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Subject: General Customer Service Observations rss

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Jeremy Buckmaster
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Let me prefix this post by saying that I am a HUGE Tasty Minstrel Games fan, I even emailed them about selling me one of their plush dragons for my little girl (to which they never even responded).

Anyway here is my experiences in the last month with customer service from 3 of the big game companies.

I received a copy of Zombie in my Pocket that was short the cola token. I emailed Cambridge Games Factory to which I received no response. About a week and a half later, I received my missing token in the mail, still not one single word in response, just the token at the bottom of the envelope.

Then I purchase Alba Longa from Tasty Minstrel Games. Keep in mind I ONLY purchased this because my group is big on Tasty Minstrel Games. I received the game short the three green discs. I emailed them about a week ago, and have yet to received any response or the missing discs.

Then I purchased a new in shrink copy of Bootleggers. I emailed Eagle-Gryphon Games to see about getting the second pack of money, both games that I have played thus far have run out of money. And to ask if they had the two missing cards for the game that weren't sent out with the first 300 copies (which I apparently have one of). That email went out right around a week ago I believe, and still no response at all from them either.

Is this now the norm? Has our hobby grown to the point that we are not worth any response at all to our emails? I am really disappointed in the publishers here.
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Mark Bird
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I think demand is just higher than you anticipate it to be. I know someone who could tell you first hand what that demand is like;

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And she was beyond exceptional in her work at FFG. And I think that Thaadd is an exception to the rule as well. Not every company can afford the time to give a personal reply.

I contact many different companies for a variety of reasons. Getting a response within a week would leave me gobsmacked. The only company that garners a quick response when I email them just happens to be my FLGS.

With the amount of components that come in games these days it goes without surprise that occassionally some components could go missing. Whether that is machine or man being responsible - it's going to happen. The bigger the company the more hands that can ensure that this doesn't happen. And that eats at the bottom line.

The companies know this, and there's every chance that someone like Cambridge might have a stack of envelopes in a box labeled "Zombie in my Pocket - Cola Tokens" each with nothing but the Cola Card in it, ready to send to anyone missing that part.

Give people a chance - you're not the only person requesting parts. Sure it looks like you've had a string of bad luck but that doesn't mean you should get email responses quicker than anyone else. You send your emails, they hit the bottom of the queue and get worked through accordingly.

I've had to wait up to 3 months for response from companies before - it doesn't deter me; if that's how long it takes then so be it. Patience is a valuable commodity these days, it seems.
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I bought Get BIT from my local FLGS but they didn't have the expansion with the shark in stock. So I ordered from Mayday Games. Unfortunatly they sent the incorrect one. I contacted them and I had a response within 4 hours and they sent out the correct expansion at no charge.

thumbsup for Mayday Games


I also recently purchased some fleet movement stands from LIKTO. Of the 12 purchased 2 were unusable and 5 were very wobbly, again after contacting the company I recieved a responce the next day and replacements within a week.

I guess you have just been unlucky

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A boy named Sioux
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Mohrlock wrote:
I've had to wait up to 3 months for response from companies before - it doesn't deter me; if that's how long it takes then so be it. Patience is a valuable commodity these days, it seems.

Expectation to have what you paid for is surely the bare minimum a person can expect when making purchase. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a quick reply in this kind of case. I can understand having to wait for a replacement that has been broken and lost but something that should already be in your hands?
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Jeremy Buckmaster
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Thats the interesting thing. I purchased Defenders of the realm from eagle games and somehow we lost the orc general, he didn't get put back in the box, TOTALLY OUR FAULT. I emailed them and asked if I could buy a replacement and the next day they sent me an email saying it was no big deal and they were mailing me a new one free of charge. That was my only experience with publishers thus far, so I wasn't expecting the week plus that I am looking at from everyone. And I wasn't expecting the lack of a written response from Cambridge.

Ohh I did order some mayday sleeves once and they sent me the wrong sleeves by mistake, they apologized and sent out new ones free of charge, so I guess I have to say :thumbsup: to mayday as well.
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Siouxfire wrote:
Expectation to have what you paid for is surely the bare minimum a person can expect when making purchase. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a quick reply in this kind of case. I can understand having to wait for a replacement that has been broken and lost but something that should already be in your hands?


Certainly a valid point, Siouxfire. I work in customer service so perhaps I have a big heart for those that have to serve customers at any level. At the end of the day companies aren't deliberately going out of their way to not give you 100% of the advertised product, it's just honest mistakes happen is all.

