Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maelstrom Games review - Poor Customer Service

I placed an order in December from a website called Maelstrom games, which operates out of the UK. Since I am in the US, it might seem strange that I would order from them, but they did sell the combination of products from different companies that I wanted to purchase. So I could get the few different things I wanted from one place, and since they have free shipping, the fact that it was being shipped from the UK wouldn't make much difference, except taking a little longer. Also, their prices are decent, and that combined with the exchange rate made what I was ordering a little cheaper than ordering it from any US websites I could find.

Well, that turned out to be a mistake. I placed my order, and my credit card was charged for the order, on December 22nd. Everything I ordered was listed as in stock at the time I ordered it, but I didn't hear anything from them for several days about my order. On their website, it said the following:

"Orders placed before noon will be processed and (stock willing) sent out the same day; orders placed after noon will be processed and sent the day after."
"However, it is inevitable that some items could be out of stock when you place your order. In such cases we will order your item from the relevant manufacturer on the same day, which will usually take 2-3 working days to fulfil"
"Whatever happens, we will keep you informed by e-mail as to what is happening with your order. "

Well, I did order right before Christmas, and figured they must be pretty busy, and would take time off for the holidays and everything. So I waited the whole week after Christmas, and still had heard nothing from them about my order. If there was some kind of delay, according to their website, they should have informed me by e-mail, so I knew what was happening with my order.

So, a little impatient, on January 3rd I sent an e-mail to them asking why I hadn't heard anything about my order and why it was being delayed, especially since I had already been charged for the order almost 2 weeks before. I much prefer websites that only charge you when they actually send you the order. It turns out some of the items I ordered actually were out of stock, even though the website did not indicate that when I ordered. And they were having trouble getting them back in stock with the UK mail and the supplier being shut down for Christmas, and with Maelstrom having a backlog of orders to get through because they were closed for the holidays.

Okay, that's fine, but I should have been told sooner that the items were out of stock and that they would be delayed. Actually, they should have shown up as out of stock on the website when I ordered to begin with, but I can understand having some technical glitches sometimes. They did show up as out of stock when I checked back at this point, so there's probably just a delay in updating. So I waited a little longer and checked back on their website every few days to check my order status.

One day I checked the status, and happened to notice that all of the items in my order were now showing up as in stock again, with specific numbers available being listed. That seemed like a good sign, but my order status still had not changed. This was three weeks since they had taken my payment for this order. So I wrote another e-mail to ask why there was still a delay if everything was in stock. I was told my order would ship in the next couple of days.

It shipped five days later. They must have still had quite a backlog to work through for it to take that long to pack up three items, but still they should have been honest about how long it would take. Incredibly, the package arrived only two days later, so I am quite impressed with the speed of the Royal Mail. But in the end, it took a month from when I ordered and paid for the merchandise to when I received it. Of course, a large part of that is no doubt due to the holidays and people taking time off combined with an increased number of orders around the same time.

Still, I was not impressed with the customer service given by Maelstrom games in not at all living up to the claims on their own website of the service they provide. Perhaps if their site hadn't claimed such good customer service, I wouldn't be so disappointed, but clearly they do not live up to their claims. I did save some money, but the extra time and hassle was probably not worth the few bucks I saved on the free shipping.

The other thing that really grates is that a few days after I placed the order, and over 3 weeks before it shipped, they sent me their e-mail newsletter announcing a 15% off sale. Had I known that some of the items were out of stock when I ordered, I could have waited a couple days to place the order and saved some money, and it wouldn't have taken any longer. Or if I'd known it was still going to take so long, I could have canceled the order and placed it again later, but my credit card had already been charged, and I'd probably be out the currency conversion fee. So that was pretty annoying.

Anyway, if any of you out there have had dealings with Maelstrom games and their customer service, let me know what your experience was like.


  1. Sorry to hear of your 'poor' service from Maelstrom Games in the UK Craig.

    I'm at the other end of the country to them and have placed multiple orders this year. All have been fulfilled and arrived in short order.

