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Subject: Bad Experience with Gathering Ground rss

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Michael Berg
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I placed an order with gathering ground for two mats to be shipped second day air. When I got home from work, I found that they wanted me to call to confirm my order:

Quote:
Thank you for your order! For various reasons, your order has been sent to our verification department.

This order will not be shipped until we speak with the card holder and confirm that they are in fact the person who placed the order on our website, and that they have the actual credit card in hand that was used to place the order.

**If you are the credit card holder, please call us ASAP, or email us with a time to call you and a working phone number. If you are not the card holder, please pass this message along to that person**

Please understand the internet has its security issues and it is our policy to verify certain orders in order to protect everyone involved with each transaction. By doing so, it also allows us to develop an ongoing working relationship with all of our customers. Therefore, more than likely once we have you verified into our system, you will not have to go through this process again.
Please call us so that we can hear your voice and get this product to you immediately!



Unfortunately by that time, it was too late for the order to be shipped out and get to me on time. A little aggrivated, but I understood, I sent back a pleasant cancelation request:

Quote:
Heya,

While I understand the need for internet security and all that jazz, the mats I requested will now arrive too late to be used in the gaming session I needed them for. Please cancel my order.

Thanks,
Michael


That was yesterday. This morning, I recieved a high-pressure sales call requesting for details as to why I "really" wanted my order cancelled, and then when I refused and stated I simply no longer wanted to place an order with him, He stated he would bill me for 10% of my order (including shipping costs!) to deal with credit card fees (which hadn't been placed..remember the whole 'confirmation' deal in the first place?). I accepted, and ran off to take a final this morning.

In short - don't order from Gathering Ground. There are too many good online retailers out there for board games (like BoardsAndBits and ThougtHammer).

Lastly - does anyone know where I can order a "megamat" from? I'm looking for something around 34"x48", tan, with 1" squares. Or, if anyone has one for trade, I could swing that too.
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Chris
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I would dispute the charge when it came in on my credit card statement, and save the sent email canceling the order.

I would also check if their website lists any such cancellation fee.

Edit: Just checked their site, and yes, both things are listed there, under Policies:

"All new customer orders require phone verification. All new customer orders will be held until this requirement is met. To fulfill this requirement you must provide the verification code from the credit card you used to place the order. Orders of a high dollar amount may also be held for verification."

and

"We require order cancellations to be made via a phone call. If you cannot call us you may send us and email with a time and number you can be reached at. Canceled orders are subject to a 10% transaction/cancellation fee. This charge is to cover the credit card processing fees, internal order processing costs, as well as any restocking fees that may be incurred."

So, I'll change my advice -- I would still order the mats from them (if you can), so you actually get something for your $$$, but then, I wouldn't order from them again.

I don't understand why a company that's looking to use eCommerce would require so much to be done by phone; and the latter point is just downright scary to me. 10% fee for what? No restocking, no ordering - as far as the initial email indicated, nothing had been done on your order.

To me, there are just way too many hoops to jump through here.

Chris
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Mendon Dornbrook
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Dude, I do not put up with high-pressure sales calls. It seems to me that they're billing you for a canceled transaction that never occurred, which is shady. I'd call the company back and let them know that no transaction occurred and that by charging you a 10% cancellation fee, that they're effectively committing credit card fraud and that your next step is, if they don't offer to remove the charge from your credit card, is to call your credit card company to report the charge and then the Better Business Bureau. My suspicion is that this is a bad implementation of a policy to reduce being subjected to e-fraud.

Edit: P.s. Michael, I'm sorry that you've got to put up with crap like this, stated policy or no.
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Aaron Silverman
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If that's how the guy is going to run his store, then I wouldn't worry about him remaining open for too much longer.

Even if he ends up with his 10% fee, is that worth never getting any business from you or your friends ever again?
 
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Evan Stegman
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Just reading their policies, I would never order from them.

