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Subject: Does anyobdy have any idea what's up with Stronghold Games? rss

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Moshe
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I've pre-ordered my copy of Panic Station, and when everybody started getting their orders - I was eager to play.

Then, I got a shipment notification - for the wrong address!
I've emailed Stronghold Games about it, only to receive an automatic reply saying they're in Essen and would be back only on the 25th.

It's been 4 days since, I've since emailed them again - and no response.

Not to mention how totally unprofessional it is for a company to send products and disappear (Essen is no reason not to check emails and disregard your pre-orders!), but no reply for 9 days? really?

I want to play this game already, and I'd hate to give it bad rep just because of Stronghold Games, but that is one seriously bad customer service.
If someone knows what's up and how to contact them, that'd be great.
 
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Kevin Nesbitt
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Hi there,

We're back from Germany and plowing through our emails received during our time away.

We made it clear to our customers that we would ship Panic Station before attending to Essen. Failing to follow-through on this would have been the unprofessional thing to do.

We'll be happy to attend to this matter for you and ask for your patience. Between a staff of two, running a major consumer show in a foreign country tends to slow down our response time a little bit (hence the auto-reply you received advising of this).

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otrex wrote:
Hi there,

We're back from Germany and plowing through our emails.

We made it clear to our customers that we would ship Panic Station before attending to Essen. Failing to follow-through on this would have been the unprofessional thing to do.

We'll be happy to attend to this matter for you and ask for your patience. Between a staff of two, running a major consumer show in a foreign country tends to slow down our response time a little bit (hence the auto-reply you received advising of this).



Keeping your word is the most important part of this, so I am glad you shipped them. The customer service issue described in the original post does not seem to warrant the ire it received and calling out in a public forum, but perhaps the OP is used to dealing with your old alma mater, Valley Games.

Sorry Kevin, I couldn't resist.
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Kevin Nesbitt
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People are anxious to receive their game, so I can't blame them for that. We want folks to be excited about our products, after all.

I cannot comment on the customer service habits of our competitors, of course. All I can say is that we pride ourselves on making sure our customers are attended to in a professional manner.
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Moshe
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Wow, no.

While it is understandable you promised to ship before Essen, that is not what I meant.
What I meant is that, if shipping before Essen, someone should have been there to answer customers. Such things are prone to errors, and it is acceptable, but it is definitely NOT acceptable for a company to ship a product and then disappear, whatever the reason.
Such a "hit and run" approach is, in no way, good customer service.

You promised to ship before Essen, so you should, but someone should be there to check emails and respond to problems.

Also, your respone claimed you're back on the 25th. It is now the 29th already, and my only response is here, in BGG.
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William Crispin
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Starkiller wrote:
Wow, no.

While it is understandable you promised to ship before Essen, that is not what I meant.
What I meant is that, if shipping before Essen, someone should have been there to answer customers. Such things are prone to errors, and it is acceptable, but it is definitely NOT acceptable for a company to ship a product and then disappear, whatever the reason.
Such a "hit and run" approach is, in no way, good customer service.

You promised to ship before Essen, so you should, but someone should be there to check emails and respond to problems.

Also, your respone claimed you're back on the 25th. It is now the 29th already, and my only response is here, in BGG.


Cause you are their only customer.
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Moshe
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wwscrispin wrote:
Starkiller wrote:
Wow, no.

While it is understandable you promised to ship before Essen, that is not what I meant.
What I meant is that, if shipping before Essen, someone should have been there to answer customers. Such things are prone to errors, and it is acceptable, but it is definitely NOT acceptable for a company to ship a product and then disappear, whatever the reason.
Such a "hit and run" approach is, in no way, good customer service.

You promised to ship before Essen, so you should, but someone should be there to check emails and respond to problems.

Also, your respone claimed you're back on the 25th. It is now the 29th already, and my only response is here, in BGG.


Cause you are their only customer.


How many emails were sent in that period? 1000? probably much less.
It doesn't take 4 days to answer emails. That should be their main priority after not being available for a long while.


Edit: that SHOULD have been their main priority when shipping a pre-order. But whatever, I just want to get my game and be done with it.
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Starkiller wrote:
How many emails were sent in that period? 1000? probably much less.
It doesn't take 4 days to answer emails. That should be their main priority after not being available for a long while.

