Rationale Behind Non-Transferrable Badges
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Posted by redgriffyn

My brother's wife had to take a new job to support the family and doesn't have the vacation days to get the time off for GenCon anymore.  It looks like you guys are going to end up costing my family ~$300.00+ in lost badge/tickets which can't be transferred or refunded because of your internal policies/inflexibility.  This is despite there being a willing family member to step in to use the badges/tickets (i.e., me).  Not to mention that I'd be providing childcare services to help watch my young nephew and help him at tables, while my brother volunteers/GMs for you guys at your own convention.

So can you guys please explain why you have such an awful internal policy that alienates your fan base and volunteer base.  Why are you focused on providing an extremely poor customer experience?  Even if I were to come in with a notarized document from my brother's wife and her ID or a video of her holding up her ID and willing the ticket to me, it doesn't look like you'd be willing to change.  Even if I use the already printed badge materials and don't 'change the name on the tag' you seem willing to screw over the little guy to squeeze out the profit.  Can you explain why?

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Posted by alans

Better to email customerservice@gencon.com with these kind of questions.  

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Posted by redgriffyn

They have been contacted and refused to transfer a badge despite reasonable and extenuating circumstances via my brother.  So I would prefer a public answer to why customerservice@gencon.com refuses to support their volunteer and customer base by adhering to a draconian internal policy.  I am not party to their emails with my brother and I think your conventions customer support is out of touch. My brother is also, very non-confrontational and I'd rather advocate for him here in a public forum as opposed to continuing to aid your company in hiding it's poor customer service.

So please provide the rationale as to why no badges, no matter what the circumstances, are allowed to be transferred.

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Posted by mhayward1978

Because if they start making exceptions then they have to adjudicate exceptions for a 50,000+ customer base with their staff of like 14 people.  It's simply not tenable.

If they have a blanket transfers are allowed policy, then they create an incentive for people to buy badges they don't need and scalp them.  This would be bad.

In 11 consecutive years of going to Gen Con the only point I've ever seen them do any checking that a person wearing the badge is the person indicated on the badge is at Will Call - where there is some ID / credit card checking that the picker-upper is the purchaser, for obvious reasons.  Outside of will call pickup all that seems to be checked is that the badge type is for the right day (e.g. 4 day, or Sat on Sat, etc.).

I can't advise you that the badge holder could just give their badge to a family member, and then that family member could go to Gen Con, and everything would work out fine - because such an action would be a violation of Gen Con's policies.  

 

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Posted by mhayward1978

Oh - e-tickets can be transferred to friends and family.

Paper tickets don't appear to be restricted from transfer, based on my reading of the policies.  In any case it is common for groups of friends and family to transfer paper tickets to one another - as you are allowed to purchase tickets for "a friend" for your events.
 

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Posted by ytuni mhayward1978

mhayward1978 wrote:
Oh - e-tickets can be transferred to friends and family.
Paper tickets don't appear to be restricted from transfer, based on my reading of the policies.  In any case it is common for groups of friends and family to transfer paper tickets to one another - as you are allowed to purchase tickets for "a friend" for your events.
I think the bigger issue for him is the badge, as it is the most expensive part of the whole thing. I think 4 day badge sales end after today too. 

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Posted by raidkillsbugsded mhayward1978

mhayward1978 wrote:
Because if they start making exceptions then they have to adjudicate exceptions for a 50,000+ customer base with their staff of like 14 people.  It's simply not tenable.

If they have a blanket transfers are allowed policy, then they create an incentive for people to buy badges they don't need and scalp them.  This would be bad.


I would also assume this is the basic reason.  Since it's stated 'non-transferable' in their legal terms and conditions, that's the policy they'll abide by.  Like said here, if an exception is made in one case, why not some other case later down the line?  Surely, someone else later on would argue, "Well what about situation x, where you gave an exception before?"  Essentially, "If she gets up, we'll all get up, it'll be anarchy..."   

Like is also said here, having a blanket policy would then lead to dudes and ladies outside the convention hall harking badges like you would see outside a ball game, which admin is probably desiring to avoid, for financial and probably also for appearances.   Since you need a badge to use event tickets, those can be made transferable, since you're less likely to have a secondary market for them then. 

From a financial standpoint, unlike at a sporting event, where the team wants your rear end in their park so you can spend even more money at their concessions and in their souvenir shops, at Gen Con, all their money is coming up front from badge sales, event ticket sales, and booth space.  I'm sure if they were getting a cut of sales in the dealer hall, things might be different.  

