Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cape Fear Games Fails

I spent quite some time trying to coming up with some catchy title so it doesn't sound as harsh from the get go. Unfortunately there is no nice way to put this.

I was at work watch Ochoa's deck tech, and notice the inclusion of renegade doppelganger, a card that normally would be quickly discarded as a bulk rare. With Conley's soul sisters deck drawing as much attention as it was it would only be a matter of time before this started showing up on everyone's radars. So I went to to check prices. Cape Fear Games had 20 listed at .40 each, there were plenty of other vendors with it listed much lower, and still are listed as such. The quantity was large enough so that the price wasn't that much of a premium.

The Following is an exchange of emails between their customer support and myself:

Hi Brian,
> We are unable to complete your order. We would like to be
> able to hold cards for local players. You have been refunded
> via paypal.
> -Andrew

Unacceptable, it was listed, and I paid for them.

We have our policy clearly listed here:

"Cape Fear Games reserves the right to cancel or limit an order for any reason

We are here to serve the players first and foremost and while we do not mind dealers and speculators ordering from us we may limit the number of a specific card your able to buy from us. "

We are a business after all and while we hate canceling orders we are not here to support speculators reselling cards at our expense. If you feel there is a way to word that in a clearer way please let me know and I'll be happy to update our policy.

This makes your original email to me fraudulent, you claimed that you were holding them for local players, yet you stereotyped me based on the quantity of my order, copy/paste your policy, and then re-stock them back onto tcgplayer for double at what I ordered them for. Maybe you should have your system set a limit on quantity ordered.

I apologize if I was wrong in my assumption but it is frustrating trying to keep cards in stock and then have other sites/ebayers buy them out instead of just buying 4x of each. If you would ever like to try us again we will be happy to send you 4x of any card(s) you wish to order but if this experience has left you unhappy I also understand. We do our best to respond to all e-mails personally and in a quick manner.

So they couldn't sell them to me because they wanted to save them for local players, and tried defending it with a prejudice against what I was buying their product for. Speculators are the people that apparently do their jobs the way they wish they could, and "policy's'" are put into place to make sure that they don't have to watch prices. And then they made an offer to sell me a portion of what I ordered, like they are my magic bartender telling me that I had enough. I didn't respond to the last email, there wasn't much more to say. Until they felt the need to send me yet another email.

Hi Brian,

We appreciate your concern and will take it into account for future policies. I assure you our original email wasn't fraudulent. Since our inventory on TCGPlayer is the same as our website and in-store inventory, then it is still being available for local players. As Heath said, we don't support speculators. If you need more than 8 of a card, you are more than welcome to email us ahead of time or at the time of your order with an explanation. That will encourage us not to cancel it.

What do you need 20x Renegade Doppleganger's for, so recently after the Dredgevine deck did well? Are you speculating on the card, trying to take advantage of the speed with which we update prices? Do you really think we are stereotyping based on the quantity and context? If we are, do you think there is any basis for this? Your only other order was for 33 Armament Master's, it's not helping you make a case that you are not a speculator.

We would like people to be able to order however many of a card that they would like, which is why we don't have a limit on quantity, however ordering just one card is a little suspect.
If you would like to paypal $5.51, I will be happy to send you 8x at your original price.

We always welcome your feedback, and hope you order form us in the future.


Store Manage

I responded with a very simple question: what made this order different than the previous?

Absolutely no purpose to further try to contact me, they had to feel like a big man for trying to stop someone who was trying to cheat them by buying things from their online store. There were plenty of other things I would of like to say with what I wanted them for, creative paper machete projects, cages that needed to be lined, my preference in wiping material. I shouldn't have to defend what I'm buying magic cards for.

In the end it didn't matter, they had product listed at a price and I paid for it, but since I'm a speculator I'm a 2nd class customer, and the high demand from the speculating boogie man meant I knew something and they should raise the price on them. As of this blog they have 14 of them currently listed at 0.95 even though you can purchase them from magicinferno at 0.35, and 12 other vendors that have them listed much lower than Cape Fear.


  1. For every store that does this, that's another store I blacklist and order elsewhere. MuGu games just did this to me with Serra Ascendant.

    As a retailer, YOU ARE DISPOSABLE AND REPLACABLE. As a customer, I am not.

