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LEGO [email protected] and retail enforcing more strict policies against resellers

OK this might be old news to some of you, the following link is from a thread started on BL on January 18th (not by me, I have my same username there).

http://www.bricklink.com/message.asp?ID=694725

I thought this might be of interest for some of you.

This might sound a little contradictory to LEGO praising Big spenders with key-chains and Black friday invites, but I think the key is on which sets you spend the loads of money. i.e. don't but a ton of minecrafts and LEGO will still love you. :P (can we use emoticons here?)

Comments

  • lulwutlulwut Member Posts: 416
    edited February 2013
    Really? I would like to know what the conditions are to be considered a "reseller". A few weeks ago an employee was more than happy to dig out as many MMVs they had left for $70 each. Of course, I only took what I needed.

    And I plan on buying as many AT-RT sets as I can when their next big sale/promotion comes up, still need an army of 501st.
  • legoprodslegoprods SpainMember Posts: 434
    Funny thing, and sad thing is: I think I've never bought directly from them. Maybe only that minecraft sets. It always seems to be that any other retailer can have a set at a nicer price point (cough cough Amazon). At least that's what happens in Europe...

    So it seems I luckily won't be getting that email anytime soon. Unless Amazon decides to ban me for buying 4+ of each modular weekly (parting out purposes for the BL store).
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    I very rarely buy directly from LEGO, and when I do, it's almost always for personal use (and even then, usually only when they have some type of excellent promo going on). Still, this seems rather silly, save for the fact that if you were to go ahead and get a retail account with them, they pretty much dictate what you carry and how much you buy. Still, you can usually get the sets cheaper at other retailers than you can at their wholesale prices (at least the wholesale prices they offer to small businesses).
  • Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,395
    edited February 2013
    Interesting...it's almost like they are slapping resellers with one hand (with words and letters) while patting them on the back with the other (with rewards, sales, etc.). I'm not sure how they could positively identify someone who buys from them and resells...unless that person is very continuously overt and/or greedy.

    Think about some of the recent BF sales. People load up on all varieties of sets...I'm betting most of those are resellers. I mean the excuse that "I"m buying them as future gifts" only holds so much water for so long. How many people have dozens of needy friends and family to provide a myriad of sets for on a yearly basis (statistically speaking)?

    I don't have a problem with the reselling, and I really don't think Lego does either. If they were to put the hiatus on it completely, they would be left holding a lot of Fire Brigades. ;-)

    Perhaps this is their way to minimize scammers that reship using someone else's credit card. But there would seem to be easier ways of doing that...
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    I suspect its the minecraft effect. They under-produced that set but then the impact of that was compounded many times over by resellers gobbling up stock as soon as it appeared.

    Not only was such a lack of stock availability in the run up to christmas no doubt both embarrassing and hard work dealing with customers, it probably had a knock on impact on other sales. If someone is having to spend $100 on a minecraft set rather than $35 thats a potential $65 that the same person isn't spending on other lego. And whilst no doubt some of those sales went to non-lego fans who might not have spent the other $65 on Lego, some certainly did - I was surprised to find out how many of my kids classmates have the set.

    If we also assume, correctly i think, that all the minecraft sets would have sold anyway, with or without resellers, then you can see that financially (and emotionally) the resale of Minecraft has probably hurt TLG. Note thats not to say the Minecraft set has hurt TLG. Whilst they might have seen resale of EOL stock as helpful (clearing old stock, making room for new lines and keeping a channel open for lego fans) they may not differentiate between the two.
    mressinAnseltheCat
  • DwarfSleepyDwarfSleepy Member Posts: 20
    Could this have a similar reason? I didn't receive any VIP points on my recent purchase of 4 minecrafts... Still need to ask them why...
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    edited February 2013
    ^ Might be, missing VIP points was apparently the start of the issue for the bricklink poster. It was when he asked them why that his account eventually got closed.
  • ShpadoinkleShpadoinkle 13 hours West of BillundMember Posts: 418
    I think this is entirely backlash from the Minecraft episode last year. I can only imagine the volume of complaint calls TLG dealt with concerning this one set and the profiteering that was going on, and to a company that is as customer service oriented as they are the situation must have been a PR nightmare.

