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VIP Early Access = Beta Tester?

XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
I picked up Tower of Orthanc last Monday on it's VIP early access release day and was told I was the first one that had bought it in that store. Last night I figured I'd start building it because it was my birthday and well, what better excuse than that?

I started building the ent and then at about step 18 for the head I couldn't find the next pieces, I then realised that after step 18 was listed step 1 and the instructions had started to repeat themselves such that in place of whatever comes after step 18 for the ent I ended up with step 1 to 18 all over again.

I contacted Lego customer services and pointed out it wasn't the first misprint I'd had in that in my Lego Fire Station modular building built earlier this year the number against the pieces required at each step box was often missing and I also pointed out that when I got grandpa from Series 10 CMF he was missing his newspaper.

They responded that the Tower of Orthanc replacement instructions couldn't be sent out for another two weeks as they haven't printed them yet so I'd need to contact them again then. They did give me £10 in VIP credit for this and the other problems I'd faced but I'm somewhat left thinking what is the point of VIP early access other than to act as a product guinea pig? The fact replacement instructions aren't available until a week after the official release, let alone the VIP release is stupid, but it's made worse by the fact the PDF version isn't available on their site, yet oddly the PDF version for the new LotR sets that aren't even out yet at all, not even for VIPs, such as the pirate ship have their instructions on there. I had to think twice about buying this set in the first place because as value for money goes it's certainly at the lower end of the scale as it's quite expensive for what it is compared to a number of other sets, but I did because I still liked it, I now kind of wish I hadn't bothered in some ways.

I feel that I might as well have just waited and bought the set on release day at somewhere like Smyths, Toys R Us or a supermarket where I'd probably have got more than the £10 VIP credit they gave me off the RRP anyway.

I buy from Lego because I expect decent service, but it feels like I've basically been told "Thanks for being the first VIP in your local store to buy the new set, sucks that there was a major misprint and you can't actually finish building it until at least a week after everyone else gets it and have had a few other problems this year, but here's some credit that probably wont even make up the difference from if you'd just waited and chanced buying a copy in your local supermarket when it was released to everyone else".

Has anyone else had problems like this?


  • SiESiE Member Posts: 238
    can you not return it to store?
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    I've contemplated it but I wont have time to get there until next week now anyway so feel like I might as well just wait and hope they at least throw up the PDF on their website in the meantime.
  • PicopiratePicopirate Member Posts: 318
    You can probably just take the instructions and receipt to the store and get them replaced. If it takes you a week to get there, that is your delay not LEGOs. It sems a bit odd that you have time to buld such a large set but do not have time to go to the store though.

    Personally it sounds to me as though LEGO did a great job handling the matter thus far. After all they gave you £10 based solely on your complaint without any evidence. LEGO is usually very good at resolving issue. But with anything that is brand new, I would expect some delays until they get everything in place.

    Also keep in mind that this is supposed to be a LEGO exclusive set so it is unlikely to be available at other stores.
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    If it takes me a week to get there then it's still not my fault as I shouldn't have to go full stop because it shouldn't be faulty which is the basic premise behind why customer services should ship it out to me. I can't get to the store until next week because my car is in for repairs which is why it will take a prohibitive amount of time to get there before then, post-6pm and weekend public transport there will make it a many hour round trip.

    I wouldn't mind if I could at least download the PDF in the meantime and the fact they have the PDFs for the currently unreleased LotR sets but not the released one is a bit odd. The point is simply that there is little point in VIP access if a fault means you could be waiting a week after normal release to make use of the product you've purchased anyway. They're billing VIP access as some kind of benefit, when in reality it seems to be more like beta testing.

    I don't have a problem with Lego for the most part, god only knows I've spent thousands with them in the last 9 months or so since I came back, but crowing on about exclusive VIP early access and then telling me I have to wait two weeks for printed instructions (three weeks after I made the purchase) - and I have to chase it with them, not even a "Sorry, we'll get the PDF instructions up ASAP, and send you the printed ones out as soon as they're printed" isn't exactly very good is it? Good customer service means when you make a mistake you rectify it causing minimal disruption to the customer, not get the customer to chase around for your fault.

