Customer Service, Kickstarters and Other Concerns…

The levels that a company are willing to go to in order to keep you the customer happy invariably only come to light when something goes wrong….

…as when everything is going right we presume that the people we are dealing with are doing a great job when it might be that perhaps you just happen to be one of the lucky ones and It’s only when we are forced to call upon a companies customer service that we really find out what sort of people we’re actually dealing with…


The first time I had an issue with a hobbying product was some considerable time ago with a company you may have heard of called ‘Games Workshop’. I had ordered several  models for their Battlefleet Gothic game system and one of them arrived with an important part missing and I envisioned a long and eventually fruitless day dealing with some prick who hated the world and every-one in it and whose policy would inevitably be ‘never admit you’re wrong and give the customer bugger all…’.

I have as you can probably guess, not had brilliant experiences with these departments in a none hobby environment and had no reason to think that this was going to be any different…

…imagine my surprise when I turned out to be completely wrong.

The gentlemen who answered my call listened to my half arsed description of the part in question apologised and then told me he’d send me another one…not just the part, but a completely new model and when I asked what to do with the faulty one I nearly fell off my chair when I was told to keep it…As you can imagine I became a big fan of Games Workshop at that point.

Now I’m sure that there are people out there who took advantage of this policy but I must say that for me personally it was amongst the best examples of customer service that I’d ever experienced. The replacement arrived fairly quickly as well…

As I don’t deal with Games Workshop any-more I can’t comment on their current performance in this area but back then I couldn’t fault it in any way. Though in the early days of ‘fine-cast’ when I was getting around about one usable model out of every three purchased they were fairly good in swapping them then as well so maybe this is one are that they’re still good at. I’m sure if they aren’t then some-one will let me know in the comments section.

In recent times I’ve moved away from Games Workshop and onto the product ranges of companies that are in many cases much smaller than GW though I’m happy to say that I’ve generally had good experiences with them all. I’ve had minor issues with Wyrd Miniatures, Prodos Games, Mantic and Privateer Press amongst others and have had nothing to complain about when dealing with any of them yet so customer service seems to be generally high in our particular genre. Missing parts have been replaced and order queries have been resolved to my satisfaction on each occasion. Obviously I can only speak for my own experiences and I’m sure if yours have been different then your opinions (and associated swear words) will make their way into the comments section swiftly enough.

As some-one who spends a lot of time on social networking sights, forums and various hobby related areas I do hear of the odd disaster here and there but the big issue that seems to be around at the moment relates to that current hobbying phenomenon namely Kickstarter.

Kickstarter obviously has some problems but some of these from a customer perspective are that they seem to think of it as a pre-order system rather than the chance to throw money at a project that will arrive in some form or another at some time in the future as to this day I’ve only actually had one backed project arrive at the time it was estimated. As I’d looked into Kickstarter as a ‘thing’ before pledging I wasn’t particularly concerned about these delays (to be honest I expected them) though I see many complaints from people on the aforementioned forums and the like who are far less satisfied than I and a few of their points are actually fairly reasonable…and some aren’t…

One that comes up a lot is “Guy/Girl ‘A’ received their parcel ages ago and I haven’t got mine yet…” and though I sympathise with the basic human desire to be first there’s not a lot that can be done about this without the immediate invention of some kind of multiple beam teleportation device which I fear may be beyond the scope of the average miniature wargaming companies R+D department. Though I do sympathise more with the quite common “My pledges made this happen but Girl/Guy ‘B’ can walk into a shop and buy it before I received mine…” as this is something that can be avoided by the simple method of despatching to the backers before despatching to none backing* retail stores.

*Many Kickstarters have retail level pledges so I have no issues with the stores in question who also backed the project getting their’s at the same time as me as (to be fair) their support was just as integral to the success of the project as mine. It’s stores that had nothing to do with the initial Kickstarter project getting access to the finished product before backers that I think causes the majority of the bad feeling.

Another issue that comes up is when a company who launches something via the medium of Kickstarter later decides to use it again but has yet to fulfil their obligations from the previous one. A great deal of companies who use Kickstarter do so because they don’t have the financial power to just make the product outright and it’s an understandable customer concern that while there limited number of staff are newly prioritised working on a shiny new project that they may be less concerned about sorting out your issues with a game system or model range that they already have your money for.

Ronnie Renton of Mantic Games recently issued an apology** for the fact that they greatly underestimated the logistics of their Deadzone Kickstarter project and gave his assurances that the lessons had been learned. As I’m a forgiving person by nature I’ll take him at his word. But as I tell my teenage daughter quite regularly, a major part of “I’m Sorry” is that what you also mean is “I won’t make that mistake again…”. Hopefully that’s what we can expect from them in the future and perhaps other companies will be as willing to admit their mistakes and learn from them as they evidently have.

**It’s repeated in this Deadzone update if you wish to have a read.

As I’m just one person..well two..if you count the cheerful alter-ego…my own experiences may be wildly different from your own…but that’s what the comments section is for…

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