How HMV made me annihilate a game I bought

HMV GitsIf you were running an online game shop, what would you say is the best way of guaranteeing customers never, ever buy from you again? Leaving the disc out of the box? Overcharging them? Delivering it weeks later than you expected? No. The best way is to make them have to utterly destroy the box to gain access to the disc.

I’ve been doing a bit of catch-up with games having taken a week off work, and one I meant to play but never did was Black & White 2: Battle of the Gods, the expansion pack for Black & White 2 — a superb game in my opinion. It’s become very difficult to get hold of though, so with little choice I ordered from HMV’s online shop. For those of you outside the UK, HMV is one of the largest music/game/film chains in the country and has stores in practically every town and city; as such, you’d think their online shop would be pretty reliable. You’d be wrong.

The game arrived, and I was all in the mood for some epic god action. Then I noticed a strange red piece of plastic lodged into the part of the DVD case that you open. Intrigued, I went to open the DVD case so I could see what it was — but it very quickly dawned on me that this was in fact the security seal. I couldn’t get into the damned thing! Slightly irritated but undeterred, I tried to ply it out with a knife. All I accomplished by doing this was breaking part of the plastic around the edges of the case, so I went searching online and found that some other fellow got exactly the same thing a couple of years ago. The result? Well, it’s not pretty.

There are three things I’ve managed to establish about this red piece of plastic:

  • It will make normally opening the case impossible
  • Fridge magnets and any amount of banging on the case seems to have no effect on it
  • They are typically removed in HMV shops with an ultra-strong magnet
  • It goes through the entire case, so using physical tools to extract it will almost certainly fail

HMV GitsFor anyone else who stumbles across one of these security seals (I’m sure more than a few people will), the best way to remove it without irreparably destroying your game assets or going to your local HMV shop is to:

  • Use scissors to cut open the thin plastic sleeve that holds the cover art
  • Remove the cover art
  • Pull the case open from the bottom until you have enough room to remove the manual
  • Remove the manual
  • Do whatever it takes to remove the entire front cover, thus revealing the disc
  • The security seal goes underneath the button used to release the disc, so you need to push together the two halves of the circular button so you can simultaneously remove the disc
  • Find an unused DVD case or buy some (it’s useful to have a stock in your house for general storage and situations like this)
  • Put the cover art, manual, and disc into the new DVD case

Hope this helps. And remember: order from somewhere else if you can! If you receive a DVD case toting this monstrous security seal, you’ll most probably have to either go to your local HMV shop or destroy the case.

Update: The customer service manager of HMV got in touch with me a few days after writing this article and offered to send me a replacement box, explaining that the mix-up was due to the same facility mailing out games to the physical shops and the online shop. Makes sense I guess, although I hope they improve their quality checking routines to ensure it doesn’t happen to more unfortunate customers. Still, I’m pleased that HMV contacted me of their own accord, and the gesture of sending a replacement — complete with cover art and manual — is appreciated. I guess it was an honest mistake that they will rectify if you ask them to.

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