    I'm sure their customer services are good a lot of the time and that my case is the exception but this is my first experience with them and it's not a very good one.
  • asksolasksol Member Posts: 101
    The new LOTR sets are already available in some countries (not in the UK though). Few companies publish instructions/user manuals digitally and although TLG can be slow at providing the instruction online, it's a fantastic service.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561
    It doesn't sound at all like they gave you any run-around. They had a production error with the instructions, they've identified and acknowledged it and they're working on the correction. There's not much more that they can do until the corrected instructions are complete. They can hardly put a pdf up if the corrected instructions are not yet finished, now can they?

    P.S. - I don't think "beta tester" means what you think it means.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 814
    In my more rabid AFOL days, almost every set I bought was purchased within the first couple of weeks of its release. But I also got occasional problems, usually missing elements. Being rather anal, I kept track of roughly the percentage of errors per year, assuming it might be handy as a gauge of quality control at LEGO.

    However, in recent years, as my buying has been delayed and reduced, the percentage of errors has gone way down. To 0%, in fact, for the last few years! And because that change seemed to coincide with my buying habits, I'm guessing it's because the initial releases of sets are more prone to error, rather than some coincidental QC improvement at LEGO.

    So, in that respect, yes, I do think that being an AFOL has a degree of "beta test" feel to it. It's what we get for buying before problems are fully resolved, I guess!

  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    A beta tester is someone who does pre-release QA testing on a product and alerts of any faults prior to full release which is basically exactly what happened here.

    Perhaps I just have a higher standard of expectation in customer services than most people but I know that at a previous employer our CS team always went to greater lengths than Lego has in this case - if we knew that not all boxes were affected we'd just take a copy out of an unaffected box and send it to the customer, not wait for an official print run in two weeks time, even if that meant contacting a retail store to get them to send one to the customer rather than direct from head office. We'd certainly at least have had a corrected PDF file ready by now which we could've sent to the customer to solve their immediate problem even if we weren't ready to upload it to the full site. Certainly Lego's CS response in this case could be much worse, I've certainly seen that too with other firms - I can't fault their response time for example, they got back to me quite quickly, but it could also still have been much better. I agree Lego have done nothing terribly abnormally wrong in this case but it's very much middle of the road treatment which is not what I expected from a firm with a reputation of top notch treatment.

    You're probably right Dave, certainly it's not unusual for the technology industry with software and gadgets to be prone to this, but I figured in this sort of industry, especially when it comes to things like printing booklets that those sorts of early adopter issues wouldn't be an issue. There's an awful lot more to go wrong when manufacturing an electronic device or developing software than when printing a booklet! This said my fire station booklet as mentioned also had printing mistakes and that set is what, 2, 3 years old now I think? In that case at least they weren't bad enough to prevent me continuing the build so I didn't bother to chase it, same with my missing grandpa's newspaper, I already had one grandpa so didn't bother chasing it before.

    I can't say I've ever had any missing parts in full boxed sets, and in fact in one minifigure packet my Mexican guy came with a 3rd maraca (which kind of made up for the missing newspaper :)) so I can't fault that either. It's just annoying in this case that the instructions were so messed up and the resolution so drawn out when there are things TLG could do to resolve it much sooner if there was a will to do so.
  • PicopiratePicopirate Member Posts: 318
    So what appears after the the duplicate pages of steps 1-18? If it goes to 19 then pick up there. If it picks up later, then perhaps someone here can scan the missing steps for you. If each floor is rather modular then you could move on to the next numbered bag and come back to the faulty instructions once everything else is built.
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    Yes, it doesn't stop me building some of the later steps because it is very modular (15 numbered bags that relate to individual modules!) which is also in part why I'm not too fussed about spending hours of my own time returning the whole thing (coupled with the fact I have other things I haven't built yet if I really feel the need to build and have the spare time to do so).

    But no it doesn't go on to 19 else yes I wouldn't have even bothered contacting them, the second repeat of 1 - 18 replaces the last half of the ent and the first half of the tower which is the base of it hence why I can't finish either of the two separate main buildable items unfortunately. The ent is missing most of his head and the tower will be missing the bit it all stands on.

