Customer Support 2K9 – Updated

*I noticed some Google searches pushing people to this blog post. I DID find a solution (all on my own) and I posted it in my 2k9 forums thread – linked in the article below. GOOD LUCK if you are having the same problems!*

Customers suck, right?

We bitch and moan about EVERYTHING! Go read technical support forums. Whine whine whine. Threats – both against the company, and the people who are trying to help. Customers are impossible to please – so it is understandable that companies have varying degrees of how they do – and don’t – attempt to. I consider myself an “ideal” customer. I know things take time to remedy, and besides essential living services I give that time to be fair. I don’t make unrealistic or false threats. I know the people who are helping me are paid poorly, and have a specific job to do, in a manner that is typically scripted and must be followed. (“Is it plugged in?” = le sigh). I am also competent enough with a PC that I generally just find my own fixes on the internet and make it work. I rarely contact customer support unless it is the last beacon of hope for me. The past three months I have contacted four different companies regarding software/hardware questions and problems and I am going to share my results with you – ranked from worst to best. There is a bit of a surprise here. After the break.

The absolute worst ranking company isn’t one company but a handfull, all lumped together. Boutique laptop companies. I talked about my search for a kickass portable gaming rig here. I still haven’t received contact from any of them after I even wrote FOLLOW up emails. The crux was this: I have $3000 burning a hole in my pocket and I want to give it to you. I want to give it to you BADLY. You have competitors with the same product, so I am going to choose the company that gives me the best time frame to build in. Just send me an email with an expected ship date and my money is yours. ALL yours. Zero replies. Astonishing, really. If I sent YOU an email, saying here, take $3000 just tell me how long it will take you to deliver on your chosen profession on my chosen product, I am pretty sure you would hit “reply” to that email. If not the first one, than the second. Sad. Good news is I learned an online friend of mine builds laptops with similar specs and can get wholesale prices on parts, so now he gets my business. Shocking though, right? Lumps of Coal.

Equally as bad is 2K games. My first (and possibly last) 2K games title was Bioshock off of steam. I didn’t check beforehand, but there are major, major problems with Bioshock and their audio system (FMOD) in Vista 64. One thread alone with Vista troubleshooting has 3000 replies. That is just one thread, dating back to 2007. There are hundreds of others. I made my own thread 6 days ago. I still haven’t received a reply from anyone there, except for one other person with the same problem as mine saying “good luck getting a response”. My first post listed my specs, my issues, and all the workarounds I have tried (none work). I made it half joking but I had already spent ~15 hours at that point trying their “fixes”. 15 hours is a lot of self customer service, so figured it was time to ask the pros. I made the post a bit funny to show I wasn’t angry but really needed help. The following day from that post, I realized I forgot to add other pertinent information, so I made a second post. I had also learned at the FMOD boards they had a fix done – but it had to be coded into the game for a patch – and of course the FMOD folks encouraged everyone to speak to the developer as it couldn’t be fixed on their end. I added that tidbit in. I also added in at this point that there is no way I am buying Bioshock 2 if they can’t get Bioshock 1 to work after being out a full year, and FULLY AWARE of the problems. That is not a “threat”, it is an honest observation. After spending 24 realtime hours at this point to get their product working on a completely up to date, great gaming rig, the cracks in the quality of programming at 2K games is really showing. The fact they hadn’t solved this problem (a year later) shows they don’t care for their own titles – or customers. 3 full days later I realized I hadn’t received a response yet, so I asked a fair question – whether or not Bioshock has been abandoned by 2K games (they are working on the sequel) and whether they planned on patching or fixing the code. It is a fair question. Yesterday I found out there may be a problem (*I* found it out – no one told me from 2K games. I had to keep searching and working on it by myself) with my audio drivers (which I had previously thought fully updated) so I patched them – and got brand new errors. So I posted those errors and also asked if the 2K technical support forums were the correct avenue for me to be searching for my answers to my technical problems with a 2K product (should be a rhetorical question, I know, but I just wanted to make sure). So, after almost a full week, ZERO responses. Sad, right? Dead kittens in a sack.

Now we tip the scales on the good. I had an issue with a Steam purchased game so I set up a ticket (it was Bioshock, btw. HAHA!) I immediately received a response saying my email would be read within 24 hours. Thank you. A response – I don’t care that it was automatically generated, but I received a response nonetheless. Three days later I had my answer. Three days isn’t perfect of course, but Three days for a definitive answer to my question is very well acceptable by me, and fair for a company that probably receives 1000’s of inquiries. Silver star to you, Steam!

