A federal lawsuit filed against the video-game vendor GameStop Corp. alleges three South Jersey stores sold used games that sometimes cost more than buying new.
This week, a federal judge in Camden decided the three customers have a right to sue the company, which they accuse of concealing that the cost of used games did not include downloads provided with new games.
Instead, the suit alleges, it cost an additional $10 to $15 to purchase downloads, which combined with the price of the used game, often cost more than it would have cost to purchase it new. In other cases, it did not equal the savings the company advertised.
In two of the cases, it cost five cents more to buy the used product. Customers in California last year won a similar case filed there. The company agreed to advise customers that downloads were not free. The company also had been sued in 2003 for selling games in the original packaging, and not disclosing they were used.
In the New Jersey case, "nobody ever told them they would pay less if they bought it right out of the wrapper," said Marlton lawyer Joseph Osefchen, who specializes in class-action lawsuits and filed the 2012 complaint on behalf of three South Jersey customers.
John Farley of Marlton was the first to sue, alleging the company gave him a receipt that said he saved $12 when he bought "Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit X" in 2011.
"When Farley attempted to play his game online with other players, he discovered he could not do so and was forced to pay" an additional fee, the lawsuit alleges. "He was the victim of deceptive statements and knowing admissions."
Farley made headlines in January after suing Subway, alleging that the hoagie-shop chain shorted his footlong hoagie by at least an inch. That class-action case is also pending.
Jamar McGhee of Beverly and Hakana Ozdincer of Blackwood alleged in the video suit that they each paid $45 for used games. McGhee bought "Madden 2010," and Ozdincer purchased "FIFA Soccer 2010." Both had to pay an additional $15 for downloads. The games retailed for $59.95, with access codes for free downloads that could only be used by the first owner.
GameStop attorney Jeffrey Greenbaum of Newark said the company does not comment on pending litigation. The company also did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Two of the plaintiffs declined comment through their attorney, and the other could not be reached. The lawsuit seeks refunds for those who bought games since June 2006.
In the California case, GameStop agreed to refund $15 for customers who purchased used games and downloads.
In that case, those who sued showed that the packaging claimed the downloads were free and GameStop failed to alert those buying the games used that they could no longer get the downloads free.
The suits allege GameStop, with more than 4,000 stores, including 156 in New Jersey, makes more than $2 billion a year selling used video games that they purchase for a fraction of the cost paid for a new game. It resells the games with more than a 50 percent profit margin, the lawsuits allege.
"GameStop aggressively markets the purchase of used copies of games as a way for consumers to save money compared to the purchase of a new copy of the same game," according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Camden.