As an avid collector, I was extremely excited when I first heard about the company Pop In A Box. In a nutshell PIAB offer a monthly subscription service that allows Funko Pop collectors to get 1-12 random(ish) Pops each month. You can log in to their site and spend some time listing the Pops you already own and then go through their online catalog and mark which ones you are or aren’t interested in. The idea being that you never get a repeat or unwanted Pop. They also have to option to order and pre order Pops directly, should you want to complete a certain collection.
Sounds great right?
Well I thought so anyway and so signed up to the 1 Pop plan at £8.49 a month and set about preordering the Pops I wanted the most. I spent literally hours and hours on the site logging all of my existing collection and checking which ones I would like to receive. Each month I would update this list to make sure I always got what I was paying for.
The first subscription arrived and I was blown away. Not only did I get the expected regular Pop but I also received a 6” Big Daddy, from Bioshock, Pop for free. ‘Amazing’ I thought and decided to keep the subscription going.
Now when the next month’s sub arrived I was bitterly disappointed as the box was heavily damaged. Any Funko collector will tell you that a good box is worth a lot of money in the Pop world. The majority of collectors are ‘in the box’ collectors and so will only purchase pristine condition boxed items. If you get a damaged box the value plummets and you have essentially wasted your money. I contacted the customer service team who said they would send me out a replacement and so I thought that it was sorted. When the replacement arrived and it was a Disney Cinderella live action Pop, I was gutted. The original item was an X Men Deadpool variant. Those of you that know me will know how into comic books I am and so this really let me down.
I contacted the team again who said that unfortunately the subscriptions are random and so there was no way that I could have the same one again. Bearing in mind that the item in question was, at that time, for sale on their website and that I had not checked Cinderella as a Pop I wanted, I was pretty annoyed that they would not help me out.
However I, the girl who shies away from conflict, quietly agreed to compromise and carried on editing my account etc. Then a moth later nothing arrived. I contacted them and was told that the Pop I had been allocated was out of stock. Which seemed ridiculous when only a month ago I was told that it was random and any old Pop could be shipped. I eventually got that item the following month but by this point I was rather fed up.
Adding to this I had preordered an entire series of Pops, the Batman Impopster line
for those who have a clue what I am talking about. The date of release had passed and my items hadn’t arrived so I logged into my account to find that I was on a waiting list of roughly 300 for a few of them despite having preordered them months in advance. They told me that they had limited stock and so this was their system for dealing with that. Which A if they had stated this when I preordered I would have gone elsewhere, but B totally defeats the point of preordering in the first place, since the idea is that you get your order on release date!
So by the time PIAB decided to revamp their site at the end of last year I was ready to cancel my subscription. However it wasn’t that easy. Their website revamp entirely deleted my account, or so I was told several times, along with my place in the queue for the outstanding Impopsters. They told me there was nothing they could do and that I would have to open a new account re order and re sub etc. I was so mad that I decided not to bother and went about my nerdy life.
Fast forward to the beginning of February and me being an avoided let of bank statements, realised that PIAB were continuing to charge me for my none existent subscription but had also raised the price. All be it my fault for not catching it sooner due to not looking at my bank account, I couldn’t believe they had taken close to forty quid without sending me anything.
I immediately contacted them and was told again that my account didn’t exist. After a few hours of back and forth I went to seek advice from my friends in a Funko Collectors community on Facebook. Unsurprisingly I found several of them had similar experiences and it appeared that many of us were being outright lied to.
After chatting with them I called my bank and asked them if I had a direct debit or standing order; the answer was no. So I returned to PIAB and told them I would be reversing the charges etc and suddenly they ‘found’ my account. Now if I am honest I think they created one at that point and used my information on what I had ordered in the past etc to tell me it was there. They said there was an active subscription and once again the Pops I had been allocated for the past few months were all amazingly out of stock. I asked to be refunded and to hve the sub was cancelled, to which I was told was categorically impossible their end. I would have to long in and cancel it, then request refunds.
So I log in and to my surprise there were no active subscriptions my side. When I explained this to them, including showing them a screenshot of what I could see they still refused to help me for two whole days. It was not until I threatened legal and public action that they were suddenly able to cancel it their end and issue a refund. Two weeks later and I still have only been refunded for two of the months I had been charged for nothing. But if I am honest I cannot mentally deal with the stress of talking to them again.
Never have I seen a company so blatantly lie to their customers in order to get a few extra quid. Now this part is purely speculation but it looks to this collector like they are counting on people like me who don’t keep an eye on their bank accounts as much as they should to just not notice the relatively small amount each month being taken, hoping then that this would continue for a while and therefore stack up. Then when people finally do realise, that they will just give up after literal days of trying to get support from their team, much like myself at this stage in the game.
Whether that is the case or not the fact remains that PIAB have provided the worst service possible to not only myself but at least, and I kid you not, forty people I have spoken to, either in my Facebook group, over Twitter or in person. So you can bet there are others out there.
If you have had any trouble with PIAB please let me know in the comments. I would be interested to see just how many people have experienced similar things to me.
I will be posting a video on this later in week so please share this around your geeky friends to see if they have had any trouble or to warn them of a poor service.