  2. I'm respectfully going to have to take their side of things here. While I don't have anything against those wishing to purchase for speculative reasons, those that wish to do so should also recognise that it is the right of any merchant to refuse a transaction, and- sorry, mate- they don't have to have a good reason. I think the professionalism and courtesy that CFG displayed here actually acquits them better than the shrill and defensive tone you've adopted in the writing of this.

    My local shop where I do the bulk of my business has no online presence at all, and is a small-market, low-value operation. Thanks to the internet (and the nearby metropolis), there are tons of other local, regional, and national options for a consumer to choose from. Not uncommonly, lack of a stock might cause a customer to move on. I certainly know that when I am buying online, which is infrequent, if the plave I'm looking at is out of a card or two, I start to look elsewhere to reduce shipping.

    I would posit, then, that it is more in the long-term interests of a store to restrict quantities to "reasonable" levels to serve a greater number of customers than it is to cash out of a stock for one or two sepculators. From the sound of it, they had their policies publicly available, if you fail to properly research a company you're looking to transact with then later fall afoul or disagree with them after the fact, then you certainly have some accountability for your disappointment.

    Kelly above me here asserts the "customer is always right" strategy, and being in control of his own purse-strings, he is equally entitled to "vote with his feet" if he disagrees with stated policy. By the same token, up until now I've only ever heard of "Cape Fear Games" on the intro to the Monday Night Magic podcast, but will now look upon them more favourably based upon their reactions contained in your article, and will give them a look next time.

    There are certainly more than enough shady, scumbaggy dealers out there without needing to 'pad the list' just because you didn't get your own way. There's a huge difference between canceling an order for a single playset because you'd like to squeeze a few extra bucks out of it, and cancelling an order for a speculative gross. Perhaps taking off the speculator shades will permit you to see this from a player's perspective.

  3. If we had not had the policy posted on our site I would totally agree with you. I know that a lot of those other sites would be quick to cancel your order also and not even bat an eye. We at least had the decency to respond to your e-mails personally and explain the situation in a quick manner.

    KBR - Go ahead and add us to your blacklist then because I would prefer speculators not even know my site existed.

  4. I think you need to quit whining.
    You said "yet you stereotyped me based on the quantity of my order,"
    then "There were plenty of other things I would of like to say with what I wanted them for, creative paper machete projects, cages that needed to be lined, my preference in wiping material. I shouldn't have to defend what I'm buying magic cards for. "
    You obviously don't want them for paper machete projects etc. You wanted them as a sepeculator.

    I've purchased from Cape Fear Games many times and they have always been speedy, fair, and reliable. It's people like you who drive up the cost for the rest of us. If you only ordered a playset or two from them, then I would be able to get them at .35 too.
    What do you need more than 8 of a card for anyway, other than to sell it/trade it away at someone else's expense.
    You are the reason Jace is going to be $100 dollars so the rest of us can't afford it, I hope you are happy with your whiny post.

  5. @wil: Again there was literally no point trying to call me out on my previous order, seeing as how I didn't respond to your previous email. Your "decency" was nothing more than an attack on a type of people that policy declares as a second class customers. I did buy all your armament masters and guess what you shipped them to me. You even went as far as to troll me to find my blog, good job, I look forward to continue to do business with your automated software that doesn't limit the quantity of an order. Enjoy selling singles higher than 13 other vendors, including better known ones like Channelfireball who's basically advertising the deck online.

    @xchismobx: speculators are regular people, they aren't big secondary market corporations. Im a manager at a Jewelry store, been working for my employer for 7 years now, I barely make 38k a year making my disposable income limited. You may not know this but I absolutely hate mythics and overpriced cards because in the end its just cardboard. It got to the point where I just couldn't afford to play competitive standard, something I've been doing for almost 15 years now. The limited printing of a type of card combined with the boom of magic players in the past 2 years has cause an absurd demand on cards like Jace. This forced my hand and started to rethink how I go about buying/trading, and if it wasn't for cool people like KBR I probably would have had to quit playing mtg. I actually have one mind sculptor to my name, one of two ever owned, there is no way that I personally could of driven his price up.