 

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Posted by alans

I'd also say that Gen Con has more leeway with badges, etc. than most Cons that I've attended.  They gave up until the middle of June for badge returns: 
Please note that all badge refund/exchange requests must be received prior to the Ship To Me deadline on June 17, 2018.
Origins, for example, does not have a way to return anything, at all.  
SDCC cut theirs off in May.
Just in general, it sucks when circumstances change once any event is already paid for, for sure.

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Posted by raidkillsbugsded alans

alans wrote:

Just in general, it sucks when circumstances change once any event is already paid for, for sure.


Agree with that...my wife and I were going to attend Origins also this year, but couldn't (not knowing that until after badges were ordered), so we basically had to eat the badge costs (even though we knew about 2 months ahead that we wouldn't make it, but like you said, no refunds).  

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Posted by redgriffyn

You guys are using bad logic (Reductio ad absurdum).  Making exceptions in reasonable circumstances does not lead you down a rabbit hole of exploitation and badge hocking on the front lawn.  The convention should designate what a 'reasonable' extenuating circumstance is and apply appropriate customer service to the situation.  Failing to do so with blanket policies is their right, but it also means they should accept the BAD PR that it produces when they rip off people who have legitimate issues prevent them from attending.  Even if you state your policy is "x" but allow an offline discussion with customer support to pick up the badge with appropriate proof to avoid exploitation would be acceptable.  But they aren't doing that, they are just stonewalling everyone and reaching into people's pockets because they either have no compassion or are greedy.

In this circumstance there is no cost to the convention operators.  I can bring a notarized letter ($15.00 with a lawyer on my end) stating that the person is willing giving up the 4 day pass for all days.  I can have a video tape with the person's driver's license and face side by side stating that they are giving up access to the badge for all 4 days and the reason why (i.e., a new job didn't let them take the vacation, life circumstances have changed).  They don't need to reprint the badge or change names, I'll just go with my sister in laws name and already purchased tickets.  How disruptive could that truly be to their convention?  Just expand the 'burden' of proof of ID to include those things!

My brother, his son, his wife, and I don't live in the USA.  We can't just pop on down to the con and have her pick up a badge and hand it to me and execute this solution.  These tickets aren't cheap and with no recourse for an international attendee/volunteer they want people to just eat the cost so they can reap the profit.  It is a SELFISH and BAD policy that should change.

Keep in mind that "my" sunk cost is $0.00 right now.  But my brothers is hundreds of dollars in hoteling, travel, badges, and tickets.  Not to mention that he is volunteering to run things at the con, someone you would think the con has some invested interest in keeping happy beyond a normal attendee. I am advocating on his behalf because instead of having a bunch of tables with 'ghost' no shows you could have an avid gamer step in.  Instead of my brother stressing out over GMing and having babysit his kid, he could have a guardian to make sure he is safe and having a good time.  The con just wants to make a 'double' badge sale and has no interest in being good event operators.

There is no intent of exploitation here.  Its easy to prove, but GenCon doesn't care.  So I want someone from their company to explain why they treat their fanbase and volunteers like trash.  I'm sure at least one of them have faced adversity or 'life happens' moments.  What would you want done in this kind of situation to your own self?

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Posted by buffythecatslayer

From reading your initial post, it seems like the only thing you’d be out is the cost of the badge for your sister-in-law.  Electronic tickets are transferable, and anyone can use the paper tickets.  The only real issue is if your SIL had bought everything in her name, then she would have to pick it up at Will Call.  If she bought tickets for your brother in his name, then you’ll only be out the cost of her paper tickets; your brother could pick up any tickets in his name at WC. If the packets were mailed, then all you have to do is buy a badge for yourself, and use your SIL’s tickets.

Companies set policies, and they have to stick to them. Gen Con doesn’t have the staff to deal with the requests that come up, no matter how legitimate.  Especially since most of these requests come last minute, while their entire staff is transitioning to Indy to get the Con going. As others have pointed out, other Cons have far worse, or even no return policies.  It’s not like they sprung the policy on you after the fact; the refund policies and dates were clearly spelled out from the beginning. It sucks that your family is now getting harmed by it, but you’re not the only one. Your brother can still attend, and you can go in your SILs place for the cost of a badge and possibly tickets to events for yourself.  I don’t see that terrible a hardship here.

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Posted by raidkillsbugsded

Made some slight changes in a post below...

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Posted by mhayward1978 redgriffyn

redgriffyn wrote:
You guys are using bad logic (Reductio ad absurdum).  Making exceptions in reasonable circumstances does not lead you down a rabbit hole of exploitation and badge hocking on the front lawn. 

Well - that remains to be seen. 

