It feels like ages ago since i joined the subscription service called MyRetroGameBox, all i got was one box, and now i know why…
I found out yesterday that the services have ended because of everything from complaints, fraud and maybe most of all because of the stress, payment and work time for a small family company trying to satisfy their customers as much as possible.
I wish i had signed up earlier as i found the concept very cool and as many of you might have seen by now i even reviewed it back in October.
I have decided to just post the original post from their website as i found it to be very informative and it explains a lot of the problems the company experienced. Have a look at this very long “rant/post” and try and learn something from it in case you wonder about starting a company yourself.
January 11th, 2016
My Retro Game Box was started by us in January 2015. We love games, and wanted to find a subscription for retro games. There wasn’t one, so we decided to create it.
We used our own money to get started, and did everything by the book. We set up a limited company, got an accountant to make sure the boxes were ticked, that kind of thing.
We spent all of the money paid by subscribers on running My Retro Game Box. It doesn’t make a profit, so that subscribers are getting the best value possible.
I (Katy) get paid for my time. It works out to around £3 an hour. Stu doesn’t take anything because his ‘payment’ has always been to get a chance to play all the games that come through, and he has a ‘normal’ job anyway. I took on my sister Mia as an assistant manager as she is studying advertising and PR, and wanted some real experience. She is paid properly, because it would be illegal for her not to be.
When we fill boxes, we take the time to read what subscribers are telling us they like and dislike, and choose the best games we can based on what we have. We check each game to see if they have it in their collection already. Sometimes we get one or two things wrong. It happens. It is definitely not because of a lack of trying.
I’m telling you this because I need to paint the picture – we’re real people. Just like you. Not a profit hungry corporation. Not a start up that’s been funded by venture capital. Just people that wanted something to exist and decided to make it themselves.
In hindsight our slowdown or inability to meet shipping deadlines for example was an obvious outcome of our optimism. We always thought that our subscribers would understand how we run this, and meet us halfway. But the emails we receive tell a different story. For a few months after I’d been off with the worst infection I’ve had in my life, I worked as hard as I could to raise quality high enough to keep complaints at bay. I built and rebuilt the site over and over to make it as user friendly as possible, while always making sure the user is always presented with information they need to know before they click on. We added more consoles. We began to categorise our stock by how much it had cost us, to try to make sure everyone was getting that value they believe should come from subscription boxes. We’ve not been sending ‘meh’ games.
This attempt at quality increase has failed. Two of the three people who have received Shenmue for the Dreamcast have complained about it. When we’ve sent two high value games, we’ve had complaints that it’s not the 3-5 ‘as promised.’ People sign up and say ‘only rare games by capcom and konami’ in their likes and dislikes. No one seems to understand that the packaging costs money, the labels cost money, hosting the site costs money, payment processors charge fees, and people fuck us over.
All of our cashflow is now stuck in stock we can’t move based on the standards we’re working with. Our own money has been lost due to the scum that have fraudulently purchased items from us (just in case you don’t know, the person who’s card has been stolen gets their money back from the business, and the fraudsters keep the goods or sell them on, so the only losers are the businesses, unless the fraudsters actually get caught by police but even then we don’t get to claim the cash back.) So we’ve been working our asses off to fix things.
We’ve started selling off lots of our own things, I’m adding our comics collection to our ebay store (where we move the unwanted stock,) and Stu is selling much of his gaming collection privately. We’re cutting back our budget at home to make more money available for My Retro Game Box. My £3 an hour is a distant memory. Our son is a really good kid and he chose two modest presents to ask santa for.
But today I’m really feeling that this effort we’re putting in is seriously stupid. No one cares about us and the work we’re doing, to them we’re just a business. Emails come in to us all the time that are angry and misinformed. I received a very long and well thought out email from someone who’s subscription ended months ago – complaining that they haven’t been receiving their boxes in the past few months. This type of email, where the customer is angry based on something that isn’t true or they have presumed, is a constant problem. That, on top of the stress of our dispatch times, has kept me up many a night.
I am getting fucked up over something that we made for love of games. There’s many a comeback to that, like ‘what did you expect’ or ‘you shouldn’t have started this in the first place’ or ‘you’re just a dumb woman.’
Two out of three of those things are accurate.
However, we’re in the great situation of having a choice. We’re having a second child, and I’m choosing him or her over dealing with bullshit, no matter how much effort we’ve put into this and how far we’ve come.
I want to say thank you to the lovely, kind, amazing subscribers who have emailed us saying nice things. Sorry that your voices weren’t loud enough to make a difference, but I’ll never forget that there were always people rooting for us, and considering us human beings.
Every single unshipped box will be refunded, and the site will be dismantled. You’ll still be able to log in to access your games lists. We’ll keep up the ebay store until we’ve gotten rid of our stock. I’ll go back to being a horticulturist and student at the Royal Botanic Garden. Our son will eventually forget that his mummy ‘works all the time.’ And I sure as hell will never consider My Retro Game Box a failure. Instead, I’ll consider not being so in love with what I’m doing and I’ll actually try to make money from it so that there’s a cushion in times of hardship.
I urge anyone else to do the same – try not to be too much of a good person. This is a capitalist society, and you won’t win.
Thanks for your time.
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