Change in Convention support, no more gift certificates.


Pathfinder Society

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***** Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

Hey Big Purple Golem. You've recently made a change, and I'm upset about it. It feels like you're cheaping out on what's been a cool reward in the past.

Obviously Paizo isn't required to provide convention support, but I'm rather annoyed at this recent undocumented change.

Rather than receive $10 gift certificates as part of prize support (which I use mostly to buy scenarios) at a Convention this weekend they've been replaced by Coupons for $10 off a purchase. (No minimum purchase required, although for purchases less than $10 any remaining value is lost)

Instead of a cool reward, they now seem like a marketing ploy. Not only do I have to hold on to these little sheets of paper instead of adding them to my account, I can't use them to buy scenarios one at a time.

Note that that Organized Play policy page still lists gift certificates.

https://paizo.com/organizedplay/policies wrote:

Convention Support

Rewards: All GMs receive their scheduled scenarios for free as PDFs added to their paizo.com account. Events also receive a package of player boons, GM boon(s), and gift certificates to paizo.com based on the size of the event. Gift certificates and player boons need to be distributed in an egalitarian, unbiased manner, with all attendees having a chance to win. GM boons are intended for those individuals who GM at least one session.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

Before I get more annoyed about this change then I am based on your post, can the coupons be stacked on one purchase?

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Not happy about this either. I believe I see the point, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Edit: Steven, I don't believe so.

Sovereign Court **** ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

I have not seen any information about this, and I know why they are doing it, it makes business sense, but it really makes it hard for me to save up the convention support I get at conventions to buy scenarios and other things to support running stuff at my local venue.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

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That seems like a REALLY dangerous change to make right before 2nd edition launches. I'd have thought that would be exactly the WRONG time to make conventions less attractive to both players and GMs.

Can these coupons still be used online?

Liberty's Edge *** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

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Wow. Think of the impact on GMing at GenCon...

Not in favor of the change.

Paizo Employee ***** Organized Play Manager

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The change ultimately had to be made for financial reporting purposes for the IRS and unfortunately we did not have an option about the timing. Additionally, having them as gift certificates meant that unredeemed gift certificates remained on Paizo's books and could not be removed, even if they were never redeemed. Having so many outstanding gift certificates complicated financial planning/accounting for Paizo. Knowing we had to make the change, we tried to get the voucher system as advantageous for recipients as we could.

-Vouchers can be stacked. You can use as many as you want on an order.
-Any value of the voucher(s) above the order total is unfortunately lost.
-Vouchers can be used at paizo.com and are also redeemable and useable at Paizo's convention stores at PaizoCon and Gen Con.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Thanks Tonya, that helps swallow the bitter pill.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Can a voucher be used to buy a gift certificate that can be gifted to another? A lot of VOs who won GC at local convention events would use them to buy scenarios and rewards for their local GMs

Paizo Employee ***** Organized Play Manager

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Can a voucher be used to buy a gift certificate that can be gifted to another? A lot of VOs who won GC at local convention events would use them to buy scenarios and rewards for their local GMs

If the gift certificate is part of an order, yes. Then the voucher has been redeemed in the system and we can report it correctly.

Dark Archive **** Venture-Lieutenant, Online—VTT

Does this change affect gift certificates that have currently been redeemed onto peoples Paizo accounts, or ones that had been purchased previously and have yet to be redeemed? Or is it, as I suspect, only affecting purchases made from this point forwards?

Paizo Employee Customer Service & Community Manager

Initially we had issues where the change had been applied retroactively to all gift certificates that had been granted as part of the convention process. To my knowledge that was immediately corrected and the old format should still work as a gift certificate. If you had/have issues with redeeming gift certificates from conventions prior to this change, please let Paizo's customer service know and we will do our best to resolve the issue for you.

Silver Crusade *** Venture-Lieutenant, Online—PbP aka Redelia

When does the 6 months actually start? When issued to the conference organizer, from the convention start date, or from when issued to the player? For PbP conventions, our conventions last 6 weeks or longer, and we issue gift certificates at the end.