We seem to disagree as to whether having an exception policy would materially affect Gen Con's operations during the ~6 weeks between the refund period and the con.

I think it's substantial.  Do you not.

Let's go with your estimates of the impact this would have:

What number of Gen Con's 50,000+ attendees do you believe can't attend due to a circumstance you think is legitimate?

What additional number of them do you believe can't attend for a reason you don't think is legitimate, but would want to press or argue their case?

How do you think Gen Con can discern between a legitimate reason for a transfer, and someone who does not have a legitimate reason (e.g. just decided to not go), but puts forward an false excuse that would be legitimate if true?

In years when badges sell out, how do you think Gen Con can prevent the scalping of badges if they were transferable?  Or do you think this should not be a goal or this circumstance won't occur?

How many additional people would Gen Con need to employ and train to process these requests during the ~6 weeks between when the refund period ends and the con begins?  What would the cost be?

 

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Posted by traveller

So lets look at a few things here.


  1. Original Poster (OP) is not the badge holder.
  2. OP has stated that he does not know what the communication took place between customer service and the actual badge holder contains.
  3. Gencon has a written policy on badge/ticket cancellation/transfers with a set date for when it is no longer possible to make these changes (June 17).

Right now we only have the OP's side of things and even that is incomplete by their own admission.  And in reality it doesn't matter.  The reason why the purchase of badges/tickets comes with an active acceptance of the terms and conditions is so that both sides understand what is expected of them.  

Gencon has provided a good faith way to cancel/transfer badges as a policy (when many other conventions do not, I'm looking at you Comic Con).  At some point even Gencon has to draw a line (like say when badges and tickets are distributed).  

I feel for the badge holder, I've been in that situation.  Complaining about it here won't made a difference.  Gencon cancellation policies are in line with other conventions (both entertainment and business) and with a transfer option are even better than most conventions.  But just about every convention has a point where you just can't make changes. 

And to be blunt, accept the consequences of your choices and move on. 

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Posted by raidkillsbugsded redgriffyn

redgriffyn wrote:
You guys are using bad logic (Reductio ad absurdum).  

My time spent teaching the last 20 years has shown me that if you make an exception for one person in regards to a policy/rule/consequence, you better be ready and prepared for someone else (another kid, a parent, or even a fellow staff member) to call BS on you if you don't also extend the same type of open-mindedness to their situation as well.  Now, multiply that by thousands of convention attendees.  It opens up a bad can of worms, even if the initial opening of that can was well-intended.

I'm also not saying it's not basically a money issue.  It is.

Keep in mind, companies are not our friends.  If one doesn't provide solid customer service, it's our right to stop giving them our money.  There's a handful of businesses I refuse to go to/use because of a bad service/help experience in the past, even though it may mean an inconvenience for myself or me 'losing out' on something I may have enjoyed previously.   Does my action make a difference, really?  No, but still...
 

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Posted by redgriffyn

According to my brother he tried 4 separate occasions and went through what constitutes the Con's line management.  This means that this is a through and through, top/down, bottom/up policy.  It also means he has contacted multiple individuals who basically don't care.  The badge and tickets are all in my SIL's name and at will call.  That makes it impossible for anyone but her to pick up/transfer. 

I literally gave you an example of how they wouldn't need anything special to implement a solution:
  1. limit transfers of badges to once per account (no cost addition)
  2. bring both a notarized letter and video of the person stating their intent to give the badge for all four days ($15.00 cost to me to get notary as a deterrent to mass transfers)
  3. bring one piece of the original badge holder's government issued ID (no cost addition, extra protection). 

I'm not asking for a refund, I'm asking for a badge transfer and to continue using her name (no cost addition for printing a new badge - call be me by my SIL's name). That is a $0.00 cost policy change, with a minimal cost per person for the transfer ($15.00 on my end for a notarized letter) that could provide your con with positive PR and easily prevent the 'mass hocking' you all seem to think will happen.  I would predict it could increase the transaction time to process me by 15% and would apply to 3-5% of Con goers per year. 

To somehow complain that EVERY account (thousands of them) will try to use this to exploit and hock badges is to literally ignore common sense, basic ID theft prevention, account limitations/AI prevention protections, people not giving out their gov ID to randoms on the street, etc.  Hence my claim of reductio ad absurdum (anecdotal life experiences set aside).  Not to mention that if my brother had simply had the badges shipped we wouldn't even be talking about this.  The con doesn't limit me from making 1000 accounts, ordering 1000 badges, and have them mail the badges to me to hock at the front door (for $200.00 you are named Jim Brown for 4 days, etc.).  Those people/exploiters must already be active (if it is happening at all) so we'd only be looking at potential incremental  exploitation issues which I'm sure would be <0.5% on a conservative basis (again its a $0.00 cost solution with a minimum $15.00 entry opportunity cost).

