Customer Service Ratings

The editor reports on his customer service experiences with various manufacturers.

Armchair Commanders

Stephen Balog (sbalog@stmarks.pvt.k12.tx.us)

I feel I must comment on Armchair Commanders gameshop. They have consistently let down myself and my friends with their slow response, screwed-up orders, and general lack of professionalism. In fact, one of our gaming group waited over 3 months for a simple order of GW Space Marines. It seems that his order was sent to Iceland by mistake. He received no apology or acknowledgement of a problem from their staff.

The Editor (bill_armintrout@msn.com)

I ordered some miniatures from this company, since they had the best prices I could find for the items I was looking for.

After a month had passed, however, I had received nothing.

When I contacted them to see what was happening, they explained that the manufacturer had changed their ordering practices. They said that the manufacturer (a major miniatures company) had consequently screwed up and not sent an expected shipment, which is why my order was late.

My order finally arrived the next week.

I was curious about the story about the manufacturer's new ordering practices, so I asked around among my retailer contacts. I was told:

Just thought you might like to know, Bill, [that manufacturer] has not changed their distribution practices within the past 12 months. I have been a reseller for about that long. Likely the company you ordered from did not have the minimum order.

Problems at Donnington U.S.

A number of readers have complained of recent order problems with Dave Kendrick, the U.S. distributor of Donnington Miniatures. In answer to these complaints, Leam Hall (lh1@pgstumail.pg.cc.md.us) writes:

My understanding of the situation, and of Dave, is this:

  1. Although generally honest, Dave is a so-so businessman. He priced his lead with little to no mark-up, and didn't really take into account for shipping, re-shipping, etc.
  2. He had tried to work something out with his local bank to arrange a transfer of funds, and the bank failed to deliver what Dave thought it could.
  3. His full-time job (and self-employment) went under within this past month or so.
  4. His spouse seems to be wanting a reclassification to Wf(X).
  5. He says my order, according to the folks in England, has been shipped and they (England) don't know why it's not arrived. I might assume that others orders are also included, but I really don't know.
  6. He still plans on being at Historicon, so if you wish to wait to discuss things there feel free.

If you feel that there has been unfair advantage taken, you of course have the right to involve the authorities. If you have paid by check or credit card you have the ability to stop payment.

Wanax updates us as follows:

About 2 weeks ago, some of you had problems with Dave and Donnington Minis.

I've received final word on this problem:

Dave sent the money some time back, and when he was informed that some of you are more than pissed about the delay he phoned England. The response was that the money was received, and "just how do you want us to ship your figures?" I told Dave to get on the stick, call them back and have them next day air the sh*t at no cost because of the delay. I don't think it will happen, but there comes a time to play hardball.

So, to sum it up. Dave is doing his bit, Donnington is not.

UPDATE, June '97: We're advised by our readers that the previous Donnington US problems have been addressed. To quote -

As far as I know, the unfortunate episode is closed for everyone.

The Elite Group

Dave Brennan (DavemBren@aol.com)

A while back, I ordered some figures from The Elite Group.  Specifically the items I ordered were 25mm French Napoleonic artillery - two guns of the same caliber, and two 4 man crews.  While placing my order on the phone with the owner, I specifically stated that I paint for display only and wanted variation in my dioramas.  I didn't want the crew of one gun in the same pose as the other.  Since there were 8 different poses available it was possible to accomplish this.  I would not place the order for those figures unless he could accomodate me.  He said he could accomodate my request.  I did place additional orders with him at that time.

Unfortunately, when I opened my package both crews were identical - exactly what I didn't want.  Now the cost is insignificant but I wanted The Elite Group to accept the figures back and send me what I ordered.  He refused to credit my account for the figures if I returned them, and stated that as a policy on artillery poses he just reaches into the "box" and sends what he grabs (although the catalog I paid for lists 8 different poses available). When I reminded him of the conditions of my artillery order he brushed me off.

I highly recommend not buying from The Elite Group.  Any company that treats its customers so rudely and dishonestly doesn't deserve anyone's business.  I will never buy from them again.


I had recently been nursing a grudge against GHQ for not replying to a complaint I had had (I bought a 1/2400 scale battleship, and the 5" guns were missing).

A few months later, however, I ran into a similar problem (a set of 1/285 M113 armored personnel carriers with a malformed set of machine guns). I wrote to GHQ, and they fixed the problem immediately.

Suddenly, I realized what the difference was. GHQ has had at least one change of address lately, and my first complaint was sent to the old address. When I remailed my complaint - being careful to mail it to the new address, and not to the address on the product - GHQ settled the problem immediately.

Global Games

Brian Lojeck (lojeck@usc.edu)

As small a company as Global is, they seem infinitely patient answering rules questions via email or phone. They are just about the only company I can think of that would help a fellow reverse-engineer the point system to one of their games, and respond promptly when you report something missing.

Demian Rose (dd-rose@uiuc.edu)

I just wanted to add to your page the good experiences I've had with Global Games' customer service. Twice I've written to tell them of a missing piece in one of their blisters, and both times I've received a replacement within two weeks (not bad, since they're in Canada and I'm in the US). Each time, an extra piece or two just in case there was a misunderstanding, e.g. I was sent two replacement arms (right and left) for a fig just to be certain that I wasn't sent the wrong one accidentally.

...and the figs are great, too :-)

Ral Partha

The Editor (bill_armintrout@msn.com)

I bought a pair of 15mm Dwarven bolt throwers, and discovered that one pack was missing one of the cart wheels. I wrote Partha, and they quickly sent me the missing wheel.

Brian Lojeck (lojeck@usc.edu)

I love this story... I got a boxed set from Ral, and one of the figures was broken at an elbow. I called Ral, told the woman which box set it was. She said "ok, just a minute," and I heard her moving some boxes about. The next sound I heard was her picking the shrinkwrap off of another box set and opening the box!

Needless to say, the figure was sent, no questions asked. They didn't even ask me to send in the busted one first.

Ral Partha is one of those companies that are so nice, you wonder they're still in business...


Simtac has a 100% customer guarantee policy, and in my experience they live up to it. I ordered several packs of 1/300 M60's, and one of the packs had a defective turret (only a stump of a main gun). Simtac immediately sent me an entire new pack as a replacement.

Viking Forge

In Progress: I picked up a DBA army from a distributor at TriCon (can't help it - collecting DBA armies is like eating potato chips).

Upon getting home, I compared the army as listed on the product label with the actual DBA listing (in this case, #69 Middle Imperial Roman). Good news - the army was legal, though it gave me none of the options.

Next, I checked the army list against the actual figures in the pack. Two problems showed up.

  1. The label says I get 4 psiloi figures, but the only psiloi candidates in the pack are the 2 bowmen - short by half.
  2. I'm supposed to have 16 blade figures and 16 auxilary figures. Not yet being an expert on Roman armies, I now have to guess which figures in this pack are supposed to be the Bd and which are Ax. I have 29 figures of two varieties, both with short, thick spears (pilum?), but differing by helmet (one has a crested helmet, the other type has a plain helmet). My conjecture is that the 16 "plain helmet" guys are my Ax, which leaves the 13 "crested helmet" guys as my Bd. Throwing in the general and standardbearer figures here brings me up to 15, but I'm still short one figure.

The Response: I'm pleased to note that Viking Forge resolved my complaint, sending me the missing figures in only 3 weeks.

Last Updates
1 April 1998new email for Steve Balog
25 December 1997Elite Group complaint
11 June 1997Donnington update
7 June 1997Stephen Balog's comments on Armchair Commanders
26 May 1997added Brian Lojeck's comments
Comments or corrections?