Sovereign Court **** ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

Ok, so it requires extra work, but I can live with this.

Paizo Employee ***** Organized Play Manager

Christine Bussman wrote:
When does the 6 months actually start? When issued to the conference organizer, from the convention start date, or from when issued to the player? For PbP conventions, our conventions last 6 weeks or longer, and we issue gift certificates at the end.

From the start date of the convention. This is now a coded piece of voucher generation. It may be for the PbP conventions that we don't issue the vouchers until the end, not the beginning.

Silver Crusade *** Venture-Lieutenant, Online—PbP aka Redelia

Tonya Woldridge wrote:
Christine Bussman wrote:
When does the 6 months actually start? When issued to the conference organizer, from the convention start date, or from when issued to the player? For PbP conventions, our conventions last 6 weeks or longer, and we issue gift certificates at the end.
From the start date of the convention. This is now a coded piece of voucher generation. It may be for the PbP conventions that we don't issue the vouchers until the end, not the beginning.

Thank you for the quick answer. I'll make sure to warn people when we issued the vouchers for our ongoing convention, and we (the PbP team) will contact you privately about our future conventions.

Sovereign Court ****

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Is there anything preventing us from redeeming the voucher for a gift card for our own account? Or if this is not a possibility will it become one?

***

Gary Bush wrote:

Wow. Think of the impact on GMing at GenCon...

Not in favor of the change.

Are the vouchers replacing store credit for GM volunteers at PaizoCon, Origins and GenCon?

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Tonya Woldridge wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
Can a voucher be used to buy a gift certificate that can be gifted to another? A lot of VOs who won GC at local convention events would use them to buy scenarios and rewards for their local GMs
If the gift certificate is part of an order, yes. Then the voucher has been redeemed in the system and we can report it correctly.

So, theoretically if I can buy a gift certificate with a voucher, as an event organizer I could just place an order for gift certificates in the amount of the vouchers, redeem the vouchers on the sale, then print and distribute the gift certificates at the event like we have been since the physical product was replaced and as far as the players/GMs are concerned nothing changes.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Tonya Woldridge wrote:
The change ultimately had to be made for financial reporting purposes for the IRS and unfortunately we did not have an option about the timing.

I honestly don't really have an issue with the change itself, but the stealth bomber way it was dropped on the community without so much as a head's up in the blog or forum, etc. is a bit disappointing. We should not find out about fundamental changes to major programs when we open the attachment to an email.

*** Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka TechGnosis

Well that would explain why folks who tried to redeem the codes from our local con this past weekend couldnt,... they are not actually gift certificates.

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

I attempted to redeem the code and could not. My tired old eyes at the end of the con missed that it was a voucher, not a gift certificate. Oh well, now I can purchase a gift certifcate with it!

Hmm

Dark Archive ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

I will admit that I did not read through the email they were attached to, nor did I really more than notice that they looked a little different.

Very good to know going forward!

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Jack Brown wrote:
I will admit that I did not read through the email they were attached to...

I think this will be true for most organizers. The support email has basically said the same thing for a long time and a quick glance at the opening text would suggest no changes. If you only see one or two of these emails per year its reasonable to think you will read it in its entirety. However, if you are accustomed to reading these regularly, often multiple times per week (traditionally RVC are CCd on all the support emails) then you kinda get complacent and only read the text when you need to quote it for someone or when prompted that a change has been made.

The Concordance ***

Pathfinder Card Game, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Glad I decided to wait a day before getting outraged. (Honestly, this is a good personal policy for a number of things.)

Agree with the feedback that a bit of proactive communication would have preempted any bad vibes. But now we know, and knowing is half the battle.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

Tonya Woldridge wrote:

.

-Vouchers can be stacked. You can use as many as you want on an order.
-Any value of the voucher(s) above the order total is unfortunately lost.
-Vouchers can be used at paizo.com and are also redeemable and useable at Paizo's convention stores at PaizoCon and Gen Con.

Thanks for the info Tonya.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Update...it appears that the "work around" using the vouchers to buy gift certificates in order to redeem them to your account is no longer valid. This is important to know so you can plan your orders and when to apply your vouchers.

