Monday, January 12, 2009

Steve Jackson Games Might Have Permanently Lost Me as a Customer

I just might never buy another Steve Jackson Games product again!

That was a hard sentence for me to write. Steve Jackson games has been one of my favorite gaming companies for as long as I can remember. Afternoon sessions of OGRE and CAR WARS are some of my favorite middle school memories. I can thank Christian Hunt for those wonderful memories. Prior to the release of D&D Miniatures, the Cardboard Heroes line of paper miniatures were my minis of choice, some still are, whenever I play(ed) an rpg. AUTODUEL CHAMPIONS was unforgettable, as were all the excellent issues of SPACE GAMER/FANTASY GAMER -- I have a full collection. TOON is one of the greatest games ever designed, and my GURPS library has aided me in running a number of other game systems. I am particularly fond of GURPS Scarlet Pimpernel and GURPS The Prisoner. Not to mention that they were the company that published Robin's Laws of Good Gamemastering, a product of immeasurable value.

It certainly wasn't lack of quality products that might make me decide to never purchase another Steve Jackson Games product.

It is a lack of customer service.

On November 7th, Steve Jackson Games notified people who frequent their site that they were changing the format of their excellent online magazine Pyramid from an html product to a pdf one. I believe this is an excellent decision, but...They also notified their subscribers by the same method that archives to back issues would only be available online until November 21st. I believe this was a bad decision. For two reasons.

First, subscribers -- and I was one -- received no email notifying them of the change.

Second, November 7th through 21st was the worst imaginable time -- for me and likely me alone -- for this change to be made.

There was this little thing called a Presidential election, and its aftermath, that was keeping me -- as a Program Director of a non-profit dedicated to youth civic engagement -- very busy. I ran 28 simulation elections in Los Angeles County and then followed those up with celebrations recognizing the students who volunteered to run the elections on various campuses. Oh, and I have twin baby girls who keep me from spending as much time at the computer, and I'm working on my MBA, and I traveled to Columbus, OH to interview with GAMA during this time. Needless to say, checking up at the Daily Illuminator was pretty low on my list of priorities at the time. It wasn't until January, when I went to read the "issues" that I had missed, that I found out about the change. At the time, I emailed SJG about my situation, and subscribed to the new PDF version of the magazine -- which costs a similar price to Dungeons and Dragons Insider -- in case you were wondering.

I sent them the following email hoping they would respond, and praying they would make a special exception:

To Whom it May Concern,



I have been a Pyramid subscriber ever since the magazine went digital (User Name: AaronBurr email was: Frenzyk2 - at - aol.com I believe is now Christian.Lindke - at - gmail.com older records might show me as Christian Johnson). I recently, this week, went to log on to the site to catch up on what I imagined would be a backlog of issues. I work for a non-profit devoted to youth civic engagement and have been swamped since mid-October which, combined with my infant twin daughters, has meant that I have been completely unaware of the changes to Pyramid.



First, let me say that the new magazine looks great. I subscribed to the pdf version today.



Second, WTF?! You offered access to the archive for a very limited time, one that coincided with the busiest time of my occupation, meaning that I have no access to years of articles that I have enjoyed reading in the past and was hoping to read in the future. I get nothing, nada, zilch and I’m pissed. I never received an email, which I did have time to check, or I would have renewed and downloaded in a hurry (your magazine is well worth one late night downloading). I don’t mind that over half the money I used to subscribe in July is wasted – I missed the opportunity to transition over to the new system at a discount, I get that. But to have no access to the archive is ridiculous.



I feel like one of those old SPI lifetime subscribers who were cheated out by TSR. I’m angry, but I can be consoled. Please make available the archive.

Christian Lindke


I admit that the email was not super polite, but I don't believe it was overly venomous either. I sent the email to Paul, Phil, Steve, Info, and Editor. I probably should have sent to Pyramid and pyramidrefunds -- all at sjgames.com.

As I wrote above, I hoped they would respond and prayed they would make a special exception. I wasn't counting on having access to the archive, just praying. I was counting on a reply. I sent the email on December 30th, and have received no reply. I have heard not a word.

I own at minimum $5-8k of their products. I even subscribed to their short lived online d20 magazine, and I get nothing.

That's bad customer service, and it makes me want to stop buying their products.

It really does. Is a reply too much to ask?

The strength of their products, and knowledge that they are a small company struggling through an economic downturn in a niche market, will probably keep me as a customer.

But right now, I am not feeling the love.
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