A package arrived Wednesday evening via FedEx. The logo on the return label caught my eye: this was from Wizards of the Coast. The long-awaited replacement tiles for Betrayal at House on the Hill finally arrived!
Beneath a brief letter from Wizards of the Coast’s customer service department apologizing for the original problem and expressing thanks for their customers’ patience was the typical shrink-wrapped pack of tile sheets, very securely packed in layers of bubblewrap. Tearing off the wrap was, I have to admit, anti-climactic. I don’t know what I expected, to be honest. The whole point of the replacement tiles was they be exactly the same as the original batch, only without twisting and warping.
So far, they seem good. The tiles came out of the package flat. As you can see by the picture comparing the first and second printings of a character tile, the cardstock is almost identical in weight. It’s simply that the one on the right is warped. So trait sliders will be loose as ever; perhaps now that character tiles can lay flat, though, those clips will be slightly less prone to moving unexpectedly.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about the customer service. Wizards of the Coast was prompt in replying to customers, but the fix took months — which I can understand, as they had to arrange for a whole new print run of tiles — but it hardly satisfies a customer’s sense of entitlement to having a problem made right speedily.
I should clarify that Wizards of the Coast’s response is speedy when it comes to email or phone. Their snail mail response was miserable: a letter sent in early October wasn’t answered until December 28th. Granted, we live in a world increasingly dominated by electronic communication. However, I’ve gone by the rule of thumb that a written letter is more likely to prompt a response than an email that gets lost in the avalanche. That was not the case here.
Additionally, there is the fact to consider that this happened at all. Wizards of the Coast has a good reputation for quality physical components in their Dungeons & Dragons map tiles and the Castle Ravenloft board game. I wonder what went on in the process here that tripped them up: different development staff? Different printer? Different materials to cut down on costs?
For sure, I will strive to be more circumspect about snapping up a game from them in the future — doing double duty in resisting the acquisition imperative — even if it’s a reprint of something I know I love, like Betrayal at House on the Hill. Early adopters are mine canaries, in essence. I’ll let them take on finding out everything wrong with games.