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Unscrupulous game retailers?

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Yekrats
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Joined: 08/11/2008

Hi. I'm a relatively new game publisher, and I was wondering if anyone "in the business" has come across this situation... I won't use any names of the particular retailer I'm talking about.

I offered my game for sale to a fairly big retail game store with a few locations. I live locally to one store, and I've been a lifelong customer. So they seemed to be a natural location to try to sell my first game. I informed them of the wholesale price (50% of the retail, $6.50). I invited them to my website to read the rules and see samples of my artwork.

The store looked everything over, and they offered to buy 24 copies of my game sight-unseen. I gave them the games, included an invoice, and waited.

I waited, waited for several weeks, in fact. I sent them an email, politely inquiring about payment, if they needed anything, etc. The retailer complained that the price I set was too high, and pointed me to a rather snipy rant on their website about what kinds of games they do not want. In particular, I think they wanted me to see the section of "price according to market, not according to costs."

She contacted me recently about an issue concerning my game, and I once again politely asked if the check was in the mail. She wrote me that she, (how did she phrase it?) that she was unwilling to pay me at this time. She hadn't sold any copies yet, and thus, didn't want to pay me for them. She told me that either I had to reduce my price for their store, sell on a consignment basis, or just have her send all the games back to me.

It's a sticky wicket. She *did* agree to buy the games at the price suggested. And it does hurt my feelings that she renegged on that deal. I don't want to burn any bridges behind me, but in some ways, I feel like she's not being fair to me or my game. I tried to be very up-front and honest, and I don't feel that's being reciprocated. I've sold my game to other retailers at the same price without a hitch. I don't think it's fair or ethical to give one retailer a special deal.

So my questions are:

-- How long is it typical to wait to ask for a payment from a retailer? What sort of time frame should I expect?

-- What sort of credit terms are typical to give to a retailer?

-- What would you do in the same situation? Be nice, now. :-)

Any advice would be helpful and appreciated.
-- Scott S.

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Re: Unscrupulous game retailers?

Yekrats wrote:

"You agreed to buy the games at the price suggested, and you have renegged on that deal. I don't want to burn any bridges behind me, but I feel like you're not being fair to me or my game. I have been very up-front and honest, and I don't feel that's being reciprocated. I've sold my game to other retailers at the same price without a hitch. I don't think it's fair or ethical to give one retailer a special deal, so please return my games to me."

-- What would you do in the same situation?

Put the above paragraph in a letter (maybe not an e-mail but an actual letter) and send it to the retailer.

Good luck,
- Seth

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
My comment

She's giving you the run around. The price of the game is quite reasonable (I've seen some similar quality Steve Jackson card games go for quite a bit higher). I think she overstepped her authority when she told you she would buy them. Perhaps when they (the games) came in someone higher up said they didn't want to sell them. At this point. I'd either take them back or sell them at a lower price on the contigency that the next time they purchased them they would pay full price.

Just my $.02

-Darke

Yekrats
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Joined: 08/11/2008
How long to wait for payment?

Since I've not received payment for these, or done the invoice thing much. What date should I set the payment date from the day of the billing? Does anyone know what is standard practice?

Thanks in advance...
-- Scott S.

Anonymous
Unscrupulous game retailers?

as far as i have experienced, standard payment time for invoices is usually 30 days.

Brykovian
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Unscrupulous game retailers?

Another thing that might help in the future is to require a purchase order ... basically a pre-invoice from the store stating the number of units they wish to purchase and at what price, complete with signatures. That might seem a bit overly formal for a one-man-shop selling to a local game store, but it makes the invoicing part much easier.

And invoicing can be anywhere from "due upon receipt", which means that the store is supposed to send a check off as part of their next check run (usually in a week or two) after receiving the games ... through 30-day or 60-day terms -- but I probably wouldn't go higher than 30-day terms, personally. But sure to state the terms on your invoice.

-Bryk

Yekrats
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Joined: 08/11/2008
Unscrupulous game retailers?

Brykovian wrote:
Another thing that might help in the future is to require a purchase order ... basically a pre-invoice from the store stating the number of units they wish to purchase and at what price, complete with signatures. That might seem a bit overly formal for a one-man-shop selling to a local game store, but it makes the invoicing part much easier.
-Bryk

The funny part is, they sent me a purchase order! No signatures, but an electronic copy.[/i]

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Unscrupulous game retailers?

Hmm, this does seem to be a sticky wicket. On the one hand, it seems like they bought your game without really thinking it through, but on the other hand, it seems like your game is not flying off their shelves.

