Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Learned Something New This Weekend

I know that parts of my gaming experience are unique. Everyone's experiences are somewhat unique, if we're getting pedantic (and I'm known for my pedantry at times).

You know how I talk occasionally about publisher customer service?  Apparently I have a lot more experience with it than most folks.

This week, I acquired Kaosball. It's a fun game, so far, and I have Thoughts that will share here at some point. But I'm thinking about getting back into painting miniatures.

The game arrived on Monday, and it hit the table on Wednesday. I spent Tuesday reading and re-reading the rules and the FAQ and generally just getting ready to play on Wednesday.

We played a quick three-player game on Wednesday. Made a couple of rules mistakes - nothing big. Just little stuff. But we got through it and had a good time.

On Saturday, I pulled it out and started examining the figures to see what kind of task I was in for with the painting, and then I noticed that one of my Ringers was headless.  He wasn't a ringer that'd come out on Wednesday, and I hadn't even looked at the figures prior to that.

So I contacted CMoN customer care, and I assume they'll take good care of me. Because game publishers do that. It's a small industry and a small hobby and so negative word-of-mouth is especially damaging.

I mentioned it to a friend, and his comment was, "Again, Eric? It seems like almost every game you buy has an issue! I have more than 1500 games, and I've never needed to contact the publisher for support!"

Me? I apparently have The Luck. I have a number of games with damaged pieces. If the damage doesn't affect the gameplay, I'll often let it lie. But if it's missing pieces or something that impacts gameplay is damaged, I'll go to customer service.

How frequent is this an issue for me?

Here's what I can think of off the top of my head (and every time I start on this list, I think of another one):

1) Archipelago was missing one of its punch boards. I discovered this when I didn't appear to have a start tile. Ludically got one to me surprisingly quickly.
2) Room 25 was missing half of its countdown/number line/turn order tracker. In fact, I had duplicates of half of it. Matagot was very fast at sending the missing punchboard to me.
3) My copy of Star Trek: Attack Wing had an Enterprise with a malformed peg for sitting on the base. WizKids put me through a brief song-and-dance of sending unclear photos to demonstrate the issue, but they sent me the replacement ship.
4) My copy of Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deckbuilding Game was missing a card. One card out of six hundred. One of the "rare" cards for one of the characters. Had I not been sleeving them, I would never have discovered this card missing. Because I was one card short. Upper Deck sent me a replacement without a hassle.
5) My copy of Mutant Chronicles was missing a promo piece. I acquired the game at GenCon, and everyone who got it there was supposed to get a promo. Fantasy Flight sent the promo with zero hassle.
6) There was a known issue with some older copies of Cutthroat Caverns or one of its expansions - I honestly don't recall which. Somewhere in one of the print runs, the cards changed size, so the newer expansions weren't as compatible with one another as they should have been. But Smirk & Dagger made good on replacements, including a replacement box insert. When mine (weirdly) still didn't fit right, they sent me a second box insert. Curt Covert is good people.

These, by the way are just off the top of my head. I could probably spend some time in my collection and point out, "And this was missing its rulebook. And this was missing ..."

I have RPG books that are misprinted - one book is missing pages, one book has an upside-down cover, one book has repeated pages ...

In all cases, the publisher took care of me and gave me a replacement. All cases.

I even had a game that I purchased second-hand. It was missing pieces, and I contacted the publisher asking if there was a way I could buy them. I told him up front that I had purchased second-hand. He still sent them for free. And no, it wasn't a publisher I had worked with before. It wasn't someone I knew.

I have never had a publisher fail to take care of me when something I'd purchased was damaged or defective. I know there are laws in place to protect consumers from defective goods, but I have never gotten the impression that these were "forced" customer service issues. One publisher threw in a bunch of promos with their replacement shipment, for example. One RPG publisher sent me PDF codes for supplements in the e-mail when they were waiting for a fresh printing of my mis-printed book (because they had run out).

This is an industry where the people who are in the industry full time want to make it right.

Just one more thing to love about the hobby, I guess.

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