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Scythe» Forums » General

Subject: Not too impressed with Stegmaier's customer service skills rss

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Steve Austin
Canada
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Reported damaged boards and meeple to stonmaier games.

Jamey asks for photos. Already got a strange vibe from that request, Okay. You don't believe me. Fine. Sent photos. He tells me "I'll replace the meeple, not the boards." The boards are clearly scuffed on the backs and one has a damaged corner. He actually says "Doesn't matter what they look like. They lie face down. It's fully functional." I rubbed my eyes and read that again. Nope, wasn't seeing things.

So this is acceptable damage? Not to me. I paid full price. I expect like new condition, not partially new. It DOES matter to me. I didn't even report the other damage, like cards with bent corners, taken straight out of the shrinkwrap. When I mentioned that resale value goes down because of the visible damage, he says "Let me know if you can't resell it because of the damage." Wha? Sure, any more hoops you require me to jump through before I get some actual customer service? DNA samples?

Did this company not raise 1.8 million for this game? Are replacement cardboard parts really that hard to supply, or is it such a common complaint that he doesn't care anymore and refuses to replace them? There is a real odd disconnect between the good (replies fast) and the bad (Doesn't actually replace parts/hoop jumping)

Have never experienced "service" like this for replacement parts. It's usually a very simple process. Gone through it a few times, though not with kickstarter companies. I think most companies realize that by the time the customer already has to get to the point of going through the annoying process of getting new parts, it's best to send the parts, and not get into condescending discussions of what is acceptable damage for an $80 game.

At the very least, at point of sale, I recommend a disclaimer that boards are likely to be scuffed and will not be replaced. Then I can decide if it's worth it for me.

Regret this purchase. Regret supporting this company. Boardgamebliss has been notified of Stonemaier games lack of service. They passed him onto me as being "very helpful" Uh, not exactly.
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Dan Keller
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http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter-lesson-195-when-shoul...
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Richard Sampson
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If you already have the photos, why not put them here and let us be the judge?
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Steve Austin
Canada
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You work in parts replacement for Stonemier games? Why would I let you be the judge? I've already talked to Stegmaier and mailed photos. Perhaps they need to be higher resolution. Stegmaier is the only judge and my case was thrown out of court. I actually found the board damage worse than the meeple, which I could glue.

Nice link! A blog about firing customers! It just gets better and better. Too bad I wasn't privy to all these goodies before purchase.
 
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Jamey Stegmaier
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I'm curious to see what people say about this. Here's the exact exchange.

Robin sent me the following photos:







***

I replied within a few minutes with this:

Thanks Robin! Of those parts, we'll replace the black worker meeple. Please fill out the replacement parts form with your information so we can do that.

http://stonemaiergames.com/replacement-parts/

Best,
Jamey

***

Robin replies: "Only the meeple? Why not the boards? They are clearly quite scuffed. I can't even resell this game as 'like new' because it isn't."

***

I replied:

Hi Robin,

If you're interested in selling Scythe and the buyer won't do it because of those boards, please let me know. Otherwise, you have a fully-functional copy of Scythe. Player mats spend the entire game face-down on the table--it doesn't matter what the back looks like.

Best,
Jamey

***

Robin replied:

Seriously, how many hoops do you want me to jump through? I have already provided photos. I paid $80 for a new game. That means all parts like new. These parts may be functional but they are clearly damaged, and that is not my fault. These boards are also supposed to be handed out to players randomly, and can easily be identified by the scuff marks. ("Put them under the table and shuffle them!" he says.) Are you telling me you haven't got the budget/supply to replace two measly faction boards? Or has this been such a recurring complaint that you have decided it's no longer possible to replace? What kind of customer service is this?

Now you want me to tell you if the person I sell to refuses to buy it? Now I have heard everything.

And it DOES matter, to me. A bit outrageous to tell a customer what is acceptable damage, don't you think? Maybe you need to include a disclaimer during sale that scuffed boards are the norm/distinct possibility/will not be replaced.