  6. Thanks for this update MtgVeteran. Getting the word out on shitty service from shops like this is whats necessary to ensure that this kind of thing doesn't happen. If they don't like trying to compete with speculators, then perhaps they should hire a speculation watchdog team to stay on top of rumors and adjust prices as soon as news breaks. Otherwise, they need to quit their bitching, and ship the orders. I FULLY agree with KBR, without your customers, you are NOTHING more than a person building up a large stock of cards that wont go anywhere. I'll be sure to spread word to everyone I know that purchases online cards that Cape Fear Games puts their personal 45 cents of profit per card over their reputation, customers, and long term business.

    @xchismobx - You sir are the one that needs to stop whining. Its not our fault that Jace is $100 each, blame good cards. Personally I'm fine with a couple of expensive mythics running around, its the reason all the manlands and M10/11 duals aren't $10+ EACH. All your post really says to me is "I don't know how to trade up or for value, so I'm pissed because i get shafted."

  7. @wil: As a consumer we have the right to purchase large quantities of whatever is there for us to buy. I can buy 800 slap chops if I wanted just because. I doubt you complain when you buy a Jace for roughly half its value. The secondary market is full of thieves and brigands and it is people like you that are ruining Magic. What Brian is trying to do is fight fire with fire. If your so intent on distributing the wealth then why are your prices on said card almost three times that on other sites? Your like a corrupt communist.

    @chismob: your post can be summed up with the following; "waaaa! I can't get a Jace :'(" I think you need to quit your whining and get back on the corner and earn that jace;-), that is after you pay me my money first. All kidding aside, I pulled a jace in the first pack of WWK I opened. I aquired 6 more through trading. I never stooped to buying my cards from lowlifes like "Cape Fear Games"

  8. I appreciate you all spreading the word to all of the speculators to stay off of my site.

    We have tons of very satisfied customers that we treat very well and go out of our way to make sure they are pleased with our level of service. I have no interest in keeping speculators happy and while you all are welcome to buy off of my site in any quantity I also have the right to cancel the order. We are not in the business of selling Slap Chops that have a set price that we can just reorder from a distributor in any qty at any time.

  9. @wilmheath

    As a mostly non-speculator (I pick up cards I think will be good, but never buy in bulk) that buys singles online only for my decks, I plan to never buy a single card from your store and will keep all my friends from ordering from your site as well.

    How do I know that you won't simply cancel my order because the price of a card I ordered went up a mere FORTY FIVE CENTS. I don't. Instead I'll just order my cards from other cheaper, more reputable sites.

  10. @wilmheath As speculators, we tend to leave really good reviews about sites that we enjoy doing business with. Most of the time, I'll go to the sites that other speculators recommend for any singles I may need. While i may not be buying singles from them every week, or in large quantities, they still earn my business. The problem with your statement is that while you may have "tons" of satisfied customers, its not the good ones that draw the most attention. If one of my friends has a negative encounter from a site, I wont even open their web site, and I make sure to let all of my friends and acquaintances know about the problem. Keep your "tons" of happy customers, you wont be gaining any more from me, or anyone else that I'm able to talk with.

  11. also to avoid confusion, I also posted earlier under the name "Omegaorb", and then changed my blog posting name to this. the other "stephen" is not me.

  12. @wilm

    Dictating who can and cannot buy from your site based on feelings is why your site honestly not known for anything.

    Speculation aside, now your business has a reputation for canceling orders because you feel you should.

    Chris made the initial point well, how can anyone trust an order from your site now?

    I think this has less to do with speculators and more to do with the fact you were beaten to the punch.

    Your best bet to make this go away is send all the copies for free to Brian and do some serious damage control. Because I think the integrity of your business is seriously questionable.

  13. Hiding behind "we don't support speculators" is a store that wants to reserve the right to soak customers for profits, and wants to play take-backsies.

    Why should it matter why someone's buying 20? Maybe a guy's buying 20 because he and 5 friends are taking it to a tournament next weekend, and their local store consigned them all to the bulk bin. Maybe he's building a scale model of Doppleganger out of the card itself. Maybe he wants to stock his trade binder at a cheap price.

    Ultimately, when a store has something priced at a specific price, with a quantity listed, it's a promise to sell that many, at that price. To turn around on that promise is to break your word, and once a person's word is broken, it makes them disreputable.

  14. Haha funny that you think you only lost business that you don't want. You lost more business then that, buddy! Word is getting out and you will regret this. Your defense is pretty good, except for these facts:
    1)He ordered a bunch of Armament Masters and you sold/sent him those fine.
    2)You lied in your first email.
    3)You RAISED the price of the item. Everyone else is still selling it more at the original price.