As a worker in the game industry that attended Essen, I can confirm that yes, it is nearly impossible to handle emails while at Essen since you're in meetings constantly. I was only able to check twice the entire time, and for about 2 minutes each time. Also, yes, it takes at least 4 days to plow through emails after a week absence if it's anything like the volume of email I receive regarding advertising on BGG.

You're working with small companies here, not companies with hundreds of employees. We can't be everywhere at once, but I'm sure you'll be well taken care of.
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Moshe
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chaddyboy_2000 wrote:
Starkiller wrote:
How many emails were sent in that period? 1000? probably much less.
It doesn't take 4 days to answer emails. That should be their main priority after not being available for a long while.

As a worker in the game industry that attended Essen, I can confirm that yes, it is nearly impossible to handle emails while at Essen since you're in meetings constantly. I was only able to check twice the entire time, and for about 2 minutes each time. Also, yes, it takes at least 4 days to plow through emails after a week absence if it's anything like the volume of email I receive regarding advertising on BGG.

You're working with small companies here, not companies with hundreds of employees. We can't be everywhere at once, but I'm sure you'll be well taken care of.


I get that, and it's totally ok. Had I ordered a product on their site on any other occasion, that would be acceptable. But shipping large quantities of items at once for a pre-order and then going off for a week is, for me, not a good move. In such a case you should make sure to check your emails, it's even easy to filter only those emails of clients who placed orders.

In any case, I'm sure (or at least hope) I'll be well taken care of, I'm just a bit shocked by people defending such a move.
If you're shipping out mass quantities at once, be prepared to be there and help customers.
 
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William Crispin
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Yes, but for the majority who did receive it already, had Stronghold shipped it after Essen so they could attend to potential mis-ships, those customers would not have received anything yet.

It is not that I do not think you deserve their attention or to receive your game, it is just that some people can see the bigger picture and some people are tightly focused on their part of that picture.
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Mike S.
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Starkiller wrote:
on any other occasion


On any other occasion I'd actually be pissed.


Starkiller wrote:
going off for a week is, for me, not a good move.
I'd agree with you 'on any other occasion.

The Spiel in Essen is the biggest boardgame fair around the world. What would you expect from a boardgame publisher ? Stay at home just to check if 2 or 3 pre-orders don't arrive within the timespan the customer is expecting or going to the fair to maintain contacts and expand further ?
I'm kinda astonished by your point of view shake

And I'm sure they'll make it up to you in some way or another.
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Moshe
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wwscrispin wrote:
Yes, but for the majority who did receive it already, had Stronghold shipped it after Essen so they could attend to potential mis-ships, those customers would not have received anything yet.

It is not that I do not think you deserve their attention or to receive your game, it is just that some people can see the bigger picture and some people are tightly focused on their part of that picture.


I didn't mean that they should ship after Essen, not at all.
Just that, since they shipped before Essen, they should've followed their emails. I'm pretty sure there's internet connection in Germany ...

They could have also made it a top priority to treat such emails immediately upon coming back, first replying to customer's emails and then all the rest.

By no way did I mean they should have delayed shipping. I'm not tightly focused, I just expected better service under these terms.
 
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Moshe
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Player77 wrote:
Starkiller wrote:
going off for a week is, for me, not a good move.


The Spiel in Essen is the biggest boardgame fair around the world. What would you expect from a boardgame publisher ? Stay at home just to check if 2 or 3 pre-orders don't arrive within the timespan the customer is expecting or going to the fair to maintain contacts and expand further ?
I'm kinda astonished by your point of view shake

And I'm sure they'll make it up to you in some way or another.


As pointed in my previous post - no.
Going off isn't going to Essen, it's going to Essen and ignoring emails. Of course they should go to Essen!
 
