(Issue Solved) What do you do when an author...

edited February 2017 in Forum Discussion
I ordered a RPG book about 2 months ago. I tried to contact them via 3 email addresses and g+ about 6 times, with no response, over the course of a couple weeks. They finally reached out to me via g+ and apologized but didn't necessarily say they would send my book, but said they would look into my order. They did send the PDF when I first ordered the item. I have since tried to contact them a couple times on g+ and email to get a follow up and received no response. I have the receipt and I'm 100% sure I purchased a book (+ PDF). And books are my preferred format. As most of you know, I purchased tons of Indie RPGs and Storytelling Games (seriously, no exaggeration), and I've never experienced anything like this. It's a fairly big publisher, in the indie scene, and I really don't know what to do. What's your advice? Am I just being impatient? I want to purchase a lot of their other games, but I'm hesitant based on my experience. Thanks :-)

Comments

  • I don't think that there is any obviously superior solution to this sort of thing. Is the publisher in your country? Does your country have some sort of a consumer protection office that you could file a claim in?

    In the Internet age public shaming has become a popular form of leverage in quarrels with retailers and publishers. I don't think that this is necessarily wrong, you just should maintain a sense of proportion about it: warn them in advance, stick to a sensible tone in public pronouncements, and be ready to publicize it if they do make it good later, too. This seems to often incur some results: a reputation hit is something an entrepreneur will definitely want to avoid, so if they're at all capable of treating with a customer (as in, not literally dead or hospitalized), it's likely that you'll shoot to the top of their priority pile when you start making public noises about their failure. Sometimes the result is of course simply that others will come forward with similar stories. Long term, it will become impossible to do business if a company refuses to deal with these types of issues.

    I would perhaps suggest that in general the monetary value of the loss incurred in this sort of situation is so minor that it's probably not worth your while to do much more than the aforementioned public outing (which is a good idea simply to warn others, if for no other reason). It sucks to not get what you bought, but that's the sort of thing that happens in this world of woe.
  • edited February 2017
    I don't think that there is any obviously superior solution to this sort of thing. Is the publisher in your country? Does your country have some sort of a consumer protection office that you could file a claim in?

    In the Internet age public shaming has become a popular form of leverage in quarrels with retailers and publishers. I don't think that this is necessarily wrong, you just should maintain a sense of proportion about it: warn them in advance, stick to a sensible tone in public pronouncements, and be ready to publicize it if they do make it good later, too. This seems to often incur some results: a reputation hit is something an entrepreneur will definitely want to avoid, so if they're at all capable of treating with a customer (as in, not literally dead or hospitalized), it's likely that you'll shoot to the top of their priority pile when you start making public noises about their failure. Sometimes the result is of course simply that others will come forward with similar stories. Long term, it will become impossible to do business if a company refuses to deal with these types of issues.

    I would perhaps suggest that in general the monetary value of the loss incurred in this sort of situation is so minor that it's probably not worth your while to do much more than the aforementioned public outing (which is a good idea simply to warn others, if for no other reason). It sucks to not get what you bought, but that's the sort of thing that happens in this world of woe.
    I feel like public shaming might produce some blowback that I don't want, and disenfranchise me from some people I would like to help me with my game and perhaps play test my game; but more important than that, be friends with and have a positive relationship with. The RPG designer is a pretty big name in our hobby. I want every last person to be my friend and to think well of me in our hobby. Also, it seems like if this is a regular thing that I would've heard about people not getting their orders. Perhaps, they are just busy and I will just be patient and try to continue to reach out. It really sucks because they are a great designer, and I really want to purchase a bunch of their games. Your advice is very sound, but maybe there really is no answer because the way I want to handle it is so narrow in scope. But a lot of times the reason I post these questions is because people at Story Games are a really good sounding-board for me to bounce ideas off of in order to make a decision and understand how I really feel about something. They do live in the US, as do I, but I totally agree that the minor financial loss isn't worth pursuing and that it would definitely be more of a pain than worth it. Thank you so much for your advice Eero :-) and your willingness to help :-) it is very much appreciated :-)
  • Well, if the publisher in question has a lot of social capital, it's possible that others who are affected like you are have also decided to stay quiet so as to not rile up the fans. That sort of social dynamic does show up on occasion with human monkeys, after all. Not saying that this is the case here, but it is possible that you're not alone in being ripped off by them.

    On the other hand, if you've previously had a positive impression of somebody who has a long track record in the scene, then it's relatively unlikely that they've just decided to abscond with your money. The likeliest case in my experience, not knowing any particulars, is that they're just having a rough time in their private life, and as a hobby publisher that impacts their publishing activities: acute depression, a sick relative, whatever. If it's something like that, they'll probably get back on the saddle in a few weeks, with polite apologies to clients and customers.

    The second-most likely case is that they've lost your order in some way; other business is going as usual, but for some reason your particular order has difficulties. One would of course assume that specific email correspondence would clear that sort of thing up, but who knows what chaos reigns in their fulfillment department. Maybe a monkey ate the parcel after it was registered for delivery, so they think that they've already sent it. Maybe it's still sitting on top of their friend's mom's piano because a girlfriend promised to mail it, but forgot.

