking news” either…

    I seem to recall someone just won a class-action against EBGames management a while back because of mistreatment by his manager. I was gonna post a link but I won’t due to what you just mentioned Renai =P

    Kind of disappointing to see this going on though. Can’t vouch for other shops but at the very least the folks running the desks at our local EBgames are pretty cool folks even if they have to run an overpriced shop xD

    EDIT: Derp! Just noticed the first response already mentions/links the article I was talking about! XD

  6. Worth noting from the end of the article: “All five made statutory declarations regarding their treatment…”

    If you are going to let this genie out of the bottle, that’s how to stop it turning on you.

  7. Nothing new, and some of it not what I would call systemic. The title and some parts makes it sound new, like it is happening now, all the time, and affects every store. That isn’t true. Knowing enough staff who work all over, to me this sounds like a regional area issue that was not dealt with correctly, but then the people involved didn’t report it as it should be IMO. Some things bypass HR and are straight up police matters.

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