Friday, July 12, 2013

Wheaton's Law

When I first got into the game trade, I recall going on a tirade on the GIN, the game trade's message board, about some company that had annoyed me. As it turned out that guy was right there, rather than some faceless corporation, and I learned first hand that the game trade is a very small world. You might be used to being angry at big companies, and spouting off as your hobby, but the game trade is a bit more nuanced.

When dealing with the game trade, remember we're real people, we're right there. The gal manning the Twitter account or Facebook page is more than likely the gal in charge or not far removed from her. Not only might you wish to be a bit more civil, but you also have the power to change and direct that company. Good companies are always open to suggestions and listening to their customers. There are certainly companies I rail against, but my disdain is loudest when my access is limited.

Pokemon USA, for example, pisses me off to no end, partly because they're a faceless corporation with stupid policies, but mostly because I don't know anyone there. I can scream about them all day and nobody will email me or call me. If I send them an email, I'll often get an auto reply. Nobody there cares about anything I say. But other companies with similarly inane processes and policies can at least produce a human who will talk me off the ledge, or at least provide a point of contact for my disdain. So work with them, us, me. We're listening and we're often willing to discuss reasons behind what we do.

This is also true with "competing" stores. They do not need you, the customer, to be their heavy hitter. Lately store owners have been discussing harassment from competing store customers on their Facebook pages or those erroneous Yelp reviews (like gamers care about Yelp). This seems to be happening more often, sometimes without the competing owners knowledge, but occasionally a sleazy owner will encourage it. Follow Wheaton's Law.

Most store owners actually get along with each other quite well, even when they compete directly. Who the heck else can understand the crap we go through? Bad blood like this puts up barriers to cooperation, and cooperation, or at least willful neglect, actually helps customers. Do you want events on the same day at every store so you have to chose or do you want them spread out so you can play all week? Do you want me to sell the same thing as the other guy, but deeper and cheaper? Because that's what nasty competition looks like, and it's not necessary or helpful. You don't need to build bridges (I've seen customers try that), but you certainly shouldn't be burning them.

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