    Great job caring about your customers. If I owned a business I wouldn't give 2 craps about a situation like this. Money is money, a sale is a sale, and my are you going to be missing out on alot of those!

  15. Just offer four of an item at a time, or eight of an item at a time.

    I agree with Leo, don't say anything about this conflict. You are not winning points with anybody who was initially objective; your words are attacking and aggressive and shine a negative light on you/r business.

    Eventually this thread will die, but, the longer this discussion is lively the longer your inventory will devalue.

    Take it from a guy who likes to speculate.

  16. Alright so I have to jump in here for 1 second...

    The whole issue boils down to Cape Fear Invoking their right to refuse service to MgtVeteran and Him being upset about the way they went about refusing him. Lets not stem from this fact because thats what this thread is about.

    I think the first email that was sent to MgtVeteran was the typical spoonful of crap that is fed to consumers who are trying to exploit a retailers price. I personally would find the email insulting because it is a 1/2 truth, but regardless at least a semi-legit reason to keep inventory instead of selling it.

    After Veteran calls them out on it, they post their policy reserving their right to refuse service to those they feel might not be in the best interest of business. They finally are open about it, and are blatantly honest saying that the business that veteran was trying to conduct was "speculative" and not in the interest of their target market of local players.

    Okay at least they're honest. That and well, no one likes to be called out as being a "speculator" because it does have negative connotation. And while veteran's response might not have had any merit, as they've already stated that its policy to refuse the right to do business with anyone; regardless of the reason or intentions they have, he was being denied. That and the subtle accusation of calling him a speculator might be just cause enough to respond the way he did, he even offered a solution to put a limit on the amount of cards being purchased. There, he's said his peace and the ball passes into Cape Fears court...

    They respond apologizing and saying their piece, including a mutual compromise, it didn't bode well with veteran, so that should have been the end of it. Disappointed, veteran wasn't able to get the amount of cards he wanted due to an ambiguous policy, and Cape Fear was able to protect their inventory; this is business, the world keeps turning and both parties move on.

    part 2...

  17. part 2....

    Its in the follow-up email that this becomes a PR nightmare. I normally don't refer to such language in my blog posts but Cape Fear, you gone and fucked up. Instead of leaving an already fragile situation where you have an unhappy customer you repeatedly insult him with a series of rhetorical questions referring to a policy so ambiguous it lets you do business as you please with whomever and however, AND not once, twice but three times insinuate he's a speculator. On top of it all, you try a piece offering of selling 8x the card he wanted, upped from the previous offer of only 4, arguing that 8 cards would be the limit they would sell before accusing someone of "speculative" buying.

    I'm not sure why this was even necessary. But the rule 1 of being a merchant is to please the customer. I don't believe there was any attempt in these emails where Cape Fear didn't insult Veteran in one way or another. Its the last email where I scratched my head and said "why don't they just implement a 8x max buy for anymore please contact the store personally policy instead of this totally ambiguous one that just puts people off."
    Aside from that, as a little PR advice, stop posting on this thread or others that refer to it, You've already tainted your reputation with these individuals. Arguing your point over and over is only going to embarrass yourselves more. Unless an apology is issued and offering the sale of the 20 cards veteran ordered at his price, with steps to change the policy so that an incident like this never happens again, you wont be getting the positive response of any of the people who read this.


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  20. *I apologize for the deletes.(needed to reword a few things that might come off wrong.)

    Leo: I will write up a new policy that is more clear as I think you had some good points. I've never been the typical business man type and I say it like it is.

    Again I appreciate all the feedback and I will take it into consideration when handling this situation in the future.

  21. @wilmheath

    This is an unfortunate policy that you maintain.

    You should be willing, prepared, and happy to sell all of a card that you reveal to have in stock at your advertised price.

    If you want to protect against speculators have your software limit the amount of a single card that can be purchased in a day, or only put a portion of your inventory available so you can adjust your prices when a preliminary stock runs out due to a new fad deck.