These two polices alone would keep me ever ordering from them:

"Items listed are what we sell, not what is in stock. If a item you order is out of stock, we will hold the order until we have the item in stock again, try to ship the next closest item, or we will give you a credit to your charge card for that amount."

and

"Your credit/debit card will be charged when your press submit and the order is processed."

So basically, if you want order anything from them, you have to give them the money before you even know if they will be able to sell it to you.

They have so many unfriendly policies that I suspect that it is mostly a store front operation who got burned a few times in online transaction and so implemented all these unusual, draconian policies.

I suspect they really aren't looking to be a true online retailer and just offer it as long as it doesn't inconvenience them too much.

That's their perogative.

Its also why you should ALWAYS read an online store's policies before ordering anything from them. If you can't live with the policies, don't order from them. Don't wait until it bites you and THEN complain.

Objectively, here is what happened:

- They post their policies online.

- You order without reading the policies.

- They follow their policies.

- You complain you don't like their policies.

Again, while I don't like their policies either I don't have a lot of sympathy since its no one's fault but your own that you found yourself in that situation.

Still, if you feel strongly about it, just dispute the charges. Let the companies sort it out. Even if they are in the right (which is debatable) a lot of times they give up as soon as the credit company gets involved just to make the problem go away.
 
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Their business must be run by asshats. I wouldn't put up with a bogus 10% cancellation fee regardless of their stated policy.
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Michael Berg
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Lemur wrote:
I would still order the mats from them (if you can), so you actually get something for your $$$, but then, I wouldn't order from them again.


I would, except the money isn't the point - I really, really don't want to support this company any more then I have to.

Quote:
10% fee for what? No restocking, no ordering - as far as the initial email indicated, nothing had been done on your order.


I'm not 100% sure about whether my card was charged or not - but regardless, 10% is absurd!

Mendon wrote:
I'd call the company back and let them know that no transaction occurred and that by charging you a 10% cancellation fee, that they're effectively committing credit card fraud and that your next step is, if they don't offer to remove the charge from your credit card, is to call your credit card company to report the charge and then the Better Business Bureau. My suspicion is that this is a bad implementation of a policy to reduce being subjected to e-fraud.


I'm considering it. I'm also not sure I want to wrestle over $8!

Evan wrote:

They have so many unfriendly policies that I suspect that it is mostly a store front operation who got burned a few times in online transaction and so implemented all these unusual, draconian policies.

I don't doubt it - I also don't doubt that their policies are causing them to get burned more often.

Evan wrote:
Its also why you should ALWAYS read an online store's policies before ordering anything from them. If you can't live with the policies, don't order from them. Don't wait until it bites you and THEN complain.


Agreed, and lesson learned. I'm griping a bit here, but what ticked me off the most was the sales call - I'm OKAY with being informed they have a cancelation fee; I'm not okay with it being used in a threatening tone - "You-better-place-the-order-or-else."

I'm a rather young 21 year old, is there any potential backlash as to disputing charges?
 
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Michael Berg
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Follow up -

BoardsAndBits contacted me to let me know they can get megamats. I will be placing the order with them. Its the least I can do after he put up with all my e-mails asking when War on Terror would get in!
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Michael Jordal
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I have been to the store and met the man in real life. I was not impressed and did not buy anything.
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Michael Berg
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Quote:
I have been to the store and met the man in real life. I was not impressed and did not buy anything.


Thats a pity. I don't really like what he's doing, and it flys in the face of what I've learned in Marketing. But he's welcome to run his business as he likes. I was really kind of hoping he was a good guy who had just been in the business too long and seen the dark side.

The real reason behind this thread - besides the great advice, as per usual on the geek , was so that it would be in the forum archives.
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Michael Leuchtenburg
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CasualSax wrote:
I'm a rather young 21 year old, is there any potential backlash as to disputing charges?


