Hillside Games of Asheville, NC - the worst game store in America? Unethical practices, domain-name stealing, anti-competitive tactics, and frivolous lawsuit threats against those who criticize are just the start!
This news item was originally a forum thread posted Nareau. I've promoted it to a news item because I thought it was worth seeing. The below is his post. I suggest that folks let the offending store know how they feel about their actions via email or the Facebook page. But don't, like, buy anything from them or anything. - Morrus.
[UPDATE - Hillside Games has turned off public wall posts on their Facebook page, effectively censoring the criticism posted there and presumably in the hope that the problem will just go away. However, according to the domain name WHOIS information, you can still reach them via the email address firstname.lastname@example.org; fortunately, they can't delete this article.]
[UPDATE 2: They're also deleting any references to this made as comments in other threads on their Facebook page.]
Recently, one of the two gaming stores in town [Asheville, NC] closed its doors. They focused on boardgames and had a huge selection. Their prices were competitive with Amazon, and they sponsored a weekly game night at a local cafe. All-in-all, they were pretty awesome.
A buddy of mine (a guy from our gaming group) stepped in and bought out their stock when they closed. It wasn't easy, but it's something he's wanted to do for a long time. He's got a space on the west side of town lined up, and plans to open The Wyvern's Tale in a couple months.
Unfortunately, the other remaining gaming store [Hillside Games] appears to be run by jerks. See, they found out that he was going to reopen the boardgame shop. They decided to go on the offensive, despite being on the other side of town and the fact they cater to card-gamers. They registered every domain name they could think of: thewyvernstale.com, .net, .info, .mobi, etc. Besides being illegal, it's incredibly petty. Unfortunately, it costs over $1000 to file a complaint against them.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around what they hoped to gain from this. And does anyone know if my buddy has any options besides shelling out $1k and being vocal on the Internet?
EDIT - Update by Morrus - The Wyvern's Tale (see their Facebook page) reports that Hillside Games is now, incredibly, threatening to sue them for libel. This, in my particular view, takes them far beyond being mere underhand cybersquatters; in my opinion they're now bullies trying to take someone's lunch money.
We have been contacted by the management of Hillside Games. They are threatening now to sue us for libel, unless we remove all related posts and make a public apology for our actions.
We have thought about it, and debated about whether we should comply. We have been emotional, we admit. Perhaps even inflammatory, at times. We have decided to remove some of our more inflammatory remarks, and we do... apologize for that behavior.
Libel is a serious charge, but at its core, it requires that we told a lie, an untruth. Our claims were not only true, they have evidence. The WHOIS information of a domain name is public information, and right there in black and white, you can see that the domains corresponding to our business name have been registered by Hillside Games. The day after we announced our plan to do business.
So then, the question remains: Do we apologize unconditionally? Do we give in to fear, and offer a feeble apology, for sharing the truth? We have decided...absolutely not. The truth is the truth, and that can never change. Two plus two equals four, and there will always be four lights (Bonus points to those of you who get that).
In the spirit of being cautious, however, we have elected that we will leave their Facebook page alone. We have also decided that when we speak or write on this matter, henceforth, we will only provide facts. The facts are thus:
-On 07 February 2012, The Wyvern's Tale LLC was formed in the State of North Carolina.
-On 17 February 2012, The Wyvern's Tale LLC, through the medium of Facebook, announced its intentions to do business as The Wyvern's Tale in Asheville.
-On 18 February 2012, Hillside Games, Inc. registered www.thewyvenrstale.com, .net, .org, .us, .mobi, .info.
-On 27 February 2012, The Wyvern's Tale LLC, through the medium of Facebook, announced that Hillside Games, Inc registered the aforementioned domain names on the aforementioned date. Let the record show that these announcements did contain some emotional language.
-On 28 February 2012, the Chief Financial Officer of Hillside Games, Inc. contacted the proprietors of The Wyvern's Tale LLC and demanded that all related posts be removed from Facebook and that The Wyvern's Tale LLC issue a public, written apology, lest they bring suit for libel.
-The registration of a domain name corresponding to a competing business's trademark in order to profit by or disrupt their business is against the ICANN'S Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy, and against the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
Those are the facts. We pledge to do no more than make these publicly available.
What you make of these facts, dear Readers, and what you do with them, is up to you.
So, as The Wyvern's Tale folks point out, for something to be libel, it needs to be untrue. Let's take a look at the WHOIS details for the domain, shall we?
Apparently it doesn't end there!
It doesn't take much research to turn up customer reviews on the web. It seems that complaints about this store are more common than we thought. Here's a list of quotes from other sites around the web:
"Owner nate sykes practices bad business. Repeatedly overcharged and charged mine and others cards without consent. Owner also files fraudulent dci suspensions against individuals he doesn't like. Good luck getting large mtg tournaments or sponsorship, last 1k we had 32... AVOID AT ALL COSTS." - Yahoo. "I found the owner to be rude and obnoxious he dose not keep an what his customers are doing as I was slammed against the by one of the members of my D&D group" - Yahoo. "I read the following article on Hillside Games and find their business practices absolutely revolting and despicable. Stooping so low to undermine a competitor is un-American, cowardly, and utterly gutless." - Yelp. "Underhanded business practices. AVOID!!!!" - Yelp. "Wow, I considered warning you about Hillside but neglected. Nate, who owns it, is a total ********. He screwed with the Sword and Grail as much as possible when it was open. I wouldn't be surprised if he gives *** to Gamer's Haunt in Weaverville too. Best of luck in combating him." - Facebook. "There's a reason I don't go in there inspite of living less than a mile away" - Facebook.
There were about a dozen comments in the "recommendations" sidebar of Hillside Games' Facebook page but they have since been detelted by Hillside Games.