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The Queen of Shops Learns the Basics of Age Restricted Sales from GAME

28 February 2011

Some of you will know 'Queen of Shops' Mary Portas but for those who don't know, she's a television personality known for her expertise in the field of retail. However, despite said expertise, it seems that Ms. Portas made something of a mistake when it came to her son shopping at the GAME store in Oxford Street, London.

Mary Portas' son recently went into the GAME store and tried to purchase a 15-rated game. Upon reaching the counter, the sales assistant asked him for a valid form of identification with which to prove his age. He presented his Oyster Card but this was rejected and he was unable to take the game. Now for those that don't know, an Oyster Card is essentially a travel card that Londoners can use for Underground and London Bus services. It is not valid proof of identity. As someone who works at retail store myself, I know that in order to sell an age restricted product to a customer whose age I am unsure of, they must present me with either a photo driving licence, a passport or I.D. cards such as the CitizenCard with the PASS logo clearly emblazoned across it.

Failure to prevent an underage customer from purchasing an age-restricted product can result in a fine and even a prison sentence for up to six months. The result of the GAME staff doing their job properly? The Queen of Shops herself going absolutely nuts over twitter and kicking up a right storm. An example of her ridiculous ranting?

He did provide proof with his photo and name on his 16+ Oyster card!

This was followed shortly by a message directed at GAME's CEO:

Son and I had rotten attitude from your shop today. Want to discuss. Shall we do by email?

Supposedly, she was utterly convinced that an Oyster Card was a valid form of I.D.? Are you serious? She's supposed to be a retail expert and she can't get a basic thing like age restricted sales correct? It angers me that someone who apparently takes retail so seriously, doesn't even bother to learn one of its most important aspects. Furthermore, it's as if she tried to turn the whole fiasco into a customer service issue, rather than the legal issue that it actually is. Refusing to sell a game to a potentially underage customer is not bad service, if anything it's representative of how well workers in the retail sector do their jobs.

This post isn't intended to be a personal attack on Ms. Portas. It's just frustrating that our beloved industry is frequently attacked for damaging our youth by warping their minds with violence and then one of the few people who holds enough clout to convince the public of the merits of the system, decides to ignorantly attack it.

Mary Portas caught up with Ian Shepherd, CEO of GAME, who thankfully set the record straight. Mr. Shepherd was understandly concerned about the service that Ms. Portas' son had received. When it came to regulations however, he rightfully stuck by his guns, stating in a tweet that:

FYI spoke to @queenofshops – age verification issues all understood, and we clearly share her commitment to great service.

I appreciate Mary Portas wanting our retailers to provide better service. I certainly take a great deal of pride in serving my own customers to the highest standard. However, to go against the system and kick up a fuss in true diva fashion, without fully understanding the rules is not only stupid, but there's the risk of giving the greater public the wrong idea when it comes to age restrictions and video games.

Source: Article courtesy of Bits n' Bytes' Editor-in-Chief Martin W bnbgaming.com