My experience was that I called up my credit card company, told them what had happened, and they canceled the charges. I never had to talk to them about it again. That was for a restocking fee when company shipped a similar item and didn't include the item that was my main reason for ordering through them.

Credit card companies are nice to consumers and very much not nice to sellers. You shouldn't have any problems reversing the charge.
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Dan
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CasualSax wrote:
I have been to the store and met the man in real life. I was not impressed and did not buy anything.


I second that. It's quite disappointing because this is the closest game store to my house.

Their BBB record is also listed as unsatisfactory.

Caveat emptor, man.
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Chris May
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Yeah I did not like my experience with Gathering Ground either. I pre-ordered a case of Star Wars Miniatures for a set that came out last year. (I think it was Champions of the Force) My pre-order was placed 6 months before the product came out. They charged my card immediately for it. Then when the first wave of product came out they did not get enough to fill their preorders. I contacted them and they told me it was Wizard's fault for not sending enough products to cover pre-orders.

Well, I contacted several other online stores who all had product in stock. I cancelled my order and was then charged the restocking fee. I also got the sales call the next day. Needless to say I was pretty bad. i definetely would not use them again.
 
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Nathan Beeler
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EvanMinn wrote:
- They post their policies online.

- You order without reading the policies.

- They follow their policies.

- You complain you don't like their policies.

Again, while I don't like their policies either I don't have a lot of sympathy since its no one's fault but your own that you found yourself in that situation.


I dispute this claim. Who has time or desire to read through all the business and legalize for each store that they want to deal with? I sure as hell don't. There are assumptions one should be able to make as a buyer from any merchant, and one of them is that if you can't fulfill your end of the bargain as a seller then you should immediately give me all of my money back. They can write policy until they're blue in the face, but if anyone don't live up to that basic standard they would have a fight on their hands.

As an example, if I walk into a store and buy a gallon of milk then take it home and find out it's spoiled, I expect to be able to return it to the store and get my money back. I don't expect a hassle (provided I can prove I just bought it) and I don't expect a "restock fee".
 
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Eric Franklin
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CasualSax wrote:
I placed an order with gathering ground for two mats to be shipped second day air. When I got home from work, I found that they wanted me to call to confirm my order:

Quote:
Thank you for your order! For various reasons, your order has been sent to our verification department.

This order will not be shipped until we speak with the card holder and confirm that they are in fact the person who placed the order on our website, and that they have the actual credit card in hand that was used to place the order.


Let me chime in here, as someone whose primary job responsibility is billing verification. I spend six or seven hours per day calling banks to make sure that the information provided matches bank records.

It sucks.

There is an automated system called "AVS" that provides a letter-code to indicate whether an address matches records or not. This system doesn't work with Gift Cards or most cards issued outside the US. Some banks don't support it.

Most online retailers develop policies based on these AVS codes - for a long time, our policy was, "If the order is under $250, Billing and shipping are the same, and the AVS code is an A, B, D, X, Y or Z, then go ahead and approve it without bothering to call the bank."

Our policies get more elaborate when billing and shipping don't match, or when the order size goes up.

Mind you, I work in Car Audio - a very high-fraud industry.

Quote:
Unfortunately by that time, it was too late for the order to be shipped out and get to me on time. A little aggrivated, but I understood, I sent back a pleasant cancelation request:

Quote:
He stated he would bill me for 10% of my order (including shipping costs!) to deal with credit card fees (which hadn't been placed..remember the whole 'confirmation' deal in the first place?). I accepted, and ran off to take a final this morning.


This is totally insane. Most reputable online retailers will only charge when they ship (the FTC has some rules about when you can charge relative to when you ship). A 10% Cancellation Fee for a cancel based on their own delays is ridiculous.

That said, however, their policies are clearly posted - including both the fact that all new orders require verification and that there is a cancellation fee.