    I work in an industry where quality and customer service are paramount. The products I sell are expensive, VERY expensive compared to some cheaper alternatives that are far more readily available. Customer goodwill is paramount to me and I spend a huge portion of my time dealing directly with customers and making sure they're happy. Imagining this situation in my own business, and the inevitable PR nightmare the Minecraft episode caused, I am not the least bit surprised that TLG is cracking down. I'm sure they have several employees right now working on this issue, and this is only the beginning of it all.
  • andheandhe UKMember Posts: 2,649
    WHY WAS HE WRITING IN CAPS? Unless he was just mad they cancelled his account. Is it law then that you can't buy from [email protected] or a store for resale purposes, or just their policy?
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,317
    edited February 2013
    I got VIP points on minecraft no problem. Although I only bought 4, which was within the limit of 5 allowed. Looking back, I bought 1 then another 3 in two separate orders.
    dsdg88
  • BrickarmorBrickarmor USAMember Posts: 1,257
    andhe said:

    WHY WAS HE WRITING IN CAPS? Unless he was just mad they cancelled his account. Is it law then that you can't buy from [email protected] or a store for resale purposes, or just their policy?

    That dude's CAPS button is eternally stuck. I don't get it, he could be making a catalog request or asking about a part, it's always LOUD. Just saying...

    As for the "crackdown," combine Minecraft with Emerald Night and the boom in speculative hoarding and you've got the answer.

  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited February 2013
    This doesn't make sense to me, because I don't see why Lego would care. If they want to make it so everyone has a fair shot at particular sets, simply impose limits like they did with Minecraft. Amazon imposes limits, so does TRU and most others (Target, not so much).

    Unless there's something more to this, and Lego does indeed, think resellers hurt their bottom line for some unfathomable reason.
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    It's funny that a company that has the means to produce as many copies of a given set as it wants would be upset over people wanting to buy multiple copies. Not sure what the CUUSO program costs lego, but they paid nothing for the actual set design. I can see Amazon getting on poeple for buying up sets that they have no means to produce, but lego can make as many as they like.
  • PoochyPoochy USAMember Posts: 479
    Is it in the TOS somewhere that you cannot resell (assuming you don't circumvent the 1-limit per something/other)? I could not find anything on the [email protected] website about this no-reselling restriction, nor do I see anything on my latest store receipt. Namely does this apply to say the FB at regular price (I know they have limit on clearance or discounted items at the stores)?
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    Yes, its very clearly in their T and C (at least on the UK site).

    http://shop.lego.com/en-GB/Terms-And-Conditions

    "Retailers/businesses
    These Conditions only apply to consumers and do not apply to retailers or business owners/companies. LEGO defines retailers or business owners/companies as those who place orders where the items/products cannot be expected to be ordered for personal use. In these circumstances LEGO can cancel the order without being liable in any way."
    andhe
  • ShpadoinkleShpadoinkle 13 hours West of BillundMember Posts: 418
    The bottom line that this sort of situation hurts is parent's opinion of the company. No business wants to be out of stock of the "hot item" at Christmas time, especially not because adult speculators were able to grab the entire supply.

    When you think about it, the angry parents who can't find the item they want (except at 3X it's regular price) don't complain to the reseller, they complain to Lego. And parents are by far the #1 customer of TLG. You make them unhappy, and you can see significant losses over the course of the several years that the parent will be purchasing for their child.

    THAT is why their customer support is so outstanding. You make the customer feel special, they will keep coming back. You make them angry or leave them in a lurch when they need you, and they may not come back, or at least they'll cut their spending habits by a certain amount. Now multiply that situation by thousands or even hundreds of thousands of parents, and suddenly you have a massive monetary loss compounding over time, all over a $35 set that you weren't able to deliver when it was needed.
    andhemathew
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    I'll answer my own question and pose a speculation. Perhaps Lego has a fear that resellers may potentially hurt the public's perception of Lego. For example, some reseller sells a set that the buyer is unhappy with for whatever reason. The seller then refuses to honor a return or whatnot and the buyer calls Lego, now angry at the transaction, even though Lego did everything they were supposed to do up to that point.

    Brand protection is paramount for something like Lego.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    edited February 2013
    ^^ Indeed, this is why LEGO care. What happened at the end of last year may bring about a significant change. I'm sure its reasonably clear to LEGO from VIP points and total sales who are likely to be consumers of the LEGO they buy and who aren't. They may come down hard, they may just not send them VIP invitations or free key chains. Of course they may do nothing.

