Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Back in Action!!!! and Letters to GW

Sometimes, it's worth the wait.

Hi everyone!!!! Welcome back to Tainted by Xenos!!! Thanks for bearing with me over the past month. Look forward to more insight and colorful commentary from your friendly neighborhood Stevo!!!
I wish my first post back were more cheerful. As you all know by now, GW has introduced another price hike. We once again must each personally decide if we like our "cigarettes" enough to let "Bubba G-dub" have his way with our proverbial pie hole. Kirby from 3++ is the new black has created an open letter and asked other to post it on their blogs. He also encourages everyone to create their own and contact GW, as do I. I have posted a copy my letter to GW as well as Kirby's. Together we can do something, apart, nothing will change. If not now, when?

My Letter:

To Whom it May Concern:
                       I wanted to write you to express my concern and disappointment over the new price  increases, beginning May 28th. Firstly, I would like to express how much I love the products your company makes, and have collected thousands of dollars worth of product over the course of the past 8 years. I have large High elves, Necron, Ork, and new Dark Eldar collections and have a small start on a new Grey Knight army.
       As stated earlier, I am very disappointed with the new price hikes. I am usually the type of customer that defends your high prices, simply citing your beautiful models and superior products. Sadly, I can do this no longer. Some of the new price hikes are simply absurd. Specifically 20% increases on Tyranid blisters, Dark Eldar wyches and warriors, and a starter set that has doubled in price over the course of 2 years, just to name a few. Not to mention price hikes on space marine kits.
            I realize Gamesworkshop is a business, and I don't fault you for trying to make money, but I feel that your are abusing my loyalty and the loyalty of other customers. This newest price increase is blatant price gouging.
            It is apparent your prices are not based on manufacturing or material costs, but based simply on supply-demand economics and what you think loyal costumers will pay. This type of business model does not reward costumer loyalty, but punishes it. It has become clear that there is only one way I can affect your decisions and that is to stop buying your products. I will not continue to collect Grey Knight miniatures, and will sell the models I currently have. I will not buy any of the new Dark Eldar models currently on advanced order. I will not buy any new Necron models rumored to be released in October. I want to make it clear, you have lost $600 to $1000 of revenue on me alone.
        I do not write this letter in anger, but with sadness. I would love to continue to buy your products, ignoring the above facts. However, I realize that every time I buy your products, I feel cheated, abused, and simply stupid for doing so. I will take the money I planned on buying your products with and start collecting Warmachine models from Privateer Press. After 8 years of buying nothing but Gamesworkshop products, I feel I owe it to myself to try something from a company that seems to care more about customer satisfaction and loyalty.
                  I hope Games Workshop will adopt more competitive pricing and stop taking its customer base for granted. As stated, I am a huge fan of your company and look forward to a time I can feel good about purchasing your products again.
                                                           Steven Oakes,
                                                  8 year GW customer

Kirby's letter:

I normally hate these type of posts and avoid writing them like the plague. Most of these type of articles just end up complete whining or asshatery (though I did love SandWyrm's)which isn't really necessary but what has happened recently has lead me to write this. Before we get to the letter though some information. Games Workshop has changed their terms and conditions for stores in the United Kingdom to only allow shipping to countries within the European Union and other parts of Europe. They have increased their prices again come June and have announced the released of resin and mixed resin/plastic sets instead of metals with an approximate increase of 2.5-25% depending upon the set. None of these sets are new but rather re-casts. 

Letter time!

To Games Workshop,

Why? No seriously, why? I'm sure the excuse of cutting off Australasia and other countries (Canada, India, Korea, South American countries, etc.) to benefit the independent and GW store sales in Australia sounded good but unless you cut the prices here to not be a ridiculous 200% higher price than overseas, it's not going to happen. Let's look at this logically. You've stopped us from buying from stores like Maelstrom and Wayland with an embargo agreement in your Terms and Conditions (remember globalisation? how's that going btw?). Does this mean we are going to now buy at RRP in Australia or other countries? No.