As for 3 months wait, I've had those even for queries let alone replacement parts (missing/broken) But you're right; the customer does have the right to receive the goods that they are paying for in their entirety - not disagreeing with you at all there.
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Mohrlock wrote:
I work in customer service so perhaps I have a big heart for those that have to serve customers at any level. At the end of the day companies aren't deliberately going out of their way to not give you 100% of the advertised product, it's just honest mistakes happen is all.

Agreed. In fact, sometimes it can go the other way. When I bought my copy of Small World Underground, I had an extra game board thrown in which is quite a feat considering it already comes with two.
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Siouxfire wrote:
When I bought my copy of Small World Underground, I had an extra game board thrown in which is quite a feat considering it already comes with two.


Probably someone had to contact the DOW and ask for the missing board

On topic, I also work in customer care and sometimes it can happen that I'm late with the response. However, 'late' in my case means 3-4 days. It's a matter of a company policy and the business priorities you have at the moment.
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Threads like this are always interesting. Gamer buys a game, missing a piece. Opens game up to find missing a piece. E-mails publisher hoping they can make things right. Gets antsy when they don't get a response.

If it really bothers you that much, return it to where you bought it. I know others have suggested the same thing before. While it makes good customer service and creates loyal customers, publishers really don't owe you a damn thing. I believe we've gotten spoiled by good customer service from the publisher when a game misses a piece.

FWIW, most of the time whenever I have missing parts, I e-mail them asking politely for a replacement, what it was, and give them my address. Most of the time I don't get a response, but a few days later showing up at my door is an envelope with the missing parts.

I'd also agree that these publishers really aren't that big, and really YOU aren't that important in the grand scheme of things. Replying to every e-mail saying "parts in the mail" can be time consuming when they get hundreds of e-mails, and only have 1 person minding the shop, but also doing things like packing.

Seriously, I know of several online retailers that says don't call us if you need to reach us, because they are just too busy fufilling orders to always answer the phone. Of course these people are good about responding to emails, and even say as much.



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COMPNOR wrote:
While it makes good customer service and creates loyal customers, publishers really don't owe you a damn thing. I believe we've gotten spoiled by good customer service from the publisher when a game misses a piece.

We're spoiled for expecting to get what we paid for?

And to be fair the original poster got hit for a triple whammy of three games in a month missing parts. I agree returning it to the shop is a viable option but lets not be complacent consumers in all of this.

If a company is doing well enough to be overwhelmed by demand then with that demand comes some responsibility in terms of QC and customer service.
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Siouxfire wrote:
COMPNOR wrote:
While it makes good customer service and creates loyal customers, publishers really don't owe you a damn thing. I believe we've gotten spoiled by good customer service from the publisher when a game misses a piece.

We're spoiled for expecting to get what we paid for?

And to be fair the original poster got hit for a triple whammy of three games in a month missing parts. I agree returning it to the shop is a viable option but lets not be complacent consumers in all of this.

If a company is doing well enough to be overwhelmed by demand then with that demand comes some responsibility in terms of QC and customer service.


You're spoiled for purchasing from a third party, and then expecting the publisher to make it right when with just about every other consumer good, you take it back to the store for a refund or exchange.

I guess I should have also added that it's one thing if you order it from them directly, and another from your favorite store.

I would think having more product returned to the publisher would say more than coming onto a website and bitching about not receiving your parts, or "poor customer service"(not that this thread contains all of those things), when you didn't buy it directly from them and they really owe you nothing.

It's like buying a DVD that doesn't work, or an appliance that's missing parts. I don't know about you, but I return or exchange them. Why do we treat board games differently?

In the first instance, he got his part. So is he really that upset that he didn't get a feel good email saying "sorry we screwed up, your part is on the way"?
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Derry Salewski
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Are CGF and TMG what people would call big companies?
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I will really also add that it could be your e-mail got lost. Yes, it can happen. If you get nothing within a week, try again. Shit happens.
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Enrico Viglino
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Join the segment of the hobby where the companies tend to care -

wargaming companies have become VERY responsive in the past
couple decades.
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The publisher is completely responsible for the bad copy of the game. Anything that ships from them in anything other than new and complete condition is their responsibility.

In fact, once the game is in any other condition, everyone along the chain is responsible.