    ^ The answer has been given a few times. Lack of availability hurts LEGO's impression, only being able to get it at 3xRRP, but then in massive numbers, hurts LEGOs reputation. Its the minecraft effect. Resale of normal EOL lego I doubt they are too worried about.
  • PoochyPoochy USAMember Posts: 479
    Thanks @cheshirecat for that UK link. I cannot find a US equivalent (by changing en-GB to en-US), but I'm sure it's somewhere on the US site as well.
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    @shpadoinkle - While I would say this might be correct if there was just a huge demand for a product at Christmas, but TLG knew that Minecraft was in high demand well before that. If they were that concerned, then keep cranking the sets out. The more you flood the market with at RRP, the less they are worth on the secondary market. TLG could have printed several thousand more sets in October, when it was clear the set was underproduced, and kept up with demand.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,317
    Minecraft is clearly a case of where Lego didn't do it's homework, or if it did, got it completely wrong.

    The reason minecraft was sold out at Xmas was only partly due to resellers. The real reason was because Lego didn't produce enough at the right time. If they had had adequate stocks of it and it never went to backorder at the time people were searching for it, resellers would not have been able to sell at inflated prices.

    I had four before Christmas - intending to sell 3 and keep one for a colleague that asked me to get one. I sold the first three. My colleague then let me know they didn't need it until Feb so I sold the fourth too, and told them to get one direct from lego after Christmas. I wonder how many people genuinely bought / had one and then realised what they were selling for and sold theirs too.
  • ShpadoinkleShpadoinkle 13 hours West of BillundMember Posts: 418
    I think that there may be a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on, as well as an overestimation of TLGs flexibility in production. Granted, TLG prides itself on being able to produce any set within a very short time span, but in reality they aren't miracle workers. The idea that they're able to keep most retailers around the world stocked with their normal line of products is a marvel, and interrupting their standard Christmas production to produce more minecraft sets likely wasn't an option.

    Did they make a mistake on minecraft? Yes, but an understandable one when placed into the context of it being a cuusoo product. The previous two cuusoo items were interesting, but I can't imagine their appeal being all that great in the US and other Western countries. As a neat novelty, sure, but something with appeal outside Lego collectors? I don't know about that. For me, personally, I have zero interest in #21100 or #21101 and will never want to own one. But with minecraft you have a tie in with a pre-existing phenomenon, and with that you have a product that will carry at least ten times the demand, perhaps even a hundred times the demand of the previous cuusoo sets. In hindsight this demand seems obvious, but to the person at TLG who had to make the call on how many to produce it's a lot tougher question.

    Suffice to say I think TLG will do everything in their power to keep a situation like minecraft from happening again. It will be interesting to see what steps they take with the Delorian set, though even there I don't know that we'll see the same level of demand as minecraft!
    yys4u
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950

    Suffice to say I think TLG will do everything in their power to keep a situation like minecraft from happening again. It will be interesting to see what steps they take with the Delorian set, though even there I don't know that we'll see the same level of demand as minecraft!

    I think this has been a publicity dream for both Lego and Minecraft, something that if they tried to do it, it would have likely flopped. If they could manage recreating the sheer awareness that this "situation" generated, they would do so in a second.
  • richoricho Member Posts: 3,795
    edited February 2013
    I wonder if some suspected resellers lost out on the VIP key chain? Would be a pretty simple algorithm to route out anyone who bought 3 or 4 of the same set. Also, from anecdotal evidence on here, the obvious resellers don't appear to have got one?

    I didn't have huge spend direct with lego, but I don't think I have ever bought more than two of the same item, and even that's pretty rare for me, especially direct with lego. I also got the VIP keychain,
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^^ This idea that companies like impossible to find christmas presents i just dont buy. perhaps with tech, but even then im not sure. the negative reaction of customers unable to get the set they want, and should be able to get, will do far more damage than the upside of any 'hype'. Every disapointed parent or child is a lost sale now and potential lost sales in the future. i suspect lego see it as a big failure on their part, although as explained above, understandable..
  • mountebankmountebank Member Posts: 1,236
    edited February 2013

    In hindsight this demand seems obvious, but to the person at TLG who had to make the call on how many to produce it's a lot tougher question.