Or, am I supposed to get board game bliss to take responsibility and comp me a discount because you refuse to replace damaged parts? I didn't even report all the damage. There are also corner bent/splitting cards from the smaller deck. Glad I didn't report that as you would likely tell me "Try ironing it."

It's fine! I took your advice and glued the meeple together again.

***

At that, I thanked Robin for his/her feedback and moved on.

We're not going to make every customer happy. To a certain extent, a customer's happiness is their choice. It's my job to listen to customers, decide if we can/should solve their problem, and then do our best to solve it.

We replace a lot of requests for parts that need replacing. Like, the game does not function without those parts, or they're broken to the point that they significantly detract from the aesthetic experience of the game.

We also get requests like Robin's.

***

Since Robin opened up this topic for discussion here, let's discuss it. Do you think it's for companies like mine to judge which parts should or shouldn't be replaced? If that's part of our job, where do you think we should draw the line?

Just for reference, compared to most companies, Stonemaier is very small. We have 4 games in our lineup, though we have been fortunate to produce quite a few copies of those games. As of right now, we've received and replied to 2,883 replacement parts requests. I honestly can't imagine how companies like Fantasy Flight or Asmodee handle it. What do they do when a customer requests a replacement for a single missing cardboard coin (out of 100)?

Obviously my customers are incredibly important to me, and I believe that the relationship goes both ways. It works best when we're fair to each other.

I look forward to your feedback. I'm going to step away and not reply to the comments on this thread, but I will read every one of them and take them to heart.
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Dan Keller
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Let's just say that I see some truth in that blog post after seeing the OP.
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David Luchetti
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For the OP:

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Joe Pilkus
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Spatzi,

Far and away, Jamey runs one of the most ethically sound, transparent companies around...I'm more than a little curious to see the "damage" as Jamey has been more than forthcoming on what constitutes damage warranting replacement.

Joe
ninja by Jamey while I was typing this.
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Richard Sampson
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If you want people to have sympathy for you, especially against someone who is held in such high regards, you should bring the proof. Jamey openly admits that some people are too demanding, you seem hesitant to show how bad the damage actually is, and it seems unlikely that you would get a box with so many issues. You don't have to show anything to anyone, but no one is going to take your side until you make some effort to back up your claim.

Edit: ninja Jamey cleared it all up.
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Steve Austin
Canada
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Don't recall me giving you permission to post my private emails, or is this more "customer service"? Keep digging, Jamey.
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Sky Zero
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Stonemeier is a business and if they replaced every OCD gamer obsessed request for perfection, they'd probably lose money. You purchased a game made of pulp and wood, remember that. Jamey's response was spot on and I don't blame him for asking for pics or politely saying "no" to your request to have a perfectly fine board replaced.
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Sky Zero
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Peepser wrote:
Don't recall me giving you permission to post my private emails, or is this more "customer service"? Keep digging, Jamey.


Doesn't need your permission when you put him on trial in a public forum. Even then, he doesn't need your permission. It's the Internet.
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Richard Sampson
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I can see why you didn't want people to see those photos now.
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A Huynh
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Peepser wrote:
Don't recall me giving you permission to post my private emails, or is this more "customer service"? Keep digging, Jamey.


You post in a public forum about his responses to your situation and disparage him, but of course when he posts your responses to him then it's over the line!

Sure.
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Cindy M
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Frankly, I'm honestly astonished at how the board game industry replaces damaged components for free (some companies at least, I know a few companies do not). Almost every other industry requires the consumer to pay.

I've bought coffee makers for $50 CAD (less than most board game cost) that require you to pay $15 for replacement parts, whether it came damaged or was due to damage from use.

I hope that people see how the board game industry providing free replacement parts is something nice above and beyond what most industries do, and not expect it as a base minimum "customer service standard." Considering the profit margins are so much smaller in board games than in other industries, I'm amazed many board game companies do it anyway.

