I nearly choked on my museli when I read Battlefront’s announcement that they’d ceased supplying UK retailer Maelstrom Games with immediate effect. Maelstrom Games are my preferred supplier. A one stop mail-order shop for the lonelier wargaming corners of the country, if you will.
Speculation and comment is rife over why Battlefront have pulled the plug. Maelstrom’s MD, Rob Lane, enigmatically commented on TGN,
We’ll be making a statement later on today, or possibly tomorrow. You will be amazed when you hear what has happened.
MD, Maelstrom Games
With no further comment being made at present, I thought I’d share what I know. After all, I was getting itchy as I’ve got some pre-orders I wanted clarification on.
Noting that all of Maelstrom’s FoW stock was now labelled ”Whilst Stocks Last’, I rang them this morning to be informed that news on whether they would be able to honour existing pre-orders would be clarified after 14:00. I was left with the impression that some stock might still be coming in, despite Battlefront’s statement to the contrary. I pressed to find out more, but was advised to ring back later.
At a little before 15:00, I received an email from Maelstrom informing me of the following:
In reference to order #***********, we have refunded £**.** to your Moneyback, for the items ********** ********** and ******** ********** ************.
We have done this because the item(s) are no longer available.
We have refunded to your Moneyback because it is quick and easy and has the additional benefit that it reduces bank charges for both sides. If you would like us to refund to your original payment method, please let us know and we will be happy to do so.
Personally, I don’t like Moneyback or credit and feel it’s a little bit cheeky to offer it up as your first line so I asked for a refund via my original payment method. But all that’s by the by.
A little after 16:00 I rang again to ask why: why was all this going on? After a little hesistation, the warehousing assistant I spoke to said that all the staff were just about to go in to a staff meeting to find out what was going on and that their MD would post an explantion on a couple of website shortly.
So, there you go. A worm’s eye view of a retail spat. Bit of a shame really. I don’t know what I think it means about the state of the hobby. All I know is that I’ve had to rummage around this evening to find alternative suppliers with relevant stock who are prepared to retail it at a price comparable to Maelstrom.
Who said the consumer was King?
Update 25/02/11 @ 11:37:
Posted on TGN:
I appreciate all the comments here and a public statement about what has happened with Battlefront Miniatures will be made today. I’m just waiting for our solicitor to look it over before I publish it.
To all those here who have had bad experiences with Maelstrom Games, feel free to contact us at any time to discuss what has happened with your order and why it has happened. We are only human and we do make mistakes, but it is how we deal with those mistakes that counts. If we have fallen down on anything than I apologise. Please contact us and, if your complaint is genuine, we will do something about it.
I do find it quite amusing that a moan about us is immediately followed by a plug for Wayland. I wonder who posted that! It’s not even subtle.
Please, Wayland Games employees and fanboys, you will profit from Battlefront’s decision regardless of whether you post silly comments about us on public forums. At least, until you don’t “toe the line”. Please try to remain professional, you simply end up looking silly.
Our “tiny warehouse” holds around £500,000 worth of stock, so it can’t be that tiny. Our stock levels are indeed live, and if anybody wishes to visit and see our stock levels in the flesh we are more than happy to accommodate you. We don’t allow many people in our warehouse, usually only manufacturers, because obviously that is our workplace, but if “Dangerous” lets us know who he is I can tell you whether he’s seen it or not.
We are not in the business of deceiving people, we are honest and straightforward, and we do not have infinity stock levels, which is plainly ridiculous.
Regardless, thank you to those who have posted kind comments about us, it is always appreciated.
MD, Maelstrom Games
Just spoken to Maelstrom myself and a statement will be due imminently.
At 17:55, I think I’m becoming offically obsessed with this. I can hardly wait for the latest update:
Thank you all for your comments on my recent post.
I would simply like to say that Maelstrom as a company have honourable intentions at all times, and we do not intentionally create problems for our customers in terms of stock and if we make any mistakes it is because we are human.
We remain a very healthy business, but sometimes when reading negative comments made on public forums old, current and potential customers must understand that 99% of our customers do not post anything positive about us because, effectively, we have done our job. We sent well over 120,000 packages last year worldwide; we must be doing something right.
Bear in mind, too, that we have a dedicated customer support team that aims to respond to all e-mails within 24 hours and answer phone calls when they are made. Usually we can resolve any problem very quickly, and a lot of the time problems occur through our use of other companies – such as Royal Mail and in turn local post services. I’m sure anyone who runs a mail order company will understand this. It is frustrating because immediately a package does not turn up, we are blamed, when 99% of the time it is simply not our fault. Regardless, we will correct any mistakes that postal services make immediately, at cost to ourselves.
I’m sure you have all read Matt Wilson (head of Privateer Press)’s comments on his company’s production shortcomings; sometimes, we cannot provide stock because we cannot get hold of it ourselves. Yet, of course, it is ultimately us that are responsible for that, and we do try to hold enough stock and swallow all of these problems because we are not, when all is said and done, whiners. This post is a rare example of me explaining the problems we face because I do believe, like Phillip, to keep quiet and carry on. Perhaps I am getting less professional in my old age.
As Phillip states, it is usually the best policy to never air your dirty washing in public. In this case, however, I feel it is justified that we make a public statement regarding what has happened as I feel we have been very badly treated indeed and I do not want anybody to think Battlefront have dropped us because we have done anything wrong, illegal or against the terms of any contract.
When we publish our public statement, it may show you all the pressures that retailers are put under by manufacturers, which most of the time we swallow, and within it you may realise that on many occasions it is simply not our fault that we cannot get stock to you on time.
Regardless, I thank all of you that have shopped with us in the past and hopefully you will all continue to do so.
MD, Maelstrom Games
And then this at 17:07 on the NEWS aspect of Maelstrom’s site:
I have written a statement regarding the decision by Battlefront Miniatures to cease trading with Maelstrom Games. Needless to say, this was a bit of a shock on Thursday morning when I found out and I feel it is necessary to respond to the mounting speculation on the internet regarding their decision. Let me reassure you all that I feel we have done absolutely nothing wrong in terms of any law or any contract we have signed, and that we feel we have been treated quite unfairly.
Public Statement Regarding Battlefront Miniatures
Firstly, I make no apologies for the length of this statement. It’s a statement of how I personally feel about the situation we find ourselves in and how Maelstrom Games as a company conducts itself. We do try to keep all the problems and annoyances with suppliers and manufacturers to ourselves, simply because it is the professional thing to do and because our customers come first – we swallow it so they don’t have to worry!
That being said, I feel that in this instance the customer needs to know what has happened to understand how this situation has occurred and to ensure Maelstrom Games’ good name does not become sullied by speculation. We believe that we have been completely honourable in all of our trading with Battlefront Miniatures and have tried to do business with them honourably.
I hope you will all read this statement without any prejudice to either party and come to your own decisions as to what has happened.
Let me reassure our customers that this will not affect Maelstrom Games’ health as a company and we will continue to grow and offer more and more excellent wargaming product in 2011.
There you have it! What a shame…
But, and at the risk of seeming vulgar, check out the 25% discount!