Sunday, 1 June 2008

Terrain Mat - Nice product, Customer Service needs work

Having used Lenin's desert Terrain Mat, I decided it would be a good solution to my snow terrain dilemma. I put an order in via the website for a 5' x 7' snow mat, suitable for 25mm figures, on 24th March. I got a confirmation email and then started to wait.

On 18th April I got my credit card bill and found that I had been charged the full cost of the mat on 24th March (something that wasn't mentioned on the website). As I hadn't heard anything from them since the order confirmation I decided to drop them an email to get a progress update. I got an email back two days later saying "We are completing the end of March orders at the moment so we should be ready to send next week or the following." OK, I thought as these things are made to order, although it would have been nice if I hadn't had to chase them; however, the email also said "Please make sure you are at home when package arrives as you can be charged £12.00 for a further delivery attempt." Now this was quite a surprise, it wasn't something that had been mentioned on the website (I subsequently discovered it's part of the terms the couriers they use applies and he has to use a courier as the Royal Mail won't take the tubes as they're too big!). So I carried on waiting patiently.

On the 1st May I got an email stating that "Items are in manufacture. Once items are in manufacture it is usually 1 week to dispatch." But it wasn't until 15th May that I got an email requesting confirmation of the delivery details. At that stage I gave them a call to confirm the delivery information and the chap on the other end was quite friendly and open about the issues they've had with sending the mats. The delivery is on a guaranteed 3 day arrangement (of course that's 3 working days as the couriers won't deliver at weekends) and so I had to make arrangements for someone to be in or leave instructions as to where they could deliver to avoid the redelivery charge. The mat was eventually delivered on 21st May just three days shy of two months after I ordered it.

Now obviously there's the issue of them charging for something they didn't even start to make until six weeks later but my main gripe is the lack of information. If most of this stuff had been made plain on the website I would have factored it into my expectations. I know this tends to be a cottage industry but when you're spending over £70 including postage I don't think it's unreasonable to be told what to expect. Anyway, enough of the customer service and on to the product.

The mat is made from a black fabric base, similar to some of those weed membranes you get for the garden, with a coating applied to it and texture and colour applied to the top. This does mean it is flexible but the coating does come loose in small areas, I had this within minutes of getting mine out of the tube. It doesn't currently distract from the overall effect but does give me some concerns about long term durability.

I must say that the mat looks nice on the table and, with the appropriate items put under it, provides the undulating look I was hoping for. Here are a couple of photos with some Artizan late war Germans (painted by Lenin) and a Corgi die cast Panther from their skirmish range:

I will be using the mat in anger next weekend for a gaming session and it will be seeing a few more outings as I start to progress my Winter War project so I'll post more photos and updates on how it performs over time.

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