Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Red Headed Step-Child of TSR - The Mail Order Hobby Shop

You have to have been a gamer for a bit to remember the Mail Order Hobby Shop. Before you had stores with a virtual presence on the 'net, you had stores with a physical presence on a street. Such it was with the Mail Order Hobby Shop, TSR's storefront in Lake Geneva.

There were ads in Dragon magazine, which makes sense, as Dragon was mostly a house organ and the Mail Order Hobby Shop was part of that house. I don't know how many of you dealt with the MOHS to make your purchases, but I did - once. I ordered a poster and one of the Complete Handbooks for AD&D 2e.

What I received was nearly a dozen different Complete Handbooks and no poster. Apparently, they sorted their orders by first name and sent my book with some other "Erik's" books, and the poor guy got my poster. I set it all aside when I realized the mistake and called them. Someone answered, had no answer for me, took my name and number and promised I would be called back.

The did. I was told to ship it back at my expense. After they verified the books were all accounted for and not used, I would be issued a credit for my shipping. I told them I wanted them to pay the shipping up front or a check to refund the shipping cost, not store credit. It was their mistake, not mine, and I was willing to do the footwork to return it, but I wasn't settling on store credit. I was a college student with little cash on hand. Credit wasn't going to pay my bus fare to school.

They insisted on store credit. I refused to pay for their mistake. I was called a thief. I reminded them I was willing to fix their mistake, but I wasn't going to pay for their mistake. The call ended. They never contacted me again.

I wasn't surprised to see TSR have major financial problems a few years later. My one interaction with their retail end was full of numerous failures.


  1. I bought some minis there once, back when they were made of honest to goodness lead.

    I paid a lot for them, once I worked out shipping and all and it was more than my paper route could cover and still buy books.

    But all the same my memories of them are fond.


  2. I wasn't surprised to see TSR have major financial problems a few years later.

    It may be that the greatest contribution of the Mail Order Hobby Shop was to demonstrate the kind of business practices that must be avoided.


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