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Mike S.
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My view on Essen attendees:

It's almost impossible to have some smalltalk with them for more than 5 minutes. So because of their thight schedule I don't expect them to have any time to check their e-mails.
Days at the fair are very long and tough. So I don't expect them to have any time to check their e-mails after a hard day at the fair.
Arriving back home after the fair and finding an inbox with just a few e-mails, I wouldn't even bother to continue the business.
I'm sure going through e-mails for 4 days after almost a week absence doesn't really shock me. Especially if it's a rather small company like there are so many in the boardgame industry.


just my €0,02
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Moshe
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Player77 wrote:
My view on Essen attendees:

It's almost impossible to have some smalltalk with them for more than 5 minutes. So because of their thight schedule I don't expect them to have any time to check their e-mails.
Days at the fair are very long and tough. So I don't expect them to have any time to check their e-mails after a hard day at the fair.
Arriving back home after the fair and finding an inbox with just a few e-mails, I wouldn't even bother to continue the business.
I'm sure going through e-mails for 4 days after almost a week absence doesn't really shock me. Especially if it's a rather small company like there are so many in the boardgame industry.


just my €0,02


Taking 4 days for one week's emails means they'll take almost a month to catch up with mails, since new ones are coming in.
Don't have time at Essen? plan accordingly. Make sure someone check emails every day just for customer issues. There's time, I'm sure, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes. You can even set up a special email address for that - it's very easy.

Shipping a few hundred products (which I assume was the quantity of Panic Station shipped) should come with a responsibility.

So you didn't face it, ok, right when you're back sit down, filter all mails by BGG and other such places and just check customer emails. It should take no more than an hour or two to sort through about 1000 of emails and look for those just by customers. I'm talking from experience.

Good service isn't hard.
 
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Moshe
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TheFlatline wrote:
Starkiller wrote:
Player77 wrote:
Starkiller wrote:
going off for a week is, for me, not a good move.


The Spiel in Essen is the biggest boardgame fair around the world. What would you expect from a boardgame publisher ? Stay at home just to check if 2 or 3 pre-orders don't arrive within the timespan the customer is expecting or going to the fair to maintain contacts and expand further ?
I'm kinda astonished by your point of view shake

And I'm sure they'll make it up to you in some way or another.


As pointed in my previous post - no.
Going off isn't going to Essen, it's going to Essen and ignoring emails. Of course they should go to Essen!


Again, you're missing what others have said. In a big convention like that it's nearly impossible to keep track of email since you're so busy. You obviously have never worked in a high-volume email environment. If there were a thousand emails to go through that's at least 2-3 days of just going through them, and if a lot of them require some kind of action, that can take even longer.

Besides, what were they supposed to do while at Essen? Wave their magic fedex wand and make it all better? The best you could have gotten is a "we'll get to it in due turn when we get back from Essen", which apparently is exactly what they did by posting publicly.

Just chill. It'll get worked out.


I'm sure it'll get worked out, but it's bad service, that's all.
And yes - a simple call/mail from them to FedEx would have solved it.

Now my package is in god-knows-where. So they might get it, they might send a new one - it will be sorted out, I'm sure, but the service along the way was in no way good. Sorry.
 
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Kevin Nesbitt
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Moshe,

If you're not happy, we're not happy. That's our policy. However, this issue will be resolved for you, that you can be certain of.

A word about Essen:

After finishing up normal business for the day on Monday, we boarded a plane to Germany at 7pm. After flying all night we arrived in Dusseldorf and boarded a train that took us the rest of the way (about 35 minutes) to Essen before a 15 minute cab ride to the hotel to check in at about 9am local time.

No rest for the weary though as we headed straight over to receive our incoming sea shipments and air shipments and to meet with the logistics company that we work with.

After several hours of unboxing nearly 1000 games and preparing our booth it was now 6pm local time on Tuesday. At 6:30pm we went to our first real meal since Monday night, although because of time pressure we also had to take a meeting during dinner. After dinner we had to visit with our factory to ensure that the remaining 360 games would be delivered on time and to arrange additional logistics for another game.

Finally at 11:30pm local Essen time on Tuesday we were able to retire to bed. Our day lasted from 7am EST on Monday until 11:30pm on Tuesday night. In that time we slept for 0 hours and ate two real meals.

Wednesday morning we were up at 5am to set up for press day and start taking meetings. We were able to return to the hotel just a bit after 11pm.