That said, we always ask the customer to contact the publisher because they are usually the first point of responsibility. They also are more likely to have the parts necessary to complete the game. Lastly, they have the most to gain by supporting their customer base. Otherwise people will consider not buying their games in the future.

The problem is that if each person in the chain asks the person before them to handle the problem, the cost of fixing the problem goes up quickly. And on our margins (and the margins of others in the chain) we cannot afford to spend a lot of time and money on breaking a game out, shipping the part, and working with the person higher up in the chain to send us a replacement or give us credit.

I appreciate that my customers are willing to take the time to contact publishers for replacement parts. It really does help keep our costs and prices down.

That said, if a customer is having trouble getting their issue resolved, we'll step in and do what we can to help. And if the publisher never comes through, it is on us to make the customer happy.

Tom

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BoardsAndBits wrote:
The publisher is completely responsible for the bad copy of the game. Anything that ships from them in anything other than new and complete condition is their responsibility.

In fact, once the game is in any other condition, everyone along the chain is responsible.

That said, we always ask the customer to contact the publisher because they are usually the first point of responsibility. They also are more likely to have the parts necessary to complete the game. Lastly, they have the most to gain by supporting their customer base. Otherwise people will consider not buying their games in the future.

The problem is that if each person in the chain asks the person before them to handle the problem, the cost of fixing the problem goes up quickly. And on our margins (and the margins of others in the chain) we cannot afford to spend a lot of time and money on breaking a game out, shipping the part, and working with the person higher up in the chain to send us a replacement or give us credit.

I appreciate that my customers are willing to take the time to contact publishers for replacement parts. It really does help keep our costs and prices down.

That said, if a customer is having trouble getting their issue resolved, we'll step in and do what we can to help. And if the publisher never comes through, it is on us to make the customer happy.

Tom



I recently had a great experience with Asmodee in replacing a broken piece from my Claustrophobia: De Profundis set and Tom was very helpful in getting me in touch with them.

Big thanks to Tom and the publishers that take care to be cool about this!
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BoardsAndBits wrote:
The publisher is completely responsible for the bad copy of the game. Anything that ships from them in anything other than new and complete condition is their responsibility.

In fact, once the game is in any other condition, everyone along the chain is responsible.

That said, we always ask the customer to contact the publisher because they are usually the first point of responsibility. They also are more likely to have the parts necessary to complete the game. Lastly, they have the most to gain by supporting their customer base. Otherwise people will consider not buying their games in the future.

The problem is that if each person in the chain asks the person before them to handle the problem, the cost of fixing the problem goes up quickly. And on our margins (and the margins of others in the chain) we cannot afford to spend a lot of time and money on breaking a game out, shipping the part, and working with the person higher up in the chain to send us a replacement or give us credit.

I appreciate that my customers are willing to take the time to contact publishers for replacement parts. It really does help keep our costs and prices down.

That said, if a customer is having trouble getting their issue resolved, we'll step in and do what we can to help. And if the publisher never comes through, it is on us to make the customer happy.

Tom



I'm not saying the publisher isn't responsible, but if I buy from you and purchase an incomplete game, why is it my responsibility to correct the issue through the publisher? Unless you have a policy of no refunds/exchanges, it is certainly within my right to return an incomplete item to the place of purchase for full refund and/or exchange. (Unless I'm unaware of some special code of conduct when it comes to games).

Now, that being said, yes I'd say try and contact the publisher first. Most if not all of the time they will help you out, make amends. I've had several games incomplete or misprinted, and the publisher was quite easy to deal with, and I got my replacements. Not always with a "sorry we fucked up, we're sending you replacements" e-mail. I don't need that to feel good as long as I get my parts.

And it would be in the best interests of the publisher to ship replacement parts, to help build loyalty and good customer service. If I am missing something and the publisher tells me to fuck off, well chances are I won't be buying their product again.

But the sense of entitlement that comes out of these OP's, is ridiculous. Like the recent thread about "Poor Customer Service" from Rio Grande Games because he was told that his missing parts would be mailed within 10 days, and by 10 he didn't get anything, and RGG wasn't bending over backwards to send him email updates. I mean really?

Like I said, if it bugs someone that much return it. Exchange it. Otherwise show a bit of patience, and be happy when you're new parts arrive.


 
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COMPNOR wrote:
BoardsAndBits wrote:
The publisher is completely responsible for the bad copy of the game. Anything that ships from them in anything other than new and complete condition is their responsibility.