Gold Star? You will never guess it, because they are the most evilest and terrible gaming company on the planet – EA games. I had two tickets with them this year, one for BF2142, and a second for Warhammer Online. I get the immediate auto-generated response – again, I am fine with this as at least I know my submission got through. My BF2142 issue was responded to, and solved, within 24 hours. My Warhammer Online problem was responded to the SAME DAY. So, all evil aside (I am pretty sure reading blogs and whatnot they actually hate their customers – right?) at least I know that they support their products and respond to me as a customer.

As an online customer living in an online world I do not have the time to sit on hold on a phone line. It has to be far cheaper and more effective for them to hire a person to read forums and emails anyway. That is why I give ample time, knowing other customers were there before me. I can see it. As a customer, all I really want is a fair and honest response so I can meter my expectations. “Yes, we are working on a fix, but it is 2 months away” would actually satsify me – I have a lot of other games I can play in the meantime, and I can quit trying to juryrig the title and wait for the definitive fix. “No, we are not going to patch that title anymore, we have all of our resources focused on new and exciting titles to make sure the same problems do not occur in our future games” – I would accept that too – and MAYBE would even try Bioshock 2. I will just return BS (haha, funny acronym considering the circumstances) and put those funds towards their newer, better, actually functioning title. “Thank you for taking the time to contact 2K games. We have a high volume of customer service requests at this time, and will get to yours as soon as possible.” I may even still like 2K games with that response. Why? Because it is a response. Any response shows they actually have an inkling of care for their customers.

Do you know of a company that has great customer service? What companies do you know of that have terrible CS? Are the companies consistent, or does it vary from person to person? I would like to make a list of companies I know who are servicing their customers and stick to them to avoid future bad experiences.

11 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’ll come back to this, but quickly, my experience as an EA underling gives me reason to think that the rank and file employee, including CS folk, are generally pretty good people. It’s the higher ups who seem bent on destroying gamers.

  2. I like EA and haven’t had a single problem with the company, or their games. I support a lot of their products. My notes as such was more how much everyone ELSE seems to hate them =)

  3. Your post has been received and will be read in the next 24 hours. As of now, we are not planning on responding to it, but rest assured that our next comment will be oriented on really commenting on your artciles.


  4. Yeah, and I did not notice >__<

    TAB is an evil, evil beast that should be taken far away from my keyboard. Or at least, far from the letters…

    The finale was “Thanks for having taken the time of writing for us”.

    But there was no real point to my comment however ;).

  5. Customers do suck, because they’re extremely selfish. They think just because they’ve paid their dollar they’re owed the world.

    Case in point, riding the bus this morning.

    While waiting in line I see the window seat at the back of the bus is empty, although there’s a guy sitting next to it so I’m wondering if the seat is wet (sometimes the window seats catch drips from the A/C). There’s quite a few passengers in front of me so I’m not liking my chances of actually getting to sit down except when I finally get on and head up the back I see this seat is still vacant.

    Then I get to the back and see why. This guy is sitting like most guys do, but to the extreme. His legs are wide apart and he’s taking up both seats, even though he’s just sitting in the one.

    I let him know that I want to sit in his right leg’s seat, and he makes a big show about moving over to let me in, as if I’m being rude not letting him have two seats.

    When I get in and sit down, he jams his leg up against mine as if he’s trying to sit in the exact same position as before. After about 5 minutes I guess he realized I wasn’t going to close my legs so his balls had more room to breathe, and he finally stopped pushing.

    As far as I’m concerned if you paid for a seat, you’re entitled to a seat. That’s one seat. I pay for my ticket, too, so if there’s an empty seat next to you I don’t care if your bags are in it, I’m sitting down. You can move your bags or I’ll call the driver and ask if you bought a second ticket for your bags. The choice is yours.

  6. I have seen a highschool kid refuse – after being asked – to move her bag out of a seat for an elderly lady, who then had to stand until the girl got off.

    Slightly more on topic: I have personally found Steam to be very slow to respond to questions. Also they make it very hard to even get to that point. Now I might have missed something obvious, but I didn’t know for a long time that you had to make a separate account for support, and was very worried that they kept rejecting the account and password I gave. Then after that, once I typed up my question and submitted it (or so I thought), it didn’t work! Granted, this one was my own fault for not reading the next screen, where it said “Your question has not yet been submitted”; I was expecting a typical “Your question has been submitted” screen, and didn’t read it. I waited a week before re-submitting as I had no idea that had happened (doh).

    I still haven’t had my problem resolved and I sumbitted my question (actually submitted this time) before Christmas.

  7. @Katherine: Thanks for stopping by. For a company such as Valve, you think your login/pw for steam would automatically convert into a support ticket login as well (good catch). I wonder if there is some concern for phishing websites and security? Would be good to know.

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