Friday, 22 March 2019

Black Tree Design - Order

Well, this is a post I thought long and hard about before writing. But eventually I felt it was something that should be put out there. It simply relates the tale of my personal experience of ordering from Black Tree Design (UK). Your experience may of course vary.

I have often looked at Black Tree Design (hereafter BTD) figures, as they contain some ranges that are extensive and in some cases unique, they have frequent sales, and at least some of their figures look really quite nice, well animated and with character.

I have seen some of them 'in the flesh' so to speak, and other players whose blogs I follow have used them.

So not long after the release of the TooFatLardies 'Blitzkrieg' supplement, I came across a chap on Lead Adventure Forum eager to dispose of a platoon worth of 1940 French Infantry in 28mm by Crusader, lead and paypal were exchanged and I was proud owner of a French platoon for Chain of Command.

Now it so happens that I seem to be the only member of the local club gaming WW2 in 28mm, so if I want a game, I usually have to supply both sides. Now an Early War German force is appealing, it's the Blitzkrieg, there are no supertanks, they can do double duty for Operation Barbarossa (for which I have PSC Plastic Soviets), etc.

I originally looked at the Crusader and Artizan ranges, but I was keen to try out a different range, and coincidentally, BTD had a sale on their 28mm WW2 range. So on 27 December, 2018, I placed an order. The total excluding shipping was just over £50. Which in hindsight I wish I had spent with another company. After all; full price for something, is better than getting 50% off, and not receiving anything.

On 29 December, I received an email which included the phrase:

Hi Doug, we're getting your order ready to be shipped. We will notify you when it has been sent.
We shall see below, just how accurate this was. {Needless to say, I have never received an email advising my order has been sent).

I knew that BTD had a reputation for slow delivery, so I was not in any great rush to receive my figures, I had the French to paint, after all, and no shortage of other figures in the lead pile.

But a month passed. On the 2nd February I received a generic broadcast email from John Olsen at BTD, which included this statement:
'We are working hard to try and catch up. The casting company we use is raring to go and we have mountain of metal expected in over the next couple of weeks. Please bear with a little longer. I promise that we will get your orders to you very soon.
Not impressed, but hey, we all understand how things can pile up, it was Christmas, there had been illness, they must have been busy with the sale.

It was now getting very close to the point where my option to raise a Paypal dispute would expire, but (stupidly, in hindsight), I gave John and BTD, the benefit of the doubt, and decided to wait it out. After all, he had 'Promised', hadn't he?

Six weeks later, and with no sign of the promise being fulfilled, the Paypal dispute period having expired, and no further word from John or even any generic broadcast 'Promises'.  I decided to pen John and BTD a little note. I was quite polite, considering that they had had my cash for almost three months and had failed to deliver anything except a 'Promise' that clearly hadn't been fulfilled.

[I have since checked and Paypal have extended the period for a dispute to 180 days, so I have now lodged one with them, we shall see.]

I asked when my order would be sent, and said that if I didn't hear anything back from them, I would be quite happy to tell my story about BTD, and let other people judge John's 'Promises'.

Well John, it's a week since I wrote you that note, I have now sent another requesting either figures or a refund, (and frankly, at this stage, I would prefer a refund). So I am keeping my promise to tell the story.

[Update - some of the figures have now arrived..  I am two packs short, and the casting standard is appalling.]