I seem to have a habit of posting tales of bad customer service here.
I’m not really “up” on the whole con thing, really. I’ve been to one or two, but my experience has been mostly with trade shows like E3 and OTC. However, the one con I’ve known about for years due to friends attending and talking about it was Dragon*Con. I’d considered going for years, even when slightly annoyed when undergoing overload of D*C. However, there had always been a reason for me not to go, from not wanting to fight with hotel rooms, to not having a friend to go with me, and so on and so forth…
Well, yesterday, I found a VERY good reason not to go. Yesterday, Ryan Sohmer of Blind Ferret Entertainment (responsible for the popular webcomics Least I Could Do and Looking For Group) made a post on the LICD forums talking about their experience with Dragon*Con staff this year as a paying vendor, and why they will not be back next year. Lar deSouza (Ryan’s collaborator on LICD and LFG) asked that people retweet Ryan’s post and get the word out; while I’ve already tweeted about it, I figured I would go ahead and repost the story on here.
My mood is less than pleased right now, and I’m going to tell you why.
To start things off, Lar and I will NOT be attending DragonCon in Atlanta this coming summer. In order to understand that, we must go back to a time and place…say, around September of this year.
This was our second year in Atlanta, and it was one of the shows we were most looking forward to. There’s just something about the atmosphere of this show that’s so casual, that you really get a chance to hang out with a great deal of wonderful people.
As last year was so successful for us, we paid for a larger booth this year and intended to do some fun & unusual things with the space. Upon getting to the show, however, someone had setup in our space. Confused, we asked the hall attendants what was going on, and were rudely informed that our booth had been moved.
When I inquired as to where, I was shown the furthest and poorly lit section of the room, with a giant pillar intersecting the middle of the booth. I then proceeded to tell the attendants that this was unacceptable, not only because of the move but because of the new location.
Despite the fact that I had announced where we were setup weeks leading up to the show, I would’ve been fine if we were moved to a location similar to the one we lost. But this was unacceptable.
The attendants, once again, were rude and told our crew that we could take the new spot or we could go home. This wasn’t their problem. Still calm and polite, I asked if there was someone else we could speak to, because we did not deserve to be spoken to like that.
A couple hours later, we sat on the carpet waiting, a minor functionary came downstairs and repeated what the attendants had told us. Again, I asked if there was anyone else I could talk to.
An hour later, one of the board members of the show came down to talk with us.
He apologized for the situation, note that this was the first apology we had received thus far, and inquired what could to be done to make things right. In the end, he generously offered to repay us for the booth, but still allow us to use. It was a good solution, we shook hands and all was well.
At the end of the show, I again thanked him for taking care of the matter, and we signed up for the next show gladly.
Usually how this works, is at the end of a show, you sign for the next one, and a few weeks later you receive an invoice. A month passed, and we had yet to receive a single thing.
Wanting to make sure everything was fine, Randy began calling them. For 6 weeks Randy called, at least 3 times per week leaving messages for everyone. No one called us back.
Finally, we reached someone, and were told that we were not invited back to DragonCon because of the incident. I was and still am shocked.
We are not allowed to exhibit because their staff was verbally abusive towards us, including profanity. We are not allowed because they moved our location without any warning or apology. We are not allowed because DragonCon shoved us in the dark corner of the show.
Let me be clear. Never did I, or any of my staff, raise their voice or even mutter a ‘shite’ under their breath. That’s not how we behave.
I don’t understand this decision, and no one was inclined to explain it to me, only referring to the ‘incident’.
I am saddened by this, but more so that we won’t be able to hang out with the folks who came out to Atlanta to see us. I felt you were owed an explanation, and there it is. We hope to be able to find a show nearby that we can attend.
As for DragonCon, I will do my best to ensure that this story gets out, so others don’t share our fate.
– Because I can.
Once again, I have no desire to support any company that treats their paying customers in such an appalling manner. Reading the replies to Sohmer’s post, it’s looking obvious that actions like this are becoming (if not established) typical behavior for Dragon*Con. Personally, it isn’t that big a deal to me, as there are two shows that I would much rather go to instead: San Diego Comic-Con, and Penny-Arcade Expo. PAX happens the same weekend as Dragon*Con, so I would have had to sacrifice D*C anyway. Still, it’s a shame, and the way things are looking (especially the way this story is getting out), the staff of Dragon*Con might be thinking about an apology at some point soon…