Monday, October 4, 2010

Bad Commerce: Stat Card Piracy

This weekend I bought a Mercenaries MkII Faction Deck only to discover that it is missing all the particular stat cards for which I made this purchase. In place of the expected Talion Charter cards there is instead a surplus of Rhulic duplicates. I assume someone bought two decks and swapped out the unwanted dwarves to gain an extra set of pirate cards, then returned the tampered deck for a refund. Sneaky git.

I try not to be cynical but this seems unlikely to have been due to faulty packaging or a manufacturing error. I didn't realize until much later that the box was closed with two pieces of clear tape which should have tipped me off that something was amiss. I had been in a hurry to get out of there, however, as the store gives me the creeps and therefore I did not look closely at what I had picked out. It was only when I went to open the deck the next day that I first noticed anything wrong. Caveat emptor, indeed.

Despite being on the wrong end of these shenanigans, I am kind of amused that the apparent targets of this scam were the pirate themed stat cards. It seems fitting at least. This experience isn't even that surprising based on the store's history of unmitigated disappointment. Really this just strengthens my resolve to henceforth patronize it as little as possible. The store is more than an hour's drive from home, offers no discount (but sometimes even charges above the MSRP!), and leaves me with an overall icky feeling. So much for buying locally, I'll shop online.

Now I don't want this post to be entirely negative so for some balance I also want to briefly report on some recent positive shopping experiences. First up are these great pith-helmet head swaps from Secret Weapon Miniatures that I received in the mail today. Seeing them in person gives me a whole new appreciation for the awesome sculpting job done by Col.Gravis of Col.Gravis' Praetorian Imperial Guard. I ordered enough heads to make a minimum sized Praetorian platoon but I currently don't have any plans on going beyond that. I just thought it'd be a fun side project to tinker with and add to the painting wait list. Also I think it's great that more people are entering the market sculpting and casting add-on and parts-swap bits like these heads. The world needs more bits, so I really do like supporting commercial endeavors like this. Good work guys!

The other thing I'm happy to report about is the swift arrival of a batch of miniatures ordered from Privateer Press. No surprises here, I simply appreciate being able to purchase bits and individual models otherwise only available in their box sets. I wish Games Workshop had not eliminated their own bits service and continue to hope that someday it will return. Does anyone remember an official GW explanation for why they discontinued bits sales? No matter, I suppose. It doesn't seem to have affected their success too adversely.

Alright, enough of this. Sorry about all the whining and the rather dismal photos. I've been getting in a little hobby time here and there so I should have better things to talk about soon. Also I'm gathering together the last elements needed for the next diceRolla giveaway so I'll have details on that posted soon. Bye!


  1. What a shame. I think everybody has some bad commerce experience. Personally, we had a store in town, wich was supporting warhammer fantasy, bringing some products and giving us some space here and there. We supported the store, regarding of its prices: they sold maelstrom items, charging almost 30% from the price. Even so, we supported it, until the owner said he wou no longer let us request products as usual, because it was so much time and effort to spend. "You request something, and then keep coming here to see if it has arrived every day"
    Can you imagine such a store owner? From then on, Maelstromgames and credit card FTW. It's lame to stop patronizing a local store, because it's bad service, but sometimes it must be done.

    On the other hand, I'm glad you received those fantastic bits! It's cool to have such indie stores that sell such kits. I have an eye on some Maxmini bits also. Maybe I try them sometime in the near future ;D

  2. Try contacting PP's customer service. They are quite good (in my very limited experience) and well worth a shot. And yes, don't frequent bad stores. In fact vote with your money. The more people that do that, the better for the consumers.

    Speaking of bits, I want a whole bunch of Ragnar's company plastic shoulder pads as you only get two per box and I want to kit out a whole army with them. It's a shame I can't order them as bitz from GW. (I don't want the metal ones as it would unbalance the minis)

  3. Hey that sucks on the Faction Deck. If you like, I can ask around to help you find a GOOD store in your area (I have access to a good network of FLGS owners) or one in your state so you can have stuff drop-shipped. (Yes, a good store will offer to do that for you!)

  4. @ Nesbet - Thank you, I appreciate the solidarity. That is pretty surprising that the store owner stopped such a service for your group because of the hassle of (gasp!) selling you things. It's amazing to think about all the ways game store owners hurt their own businesses. Oh well, at least we've now got the online sellers to step up and accept our hobby money. MaxMini really does make some cool items, I've been eyeing a few of their bits packs for a while myself. If you do go with them, I'd be very excited to see how you make use of their products. Thanks again for stopping by, I hope life is treating you very well. Take care, Nesbet!

    @ Flekkzo - I've had only a little direct contact with Privateer Press' but so far I've been very impressed with their customer service. Based on my experiences they seem to be a very responsive company. Thank you for the suggestion, I hadn't thought to contact PP about getting a bad deck of cards. I'll try getting in touch with them, thanks! You also make a great point about not supporting bad stores. Tolerating this type of stuff just makes things worse. Good luck to you tracking down all those Ragnar shoulder pads, I imagine that would be quite frustrating. I know that struggle all too well. Thanks again for the recommendation, I appreciate it!

    @ Loquacious - I'd love to hear something positive, unfortunately I don't know if there's much hope of finding a hidden gem in my local area. Perhaps outside my immediate area, though? The gaming scene here is rather uninspiring and I believe it has a lot to do with only having access to crappy game stores. There is one other that I know about within an hour from me but it is disappointing as well (very meager stock, minimal game space, terrible atmosphere for playing games). I would certainly appreciate any help, although I'm starting to believe that I am stuck for now. We're likely going to move next year to North Carolina so hopefully there will be better gaming and shopping opportunities for me in the future. If you do feel like inquiring on my behalf, we're looking at the Asheville, NC area so any info about that area would be great as well. Thanks, Loquacious!

  5. I know that it is considered bad form on the 'net these days, but I have a couple of ok local stores and I still order from the 'net, sometimes from the stores on website, but still. Too many game stores suffer from the faults of their owners and eventually die on their own swords. One of the better stores around me, (which sells for 30% off retail) is only open three hours a day during the week. What? Yeah, and its the same three hours I spend with my family. It does have 'regular' hours on the weekend, but still. And... back when the store and internet site were connected the store had a huge supply of goods on hand. Now, the owner split the company (I appreciate the business move) and the store front has only a small amount of product to pick up- everything else has to go through the internet store. All and all, the War Store is just so much easier to order through.

    It may not be the official reason JJ, but I think GW stopped their bits service because of warehousing product and cataloging issues.

  6. I have the MkII Mercenaries deck and no need of the pirate cards. I could probably part with them if you still need them.

  7. @ DrGabe - Very true, I've seen plenty of game stores over the years in which the owner seems to be the biggest obstacle to having both a successful business and a fun gaming environment. That's too bad about your own local store and their limited hours, the whole gaming time vs. family time is always a tough situation but I'm sure it's much more difficult to resolve when the store isn't open very long each day. I normally do most of my shopping online but still tried to make local purchases when I could, and it's not like I'd often find what I was looking for anyways. Whatever... it's online for me from now on. That's interesting about GW and the bits service, thanks for the explanation. That actually sounds much more reasonable than the crazy "we-hate-Jason" theories I had been concocting in my mind. Thanks, Doc!

    @ The Inner Geek - Wow, thank you very much!! That's very generous of you to make such an offer. I'll first try contacting Privateer Press about the deck I bought as Flekkzo suggested in his comment above, but otherwise I would very much appreciate you helping me out like that. I'll let you know how things work out and may take you up on your kind offer. Thanks again, I'm very grateful!