In fact, once the game is in any other condition, everyone along the chain is responsible.

That said, we always ask the customer to contact the publisher because they are usually the first point of responsibility. They also are more likely to have the parts necessary to complete the game. Lastly, they have the most to gain by supporting their customer base. Otherwise people will consider not buying their games in the future.

The problem is that if each person in the chain asks the person before them to handle the problem, the cost of fixing the problem goes up quickly. And on our margins (and the margins of others in the chain) we cannot afford to spend a lot of time and money on breaking a game out, shipping the part, and working with the person higher up in the chain to send us a replacement or give us credit.

I appreciate that my customers are willing to take the time to contact publishers for replacement parts. It really does help keep our costs and prices down.

That said, if a customer is having trouble getting their issue resolved, we'll step in and do what we can to help. And if the publisher never comes through, it is on us to make the customer happy.

Tom



I'm not saying the publisher isn't responsible, but if I buy from you and purchase an incomplete game, why is it my responsibility to correct the issue through the publisher? Unless you have a policy of no refunds/exchanges, it is certainly within my right to return an incomplete item to the place of purchase for full refund and/or exchange. (Unless I'm unaware of some special code of conduct when it comes to games).

Now, that being said, yes I'd say try and contact the publisher first. Most if not all of the time they will help you out, make amends. I've had several games incomplete or misprinted, and the publisher was quite easy to deal with, and I got my replacements. Not always with a "sorry we fucked up, we're sending you replacements" e-mail. I don't need that to feel good as long as I get my parts.

And it would be in the best interests of the publisher to ship replacement parts, to help build loyalty and good customer service. If I am missing something and the publisher tells me to fuck off, well chances are I won't be buying their product again.

But the sense of entitlement that comes out of these OP's, is ridiculous. Like the recent thread about "Poor Customer Service" from Rio Grande Games because he was told that his missing parts would be mailed within 10 days, and by 10 he didn't get anything, and RGG wasn't bending over backwards to send him email updates. I mean really?

Like I said, if it bugs someone that much return it. Exchange it. Otherwise show a bit of patience, and be happy when you're new parts arrive.




I think the best comparison I can think of is furniture that requires assembly. You know they come with a million screws and pieces. The first thing the instructions tell you is "DO NOT RETURN TO STORE!" If any pieces are missing they want you to contact them, the mfg, directly for replacement pieces. It simply is the most cost effective and best solution for everyone involved. Now I know the big difference is size of the product, but I think the reasons for going through publisher are similar.

I can definitely understand the frustration with the lack of communication though.
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VShadowHeart wrote:


Then I purchased a new in shrink copy of Bootleggers. I emailed Eagle-Gryphon Games to see about getting the second pack of money, both games that I have played thus far have run out of money. And to ask if they had the two missing cards for the game that weren't sent out with the first 300 copies (which I apparently have one of). That email went out right around a week ago I believe, and still no response at all from them either.



Well at least for Bootleggers, I can tell you that AFAIK it's been out of print for years. Getting a replacement for an out of print game will always be a gamble. Also if I'm remembering correctly, Eagle Games went bankrupt, then got bought by FunAgain/FRED Distribution. So there could be some chance (if you're using a contact on the game or something) that your mail went to a non-functional mailbox.

Still, if you did use a correct and still functional contact for Eagle, that's no excuse to not get back to you to let you know even if they can't replace anything.

I've got a copy too so I also researched the issues you're talking about. Apparently they ran out of replacements for the missing cards 3 years ago:
FRED has no more replacement Double Influence cards

If they get back to you about extra money though, post here, as I could use some too so I don't run out! The "running out of money" problem is apparently quite common.
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I recently bought a copy of The Castles of Burgundy from Tom/Boards&Bits. It arrived in perfect shape: shrinkwrap intact; no dents, bruises, scrapes or punctures. As far as I was concerned, B&B had done their part.

But then I opened the game, and discovered that I had three green discs and one black (the game wants two of each player color.) After filling out the the Ravensburger USA "replacement game parts" form, I received a nice email response in about four hours promising prompt shipment of the black disc.

Jay@riograndegames is equally (or, perhaps, even more) responsive - when asked about parts for a game he has published. (I once bought a copy of Andromeda in what looked like original shrinkwrap from a back shelf of a F(not-so-)LGS. It was missing the red cubes - and despite being out of print (at that point) for ~ten years, Jay was happy to provide the necessary parts. That's pretty impressive.)

