Friday, June 24, 2011

Bad Business

So, I was standing at an Origins booth and noticed they had some Osprey books for $15 each, a mild discount. Osprey books are cool little military-focused history resources, so I starter looking, and saw an interesting looking one on the fortifications of the Incas, so I pick it up and wait to pay the man. He's busily playing a mini's game, so I decide to be patient, and look over the bookshelf and find another book I want to get, so I pick it up and wait some more.

Guy keeps playing his game. That's cool, I'm patient, and while I'm waiting, I succumb to impulse and pick up two more books. So there I am, standing there with $60 of product in my hands, and the guy keeps playing.

I wait, and after a while I'm a little bit less in the sweep of "oh cool" and I put back the two extra books I picked up. He's still playing.

After a bit longer, I decide, ok, I only really need one, so I set aside the second. He's still playing.

So I wait a while longer, at which point I decide "To hell with this", put down the book and wander off.

Origins has been overall quite fantastic, but that example was pretty much going to stick with me.

Or so I thought. That bit of lighthearted bad-business ended up feeling very small late in the day when word hit the bars about the WOTC layoffs. It's way to early to say anything more than it's disturbing, and that I wish the best for all those affected. Good luck to you all.


  1. The important thing to do here is leave a message. Jot down on one of those note cards, "I was going to buy $60 worth of product but got tired of waiting for you to take my money, have a nice day."

  2. It really helped me to have some real retail experience. When I ran a booth, I treated it like a regular retail store.

  3. So you didn't get what you wanted, and the vendor didn't get what they wanted.

    Thanks for helping the booth guy screw his employer.

    Next time ask for help.

  4. Anonymous: Actually, I'm sure that booth guy got what he wanted; to keep playing his game. The vendor hired a crappy booth guy. I'm not saying that was the vendor's intentions, but neither getting good people or focusing on customer service was definitely not a priority for them.

    Rob, don't feel bad about not asking for help. Your time on the floor should be fun. Sometimes it's hard to know which social convention should be adhered to. "Do I interrupt someone's fun game or do I treat this as a store?" It's hard to answer such a question when the booth environment is fuzzy.

    I've run into this time after time in many game stores and it pisses me the hell off. (I'm a customer service nerd, though.)

  5. I may be crazy, but I thought the people in the dealer's hall and so on were there to help the company make money. Attention to customers, hell, salesmanship, are sort of the point? Aren't they? You don't wait for customers to chase you, you chase them. And talk to them. And get them as excited as you are.

    Of course, gamers not knowing how business works, this is an old debate, huh?

  6. Honestly, if the deal had been fantastic ($15 was about a $2-3 discount) or the books were particularly hard to find (they're not) or I had a pressing need, I'd have cheerfully interrupted. But it was an impulse buy, and those are sustainable only so long as the impulse remains. If I'd bought them, I would probably have suffered buyer's remorse, but I would hardly have blamed the vendor for "allowing" me to waste my money. That seems a fair flipside to me not putting that great a value on him in particular getting the sale.

    I will note, however, my impression was that the guy playing was the booth owner, so make what you will of that data.

    Interesting counterpoint: I went to the Gary Games booth to buy Ascension. I was quite excited after some play, and I was intent on buying the con special package ($90) worth of stuff, but when I get to the booth, I have a moment of worry as the entire booth staff are engaged in demos. My time was a little tight, so I was worried I'd be left standing there.

    I need not have worried. Booth staff immediately registered a customer standing there, and quickly & helpfully processed my order. Much more reflective of my general experience as a whole.

    I'm sympathetic to anonymous. This is an industry that's never going to be doing really well, and when things are like that, you want to spread the pain around. If there are "bad customers", that softens the blow. It's lashing out, and I think we all understand that.

    Not to say that there aren't ways to be a good customer. But providing teachable moments is extra credit in my book.

  7. My concern in that situation is this.

    You were standing there with $60 of product (4 books) and he never noticed you to even acknowledge your presence. What was to stop you from just turning and walking away without putting them back?

    Now, it's been a while since I've been at a con, but from what I remember there aren't really lines or anything to trap someone from just blending back into the crowd in them.

    Obviously, I don't condone theft, but as someone selling product like that, I'd damn sure be paying attention just to make sure someone didn't casually rip me off for $10s to $100s. It's more than just good customer experience, it protects your investment.


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