    I agree with your post and will remind people here that just about everyone was saying "Man! You WOULDN'T BELIEVE the demand for Minecraft out there! It's in production and you can get 3x, 4x, 5x times RRP!" Remembering the utter amazement here at the Minecraft secondary market phenomenon does lead me to think it wouldn't have been readily predictable by TLG.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950

    ^^ This idea that companies like impossible to find christmas presents i just dont buy. perhaps with tech, but even then im not sure. the negative reaction of customers unable to get the set they want, and should be able to get, will do far more damage than the upside of any 'hype'. Every disapointed parent or child is a lost sale now and potential lost sales in the future. i suspect lego see it as a big failure on their part, although as explained above, understandable..

    It's not that they like impossible to find presents, it's that they love the publicity that has come of this, which again, appears to have come organically. Sure there are some that are disappointed, but that comes with every hot property. The exposure they got from this far outweighs any sprinkling of disappointment that occurred.
  • jockosjunglejockosjungle Member Posts: 701
    Lego are probably thinking long term, sets are impossible to buy in a shop, only on ebay for 4 times the prices. If one year my son was left disapointed by a lego set being unavailable, I'd strongly discourage him from future ones
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,112
    richo said:

    I wonder if some suspected resellers lost out on the VIP key chain? Would be a pretty simple algorithm to route out anyone who bought 3 or 4 of the same set. Also, from anecdotal evidence on here, the obvious resellers don't appear to have got one?

    I think this is what happened to me
  • meyerc13meyerc13 Member Posts: 227
    edited February 2013
    Hopefully you don't get one of these letters in the mail instead. I thought it was odd that many of the people reporting that they didn't get a VIP key chain were also saying that they *were* invited to the Black Friday event. Since it seems that this witchhunt for resellers is a post-holidays occurence, I wonder how many more are going to be receiving a "you're not my valentine - you're a reseller" letter instead of the better alternative.

    I also wonder if this is going to result in a different set of folks invited to the pre-BF even next year.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,112
    edited February 2013
    ^ all things I've been wondering about this past week. I've been on the BF list the past two years.

    I buy a lot of LEGO for my personal consumption. My reselling is really only to support my own LEGO habit. If LEGO stopped wanting to sell to me, then I'm not sure how that would make me feel - certainly not like I was a valuable customer who spends far more than most. I'm certain my personal spending with LEGO would drop precipitously.

    I follow all the rules - I never buy more than the in-store limits, I don't use shill buyers or multiple accounts to buy more than allowed, I don't resell anything I buy on convention discount day (which is now defunct anyway) - that's when I make my personal purchases. I don't ask for special privileges or extra freebies or rule-bending. I passed up golden dragon/ninja sets for weeks because I saw them flying off the shelves to kids and I knew that stock on hand would go fast. The stuff I buy for resale is generally widely available - I'm not preventing someone from getting it.
    Legoboykylejohnson11
  • SiESiE Member Posts: 237
    I was invited to Black Friday but did not get a key chain. I also purchased 35 mine craft sets.

    A friend of mine was not invited to Black Friday but did get a key chain. He also purchased around 25 mine craft.

    I think the key chains were random. I spent thousands just before Xmas with lego. I hardly think they want to remove resellers.
  • leemcgleemcg Member Posts: 607
    I didn't get a keychain but did get invited to Brick Friday (UK). I have a lot of sets in my basement which I haven't yet built that I tell my wife I could sell if I needed to, but I've only sold one set and the minifigs from a few others on eBay.

    I put the keychain/brick Friday things down to the fact that I have bought quite a lot in store, but relatively little online. I do have a few duplicates but if Lego have decided I'm a reseller then their algorithm is very wide of the mark.

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,317


    Did they make a mistake on minecraft? Yes, but an understandable one when placed into the context of it being a cuusoo product. The previous two cuusoo items were interesting, but I can't imagine their appeal being all that great in the US and other Western countries. As a neat novelty, sure, but something with appeal outside Lego collectors? I don't know about that.