I think you would definitely be warranted to insist that they honor their agreement with you, however, what I think is more important is that you get your game moving in sales in their store. I think you can certainly get them to pay you, but it may leave a sour taste in their mouth, which will be particularly soured if they can't sell your product. The next time you come to them with a game, they'll say "no, we don't think so", and you don't want that to happen.

What I would probably do is encourage someone who's going to buy the game anyway to buy from that store, to demonstrate that your product sells. Or, you could try to do an in-store demo or something, to move the game (if that would actually be likely to move the game).

On the other hand, have they tried to sell your game? After all, they are the retailers; they are supposed to be the experts in selling games. How much complicity do they have in your game being stuck on their shelves? How has it performed in other retail shops? Knowing that might also help you have something to say to them.

I don't know. I think if it were me, I'd either yank the product, or insist that they honor their agreement with the proviso that I'd do everything in my ability to help them sell it. (and if it won't sell, you aren't burning any bridges, because they wouldn't have wanted your future products anyway...) I don't think I'd let them have the game for less, nor would I do the consignment route unless that's something that you planned to do anyway. Either sends a dangerous message that the store can bully you around, can agree to something in writing and then back out at their leisure. If it was possible that they were only going to want your game if it was a big seller, they should have ironed that out up front, not agreed to take the game at your price, and then negotiate again when they saw how it went.

I think being as diplomatic as possible is the way to go, but you can do that while being firm and business-like. I would just make it clear to them that they agreed to the original terms, that you've offered the same terms to other retailers, that you're willing to help them sell the games, etc. But for them to say "we haven't sold, thus we won't pay" or "we want you to give us a discount" is unprofessional and inappropriate. (and find a nice way to say that!)

Good luck! It's a shame that you have to deal with this stuff. It's definitely helping me to see that doing this for a business is not the way I want to go! For me, it's "publish or perish"!

-Jeff

PS I think that if you wanted to, you could direct them to this conversation as proof of your professionalism, because to my surprise, you haven't "named names" here. That suggests to me you're not just venting steam, but that there is a legitimate business problem here, and it's commendable that you want to resolve it in a business-like manner. Kudos!

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
The game

Well, I have been following Starkey's Mother Lode for quite some time (I am highly interested in the theme and plan on buying a copy in the near future), and if I remember correctly, It's only been back from the printers about 3 weeks. In no way could they have formed an opinion about the sellability of this product in that short of time.

The way I look at it is like this: You obviously have a winner on your hands as far as the game goes (I noticed you used fairplays indie game designers page, have you had a lot of luck with that?). Go ahead and offer to let them sell it on a consignment basis temporarily. If (rather when) they see it sells, perhaps they'll buy the lot outright. If not, ask for them back and then sell them someplace else or send them out as demo copies or something. Just be friendly about it. Although it is a setback, you probably have a good # of games that you are currently looking to sell. Offer to work with the seller, just don't let them keep your games without paying for them. Give them a reasonable time to decide, then politely ask for them back. (Give them something in writing as to how long you'd like to attempt to sell them, then offer to renegotiate after the time has expired). Let's face it, as long as you have stock available to sell, it's not hurting anything to negotiate with this retailer for as long as it takes to get them to buy. If stock starts to get low, then it may be a problem. So my opinion is to 1) Give them as much time as they need to evaluate the game's sellability, 2) Don't let them forget about the game and have it rot somewhere in the warehouse or back room, make sure it's at least available on the shelves, and 3) Only request the game back when you're sure they aren't willing to try to sell your game or when your current stock of games to sell via other avenues is low.

Just my $.02. Great looking game! I can't wait to scrape up the dough to buy it!

-Darke

Anonymous
Unscrupulous game retailers?

One of the first things to do when you decide to do business, as a company, is to develop a business plan.

One of the most important parts of said business plan is, "Terms of Sale".

When you do business, provide your customer with a copy.... why?

Right now, they can legally return all of the unsold product and pay you nothing at this point... those MIGHT, after all, be your terms of sale. Without written proof to the contrary, and the example of having given those written terms to your somewhat less-than-helpful client, you haven't got a leg to stand on.

What would I do? Go back to the store, and leave her a set of consignment terms for three of the games, reclaiming the rest and putting them on consignment at 8 other stores. Legwork? yes... but it gets you exposure to 8X as many game players.

...and your consignment terms are: Pay for it or give it back within 90 days. Any restocks to be sold and paid for on the spot (within ten days or COD).

No returns on non-consignment sales.

Seller (retailer) assumes any loss or damage. If a customer spills their soda on it, they bought it.

Its a jungle out there... but a little preparation is worth a ton of afterthought.

XXOOCC

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