    In my experience you can't really conclude much about their other Internet activities; it's relatively common for somebody to burn out completely on their email account, for example, while still continuing in stress-free activities (stress-free for them, I mean) like social networks and such. So it's possible that the same person is simultaneously showing a brave face in Facebook while privately feeling completely unable to process the 500 emails waiting in their queue after a mental breakdown or whatever personal crisis.

    I will say this: I have in my time encountered all sorts of flakeouts from people, particularly in the Internet. At the extreme we're talking of situations where I owe hundreds of dollars to somebody, and it still takes literally years to reach them and arrange payment. People have an absolutely immense capability for flaking out, so I've learned to take it as part of the nature of the business of interacting with other humans. It's good to remember that even the most irrational-seeming behavior usually makes sense from their subjective perspective: when your house is flooding, grandmother just died, the medication ran out and the full moon's in, plus you need to design a bachelor party for your brother right now, who cares about some whiny email correspondence? It'll wait for next week.
  • I'll second Eero's advice here. I don't think you need to go so far as "public shaming", but if you've purchased a product and now can't get the product or your money back, you're not in the wrong.

    I've often found that posting something public will get people's attention where they might overlook a private message.

    For example, "Hey, I bought your game on such-and-such a date. But I still haven't heard anything from you. Is there a good way to get in touch with you?"

    A private message of this type is sent and receives no reply. Next, post this message on social media (e.g. on their Facebook wall).

    This gives the game designer a chance to explain (e.g. "My house has burned down and I'm homeless. I'll be able to send books out again next month!"), or they will get to you quickly once they see how bad it looks.

    I've never had to deal with this kind of thing with games, but I have in other work, and it's worked 100% of the time. (e.g. One client I bothered for *two years*, rarely responded or would just try to delay... I posted on their Facebook wall, and the message was deleted, and I was paid *five minutes later*.)

    As long as you phrase the message nicely and give fair warning (which it sounds like you definitely have), I don't think you have any need to feel guilty about doing this.
  • edited February 2017
    Well, if the publisher in question has a lot of social capital, it's possible that others who are affected like you are have also decided to stay quiet so as to not rile up the fans. That sort of social dynamic does show up on occasion with human monkeys, after all. Not saying that this is the case here, but it is possible that you're not alone in being ripped off by them.

    On the other hand, if you've previously had a positive impression of somebody who has a long track record in the scene, then it's relatively unlikely that they've just decided to abscond with your money. The likeliest case in my experience, not knowing any particulars, is that they're just having a rough time in their private life, and as a hobby publisher that impacts their publishing activities: acute depression, a sick relative, whatever. If it's something like that, they'll probably get back on the saddle in a few weeks, with polite apologies to clients and customers.

    The second-most likely case is that they've lost your order in some way; other business is going as usual, but for some reason your particular order has difficulties. One would of course assume that specific email correspondence would clear that sort of thing up, but who knows what chaos reigns in their fulfillment department. Maybe a monkey ate the parcel after it was registered for delivery, so they think that they've already sent it. Maybe it's still sitting on top of their friend's mom's piano because a girlfriend promised to mail it, but forgot.

    In my experience you can't really conclude much about their other Internet activities; it's relatively common for somebody to burn out completely on their email account, for example, while still continuing in stress-free activities (stress-free for them, I mean) like social networks and such. So it's possible that the same person is simultaneously showing a brave face in Facebook while privately feeling completely unable to process the 500 emails waiting in their queue after a mental breakdown or whatever personal crisis.

    I will say this: I have in my time encountered all sorts of flakeouts from people, particularly in the Internet. At the extreme we're talking of situations where I owe hundreds of dollars to somebody, and it still takes literally years to reach them and arrange payment. People have an absolutely immense capability for flaking out, so I've learned to take it as part of the nature of the business of interacting with other humans. It's good to remember that even the most irrational-seeming behavior usually makes sense from their subjective perspective: when your house is flooding, grandmother just died, the medication ran out and the full moon's in, plus you need to design a bachelor party for your brother right now, who cares about some whiny email correspondence? It'll wait for next week.
    All very, very good points...as you say, it could be an issue such as clinical depression that they just don't want to talk about publicly; and if so, that is way more important, that they get help and try to regain their health, then worry about sending my stupid game :-) We never know what other people are facing, and it is great that you help to remind us of that :-) I will keep on reaching out and hopefully in time get a response. Thanks so much for the input Eero :-)
  • edited February 2017

    I've often found that posting something public will get people's attention where they might overlook a private message.

    For example, "Hey, I bought your game on such-and-such a date. But I still haven't heard anything from you. Is there a good way to get in touch with you?"
    Cool, thanks for the advice, Paul :)
  • Interesting! Good luck, Jeff. And I hope whoever it is faces better fortunes in the near future.

    Thank you for supporting game designers! That's a good cause, I'd say. :)
  • Here's my experience on this front. To this day I don't know which if any of my efforts were productive and how much the creator might be pissed at me.
  • edited February 2017
    Here's my experience on this front. To this day I don't know which if any of my efforts were productive and how much the creator might be pissed at me.
    Cool, thanks David :)

    @Everyone
    I was just contacted by the author and the issue was handled in a way I'm happy with :) I edited a couple things just to make sure there was no way anyone could identify the author...and anyway, they treated me fairly and refunded my money :)
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