Dark Archive ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Can the vouchers be applied to subscriptions?

***** ⦵⦵⦵

as long as you buy things in 10 dollar increments it still works no?

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

CigarPete wrote:
Can the vouchers be applied to subscriptions?

Not at this time. The only way to redeem vouchers is during the checkout process for an order. Subscriptions are auto-ordered.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
as long as you buy things in 10 dollar increments it still works no?

The voucher is essentially a coupon that gives you up to $10 off an order and you can use multiple vouchers on an order. As long as the total amount of the order is an increment of $10, you will maximize the value of the vouchers. If the total is less than $10, you will lose the remaining value of the voucher. If the total of the order is more than the total of your vouchers, you pay the difference.

*

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Okayyy... so is the upshot to cancel subscriptions and slave away at conventions to get the vouchers and buy the things as they come out and use the vouchers, or keep the subscriptions and not volunteer?

I'm not faulting you on this Bob, I'm just confused as to how this helps grow the community.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

i don't see the difference between most purchases as a 10 dollar gift cert or 10 dollars off. If you have a subscription isn't it eventually going to go off on something more than ten bucks or at worst 9.98 when you buy two scenarios?

*

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The difference is between being able to pay ahead on a sub using volunteer earned credit vs. other means.

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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Yes, I wish that I could apply this to my maps subscription. It would help with my finances this year. :/

I have to admit that I do not like this change, since I cannot easily use it to pay for the things I normally purchase from Paizo.

Hmm

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Paizo has explained that the old process of giving gift certificates created accounting problems which are at least in part a legal issue. So the switch to vouchers was necessary. Initially, the web store allowed you to buy gift certificates with the vouchers, but apparently that creates the same accounting problem as before so they had to take that option away. We are still receiving the same $10 value as we did before, just have to be a little more savvy in how we use it. They claim they are working on a way for vouchers to be applied to subscriptions, but for now it’s not possible. With us in the middle of convention season, I just wanted to update our volunteers so they were aware.

As I’ve always said, we don’t volunteer for Paizo, we volunteer for the betterment and enjoyment of our community and the boons/vouchers are merely icing on the gaming cake. Try to remember who benefits most from from our volunteer time and...

Explore! Report! Cooperate!

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

Yup. I don't volunteer for the perks either. I'll likely give my voucher to a new player to get them set up. It's just an inconvenience.

Hmm

Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Australia—NSW—Sydney aka sanwah68

I suppose we could cancel a sub, order and pay with vouchers then resub. It should work, but a bit of mucking about.

***

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Any idea if Origins & GenCon GMs will still be getting "Store Credit" or Vouchers?

*

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Unlike my less professional alias, I view my duties as an obligation to the community and any additional resources made available is a bonus.

Unfortunately, we share the same mind-space, so when the filters are off and they've been at a heckuva day of work, they start becoming a bit mercenary-hearted.

Apologies for the derail, thank you very much for the informational update.

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

Swiftbrook wrote:
Any idea if Origins & GenCon GMs will still be getting "Store Credit" or Vouchers?

We got vouchers at PaizoCon.

Hmm

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:

Yup. I don't volunteer for the perks either. I'll likely give my voucher to a new player to get them set up. It's just an inconvenience.

Hmm

No, its more than just an inconvenience.

People are very, very likely to view a $10 off Voucher as considerably less valuable and less cool than a $10 gift certificate. People are strange, we see "free stuff" as far, far, far more valuable than "reduced price stuff".

From my personal perspective, it means I can't just toss the vouchers into my account and completely forget about them until it is time to buy something (which is what I've done with gift certificates). They're less convenient. I have to remember to use them, I have to optimize how I use them, I have to use them in time, etc.

