While I attempt to complete my Tomcats, contemplate paint schemes for Morats, and prep my Ghost in the Shell model team, I wanted to spend a non-photo post discussing something not often talked about in regards to model companies: Their way of dealing with customers who have issues.
While it's certainly not the most important element in a model company's business, (first being model quality, in my mind,) its a component which if handled well will inspire significant loyalty, and if mis-managed will be cause for hesitancy.
First a disclaimer: these are all based on first-hand accounts. If I've not mentioned a company it's because I've either not dealt with their customer service, or bought models from them at all!
The standard level of care, as far as I'm concerned, is exemplified by companies like Privateer Press, to whom you send an email describing a part that is missing or brutally mis-cast, and they send you a replacement part at a decent speed and it arrives swiftly. Corvus Belli seems to be the same, but I've not had first-hand experience. Many such companies request photographs or a packing code, so they can see what the issues are.
Next are the policies I feel are needlessly obtuse. Games Workshop asks you to go back to the store you purchased it at, replace the mis-cast or missing model with another one, and they will send the store a replacement model of that type. This must cause a lot of wasted product, and still presumably leaves the store owner with an unsellable, 'broken' model.
-Anecdotally, many fine-detail model companies have similar policies; one I heard tell of wanted a store owner to open another box of the same model, give them the missing/miscast part or sprue, and then they'd send a new box... it's unfortunately wasteful and still causes a lot of delay!
Sadly, the reason I've decided to write this post is Wyrd. Their models are very pretty, but if you get a mis-cast or missing piece, you need to navigate to a small and hard to find "contact us" button, send a request, and then wait. When you get a response, it says you can respond directly to the email, but that doesn't work. Text suggesting how you should format your request (and where to put related images) is small, hard to read, and not aligned properly.
In what I'm hoping is a unique experience, my request actually disappeared from their system without being filled! I'm happy I verified things were not as they should be, because people at the company didn't realize it hadn't been properly sorted out! I'm still waiting on an item that was mis-cast in June, and on two things related to an order from Gencon.
Now for the gold standard, absolute best I've ever dealt with:
Congratulations CS staff at Battlefront, you people are amazing. Battlefront, the makers of Flames of War, are a relatively small gaming company based in New Zealand, with models produced in Malaysia. Their factory staff are required to go through model building training, so they understand the pain of things like mould lines and miscast pieces, the better to catch them. Alongside that, an email saying something is missing is promptly responded to, and replacement parts arrive sometimes within 4 days (now, I do live in Toronto, so it's not hard to get something mailed to me!) Also, based on an interview done with WWPD, any issues not responded to within 24hrs (if I recall correctly) is flagged with a followup as to why it was not dealt with swiftly. This ensures a good turnaround time for models to people that want to do builds.
There's more though. The Battlefront CS staff are among the kindest people I know in regards to this. I don't want to go into detail as to why, because I would hate to see them taken advantage of, but on a few occasions, in regards to conversion projects I was planning or more nit-picky model issues, they have been equally quick with help. A friend and I were trying to find ways to send them gifts, but all the ones we would want to send we can't... I hope this post goes some way to assure them they're the best, and absolutely keep me happy buying Battlefront products!
I will try to have more model pics up soon, along with some of the planned, active, and eventual conversions!