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The Future of Pre-Orders
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TOPIC: The Future of Pre-Orders
#17606
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
At GenCon, Jeff Martin mentioned that Dwarven Forge may drop plan for pre-orders of future sets. The shipping delays experienced with the Cavernous River & Walls set brought them some flak, and they'd rather not have that happen again.

I can certainly sympathize with all concerned. Dwarven Forge had a projected date of arrival and shipping, based on the plans and information that they'd had when they started the process. Jeff Martin described the events as "the perfect storm," since everything that could happen to delay things did happen, including a typhoon. Those events were beyond the control of Dwarven Forge; they could do nothing but watch their time table move farther and farther back while they fielded complaints from customers.

I know the people at Dwarven Forge to be great folks that really care about their customers. They don't want this situation to be repeated, ever, and I don't blame them.

But Jeff and Stefan have also said that the pre-orders gave Dwarven Forge the capital to bring out more sets this year than they've ever done before. Were it not for the pre-orders, the Cavernous Lake set wouldn't be coming out until November, if not later, and the Medieval Building Set probably wouldn't be out until the end of the year.

I love Dwarven Forge, and I love Master Maze. If pre-orders allow them to produce exciting new sets at a greater rate, without compromising the quality of the product, I'd vote to continue with pre-orders.

That said, I know others may have different opinions on the subject. I'd like to hear those opinions, and I'm sure that Jeff and Stefan would as well.
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#17607
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
I didn't have a big problem with paying ahead of time. It was a little like giving DF an interest-free, short-term loan so they could continue to produce the products I love. Looking at it that way, it was something I was happy to do.

Still, having my card charged when the order is shipped would be preferable to how things are done now. I don't know if you want to do away with pre-orders entirely, but changing that detail (assuming it's feasable) would be fantastic.
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#17608
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
I don't have a problem with the pre-order system as it stands at all. And I can certainly understand the "perfect storm" of the CRW set delivery.

For me, and for several others given the postings that flew at the delay, the real problem was the communication.

Perhaps DF should create an e-mail address folder of all pre-order customers so that they could send out a blanket e-mail week-to-week update. That way, even those who don't post/read the forums will be kept in the loop. I know I certainly wouldn't mind a reasonable delay if I was informed of the issues (several months would be a problem, though).

I trust Dwarven Forge as a company (otherwise I wouldn't pre-pay) and have faith in Stefan, Jeff and Lori. Hey, if pre-orders are a "short-term loan" to reach higher business goals, I'm happy to help if it means that I can get more great sets!! It makes me feel like a big wheel, corporate suit with investment capital who gets cool toys as a return on that investment :)
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#17609
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
I don't have a problem with the pre-orders, but I wouldn't be heartstricken if they went away either. And I can definitely understand why some people do have an issue with the pre-orders. However, if getting rid of pre-orders means DF can't put out as many great sets, then I will be a bit disappointed at the slower releases (though my wallet will be happier).
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#17610
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
Hmm...

I prefer to have my card charged now rather than later, especially if I'm ordering more than one set, but I use a debit card instead of a credit card. I only order when I have the money to do so, and if the money is taken immediately I don't have to worry about making sure I still have a couple-few hundred dollars available three months down the road, or coming up short when the order finally goes through.

The point about communication is a very good one, and would go a long way with those who "know" Dwarven Forge, but for new or occasional customers it might not make a difference. Still, that is more attention than most companies pay their customers.

I was thinking of suggesting a "discount patience award" of some sort, but frankly I don't think it could be made worthwhile without completely eating DF's profits. Returning a dollar for every week the shipment is late usually won't come to more than three or four dollars, which isn't very much -- but any more than that eats up the very narrow profit margin very quickly. Offering a discount on future purchases only pushes the financial problem back to the next business cycle. Besides, the problems weren't caused by DF, so why should they be penalized financially?

It's important to remember that the "perfect storm" is a statistical anomaly (Murphy's Law notwithstanding). It is VERY unlikely (but not impossible) that ALL of the problems DF encountered this time around will ALL happen again at the same time. They will probably continue to have one or two of the problems each time an order is placed, but the exact confuence of circumstances that made this particular shipment such a nightmare is probably not going to happen again anytime soon.

I suggest giving pre-orders another chance, although perhaps with a little less lead time, a good disclaimer about shipping dates, and better (direct by e-mail) communication with pre-order customers keeping them apprised of the current status of the shipment. This is a good business model, and it succeeded despite the many problems of this shipment -- which would have occurred whether the shipment was done on pre-orders or not. Try it again, and if the second try isn't worth the headaches, then try something else.
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#17611
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
no problem with preorders from my side, the giveaways are
simply addicting.

And no prob with the delay, as long as i get the stuff and
there is a good explanation then all is ok.

But for me, i would come off better if DF releases new stuff
in a more slower pace. It was hard to keep up to this point,
and i think i can't keep up with buying speed when this would
be normal. (i don't know whom of you all collects all stuff Sci-Fi included)
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#17612
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
I think if DF can afford it, then pre-orders should be at a much shorter time frame (one month in advance - when the container is on it's way) or even avoided.

Here are a few issues apart of the free loan I don't mind:

Weight of sets: The estimates so far at pre-order time have not been too accurate. This might be less an issue for US orders - but for European orders just assume 1 pound off means 3 dollar off in postage costs. Multiply this with multiple sets and DF either supports European customers by paying more shipping then they get (no good business) or they overcharge (no good business either). All I can say is - I have seen both so far and for me it more or less evens out. But for a single order this can make a noticable difference.