Thursday through Sunday these hours were the same, though I'll spare you the meeting-by-meeting account. We had to postpone and cancel more than 6 meetings for lack of manpower to actually attend the meetings (i.e. 2 members of Stronghold Games cannot attend 3 meetings at one time).

Additionally, of course, we were running our consumer show, which I believe had around 120,000 attendees this year. Our booth was one of the busiest with a lineup on Thursday morning of roughly 150 people at any given moment. Our meetings during the show amounted to standing in our booth with the person we were meeting with, interspersed with trying to continue making sales at our retail area. Fortunately we were blessed with 2 demo volunteers on most days, so they were able to run back and forth between the 4 demos that were running at all times.

In total across the 5 days of the show we were able to get one "real" lunch once, and it was a single slice of pizza each. I had to eat mine during a meeting.

On Sunday, of course, there is the tear-down which takes several hours. We had our last meeting over dinner at 10pm and were able to get everything packed and ready for the flight in the morning. My head hit the pillow at 1am. I was up at 5am for my flight back home on Monday.


We will be pleased to make sure all our customers emails are met and addressed to the fullest extent of our abilities. If Superman should ever hand in a resume, you can believe we'll hire him immediately.

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otrex wrote:
Moshe,

If you're not happy, we're not happy. That's our policy. However, this issue will be resolved for you, that you can be certain of.

A word about Essen:

After finishing up normal business for the day on Monday, we boarded a plane to Germany at 7pm. After flying all night we arrived in Dusseldorf and boarded a train that took us the rest of the way (about 35 minutes) to Essen before a 15 minute cab ride to the hotel to check in at about 9am local time.

No rest for the weary though as we headed straight over to receive our incoming sea shipments and air shipments and to meet with the logistics company that we work with.

After several hours of unboxing nearly 1000 games and preparing our booth it was now 6pm local time on Tuesday. At 6:30pm we went to our first real meal since Monday night, although because of time pressure we also had to take a meeting during dinner. After dinner we had to visit with our factory to ensure that the remaining 360 games would be delivered on time and to arrange additional logistics for another game.

Finally at 11:30pm local Essen time on Tuesday we were able to retire to bed. Our day lasted from 7am EST on Monday until 11:30pm on Tuesday night. In that time we slept for 0 hours and ate two real meals.

Wednesday morning we were up at 5am to set up for press day and start taking meetings. We were able to return to the hotel just a bit after 11pm.

Thursday through Sunday these hours were the same, though I'll spare you the meeting-by-meeting account. We had to postpone and cancel more than 6 meetings for lack of manpower to actually attend the meetings (i.e. 2 members of Stronghold Games cannot attend 3 meetings at one time).

Additionally, of course, we were running our consumer show, which I believe had around 120,000 attendees this year. Our booth was one of the busiest with a lineup on Thursday morning of roughly 150 people at any given moment.

On Sunday, of course, there is the tear-down which takes several hours. We had our last meeting over dinner at 10pm and were able to get everything packed and ready for the flight in the morning. My head hit the pillow at 1am. I was up at 5am for my flight back home on Monday.


We will be pleased to make sure all our customers emails are met and addressed to the fullest extent of our abilities. If Superman should ever hand in a resume, you can believe we'll hire him immediately.



That was more than the answer I needed, instead of people claiming my expectations are wrong.
Thanks, and I'm looking forward for it to be sorted out.

Hopefuly you enjoyed it all!
 
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Mike S.
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Handling 1000 e-mails in 2 hours? I'd be very impressed with anyone who would be able to handle that other than pressing 'select all' and hit 'delete'.
From my personal experience, I'm not even capable of handling 100 e-mails within 2 hours without deleting any or all of them and then I'm only talking about reading all those e-mails. Just imagine the time I'd spend answering all those e-mails as well. surprise
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Moshe
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Player77 wrote:
Handling 1000 e-mails in 2 hours? I'd be very impressed with anyone who would be able to handle that other than pressing 'select all' and hit 'delete'.
From my personal experience, I'm not even capable of handling 100 e-mails within 2 hours without deleting any or all of them and then I'm only talking about reading all those e-mails. Just imagine the time I'd spend answering all those e-mails as well. surprise


Sorting them out to set aside only those with customer issues, not fully handling them.
 
