Refund policies


#1

There’s been some mention of refund policies for games recently, so I’m wondering what people’s views are on this? When should GM’s refund? When is it too late to pull out of a game and get refunded?

(I have my own answers to these questions for the one-offs I run, but the answers are likely to be very different for games with a different cost-structure).


#2

I don’t think this is an easy question to answer as it depends in part on GMs, the game, the expenses that the game has, and the demands of the venue. The cost-structure, as you say, would be a massive factor.

Personally, as a player I wouldn’t expect a full refund if I dropped out with less than two weeks notice for a weekend game. I’d feel bad dropping out of a theatreform at about that timeframe period as it leaves the GM with MUCH less time to re-cast.

EDIT: As a Game Master, I’d probably let players know when the absolute latest they could drop out while still receiving a full refund was as far in advance as possible so no one gets any nasty surprises.


#3

[quote=“Zari, post:2, topic:21578”]
I don’t think this is an easy question to answer as it depends in part on GMs, the game, the expenses that the game has, and the demands of the venue. The cost-structure, as you say, would be a massive factor.[/quote]

Absolutely. My cost-structure for one-offs in Wellington is very easy: I don’t have to pay a venue deposit, I can cancel easily up until ~24 hours before the game, I’m unlikely to have bought anything I don’t need anyway (other than snacks, I guess), and at the end of the day the amount of money involved isn’t so great that I can’t afford a loss. So in the unlikely event that I have to cancel a game, I can give everyone a refund, and I’m unlikely to be out of pocket unless I got hit by a bus on game day (in which case, honestly, I have bigger things to worry about).

For players its a trade-off: you want people to pay early, but “no refund” policies create an incentive to delay. ATM we get a lot of payments the week of the game, and a high online payment rate (which I like: it provides financial transparency and minimizes the need to handle cash, which is inherently risky). We also get a lot of dropouts in the week before the game (the usual illnesses and people being good about not infecting their friends, but also some are probably financial), and we have on occasion had people who get cast and just don’t turn up.

As a GM I’m looking at full refunds for dropouts up until 2 or 3 days before the game, after which it becomes discretionary (meaning if you tell me in advance and its a good reason then you’ll get one. If you just don’t show up to the game and I have to delay game start while I recast on the fly, then nope, you’re paying). Again, this would be very different if I was running a weekend game with a hefty venue deposit and catering expenses.

And yeah, this is the sort of thing GM’s should put in writing, so players know what they’re in for.


#4

Agreed, Idiot. There’s also the issue with things like payment cutoff – although in my 3 years or so of LARP I’ve found organisers to be very willing to work with people who need to pay in installments etc, as long as they get paid. Having flexibility surrounding payment is great, but in order to keep organisers sane (a hard enough task as it is!) how flexible is too flexible? Flexible is great for players (I know I’ve been hit by unanticipated expenses or had a payroll error and there just hasn’t been money in the account) but not so great in the stresses and headaches induced in GMs, who might have 40 crew registered but only 15 have paid and committed so they don’t have any firm/concrete numbers for food, accomodation, and planning encounters!


#5

Flexible payment isn’t really an issue in the small one-off games I run. But I can see how it is in bigger events if there’s a culture of people registering and not showing (as I understand there has been in Auckland e.g. at Musketeers). I guess you learn after a couple of games how many registrations actually show - or adopt ticketing solutions so people have to pay to register (though that has its own issues).


#6

Yeah, I believe part of the point of using Eventbrite is to try to make sure that people are fully paid up well before the game starts, which has been an issue before.

When I was involved with the finances for the first Crucible game, we were generally pretty happy to consider someone fully registered if they had contacted us about a payment plan, and made the first instalment. That showed they were serious about attending as a fully paid attendee, but perhaps just didn’t have the spare cash to make one lump sum payment.

In terms of full/partial refunds, I too agree that it comes down to the cost structure. My personal feeling is that for a weekend game, probably anything less than two weeks out from the game should receive, at best, a partial refund, because by that point, a lot of money will have already been spent assuming that the opening in the registration list has been filled. Not just on venue and potentially food costs, but also in terms of props and costuming and the like. Pulling out late might mean that there isn’t enough time for the GMs to be able to wrangle someone else to fill the spot, meaning that they’ll be down money in a few regards.

Also, if it’s a game where absolutely anything is personalised to the participants, it’s quite possible that the GMs will have spent effort they could have directed elsewhere on creating elements of the game focused on that participant. No/partial refunds also help to ensure that the efforts and time of hardwork GMs aren’t wasted on no-shows.

All that being said, I’m not against full refunds for exceptional circumstances.