Delay vs. fast shipping. Again - this is mainly a non-US customer issue. Due to tracking / insurance issues we have to take the fast shipping option for USPS. How do you feel when you pay 100 dollar extra shipping to get your sets delivered in 5 days instead of 3 weeks (as said above - we have no choice) and then you have a four week delay. Putting away with pre-order wouldn't change anything overall - but the feel-good (or should I say feel-bad) factor is heavily involved.

Who would take Overnight delivery for pre-orders. But the equivalent is what we get.

New sets - while I appreciate new sets. But I fear there can be too many. With the CRW set costing me $250 delivered I don't want to have to order more then 3-4 sets a year - including duplicates in cases you really benefit from them (I took 2 each of DOE, CRW and Lake set). This years speed of new sets is non sustainable for me long term - albeit appreciated while it lasts.

Pre-Oder was necessary this year but it should be reduced in time or avoided if fincially feasable in the future.

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#17613
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
According to the information provided above, there are clearly two options regarding the events of June/July 2006.

Avoid a repeat situation by defining and providing a clear set of policies and expectations regarding prepaid orders: The policies should cover everything from "in event of delays, refunds, receiver/consignee responsibility, an official enquiry process, etc." EDA expectations should allow for a possible 10-14 day delay, and online/real-time orders should not be available for said product until after all pre-orders have been confirmed shipped.

Avoid a repeat situation by eliminating the pre-payment option altogether: This would eliminate the possibility of a repeat situation while giving the unfortunate events of June 2006 a considerable amount of unwanted "traction" -(being considered the cause of any/all future delays in new set development).

There are a number of sets that are "needed" to make existing sets complete. There are stairs and pillars needed for the MBS, (multiple) corner shore pieces for Lake sets, the anticipated DOE WA set and the next SF set as well to be considered. If these (and many other) potential sets are all delayed as a result of June 2006 then this occurrance will most-likely never cease to be a topic for (unwanted) discussion.

For the record, I have always pre-ordered 4 or 5 sets (each time) and would continue to do so, if the opportuntity is again made available.
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#17614
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
Just tell me when to stroke the check for the next new set!...*laughs*
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#17615
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
I don't mind the pre-orders, especially if it means we can get new sets. What I'd like to know is, if I don't order a new set, can I get that set later? Right now I think there is some pressure to purchase several sets when they are announced, otherwise, we may never be able to get that set. I think if we could know which sets are going to be available on a regular basis, it would reduce that fear somewhat.

Having said that, I'm probably pre-ordering multiple sets everytime. I just pre-orders 3 MBS sets, and I'm wondering if that is enough. I'm already thinking I need another river set and a few more plain cave sets.
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#17616
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
My vote on pre-orders --- [i][b][color=red]YES![/i][/b][/color]

The capital is desperately needed 2-3 months lead time, at least, to guarantee the Chinese production of the items we want.
Look at 2005's releases with no serious pre-order program:
Fantasy: Nothing
Cavern: Nothing
Sci-Fi: Nothing
DoE: R&P(MM-023)
Now, look at 2006 with a real pre-order program:
Fantasy: The new MB line which is both fantasy and historical plus a new line.(MM-026)
Cavern: Rivers & Walls(MM-024), Lakes(MM-025)
Sci-Fi: Beta (SF-004), Long Walls (SF-004-B3)
DoE: WA(MM-027?) due out in Nov/Dec

Boy, what a difference and WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY!!!
I have played with Dwarven Forge terrain since April '98 and I remember the years that it seemed like nothing came out at all.
Some years you felt extremely lucky to even get one new set.

2006 was great and highly appreciated and I would love to see that many sets come out in 2007.
Of course, if half or more of the sets were the missing items we need for Science Fiction Master Maze, I would be even happier.

Simply, pre-ordering is a fabulous tool for us the gamers, far more than it is for Dwarven Forge.
Again, my vote on pre-orders --- [i][b][color=red]YES![/i][/b][/color]
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SF: Starter(3), Passage(2), Alpha(7), Beta(2) someday soon;
Cavern: Cavern, Cavernous Passages, many individual pieces, Cavernous River & Wall and Cavernous Lake someday soon;
Fantasy: Room & Passages, Room, Octagonal Room, Wicked Additions I&II, Adv. Builder, Diagonal Walls Set, Dungeon Accessories, Medieval Furniture, many individual pieces.
 
#17617
The Future of Pre-Orders 7 Years, 8 Months ago  
My quesiton is (and I know I'm probably going to get jumped for this...)... who really *needs* their stuff on the exact day and time when it was promised to be delivered if ordered in a pre-order situation?

I understand completely that folks want to make sure they get their goods, and they will, but did it actually put anybody in a real hardship that a delay happened with a shipment?

I'm sorry if I sound like a hardass, but the answer is probably no--nobody was put in a hardship because their stuff didn't ship when it was supposed to (with the exception of somebody who moved during that time if memory serves me well and even then I seem to remember the situation was fairly easily remedied).

The delay could have been experienced from any other vendor, anywhere else on the globe and chances are, since the containers were coming on a ship from China, there were many other vendors who suffered the same kinds of delays.

Let's for a moment suspend the argument "Well, we were promised that it would be here by this date." Things happen, plain and simple. They just do.

I think that pre-orders should stay, and I certainly don't mind ponying up the cash in advance. I know I'll get my stuff in fair proximity to the *targeted* shipping date(s). Unlike many software companies in the past couple of decades, I don't think we have to worry about "vaporware" with the folks at Dwarven Forge. They'll deliver as best as they can when they can.

Yes for pre-orders for my vote.

-D
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