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Subject: Z-Man Games: Bring back Zev to do your customer service, please rss

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Jonathan Harrison
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After chiming in to describe my problems with the yellow ooze problem a couple months ago, I have followed the saga ever since, waiting for Z-Man to break the silence and explain how they're going to solve the problems people are having with unusuable pieces. For example, my pieces, even after being cleaned, leave yellow residue behind if I wipe them across a piece of plain white paper.

So when I saw today that Z-Man has acquired replacement pieces to rectify the problem, I wrote Z-Man, provided my mailing address and my BGG user ID for good measure, and asked to have a set of replacement pieces sent.


This afternoon, I got a response. And knowing Zev's customer service by reputation, I was a surprised to find that the e-mail struck a dissonant note to those struck by, for example, the replies I've had from Rio Grande, North Star, or GMT.

"First," said the e-mail, could I send them a copy of my purchase receipt? Also, "a few" pictures of my yellow miniatures? "We'll also need" a picture of the barcode on my game box.


I understand that a company doesn't want to end up giving out whole copies of their games piece by piece. Next thing you know, I'll be wanting a replacement set of little green men, and then a new board. After that, the game box.


But I was disappointed that they predicated action on their part on the assumption that (1) I am able to provide digital photos and (2) I kept a receipt, assuming I got one in the first place.

As it happens, I do have a digital camera. I didn't have one until I got married, but I do have one now. But, and maybe it's because I'm in the Midwest, I know many people who don't have the ability to get a digital photo of anything—including by using a cell phone. I and my wife don't have a cell phone, for example. And my mother's phone can't take photos.

As it further happens, I don't have a receipt. I bought my copy online, and I've never made a habit of saving receipts. Worse still, supposing I'd bought the game used, perhaps from another BGGer through the BGG Marketplace, what recourse would I have? The pieces' condition isn't rendered moot by resale, and it would still be Z-Man's problem to fix.

But I was more disappointed still that Z-Man feel the need to verify my request using a barcode. Are they really that worried that board gamers are going to screw them by asking for replacement yellow men when they don't need them? I'm sad if they think there's a substantial likelihood of that happening. It's not something I feature being a problem in this niche hobby.


I was surprised by all these things. But most of all I was surprised that the e-mail didn't begin We're so sorry to hear that some components of the game we provided you are unusable. We pride ourselves on every aspect of our products, and so we're happy to be able to tell you that we've procured a quantity of replacement components to rectify this situation. Your replacement parts will go out after the weekend.

The CSR never bothered to express any sympathy or regret about the poor (unusable, unless I want yellow stains on my terrain tiles) state of the product they manufactured, only gave a laundry list of required proofs of noncheatiness.

So of course I was a little nonplussed when immediately after that list the e-mail abruptly ended: "Thank you for playing."

Because up till now, I haven't been able to ...


The last time I got a laundry list this long from customer service, I was trying to deal with the infamous Critical Hit.

I replied to Z-Man explaining these things, and it's quite possible they'll acquiesce and agree that it's their responsibility regardless of what photos (of my now soaped and washed, but still yellow-scuffing, pieces) I can provide, what barcode number I give them, and what receipt I never saved because why would I. But I'm a little disappointed I had to write such a reply in the first place.

I guess after hearing about Zev's customer service I was expecting different.
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David desJardins
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Whenever I buy anything online I get an email receipt.

I do agree with you about onerous, bureaucratic customer "service", though.
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Jonathan Harrison
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Whenever I buy anything online I get an email receipt.

I do agree with you about onerous, bureaucratic customer "service", though.

Yes, and I could certainly dig up a confirmation e-mail from Miniature Market. But I buy many used games through the BGG Marketplace, and I've never received, or expected, a receipt for any of those. So I wouldn't predicate resolution of a problem on a receipt, because this failure in component quality is an admitted problem and it's a problem whether a receipt can be produced or not.

Mostly, though, I would hate to give legitimate customers the impression that I thought their patient inquiries were likely to be outnumbered by illegitimate requests.

Does Z-Man really believe there's a good chance I'm just yanking their chain to get some free replacement parts? Were they going to closely inspect the digital photos I'm not going to send them? If my soap job was too good, do I not get replacement parts? If I can't prove that they leave noticeable yellow scuffs when dragged across a flat surface, will they be wanting a video?

Etc.

I think this could (and should) have been resolved much better for their own interests by a quick We'll get those right out to you.
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David desJardins
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HuginnGreiling wrote:
I buy many used games through the BGG Marketplace, and I've never received, or expected, a receipt for any of those.


Actually, I do get a receipt for every transaction through the BGG Marketplace, too. Although many companies have a policy of only providing support to the original retail purchaser, for understandable reasons.

As I said, I agree with you about the customer support approach, so no reason to belabor that.
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Jonathan Harrison
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Yes; you are right.
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Thomas
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I recently got replacement player boards for CoC and they didn't ask me for anything. It took almost two months but I got them no problem.
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Silver Bowen
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I'm fairly sure noncheatiness isn't a word. Granted, it's an awesome nonword, but still

Also, the worst possible way to handle a mistake/production error like this is to even imply your customers have any fault in the matter. This sort of customer service is, however, a wonderful way to relieve your company of ever having to deal with the blowback of selling further substandard products to said customer. Because they won't be your customer anymore.