    I would say on their behalf as a satisfied customer, that the unusual heavy snow across the UK coupled with it's unexpected duration has caused a lot of difficulties to individuals and business alike. Many are STILL trying to catch up.

    GZG are a perfect example - renowned for shipping - an order I placed well before Christmas didn't - for a project to build over the festive season didn't make it till afterwards due to the issues Jon like me 500 miles away faced with the snow.

    Understand where you are coming from regarding the discounts - but sods law - I've ordered in the past only to find that a day or so later the company (not just Maelstrom) have announced a discount scheme. To give Maelstrom their due - they did extend the 15% discount period.


  2. ps.... just remembered. I had trouble logging into my account to take advantage of one of their previous discounst in the autumn - it was a last minute thing and their auto- password reply was acting up. I Emailed Maelstrom and they reset my account plus extended the deadline for me.

    I take it you've contacted them direct with your issues? What was their response?


  3. Several people on The Miniatures Page message boards have also said they've had nothing but good experiences with Maelstrom Games, so this was probably unusual. Others have also brought up that it was around the holidays, which I mention, and the extremely bad weather in the UK recently, which I had forgotten about. And that my complaints are relatively minor considering I did eventually get the order sent to me. My reply was this:

    "Some good points, when you put things into perspective. Perhaps the thread title is overly-harsh. It was slow, but "bad service" may be overstating it. Perhaps just below-average service, or not as good as I was expecting service. At the end of the day, I did get some stuff sent from the UK in less than a month, and saved some money on it. Everything did arrive and wasn't damaged or anything, so it wasn't terrible."

    "As I said, I'm sure there were good reasons for the delays. I had forgotten about the particularly bad weather there. My main complaint is about the communication, and how it doesn't live up to the claims on the website itself. If they hadn't claimed on their website that their orders usually ship in 2-3 days at most, and that if there were any delays the customer would be informed, then I probably wouldn't be mentioning it. But they do make that claim on their website, and, at least in this case, they did not live up to it."

    "So, I'm not saying it was a terrible experience, or nobody should shop there. But, there is plenty of competition out there in terms of online retailers of all kinds. So I'm not going to stick with one that's so-so and a little misleading, when plenty of others have good or even great service and better communication. That's the nice thing about competition, and a big difference between now and the bad old days when it took a long time to process and ship orders."

    "Though really, overall, I think I'd rather pay the extra 10% or whatever and order directly from the manufacturer in most cases. If I want to order things from multiple manufacturers at the same time, this doesn't work. But if I'm ordering over the internet anyway, why not give my money to the company that actually produces something I like, instead of to some company that just buys things to re-sell them at a markup? What do they do for me, except sell a little cheaper?"

  4. Dear Craig

    I have started to use Maelstrom recently and their customer service has been excellent. Britain has been hammered by snow which has slowed services to a crawl.

    I would email M. with your complaint and see what they say.


    John's Toy Soldiers

  5. My experience with Maelstrom is that things are fine until an issue comes up, after which customer service is sometimes okay and sometimes bad. Due bad experiences, I'm not using Maelstrom anymore. There are a lot of cheap web shops with excellent customer service, so why to gamble. Still I'm not advising ppl to stay away from Maelstrom, just telling them to see it for themselves.

  6. I live in Capricornia central coast of Qld Australia. My order through Maelstrom arrived in the expected ten days delivery time from the UK complete though one of the product boxes was obviously damaged when packed for postage. But I will try them again. Pete

  7. I'm from Melbourne in the south of Australia and I've had good experiences with Maelstrom for the most part. I had some problems when I ordered a citadel battlemat from them and it was delayed for some time. I ended up getting store credit when they couldn't get one in (GW was out of stock), but I had no communication from them up until that point.

    That aside, every other order I've had from them has come in within two weeks, which is pretty good for shipping to Australia.