Bottom line: I don't think bad service is "now the norm"; that hasn't been my experience at all.
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VShadowHeart wrote:

Then I purchased a new in shrink copy of Bootleggers. I emailed Eagle-Gryphon Games to see about getting the second pack of money, both games that I have played thus far have run out of money. And to ask if they had the two missing cards for the game that weren't sent out with the first 300 copies (which I apparently have one of). That email went out right around a week ago I believe, and still no response at all from them either.


First, I thought Eagle was defunct. I could be wrong.

Second, if you are running out of money, break out the poker chips.
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I must be in luck or something. I have missed:

* Farm houses in Agricola – mailed, got the houses in an envelope less than a week later. (Lookout Games)

* Trains from Chicago Express (that I LOST MYSELF) – got the trains, no questions, just a week later. (Queen Games)

* A token from Dungeon Twister – just got it a few days later (Asmodée)

* Rulebook and some tokens for Mage Knight board game – filled in form, got stuff a week later (Wizkids)

* Bought Manhattan second hand, missed some blue houses – mailed and got within the week (Hans Im Glück)

And these from home-publishers:
* Some cards from Hina Clue (Human Game Maker)
* A few cards from Story of Eastern Illusionary Light (Manifest Destiny)

I've got replacement really quick from all of these. For me personally, they've proven to have excellent customer service, all of them. And in only 2 of the cases (Agricola and Mage Knight) was it even the publisher's fault – in the other cases, it wasn't even them, and they STILL sent replacements.
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COMPNOR wrote:
Threads like this are always interesting. Gamer buys a game, missing a piece. Opens game up to find missing a piece. E-mails publisher hoping they can make things right. Gets antsy when they don't get a response.

If it really bothers you that much, return it to where you bought it. I know others have suggested the same thing before. While it makes good customer service and creates loyal customers, publishers really don't owe you a damn thing. I believe we've gotten spoiled by good customer service from the publisher when a game misses a piece.


Perhaps not in America - I'm not familiar with your consumer protection laws.

Be aware though that other countries do have laws about this. In Australia, for example, a defective product must be made right at the producer's expense.

On the general level of principle, though, yes they bloody do owe me - they owe what I paid for.
 
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COMPNOR wrote:
BoardsAndBits wrote:
The publisher is completely responsible for the bad copy of the game. Anything that ships from them in anything other than new and complete condition is their responsibility.

In fact, once the game is in any other condition, everyone along the chain is responsible.

That said, we always ask the customer to contact the publisher because they are usually the first point of responsibility. They also are more likely to have the parts necessary to complete the game. Lastly, they have the most to gain by supporting their customer base. Otherwise people will consider not buying their games in the future.

The problem is that if each person in the chain asks the person before them to handle the problem, the cost of fixing the problem goes up quickly. And on our margins (and the margins of others in the chain) we cannot afford to spend a lot of time and money on breaking a game out, shipping the part, and working with the person higher up in the chain to send us a replacement or give us credit.

I appreciate that my customers are willing to take the time to contact publishers for replacement parts. It really does help keep our costs and prices down.

That said, if a customer is having trouble getting their issue resolved, we'll step in and do what we can to help. And if the publisher never comes through, it is on us to make the customer happy.

Tom



I'm not saying the publisher isn't responsible, but if I buy from you and purchase an incomplete game, why is it my responsibility to correct the issue through the publisher? Unless you have a policy of no refunds/exchanges, it is certainly within my right to return an incomplete item to the place of purchase for full refund and/or exchange. (Unless I'm unaware of some special code of conduct when it comes to games).


While it certainly behooves a retailer to accept returns and exchanges, I'm not aware of any laws which says they MUST accept them. Mind you, I'm talking about a factory-sealed item, here. If a retailer knowingly sold an incomplete or defective item without disclosing, that's a whole different kettle of fish and would certainly fall under some sort of consumer protection statute.

When I was in the games wholesale industry (back in 2001-02), publishers almost universally preferred the customer contact them directly. If the retailer had already accepted a return, the publisher wanted the retailer to contact them. The absolute last resort was to reverse the flow of the product through the supply chain (customer returns to store, store returns to distributor, distributor returns to publisher). Of course, this is just anecdotal evidence. YMMV.

 
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