There are tons of good games out there, by tons of awesome companies. For me, there is plenty available to fill the gap left by the companies I don't do business with anymore and the games of theirs I don't buy.
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Howard Massey
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Guilty till proven innocent yuk

No, I can see wanting a receipt from original owner.

But Pics of a known problem ?
Yeah, right, everyone wants to rip ZMAN off for those 'fine' 3rd rate figs. surprise

Makes ya wonder if their picky about replacements ..
because they know they don't have near enough to take care of all that could be needed !?!?! soblue


Howard
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Jay Sachs
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kskato wrote:
Makes ya wonder if their picky about replacements ..
because they know they don't have near enough to take care of all that could be needed !?!?! soblue


This.
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Jonathan Challis
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I don't believe Zev has anything to do with the company since he sold it to Filosofia does he?
 
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Joseph Cochran
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While many game companies still trust the consumer and have no problems sending parts, I have seen a number start to ask for photos or receipts. WizKids asked me for photos for some replacement parts with the explanation that the photos help them prove problems to their manufacturer, for example. I don't have a problem with that if it's the justification.

I think it's just a sign of the times.
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Kelanen wrote:
I don't believe Zev has anything to do with the company since he sold it to Filosofia does he?


Zev is still the face of the company and my understanding is that he's a decision-making force deciding which games they pick up. He's just not the businessman anymore.
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Jonathan Challis
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Ah, fair enough - I'd heard there was clear blue water, he had nothing to do with it, and Z-Man was just a brand now, with no Zev.

Glad to hear he's still involved. Great guy, I've met him, and used to CCG playtest for him, long before he got into boardgames.
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Andy Andersen
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Filosofia is only reacting to that special someone who is hoarding the yellow pieces. They're on to you, Jonathan
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Well crap. There goes my plan to milk Z-Man for cheap yellow plastic to fund my gambling addiction. They're clearly too smart for me.
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Howard Massey
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Misterboy wrote:
Well crap. There goes my plan to milk Z-Man for cheap yellow plastic to fund my gambling addiction. They're clearly too smart for me.


Dan .. you can 'Milk' the figures too !! laugh

Yummm .. chemical goodness zombie
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jsciv wrote:
While many game companies still trust the consumer and have no problems sending parts, I have seen a number start to ask for photos or receipts. WizKids asked me for photos for some replacement parts with the explanation that the photos help them prove problems to their manufacturer, for example. I don't have a problem with that if it's the justification.

I think it's just a sign of the times.


Wiz-Kids is one of those companies I don't do business with anymore. Their production quality is atrocious.
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aaxiom wrote:
One thing off-the-cuff that makes SOME sense about this (aside from the dissonant note) is that photos might aid in describing the issue and providing some information to the supplier of the pieces.

However, that explanation gives an excess supply of "benefit of the doubt".

Just a thought though, trying to see what the point of that request could possibly have been about... and why that might not have been explained courteously, for example.


They've known about this for awhile...
The replacement pieces are being shipping out ...
The 2nd Edition of game is just coming into stores ...
(and we wonder what they will be like in 6 mo's )

There is no nice reason to make
people jump thru hoops like this...
[[ Not that there is every a good reason to make Customers jump whistle

H
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Jonathan Harrison
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aaxiom wrote:
One thing off-the-cuff that makes SOME sense about this (aside from the dissonant note) is that photos might aid in describing the issue and providing some information to the supplier of the pieces.

Pictures I'm willing to forgive.

The request for a photograph of the barcode and a photostat of the receipt seem like excess.
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HuginnGreiling wrote:
The request for a photograph of the barcode and a photostat of the receipt seem like excess.


Okay.... if a company actually wanted a real photostat that would be kind of cool in a completely OTHER way...
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At least they didn't require a vaginal ultrasound.
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Yeah... FFGs and other reputable company dont
Ask for anything outstanding especially if
It ends up being their fault for a product/process defect.
 
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I am glad I didn't buy this game when it first came out and I wish Z-Man didn't get such great games from across the pond so I could write them off but they unfortunately get great games that pull my attention and it really sucks. yuk
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Jonathan Harrison
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Josephus wrote:
... I can understand why Z-Man want to weed out the people looking for some free figures.

... I can't blame them for wanting to bring this high unforeseen cost down by taking away the freebie hunters.
Ah, yes, those freebie hunters, the people who have nothing better to do but write publishers asking for free components for games they don't own. Or extraneous components for games they do. shake

Quote:
To the op - yes, your email from Z-Man could have been more flowery and extended a multitude of apologies. But it didn't so just get over it.
Sorry, did I push a button somewhere?

Josephus wrote:
In regards to wanting proof of purchase I can imagine that :-

A) there is a time limit from point of purchase thar Z-Man are not liable for sending out free replacement parts

B) that any obligation for faulty parts is ceases when the original buyers sells or trades the game
I'd be interested in an elaboration on any line of reasoning supporting either of these two things you imagine vis-à-vis a problem that has been adequatedly demonstrated to be original to the affected print run, without reference either way to wear and tear subsequent to purchase.
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The tone of Z-man's response could have been better, that's for sure. But they are likely asking for that information for their inevitable dispute with the manufacturer. Like any manufacturer would, it's likely either completely denying the problem or denying that it is as pervasive as claimed. All of the information requested by Z-man - receipt, photos and barcode - would assist Z-man in establishing the extent of the problem for the manufacturer, who is no doubt asking for this information from Z-man.
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