There have been numerous articles recently bemoaning the death of local retailers as people move to using overseas suppliers online. Usually people choose to purchase from overseas simply on the basis that to do so is cheaper. Couldn’t agree more – there many, many goods that I can get more cheaply from the US.
But there are still reasons to buy locally. The first is that delivery should be faster. The second is that customer service is local, in my time zone and ought to be better. It was with these thoughts in mind that I bought a game a few weeks ago from Games Paradise. Zombicide had come highly recommended and I was keen to give it a go. I went with Games Paradise, even though it was not the cheapest option, because they showed it in stock and promised 1-3 days delivery.
You can see where this story is going can’t you? Days rolled by and I heard nothing and no game was delivered. I emailed Games Paradise and got no response. I phoned them and was told they would mail it the next day, and they hadn’t before because they had been out of stock (in spite of showing it in stock). Then my earlier email got a response but with a different story – this time that the delay had been caused by ‘the sale’. Sale? What sale? I hadn’t bought under a sale. But anyway I just wanted the game. I get an email saying it has been dispatched and a tracking number would follow.
More days rolled by and still no game and no tracking number. I phone again – see how handy dealing with someone local is! No they haven’t posted it because of that pesky sale. Can I talk to the manager I say, now somewhat unhappy. “No, he’s too busy to talk to you.” came the reply! So I send off an email of complaint – and, gosh, I could have done that if I was dealing with a company in the USA, couldn’t I? Back they come saying they absolutely, definitely will post it and as a gesture of something they will give me a 10 per cent discount. I now, somewhat tersely, point out that if I ordered the game that day I would be getting a 20 percent discount under ‘the sale’, so 10 percent was not exactly making my little heart beat faster. Back again they come and offer the 20 per cent discount and they’ll definitely get the game posted.
Another email comes on Friday saying the game has finally been dispatched, just for clarity over three weeks after it was ordered, and they are awaiting a tracking number from the courier. Two more days roll by and no tracking number appears. And I’m frustrated enough to share this story with you, gentle reader.
Look I know stuff goes wrong. But not only could I have bought this game more quickly and cheaply through the USA I would have gotten decent customer service (a recent t-shirt purchasing debacle had the US supplier send me 24 t-shirts until they got the order right, no questions asked). And that’s where my sympathy for the local whingeing disappears. If you want us to shop locally, give us a reason to do so. And that reason is not pushing up the cost of overseas goods by adding on taxes or tariffs That reason ought to be because I get high quality local service. If it costs more, takes longer to arrive and is backed by atrocious service well surprise, surprise – Amazon, here I come.