Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Update on GW price and embargo 2

Well the Facebook page owner had his meeting today:

Here is the summary he posted at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_109577025797447#!/home.php?sk=group_109577025797447&notif_t=group_activity

Text as follows:

James Sutherland
Hi All,
So here is the update as promised.
I met with the GW Australia General Manager and GW Australia Senior Regional Manager today. Both guys were generous with their time and generous in travelling out from Ingleburn to see me in Hornsby.
At the outset of the meeting I was fairly certain that ultimately these guys were not directly responsible for the prices of GW products here in Australia and by the end of the meeting I was completely certain that this was the case. In reality it is GW UK headquarters that sets the prices for each country/region. They do this based on the numbers provided to them from the previous year. These numbers take into account wages, store rental (which seems to be a pretty big cost as long as GW stay in Westfield-esque shopping malls), cost of shipping etc.
The yearly price increase of approx. 5% is based on the annual increase of rental/wages etc going up by 5%. Now I stated that I understand that prices need to go up sooner or later (I am not too sure too many of us wouldn’t have a wage increase each year?) but what my/our main issue is the price disparity between us and the UK & US. I used the example of Vampire Count Blood Knights costing $165AUD here in Oz and only costing $99USD in the US. Clearly the US would have the same costs of wages, store rental, shipping etc so why the price difference?
This was the question that the guys really couldn’t answer and ultimately they can’t, as it is the UK people that set the price.
They were however, completely aware of how we are currently feeling and aware of the “hard pill we have had to swallow” (their words) in what is an essential 45% increase in price with the switch off of Maelstrom/Wayland and the regular 5% annual increase. Which I thought was a nice way to sum up what has happened for us. We were able to get GW products at Maelstrom prices and now because we can’t them anymore and have to pay Australian/New Zealand prices we have had a 45% increase overnight.
In light of what they were saying about the cost of running stores, I didn’t want to just come with complaints but suggestions for ways forward as well. One suggestion I did make was to have less stores, and bigger ones that are offsite from shopping malls. Essentially, stores with more floor space to play/paint etc. I believe that it is mainly hobbyists that grow the hobby and not foot traffic into a store and therefore I think that if they build it, we will come (and bring our mates with us!).
They did also explain to me that the stores are mainly there to introduce people into the hobby and not necessarily providing as much for the established gamer. Hence, us being able to quite happy buy our products from Maelstrom etc as we are only needing minis at our stage and not advice on how to play/build/paint etc. However, they were also aware of the need to not ignore the established gaming community (particularly when I added the point of established gamers recruiting new gamers).
My response to this was that most new gamers I know have come into the hobby through their friends (ie us!) and that if we are no longer in the hobby then their biggest recruitment stream will be gone.
I was also able to gain some insights into the price increase for the Finecast range and it would seem clear that it has cost GW tens of millions of pounds to remake the moulds, develop the technology to mix resin and plastic etc. There is about 2000 employees at GW HQ, many of whom are involved in the production of miniatures.
Despite the reasons they offered me (all of which were legitimate to a greater or lesser degree) I ultimately made the point that the hobby is becoming unaffordable for many of us here due to the current prices and that if something isn’t done one way or another, many of us will have to find something else to do with our time/money (even though many of us don’t want to find something else to do with our time/money!).
One of the points that I made which did have some impact was the simple maths of 1200 people each spending $1000 somewhere else each year (I was conservative in my estimate) equals $1.2 million dollars. A significant amount of sales I am sure you will agree!

I might add that throughout the meeting they were both polite, courteous and helpful. They only offered reasons when it was appropriate and helpful to shed light on things and when they didn’t have a response to issues I raised because they were fair points or because they were unable to answer them, they diligently noted them down to pass them higher up the chain.
All in all I felt I was able to represent our plight, be heard and appreciated and ensure that dialogue will continue into the future. The GM will be meeting with his boss from the UK in a couple of weeks and be talking a lot about our concerns and I look forward to hearing back from him about that meeting.
I would also add that they have been reading our little group here on FB so I would ask people to keep that in mind and remember that they are people trying to do a job too. It was disappointing to hear about how some of the gaming community have treated GW staff these pasts couple of weeks and I would hope that this great bunch is above that kind of stuff.

I am sure I have forgotten some things we discussed and I am sure you have a bunch of questions out of what I have written. Please keep in mind that I have a family and fulltime job and am not chained to FB all day, so please be patient in waiting for a response etc.

In other news, I am not sure I am going to be able to meet with Mark Wells in July as the cost is prohibitively high for myself and my wife to get to the UK (about $2800 each just for the flight). Therefore I will have to meet with him in October when he comes out here for Games Day.
Thanks everyone. Keep voicing your opinions in clear, objective and civilised ways and keep up the good fight!
Maybe there is hope but ...............