    Until then I can assure you that I will not be buying from you at CapeFearGames, or even mtgotraders and will make sure to inform all of my users and friends of this policy so they can be informed before they deal with you. This is a very unfortunate situation because otherwise you seem to be a nice guy with honest intentions but a policy like this is unacceptable to me and many of my friends.

    cippy ~

  22. @cippy

    Could you please direct me to a legit store that does not have this policy? The only one I can possibly think of is SCG's but their prices are so high that it typically protects them from speculation. I also spent the day asking other shop owners what they do and they all do pretty much the same thing. They either cancel the order or they limit the customer to 4x or 8x of the card they ordered. We are in the process of researching how to better handle these situations and I appreciate your help.

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  24. Ehem, wilmheath:

    I'm not a speculator. I play Magic. I don't make money off it. I'm getting that out of the way.

    To the point: go fuck yourselves. You listed a number of Doppelgangers for a listed price, SOLD them to someone, and then said that someone buying more than 8 is suddenly a "speculator"? What would you do if someone at my local store bought all of your Devout Lightcasters right after they were put in a sideboard at a large event? Would you cancel it?

    Probably. But guess what, he's not a speculator, he just happens to collect Devout Lightcasters.

    If you don't want people buying more than 8 of a card, make it a limit.

    Until then, go fuck yourselves.

    A Magic Player.

  25. MUGU games did it to me as well. They mis typed in the price on 4 cards. Not 20 or 30. just 4. put them at .25 cent not 2.50. They refunded my order with out even asking me.

  26. Channelfireball has done a lot shadier things to a few of my friends than just refund the order. One ordered quite a few Knight of the Reliquary(I think it was 10-15 copies) when they were still around $1 and was sent 4 Knight of New Alara and they wouldn't even respond to his emails afterward. He had to file a claim with paypal to get a refund.

  27. Hey Guys:

    This is Ben Bleiweiss from While I'd prefer not to get into the specifics of this incident, I would like to comment on a couple of things:

    1)This whole situation is unfortunate, and regardless of what you think about how it was handled (logistically), I want to recognize that the e-mails coming from Cape Fear Games have been generally polite and clear; communication appears to be straightforward throughout the entire correspondence.

    2) Policies may change over time; A year ago, we had damage on the stack in Magic, and now we do not. Cape Fear Games may have allowed the Armament Masters to go out previously, but that does not necessarily mean that they had policies in place to limit quantities at the time of Zendikar's release (as they do now).

    3) Heath is also associated with and we have had business dealings with them in the past. I have found Heath to be honest and straightforward. We once had an incident where we were buying a bunch of MTGO sets to redeem for singles, and the price of the cards in that set went above (over the course of a week) the price we had agreed upon for us to buy a certain quantity of that set - but Heath honored our agreed-upon price (as part of a larger deal) even though he was taking a loss on that individual (set of) items.

    While I don't think I would have handled this situation the way that it was handled, I also think that Heath is getting a disproportionate amount of negative feedback given his willingness to be up front, polite, and have an open dialogue about this issue with the community.

    - Ben Bleiweiss

  28. We have decided to change the way we handle these situations. We will no longer cancel an order before contacting a customer beforehand and offering to let him/her keep 8x of the card and provide a partial refund on shipping and a full refund on the extra cards. We will also refrain from using the term "speculator" as it came off in a negative way in our e-mail and I regret using that term.

    As a long term solution I am looking into a way for our software to automotically only show up to 8x of a card available to buy or possibly another solution so that we do not have to have this issue come up anymore.

    I appreciate everyone that gave constructive feedback on how we could have handled this situation better and we are always looking for ways to improve not only as a business but also in the way we handle our customers.

    Since we have changed our policy I'm also crediting Brian's account with enough credits to buy 8x of the cards under the new price and cover shipping.

  29. Oh i think the idiots flaming Heath are total scumbags who have no business in this conversation. In my original post I might have been a bit bias toward the business as a whole, until i reread it. But it was Andrew to opened the can of worms on this one. Heath has been doing all the "proper" damage control Andrew's emails to Veteran were unnecessary and badly worded. If Heath was just dealing with him I think this would have gone a lot better, so my suggestion let Heath do the PR and handle the complaints k Andrew? Or at least learn from him.

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  31. I apologize for the deletes.(needed to reword a few things that might come off wrong.)

    Leo: I will write up a new policy that is more clear as I think you had some good points. I've never been the typical business man type and I say it like it is.

    Again I appreciate all the feedback and I will take it into consideration when handling this situation in the future.
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