Monday, August 4, 2008

Customer Service and the Lack Thereof

A few years back, I finally got out of one of my nerdish addictions, Magic: The Gathering. We had some good times, but the thrill was gone from the game, at least for me. I had packed away all of my cards (some of which were recently destroyed), and moved on to different hobbies that gave me new outlets for Geekery.

But the Magic-bug does not let go easily so I had to resort to MTG-Methadone, which was Magic Online. This was kinda nice, because even after I left the game, I still enjoyed a good draft or sealed deck now and then. (for those who don't know, the Sealed Deck and Draft formats are basically types of games where you used unopened product to build a deck with which the game is played, as opposed to building a deck from your own personal collection).

Now the MTGO servers for the first two releases have been notorious for instability, so WotC decided that if they wanted to grow out the game, they would have to rebuild the client from the ground up. This made the servers more stable, but there's still a lot of bugs in the software itself that jeopardize the games.

Saturday, I needed a fix, so I purchased some virtual product from their store and got in the queue for a draft. The way this should work is you wait until there's eight people in line, then you're whisked away to a "table" where you pick and choose from among the purchased cards what you will be playing. Kinda like an NFL draft, only with cardboard. Or virtual cardboard in this case.

Here's how my draft worked: seven other people got whisked away to the draft room, I stood "outside" for a half hour while my cards were randomly selected for me. Using the NFL draft again for a comparison, imagine one coach and his staff being made to wait outside while league official checks their reservations, or screens them through security again or some other BS. Then, when they are finally allowed to join in. There, the Coach was told that they were tired of waiting for him and everyone else picked that coaches players for him.

I submitted this to WotC's customer service staff, and provided all the information they asked for including graphics card information, a trace on my connection to the server, and other such rigmarole. I suspected a problem with the client software, but after all of this, my request was denied, as they ruled that it was caused by a connection error, which is not their responsibility.

"But," I protested, "While I was waiting for a half hour to pick cards, I was speaking to the Adepts (MTGO volunteer moderators) about the issue, I never left the computer, and all other aspects of the system worked just fine! Can I be disconnected while everything else involving an Internet connection and the MTGO Client was fully functional?"

verbatim reply:
"Yes you can because the games are held on different server. So you can have connection problems to a game, even though you could still use chat and other features. I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused."

They're server wasn't down at the time, so there's no way it can be their fault. If I take a car back to a dealership to have the CD player or door lock fixed under warranty, I don't want you to tell me that it doesn't need repaired because the engine still runs.

Just to put this all in perspective, I experienced bad service, and the Customer Service Staff is reluctant to give me a refund of product that doesn't even physically exist.

Do they understand, that they are competing against other countless other forms of online gaming, most of which are cheaper to get into than their own? That maaaybe handing over some pretend cards to a player might mollify him enough to keep playing their game and buying their virtual products?

I've had problems with Server Crashes in Version 2.5 where requests for refunds have went unanswered, but this is the first time where I was told by WotC that I'm not worth a few rows of database insert statements.

So, I'm done. WotC might be foolish enough to disregard the satisfaction of their customer base, but I guess I'm the bigger fool for putting up with it for as long as I did. I can't do anything about the former of those issues, but I fully intend to resolve the latter.

I try to keep the language as classy and tasteful as I can, but this is the first time I'm posting while truly pissed off, so it's time let someone know what I think of them:

Wizards of the Coast, it is my fervent desire that you asphyxiate upon a phallus!

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