I think the REAL issue is that the business model for the CON is built on this policy.  I bet they make 10-15% revenue off no shows due to this policy and oversell the badges at the CON on the basis that this will happen so that they can capitalize on the mass public (just like airlines).  I would love for an actual con representative to come here and actually try to explain their policy, but they seem too ashamed or afraid to address the issue.

I think at this point they deserve bad PR.  They absolutely don't deserve MY money and I won't attend the con in the future.  I was just trying to find a solution that doesn't cost my brother hundreds of dollars and am confounded by the incompetence of the convention.  It is either negligent (unintentionally hurting con goers and volunteers) or it is on purpose (ripping off people per their business model - even if you 'dress it up' as someone protecting the con from exploitation). 

It is already a difficult value proposition to posit me providing tourism dollars to the USA when your current foreign policy threatens the livelihoods of thousands-millions of jobs in my country or the increase of cost for basic goods by 10-40%.  I'm just 'literally' trying to help a brother out.

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Posted by roundtop

Anime Expo has a similar policy to GenCon.

http://support.anime-expo.org/customer/en/portal/articles/2530124-badge-refund-and-transfer

It is literally the standard in the convention industry to not refund badges or allow for transfers.  If the tickets were mailed rather than at will-call, then they could be used, but will-call is gated by needing ID.  Just like at a concert.

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Posted by traveller

So, in the interest of being fair, I took a look at the several large conventions, San Diego Comic Con, Dragon Con, Pax East/Pax West, and Origins.

Gencon, Comic Con and Origins allow refunds up to a certain date, Dragon con and Pax East/West do not offer refunds. 

Other conventions E3, C2E2, National Restaurant Association also have no refund policies.

So again, lets review:


  • You need to cancel/transfer the badge after the June 17, 2018 date.
  • There is a written policy the states no refunds after June 17, 2018.

You bring up business, so lets end it there.  Gencon is a business, its not a charity or other not for profit organisation.  Everything about the convention costs money, that includes processing refunds.  That is why there is a processing fee when you cancel, to help offset those costs.  At some point, it is no longer cost effective to offer refunds.  It may be because of the logistics involved in a refund or perhaps because there is no longer time to resell that ticket to someone else.  It could be something we don't know, but what ever the case, its the policy, period. 

I'm sorry you feel that these events are going make you stop going to the con.  This is your right to do so and you should exercise it, if you feel so strongly.

I've listed several other conventions that you will probably want to avoid as they also have what you consider "draconian" refund policies.  

 

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Posted by redgriffyn

Your argument is just using another logical fallacy (argumentum ad verecundiam): 'other cons also have bad or worse policies, thus you can't hold it against this con'.  Let me then extend my critique on the gencon forum to ALL similair conventions who have the same 'industry standard WORST practices'.  Most of the conventions in my local area don't have this kind of stonewall dehumanizing 'air of mystique'.  Most of the conventions I go to I also volunteer at (maybe 3-4 a year) and are small to mid size cons.  I understand the scaling issues, but again I've proposed a $0.00 solution, so I fail to see the real dilemma here if the con was actually invested in providing good customer service.  I think the real dilemma is they are invested in making double badge/ticket sales as part of their fundamental business model.

At the con's I regularly attend it is important to the organizer to keep volunteers/vendors happy.  For them it is equally important for the con to have a fiscally healthy earning (so it can roll forward to next year) and to have volunteers (the lifeblood of your con, people who keep you profitable) happy and willing to volunteer. Doing a badge transfer would be a no-brainier for them.  At the cons I attend it isn't unheard of for entry to be comped, free gifts provided (free dice, t-shirt, etc.).  Obviously as the con scales up in size those benefits are expected to decrease due to the number of volunteers required.  But they always try to make us feel welcomed and treat us as an integral part of their event's success.  This just isn't true for gencon right now.

Their policy is not 'normal' and it is not 'how it is done' in other parts of the world.  You guys deserve better from your industry and shouldn't be trying to help them win a race to the bottom.

 

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Posted by redgriffyn traveller

traveller wrote: Everything about the convention costs money, that includes processing refunds.  That is why there is a processing fee when you cancel, to help offset those costs.

I've said multiple times I'm not asking for a refund.  I am asking for a transfer of badge/tickets.  Don't even reprint the badge.  I'll go use my SIL's name to avoid costing the con ANY money.  No processing fee required, not head scratching required.  One badge/one body.

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