There are other outlets overseas we can buy from which are still much cheaper (hi America), other companies which you cannot touch without raising a helluva lot of crap (hi ebay) and people who are willing to ship to us overseas (hello family and friends) without the 200% tax. We won't be getting as huge a discount as before but it's much better than buying here at RRP. The other option is of course going to be quitting which I imagine some people are going to do. Check out this thread on WargamerAU

Now I'm all for one in supporting the locals. I buy all my products such as spray paint, paints, plasticard, magnets, drills + bits, modelling putty, brushes, etc. from Australia. As an aside, do you actually stock good quality merchandise for all of those options? I don't see you selling plasticard, magnets, good sized drillbits, custom bases, etc. I'd be happy to pay a 5-10% premium on these objects compared to other stores to support your business but then again, I don't really want to support your business currently do I? The point of any business is to make a profit but the problem with your business model is you do not do this whilst concurrently supporting your customer base. We don't ask for much but a short list would look like...
  • not raising prices every year, without fail, regardless of the economic situation or inflation rates
  • basing prices around the world upon exchange rates (I wouldn't be averse to paying 20% more in Australia compared to the UK or America locally but I am adverse to paying twice as much) - there are circumstances in each country that make operating there more or less expensive but you need a base retail price for your product which is then translated by exchange rates at a given time (i.e. quarterly) rather than a price set many, many years ago. It's part of being in a global market.
  • regular and quick FAQs - you've done a fantastic job IMO of creating some pretty balanced books for 5th edition, fix the grey areas quickly.
  • official erratas - man up and admit you've made mistakes (hi Tyranids) and work on erratas that are official and re-print the books with these amendments. Admitting a mistake and fixing it isn't a problem and I'd applaud you for it. Ignoring a problem is.
  • fix Fantasy - you did it with 40k, why go backwards with Fantasy?
  • don't think your customer base is moronic - the resin re-cast to be cheaper than metals whilst hiking prices, not fooling anyone.
Ultimately people in Australia and other countries go overseas for their Games Workshop products for a reason: it's significantly cheaper (I.e. half price). What motivation is there to therefore buy from our locals when you aren't treating your customers with loyalty and support? People will walk away and your bottom line will hurt. A simple solution: care about your customers. Change the Australian (and other countries) prices so they are at least similar to the UK and US. This doesn't have to be the exact same price but some parity would be greatly appreciated.

Here's a quick example. If you could buy a similar product for $45 compared to $150, what would you do? How about if the product was the exact same but if you ordered it overseas it was $80 compared to $150 by the time it reached your door step? I'm pretty sure you'd want to take the cheaper option correct? For you as a company, you make your profit margin through the reseller regardless of where it is purchased. You may make more money off a direct sale at an Australian store compared to an Internet sale from the UK but you have already achieved the profit margin from the Internet sale already. The Australian stores may be hurting but this is down to the initial price you have set, not market trends. Simply put, you are alienating customers from a large and developing market.

I and many of the readers here obviously enjoy your game. We've played it through thick and thin (4th edition...) or come back thanks to an improvement game balance (5th edition) and don't want to leave. We will though sooner or later if you keep piling on idiotic choices on us. Other companies like Privateer Press did very well in the early to mid-2000s for a reason and people will migrate to other gaming systems if you continue to mistreat them and their loyalty.

As it stands I question why you do the things you do. Raising prices every year annoys me but I cannot complain too loudly as your products are a luxury item but you do not provide excellent customer service one usually expects with such goods. I certainly find minimal fault with your staff or when your product is damaged/faulty but your overarching business model seems counter-intuitive to maintaining a customer base. Even if you are getting a large amount of new customers imagine how much better off your company would be if you had maintained a significant portion of your repeat customers. The model you are running currently to me does not seem sustainable as your turnover rate in customers is just too high. I applaud your efforts in making 40k 5th edition a more competitive game but what you've done to Fantasy 8th edition doesn't bode well for the future.

Please, look to satisfy both the shareholders and the customer rather than just the former.


P.S. Anyone who agrees with this, I would greatly appreciate this being re-posted on your blog so we might actually garner GW's attention and hopefully move forward together. That is the ultimate goal, I want Games Workshop to succeed as a company so I can continue to enjoy the gaming systems I do but to do that, Games Workshop must look at altering their business model in the long run to maintain a steady customer base.

So, what do ya'll think? Is it time for a revolution or should we stop getting upset over something we can't change? Are you mad enough at GW to stop buying their products?

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