  8. I am still waiting for my order, placed and paid for over a month ago. As of a month ago today I recieved an email stating that my items would be in stock and shipped "early next week". There is still no update.

    Will not purchase there again.

  9. Mid December 2010 order (confirmed on 04/12 dispatched 12/12 arrived on the 16th), I live in London and 2nd class post arrives within 4 days from Nottinghamshire the latest. OK I'll give them 2-3 more for bad weather but total of 9 days is a bit rich. Don't advertise items that are not in stock as available, or at least say it will take at least 5 days to restock. Both my experiences with them have been similar i.e. not of the highest standard but they do honor their discount offers which I guess is OK. Items arrived in good condition both orders.

  10. I placed an order with them on January 17th (before 11:00 a.m.), also relying on their many promises.
    Having heard nothing from them for 3 days I sent them a mail. Reply was, that my order was dispatched on the 19th. But on their website in my account it still showed up as "processing".
    Asking them again, why this was so, I was told not to worry, my order had been sent out. Today, on the 25th, I received a message, that my order had been shipped TODAY!!!
    Even though communication with them has been good, I'm pretty much p.o.ed about the fact, that they obviously are not able to keept their promises and telling one a bunch of lies.

    First and last time ever, that I ordered from them.

  11. I tried Maelstrom during their voucher promotion period as the prices were attractive. Ordered some GW bits which are popular items and with them being near GW thought I can't lose, cheap prices, shown in stock, got to be a winner right?


    A little over two weeks to get the order to me, with no communication whatsoever during that period and no answer to the emails that I sent.

    Every business has busy periods and every business makes mistakes but it doesn't take a lot to communicate with your customers really.

    Should have stuck with Wayland Games, they've never done me wrong and I feel a bit guilty about going somewhere else to save a couple of quid and they've got an even better voucher deal on at the minute too. Lesson learned I feel.

  12. So, an order placed on October 17th was dispatched on the 24th and arrived a few days later (no more than a week) -- that's pretty good, considering I'm in the US.

    However, two further orders -- placed on 29th November and 15th December only shipped on 22nd of December and as of January 31st have yet to arrive.

    A friend also placed an order on Jan 7th and his order shipped yesterday, although apparently without the extra insurance he paid for.

    It is my understanding that the Royal Mail is having some issues getting things into the US, due to a restriction on passenger planes carrying mail, however no word from Maelstrom on this whatsoever.

  13. I ordered something on the 17th from them. Its been over a week since they said they've got the items in stocked. And has been set to 'packing' for three days now.

    They are incredibly slow its unbelievable, I understand delays in getting the items in, but it should not take the same time to deliver it to Aus that it takes to put a few items into a box.

  14. I placed an order on the 27/05/12, money was taken out my account on the 28/05/12 and as of the 14/06/12 they haven't even got the item in stock or despatched my order. Second time this has happened with them and there won't be a third time as I'll pay the extra and go back to Wayland Games.

  15. I placed an order for two minis and a sourcebook 6 weeks ago. Minis arrived after about 2-3 weeks but no sign of sourcebook. After 4 weeks I chased them and was told it would be shipped soon, but after 2 further weeks I just cancelled the order and got my money back. Ordered instead from Wayland Games, which actually turned out cheaper.

  16. I ordered a mini on sale, paid for it, a week or more later, I learned my order was cancelled--money returned--with an invitation to re-order at full price(!) Phone calls did not get them to honor the price I'd bought it for--or even get me an explanation. Lesson learned.

  17. Avoid MaelstromGames at all costs! Several friends and I ordered stock from them back in August (2012) since then all Maelstrom have done is take our money. When you email you get no reply or just a generic auto reply. They don’t answer their phone at all. Some of my friends cancelled their weeks ago but have not been able to get their money back and again no reply from Maelstrom.
    I can understand having stock issues, but ignoring your customers and making it all but impossible to get a refund is unforgivable, it simply amounts the theft in my book. I will not be using them again ever!