    I didn't mean it to sound like I thought it was the end of the world or anything, just as I say I expected a quicker resolution and was disappointed at the two week+ lead time that's all, I expected that they may have been able to resolve it much quicker than that, and was largely just questioning the benefits of the VIP early access programme - many people view it pointless as is, but it's even worse if it means you just get a product you can't use earlier if you encounter a fault such as this.
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    I'm sure it's disappointing to receive an imperfect product but hey, shit happens even with very good companies like TLG. It hasn't stopped you building the model and you will get perfect instructions soon, plus £10 of goods. I don't think anyone here will agree that their service is middle of the road.
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    OK, just saw your post that steps were actually missing. Doubtlessly irritating, the whole beta-testers claim is what seems an overreaction.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,305
    That would have saved some time at the cinema .... Saruman defeated much quicker as the instructions for Orthanc were wrong. Lord of the Rings - Special Shortened Edition :-)

    Mind you, it still would have been even quicker if there were a couple of spares of the One True Ring, like in most LOTR sets.

    As to the problem, it is pretty bad not checking things like that before release. I'd hope they give you a replacement set and let you keep the original misprints.
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,941
    Maybe Lego needs more Beta testers. These sets are full of bugs.
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFWMember Posts: 6,649
    Probably a batch of pages got missed by the stapling machine in the printing process in your specific case. Surely if this was a widespread issue the thread about this set would have a few other people mentioning this problem as well.
  • LegoboyLegoboy 100km furtherMember Posts: 8,804
    @Xefan, I am absolutely adamant that if if I had experienced this, a quick call to the store and request that they post one out would see it right. Certainly an option if I couldn't get back to the store in a hurry.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 814
    Xefan said:

    I figured in this sort of industry, especially when it comes to things like printing booklets that those sorts of early adopter issues wouldn't be an issue.

    Not really. For a while, they also had odd image rendering issues where (for example) the splines would be printed in black on a round stud, making it look like finely sliced cake top. And they've had mistakes in the little boxes showing which pieces are needed for the step in question. And color print issues. Etc.

    Back up through the... early 90's or so? LEGO caught these because, well, the images were hand-drawn tracings from photographs. Humans were a lot more intimately involved with the process (and there were fewer steps shown, partly because of the cost involved of making them!). But now, it's easier to gloss over mistakes.

    Also, we've essentially been told that LEGO's QC got ... revamped, let's say, after Jorgen took over. Jorgen essentially said that their processes were fraught with expensive steps that employees claimed were in place for quality, and Jorgen wanted to change those processes to be more focused on "efficiency". Basically, if you read between the lines, he was saying "we cut areas of quality control in order to save money".

    So, it is what it is, I guess. LEGO sometimes has mistakes that get out the door which get caught and corrected. If you find it happens too frequently for you, you can try waiting for a while before buying a new set (seems to have worked for me!). But I don't expect the QC for LEGO will change too much.

  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    edited June 2013
    I'm not sure that it's simply a batch of missed pages, because effectively you get to step 18, then it goes back to step 1 to 18 and then you carry on with a different part of the build. It's as if step 1 to 18 was printed twice and the second printing of step 1 to 18 has overwritten steps 19 to 37 or whatever. I'd have to double check when I get home as I may be mistaken but I think I remember seeing that the page numbers actually carry on, almost as if someone had managed to copy and paste the main content of pages 1 to 10 over the content of 10 to 20 (or whatever the real actual page numbers were).

    Thanks Legoboy, maybe I'll give that a try, perhaps they'll be able to send a copy out even if the central CS team couldn't.
  • LegoboyLegoboy 100km furtherMember Posts: 8,804
    edited June 2013
    ^ Staff are usually quite good in the stores when it comes to stuff like this. They tend to go the extra mile. Even further than their already 'perfect' [email protected] team.

    Failing that, I should be receiving mine within the next day or two and don't mind opening early to copy the relevant pages for you.

    Good luck. :-)
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^Presumably the store has one lying around from when they built the store display model?
  • ludzikludzik US (SoCal)Member Posts: 430

    Maybe Lego needs more Beta testers. These sets are full of bugs.

  • Lego_Lord_MayorcaLego_Lord_Mayorca H-Town, USAMember Posts: 585
    In the past decade, I have avoided buying sets upon first release because like new software, there are usually lots of little bugs and errors. I recall buying the Republic Attack Gunship in July 2008 right after its release in stores. I couldn't plan on building it, but I did open the box to check it out. Turns out that the sticker sheet was completely absent! Another set I bought was missing a piece or two. Shortly afterwards, I decided to play it safe and only buy sets after they had been out for a few production cycles (i.e. maybe three to four months). Thanks to the Internet and sites like Brickset, I can tell that maybe my fears were not unfounded, as usually I see people complaining about buying sets missing components or having errors are the same people who bought the set within weeks of its release.
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