11/04/2014

Minor Out-of-Game Systems Rant

I briefly thought about titling this post "Customer Service Rant", but then I realised that this would be doing an injustice to all the times Bioware customer service was perfectly helpful with issues that I've had. This isn't really about the customer service reps anyway, more about two out-of-game systems that have annoyed me as of late.

First off, you may or may not have noticed that I added my referral link to the sidebar a little while ago. It's no big deal; I just saw other sites doing it and figured that I might as well. People that use it get some goodies, I get some goodies - it's a win-win, right?

The other week a friend e-mailed me to say that he had used my link to give the game another go. He had forgot his original account information, so he just signed up through the link again, made a new account, bought several months of game time... and neither of us got anything. Scouring the forums for information on what had gone wrong, I found out that I had missed an important line of small print that says that referrals only count if the referred person ticks the "please send me promotional e-mails" box when they sign up. D'oh! I can't decide what's worse: that this is a requirement to make a referral to begin with, or that they've hidden this requirement in the small print so that it's easy to miss. I mean, most people probably wouldn't mind ticking that box at account creation in order for the referral to go through, after all you can always untick it in your preferences later if the e-mails annoy you. But for that, you actually have to know about that requirement...

Oh, and forget about trying to ask customer service for help afterwards, apparently they have no way of tracking referrals if you don't accept those promotional e-mails at signup. Clicking that referral link and confirming that you want to be referred by an existing player is clearly just for show. /facepalm

The funny thing is, the other day another friend of mine used the link and his referral did go through. so now the referral page on my account management has updated to show that I've earned the first referral reward, the Kurtob Alliance speeder. Except that I already earned that one from referring a friend one and a half years ago, under the old referral system, and it has been landing in my mailbox on every character I've created since then. But clearly Bioware has no way of verifying that either. /eyeroll

It's not a big deal for me as I'm not exactly dying to get any of the referral rewards; it just strikes me as a very badly thought out system.

The other thing that has bugged me has been Bioware's billing. I had to change to a new credit card recently and was able to enter it into their system just fine, but when my sub ran out today and I tried to re-subscribe I kept being given an error message: "An error has occurred while trying to process your request. Please, try again later." Where had I seen that before? Oh right, I remember having the same issue at launch - Tobold even blogged about it back then. I can't believe that it's two and a half years later and they are still giving out the same completely unhelpful error message. I get that there can be problems with these things, but is it that hard to actually let me know what's wrong so that I can fix it? Again I tried Google to see whether anyone else with the same problem had made any useful discoveries, but all I found were reports of how phoning customer service about this issue would only lead to them blaming your bank - even if you had already tried three different cards from three different banks and they all assured you that they weren't blocking anything.

In the end I settled for borrowing someone else's card... the same thing I had to do back at launch. I love the game and am clearly willing to jump through all kinds of hoops to be able to play it the way I want, but you'd think that Bioware would be interested in making it a bit easier for people to give them money...

6 comments :

  1. That first one is truly annoying. I've never done that sort of thing, but that really sucks.

    The second, however, is more EA than Bioware. I've discovered by buying some cartel coins for the kids that the purchasing mechanism links into EA's system, and that's where I think the problem is. Which, of course, gives more fuel to the EA haters, but before I jump on that "crap on EA" bandwagon I also have to wonder whether this is due to EA and/or Bioware having issues trying to mitigate potential damage from the Heartbleed bug. Of course, that's merely idle speculation, but it wouldn't surprise me if the issue you were seeing was intentional in nature due to a lot of people resubmitting credit card numbers this past week due to the bug.

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    1. I don't know, I doubt that the Heartbleed bug had anything to do with it, though it's possible I suppose. It just strikes me as too much of a coincidence to run into the exact same problem that I had at launch, if they had ever fixed it in-between...

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  2. An acquaintance of mine (someone whose guild let me into their fb page b/c I'm friends with some of them) claims that he got an email today that due to suspicious activity (later said to be credit selling, which I am confident he was not doing), his account had been deleted (as opposed to banned). I don't know whether to assume that he's just leaving for another game and doesn't want to say so or whether bioware is truly crazy. But yes, CS at bioware is a little wonky (very hit in miss in my experience). IIRC you're in the uk? If that's correct, I'm sure it only adds to the fun, even though as a major enterprise, EA should have a pretty good handle on being able to take people's money in different countries.

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    1. That sounds dodgy, though certainly not impossible. Reminds me of that time a blogger was banned for supposedly using a third party programme to cheat and she made a big post about it and how it was completely random and unjustified... which went viral until Bioware reinstated her account. It's certainly not beyond them to mess up like that.

      Being in the UK actually isn't so bad for customer service purposes as games tend to have separate CS lines for this side of the Atlantic. I've also previously used the fact that German is my first language to call up German customer service... leads to nice and quick problem resolutions. :P

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  3. A lot of people are having that credit card issue. From people I know personally, to reddit, to the forums. 60 day time cards are a workaround for those that have access to them. I'm thinking of subscribing next month myself, so I'm hoping things get sorted out soon.

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  4. I am the friend who tried to use the referral service. I thought I would say (1) I think I only lost 5 exp boosters by not ticking the email marketing signup, it wasn't the end of the world, and (2) I'm genuinely impressed how slick SWTOR is compared to when it launched. I found it a lot more responsive, plus the graphics etc seem better / smoother.

    It's still definitely in the "put more in, get more out" camp of MMOs, and I'm struggling to find the time to play it properly, i.e. finding groups, having a decent run at the story. But that failing is mine, not SWTOR's. I was very glad Shintar encouraged me to have a second try at it, having been in on the launch and found it a bit clunky back then.

    /boxerdogs

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