Well I'm off to Triples tomorrow and should be there for opening which is just perfect. It was always my favourite con really but so much has changed since the last time I attended. First up it was often the weekend one side or the other of my Birthday (MARCH!!!!!) now it's May. Next up it's at a new venue, well that will be a bonus for me as I did not fancy those stairs! and one reason for the move was the need for extra space. Good News, so what's on my list?
Essex will be one target as I need a couple of packs of Persian Cavalry to finish off the birthday ones I received also they have camels so I can get the ones I already own finished off.
Newline need a visit to check out their 20mm Numidians though at £3.30 a pack of three they will have to have something nice to get me to add them to the plastics. I also really need another Zvezda Carthaginian Numidian Cavalry box as I really need just a few more for the 20mm project to be ready to work on. I received my package from Hayfield's yesterday and have to say I really like the Zvezda and they are well worth the extra.
Donnington seem to be the only supplier holding Gallatian Infantry so I will take a look at them and if they are not a fit for what I need then I will probably pick up the closest I can find from one of the others. This and the camels will as good as complete my Later Seleucid arm, well as far as lead goes anyway. Painting well that's a different story.
Vallejo, if I can beat the local shops price I will pick up a few more colours, I feel I have arrived as I am in need of a new White as it's almost used up! Maybe also some horse colours, any suggestions?
Warbases will get a visit, i will pick up a few bits but mostly just to say thanks for the great service I have received in the last 6 months, really fast, helpful and pleasant guy.
Looking at Barbed Wire options, AP is on the clock at £3.59 for 2.5m so will be looking to beat it.
The sticky question of dice, at the moment I use my ASL dice but this means sometimes using them twice to get enough dice in. So buying some of the cheap as chips dice should be considered.
Timecast will get a nod as I need 6mm buildings but another company also do nice buildings and slightly lower in price so will be looking them up as well.
Pendragon for the 10mm ECW/TYW options. Still don't know where we will go with this but I think we will buy a few packs just to try them out. If we go with them it will mean a big spend to build up the armies.
Want to chat at Triples? if you see someone who looks like this, it may well be me.
|Different Jersey though, 96 Hood will be the flavour of the day.|
OK the random stuff now. Phil from The Wargaming Site got me thinking when he was writing about the standards of our hobby suppliers. The general consensus is that they all should be professional, have good websites and react fast to queries. All this was sparked by a mates problems with Heroics and Ross (problem was out of H&R control and has been resolved) but as my professional background is Retail Operations Manager level I have both insight and a personal interest in this matter. I also really should side with the customer as I HATE poor service and unprofessional action.
But we have a few issues that really need to be considered to get the full picture. Many of these companies are part time or if not fairly shoestring affairs. This means that either (and sometimes both) time or money is in short supply to do everything that is needed. Even so a basic standard should be expected but even that can be wanting. So what is reasonable?
E-mails and phone messages replied to. If service is up and running then it's fair to expect a reply within a few days but consider someone who has a full time job, they may well have to fit in casting, packaging and posting out so many orders at some points that they really struggle to get round to it, especially if it's just before or after a show. Still I think it's fair to get a response within 5 days especially if a weekend is included in the time period.
Pictures of the figures on the website. The real gripe of wargamers. Conventions may well be the place many of us get our figures from but how often have they been pre-ordered or selected from the Internet? Also Internet is very big business and so many of us do a lot of buying there. It makes perfect business sense to have all your figures on line with a good and secure ordering system to speed up taking our hard earned off us. The problem for some suppliers they simply do not have the now how to do this themselves and have may well have used someone to build their website who would have to be relied upon to add this feature or maintain it. It's likely in this case to cost a fair bit to do and as such becomes not viable, especially if they have a large catalogue. Money better spent would be to get a training session to learn how to do it and then devote a few hours a week to steadily doing this until you get the whole back catalogue on the system. Will it add sales? yes for sure but possibly not enough to warrant the already limited time for some. But this is a flawed strategy as slowly they will loose sales to competition who's product you can see. What the internet has done is allow us to see and purchase just about anything, if I want a hard to get (say in the UK) set of figures then by direct from where ever they are made. Companies such as H&R really should have pics, they have been around for so long and it's so important that such bread and butter companies get images across.
Getting what you want not an alternative/mistaken item and when it happens getting it sorted. Lack of a retail mind is often the reason for either slipping something similar in the parcel or not reacting fast to errors. Customers tend to hate these errors and can turn a happy loyal customer into a never again and outspoken unhappy camper. Quickly sorting out errors though has just the opposite effect, we love it!
Another similar issue. Out of stock and waiting, waiting and the sands of time drifting away. OK three weeks but I have waited every day for THAT parcel. I will use Hayfield's as an example. I ordered about £25-30 of items, I know already that they take a few days to get back to you, not sure if it's a one man band but it's always the same guy (Andy) who gets back to you. I received an e-mail from him stating the sale item I had ordered was gone (no surprise as it was the last one) and another item was going to be out of stock for two weeks. He was happy to send what he had and send the rest on or hold the stock. I was happy to hold as he told me it was a couple of weeks before the other item came in. A couple of weeks later he lets me know they aer in. Do I still want them and if so how to pay? We sorted the detail and 3 days later they arrive. At all stages I knew what to expect, instead of three weeks of letterbox camping. Warbases is great because he e-mails you he has sent the items out, this he does when he gets home at night, power to him, great service. Keep the customer informed and they stay happy longer, problem is that it takes time and unless they are well organised , lots of time.
Time is the issue for these guys, especially if they are a part time business. So should we cut them some slack? I think so, not a lot after all they are taking our cash but any of these companies that are at the point of going from part time to full time they have it the hardest because that other revenue will be missed for some time whilst they try to make it as a going consign.