While you can dispute the transaction, they will try to reverse the chargeback - and, as their policies are posted, they may win. It all depends on who the credit card issuer is and whether they feel up to a fight. Credit Card issues do tend to favor the consumer over the retailer, however. It's very hard for a retailer to reverse a chargeback.

Eric
 
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Marco Grubert
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dyfrgi wrote:
[q="CasualSax"]Credit card companies are nice to consumers and very much not nice to sellers. You shouldn't have any problems reversing the charge.

Having worked in a mail order business before I can absolutely confirm this. It's a pain working with CCs as a business but for the card holder they are very helpful (unless you exceed your credit of course).
 
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Another example of a retailer using the anonymity of the Internet as an excuse for deplorable customer service.

I've had excellent experiences with Tanga and Boulder for my online game orders, Potomac Distribution for my CCG's and with Miniature Market for my miniature games. Boulder, Potomac and MM have superior customer service (same-day replies to questions and emails), which is always my determining factor when it comes to choosing one business over another (I haven't had a need to deal with Tanga's Customer Service Dept. as of yet). Until any of them go out of business, I don't see a reason for me to shop anywhere else while online (I still support my FLGS's).

It's amazing how some companies can't figure out that with customer service comes repeat business and consumer loyalty.
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Lemur wrote:
Edit: Just checked their site, and yes, both things are listed there, under Policies:

"All new customer orders require phone verification. All new customer orders will be held until this requirement is met. To fulfill this requirement you must provide the verification code from the credit card you used to place the order. Orders of a high dollar amount may also be held for verification."


At this point you should have just refused the phone verification. If they go ahead and charge that order without, then they have violated their own policies.

Quote:

"We require order cancellations to be made via a phone call. If you cannot call us you may send us and email with a time and number you can be reached at. Canceled orders are subject to a 10% transaction/cancellation fee. This charge is to cover the credit card processing fees, internal order processing costs, as well as any restocking fees that may be incurred."


You can always tell them you didn't cancel the order, you jsut never gave them phone verification.

But as already noted, just rat on them to your CC company.

 
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CasualSax wrote:
Follow up -

BoardsAndBits contacted me to let me know they can get megamats. I will be placing the order with them. Its the least I can do after he put up with all my e-mails asking when War on Terror would get in!


Tom a.k.a. Boards & Bits rocks in the customer service department. thumbsup

Bonus: FedEx delivered my copy of War on Terror today!
 
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Chrisgmay wrote:
Yeah I did not like my experience with Gathering Ground either. I pre-ordered a case of Star Wars Miniatures for a set that came out last year. (I think it was Champions of the Force) My pre-order was placed 6 months before the product came out. They charged my card immediately for it. Then when the first wave of product came out they did not get enough to fill their preorders. I contacted them and they told me it was Wizard's fault for not sending enough products to cover pre-orders.

Well, I contacted several other online stores who all had product in stock. I cancelled my order and was then charged the restocking fee. I also got the sales call the next day. Needless to say I was pretty bad. i definetely would not use them again.


Pretty funny they charged you to restock something that they didn't have in stock
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Andrew Rice
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Let me add my name to the "Ripped Off by Gathering Ground" list.

When my order arrived, it was the wrong product. I emailed - no response. I phoned, and got the answer:

"We were out of those, so we sent you something similar."

I didn't want "similar", I wanted what I ordered. You should have notified me so I could have cancelled, instead of just shipping something else. How can I get a refund?

"Just reseal the package and return to sender."

USPS charged me an additional $1.50 to return an already opened package. I called again, and Gathering Ground assured me they would add that to my refund.

One month later, I still have no refund, and Gathering Ground says they "have yet to receive the return."

I have disputed the transaction with Paypal.

They still have the item listed for sale on their website, even though they are supposedly out of stock!

DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THESE PEOPLE!!!
 
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Andrew Taylor
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Their T&C can be translated as:

We don't appear to have recognised what century we're in and have no real understanding of how to operate an online business.
 
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