Its not a major problem but its more than an inconvenience.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Call it what you want, but this is what it is. Paizo had to make this change for reasons, so nothing is to be gained by complaining about it. Volunteers are still getting exactly what Paizo has always promised, that being $10 off. You might have to be a bit more savvy in redeeming it, but at the end of the day, it has the same value it always has.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, Australia—NSW—Newcastle aka Tim Schneider 908

Little less convenient, but not a massive change. For my part it just means saving my vouchers to cash in later on my PC rather than putting them straight in paizo's site. Would be nice if something could be done to apply vouchers to a subscription which seems like the most legitimate issue above, but paizo's website is quite archaic in a lot of ways so perhaps there's just not a good way to do that...

For a little positivity I am happy that when confronted with the problem where they couldn't keep the existing model Paizo worked out a way to continue the idea of the program rather than canning it completely.

The Exchange ****

Excepting all vouchers, I can buy something everytime I get one. Lots of PDFs I still want.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
Paizo has explained that the old process of giving gift certificates created accounting problems which are at least in part a legal issue.

The way my accountant brother-in-law explained it to me:

Businesses that sell gift cards can book the revenue from the sale immediately, however they have to track the total outstanding gift card amount as an expected future cost. He used some accounting terms and reasoning at this point and my eyes glazed over, but if I understood correctly the takeaway was that they have to carry a certain amount of reserves fenced off for covering the redemption of those gift cards. If the cards get lost or simply don’t get redeemed they still have to keep carrying that reserve.

The particular problems with the gift certificates as convention prize support are: 1. With randomized distribution a decent percentage of them are going to people who are trying the game out and will never visit Paizo.com, much less buy something, and 2. Not all organizers were diligent about returning gift certificates that were not given out.

Coupons - which the newer vouchers act as - aren’t subject to the same requirement.

Shadow Lodge *****

Ok, so you can apply store credit to subscriptions, right? So take your vouchers, buy gift certificates, redeem certificates, apply to subscriptions...

*

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Eric Clingenpeel wrote:
Ok, so you can apply store credit to subscriptions, right? So take your vouchers, buy gift certificates, redeem certificates, apply to subscriptions...

Doesn't quite work if some states/locations charge a tax for electronic transactions. At that point, there becomes a need to spend more money, and it also puts Paizo back into the same position.

The roll-out on this after other situations makes for other concerns about the continued fiscal health of the company, and that worries me deeply.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Eric Clingenpeel wrote:
Ok, so you can apply store credit to subscriptions, right? So take your vouchers, buy gift certificates, redeem certificates, apply to subscriptions...

According to Bob, buying certificates with vouchers no longer works. It probably wouldn’t have been an issue if it was just individuals doing it, but if a Con organizer were to do so for all the certificates Paizo would be right back in the same situation accounting-wise.

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
The roll-out on this after other situations makes for other concerns about the continued fiscal health of the company, and that worries me deeply.

This switch doesn’t say anything to me about the health of the company other than an indication that they are becoming more sophisticated with accounting intricacies. Paizo is still potentially giving away the same amount of money. I don’t pretend to understand it all, but the accounting is an issue for all companies, it’s just a question of scale. It’s a bigger deal for companies that gave away gift certificates, as they have to carry a liability but never booked any profit. (While a purchased gift certificate generated an initial profit.)

US Law and gift certificates:
I don’t know the accounting particulars. But what kicked off the discussion with my brother-in-law was when several companies announced that their gift certificates would never expire. It turns out there was a federal law passed in 2009 that says they can’t expire in less than 5 years. State laws may be even more generous. In California gift certificates can never expire. In Washington state purchased gift certificates never expire, though “give-aways” can expire after 5 years. (Which would require Paizo to create another class of certificate.) So the potential liability may extend for many years. Rather than deal state-by-state a large number of companies just decided to have none of them expire.

I would love to see any unused portion of a voucher be added as store credit. I think a reasonable portion of people who buy once will come back again, especially if they have a credit waiting. But I don’t know if that option would trigger something that classifies the whole voucher differently.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
Paizo has explained that the old process of giving gift certificates created accounting problems which are at least in part a legal issue.

Since Paizo's convention support now goes through the nonprofit Organized Play Foundation, a whole new set of laws and tax regulations have come into play. We've done our best to prevent that from having much visible impact at the volunteer or player level, but we couldn't avoid this particular change.

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