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I have to say that I have been amazed with the "panic" I've seen in the threads surrounding this preorder! Sometimes us geeks behave like kindergardeners getting (or not getting) a new toy. I have found this to be good advice for my new passion for board games: "Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook a board game not getting shipped on time" (Prov.12:16 Dave Standard Version).

The funny thing is that I think the very personal customer service that Stronghold offers (announcing when the game is in transit to Stronghold, giving an estimated time when it will ship, and then giving a promise that the shipping company would ship ALL 500 games by a certain day) actually feeds the criticism (of some) when something goes wrong. The personal attention really should convince the customer that Stronghold will make it right, but I guess that isn't always the result.
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davethevenerable wrote:
I have to say that I have been amazed with the "panic" I've seen in the threads surrounding this preorder! Sometimes us geeks behave like kindergardeners getting (or not getting) a new toy. I have found this to be good advice for my new passion for board games: "Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook a board game not getting shipped on time" (Prov.12:16 Dave Standard Version).

The funny thing is that I think the very personal customer service that Stronghold offers (announcing when the game is in transit to Stronghold, giving an estimated time when it will ship, and then giving a promise that the shipping company would ship ALL 500 games by a certain day) actually feeds the criticism (of some) when something goes wrong. The personal attention really should convince the customer that Stronghold will make it right, but I guess that isn't always the result.


Again, missing the point.
It's not the delay that bothers me, it's shipping hundreds of products, disappearing, and not replying for quite a while - when it would be really easy to reply, and it is very expected that such things could happen.

Are we not allowed to expect good service?
Should I accept everything because it will be fixed later?
I was stating my frustration, one that is right and should be stated.
I didn't dismiss the company nor the game, only their customer service in such a period in which they are expected to be more available.

I accept Kevin's answer, but just believe it is rather later than it should have been.
We should strive to better ourselves and criticize companies where they need improvement, so we all can improve.
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Starkiller wrote:
davethevenerable wrote:
I have to say that I have been amazed with the "panic" I've seen in the threads surrounding this preorder! Sometimes us geeks behave like kindergardeners getting (or not getting) a new toy. I have found this to be good advice for my new passion for board games: "Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook a board game not getting shipped on time" (Prov.12:16 Dave Standard Version).

The funny thing is that I think the very personal customer service that Stronghold offers (announcing when the game is in transit to Stronghold, giving an estimated time when it will ship, and then giving a promise that the shipping company would ship ALL 500 games by a certain day) actually feeds the criticism (of some) when something goes wrong. The personal attention really should convince the customer that Stronghold will make it right, but I guess that isn't always the result.



We should strive to better ourselves and criticize companies where they need improvement, so we all can improve.


That is exactly what I was suggesting. Many people took exception to your post; maybe there is a way you can improve future posts in which you criticize a company.
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davethevenerable wrote:
Starkiller wrote:
davethevenerable wrote:
I have to say that I have been amazed with the "panic" I've seen in the threads surrounding this preorder! Sometimes us geeks behave like kindergardeners getting (or not getting) a new toy. I have found this to be good advice for my new passion for board games: "Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook a board game not getting shipped on time" (Prov.12:16 Dave Standard Version).

The funny thing is that I think the very personal customer service that Stronghold offers (announcing when the game is in transit to Stronghold, giving an estimated time when it will ship, and then giving a promise that the shipping company would ship ALL 500 games by a certain day) actually feeds the criticism (of some) when something goes wrong. The personal attention really should convince the customer that Stronghold will make it right, but I guess that isn't always the result.



We should strive to better ourselves and criticize companies where they need improvement, so we all can improve.


That is exactly what I was suggesting. Many people took exception to your post; maybe there is a way you can improve future posts in which you criticize a company.


My post was clear enough. I was complaining about them not responding to my emails, not about the game not arriving or about them being in Essen.

People are entitled to their opinion. Ignoring emails for 9 days is NEVER good customer service, whatever people might say (that is MY opinion).
So, ok, you can handle bad service. Good for you, I expect more.
 
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Some people think the whole world revolves around them. Let me tell you something though: it doesn't.
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