TL : DR - Why not come at it from a "Thanks for what you can do" angle rather than "Why aren't I getting more things?"
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Brandon Holmes
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Never bought one of Stonemaier's games so I have no loyalty here. While the damage would annoy me a bit, this sort of thing is not uncommon for games. I wouldn't ask for or expect replacements for something like this.
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K Fung
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Ultimately, it is Stonemaier's call. It's their policy and they're pretty up front with it on their website.

I would say that Arcane Wonders would treat this request differently though.

I sent this image to them:



and they are replacing all 3 items, for free, even though functionally, there's no need to replace them.
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Steve Austin
Canada
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ras2124 wrote:
I can see why you didn't want people to see those photos now.


You got me. I only wanted a couple free boards. The resale is amazing.
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Steve Austin
Canada
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Null Field wrote:
If it were me, I would have been bummed, I would have glued the meeple together and moved on with my life.
Edited to add that broken parts should be replaced if customers provide pictures of the broken parts and some sort of proof they bought the game.


Read the posted email. I did glue the Meeple. Can't fix the boards or bent cards.
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Thomas Dunagan
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Reading threads like this makes me so happy to support Jamey Stegmaier and his company.
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Ben Kyo
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The corner damage on the player boards is pretty bad. I wouldn't be happy with that, and would hope for a replacement. I think the OP shot himself in the foot complaining about resell value. Resell value is not the retailer's problem.
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Mathue Faulk
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jameystegmaier wrote:

What do they do when a customer requests a replacement for a single missing cardboard coin (out of 100)?

As a consumer, the coin would actually bother much more than any type of minor damage (like the above). I often buy/sell games, and I expect a little wear and tear, especially if I'm ordering online. The boards referenced in the OP definitely weren't worth mentioning IMO. I completely respect Jamey's response. Having said that, if my game was missing a piece, even a single coin out of 100, I would write the company. Some companies include a couple of extra to get around those type of requests which is pretty smart if it doesn't cost much. If I'm reselling a game, however, then that single coin could be a big deal, and since games only stay in print for so long, I like to make sure I have all of the pieces right away just in case I decide to sell it 5 years down the line. When I know that it's being a little nitpicky (like the coin example), I have no problem paying for shipping either. Missing pieces (no matter how minor) bother me, but I kind of see minor scratches, dents, etc. as part of the hobby. The scratches referenced in the OP are really minor IMO...and I really don't have a problem with the publisher's response....
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Sky Zero
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Peepser wrote:
Null Field wrote:
If it were me, I would have been bummed, I would have glued the meeple together and moved on with my life.
Edited to add that broken parts should be replaced if customers provide pictures of the broken parts and some sort of proof they bought the game.


Read the posted email. I did glue the Meeple. Can't fix the boards or bent cards.


Your choice, he did say he'd replace it.
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A Huynh
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qasic wrote:
Ultimately, it is Stonemaier's call. It's their policy and they're pretty up front with it on their website.

I would say that Arcane Wonders would treat this request differently though.

I sent this image to them:



and they are replacing all 3 items, for free, even though functionally, there's no need to replace them.


Well to my knowledge Arcane Wonders is a larger company with more games published. In the end it's up to each company to determine what warrants a replacement.

The Scythe player boards must be a bit pricey for production because of the two layers glued together. I can see how a bit of cosmetic damage on the bottom side of the board would not warrant a replacement in this case.
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Steve Austin
Canada
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ras2124 wrote:
If you want people to have sympathy for you, especially against someone who is held in such high regards, you should bring the proof. Jamey openly admits that some people are too demanding, you seem hesitant to show how bad the damage actually is, and it seems unlikely that you would get a box with so many issues. You don't have to show anything to anyone, but no one is going to take your side until you make some effort to back up your claim.


The proof was brought to the only person that matters, stonemaier games. Forum members of bgg do not work for Stonemaier or send out parts after viewing photos on bgg.
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