    They have the cuusoo statistics. They could have seen the speed at which minecraft got to 10000 to estimate the demand of the existing fanbase.
    dougtsFollowsClosely
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,112
    Honestly there were 2 sets during the holidays that resellers had any ability to control the supply on - Minecraft and Lloyd ZX. I'll give LEGO the benefit of the doubt that they had no idea on Minecraft. But Lloyd? They spent months building the hype for that guy, then (purposely?) under-produced the heck out of it. No way resellers could have cornered the market on that if LEGO had made enough for all the little kids who wanted one.

    Now look at some other things - it's not resellers fault that [email protected] was out of 10229 for the entire month of December. Or 10226 for most of it. Or the CITY mine. or 10220. or 10221, or all the other big sets that were impossible to find from about December 15th on. LEGO was completely sold out on these things in their online store during the holidays - and there is no way this was because resellers ordered them all ahead of time. heck, they had a ton of 10229 inventory sitting in their B&M stores the whole month - some of it is still there apparently - with no way to re-purpose that inventory toward online sales. Resellers didn't cause that problem
  • tmgm528tmgm528 Member Posts: 452
    I still don't understand how they determine who a reseller is. I know a LOT of people (including myself) that buys huge amounts of certain sets just for a display. How would they possibly know if you are a reseller?!? Are they watching us? Beware of Brick Brother! d:
  • tmgm528tmgm528 Member Posts: 452
    And /\/\ Absolutely right
  • doriansdaddoriansdad CTCMember Posts: 1,337
    tmgm528 said:

    I still don't understand how they determine who a reseller is.

    The person who got the email called TLG with a question regarding VIP points and then told the customer service agent he buys Lego to resell. Pretty straightforward.

    Of course the story is then embellished across the interwebs and now we end up with "LEGO [email protected] and retail enforcing more strict policies against resellers" LOL.
    dragonhawkVaderX
  • tmgm528tmgm528 Member Posts: 452
    /\ Ah thanks for clearing that up....but I still think Brick Brother is watching us d:
  • jockosjunglejockosjungle Member Posts: 701
    Bottom line is that the lego shop is not for resellers, its for customers of lego who buy it and build it. If you want to fill your ebay store with lego, do it the proper way, contact lego and arrange shipments in the same way any other shop do it.

    Of course you will get banned, TLG has exclusive sets and ones it allows to be sold by key retailers only, can't blame them for stopping bulk sellers. Its probably in the T&Cs somewhere
  • prevereprevere North of Bellville, East of Heartlake, South of Bricksburg, West of Ninjago City Member Posts: 2,874
    As anyone else ever received such a message? It doesn't sound like it.
  • VaderXVaderX Member Posts: 220
    I think this might be for people who submit 25-50 identical orders to receive 25-50 bonus polys with the minimum order? I could be wrong also.
  • jockosjunglejockosjungle Member Posts: 701
    I think it's actually quietly tolerated, after all you may just buy sets to swim in lego bricks like an AFOL Scrooge McDuck.

    However if you phone up and tell them you're reselling, they're not going to be happy and will probably ban you.
  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    Maybe they sent keychains mainly to those not invited for BF (and vice versa) to even it out, rather than giving limited gifts to the same people again and again?
  • pharmjodpharmjod 1,170 miles to Wall Drug, USAMember Posts: 2,849
    You can't just call Lego up and set up a wholesale account. At least not the last time I checked. I tried to open one for my parents business and they had a waiting list with no specific time. A year later I checked again and never got a reply. I'm sure that's not gonna apply to everyone but that was my experience. From what I've heard it's not worth it anyway. Better deals to be had from amazon and other retailers. Plus, you apparently can't order the SAH exclusives (ie modulars) if you are a smaller seller. Would be curious to know if that is correct.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited February 2013
    I think we're all reading too much into this key-chain business. I deal with these kinds of 'experiential screw-ups' for my job, and I've never seen one that was premeditated.

    Lego just weren't very good at organising who got a key-chain and who didn't. Someone probably just arranged the distribution in 10 minutes and didn't think through the consequences. To anyone with a modicum of foresight this would have been an obvious outcome, but some people just don't have the foresight gene.

    The same could probably be said of the reseller 'crack-down'.

    Lego obviously don't have the frameworks in place to make sure things like this are properly handled, or (probably) to even to know when they've had a bad outcome. It's a shame, as they're such small things, but handled badly they become big things.
    VaderXCrownieaimlesspursuits
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