SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: Part 2

The other post was getting lengthy, and as this is the last update I foresee posting (and also, a longer one), I’m writing it in a new post. If you don’t know the story behind this, you should read SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: A Cautionary Tale. Context is everything.

Update: The Resolution

Update, Wednesday, June 20th, 9:02 p.m. I know I said I didn’t foresee updating again, but we might have a breakthrough here, guys:

Dear [...],

I am J– of Star Wars: The Old Republic Customer Service.

I have been trying to contact you over the phone today to discuss your accounts suspension. Unfortunately I believe we may either have an incorrect contact number or have been calling at an unsuitable time.

If it is appropriate for us to call you, please provide us with a time which suits best and phone number that will reach you.

If you do not wish to discuss this over the phone we can always correspond over email.

Thank you for your time.

If you have any further questions about this, or any other issue, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Sincerely,

J–

Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Customer Service

I sent him back my phone number and the best hours to call. I’ll let you know what happens.

—————————————————

Here is the email I received today:

Dear [...],

I am J– of Star Wars: The Old Republic Customer Service.

I am contacting you in relation to your one week suspension as a result of a Terms of Service violation.

I am very sorry if your suspension has caused any confusion or frustration. Terms of Service have examined your case in detail over the course of your dispute emails and have found that the suspension action on your account still stands. This one week suspension will be lifted on the 22nd of June.

Thank you for your patience in this matter, and if there’s anything further we can help you with please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Sincerely,

J–
Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Customer Service

We would love to hear your feedback on our Customer Service and invite you to fill out the following survey which will help us to continually improve our support!

There are so many things wrong with this message in light of everything I’ve already experienced, I don’t even feel like listing them out again. I have faith that those who have kept up with this rollercoaster ride can find all of its irony and frustration on their own.

I was on the fence about canceling until I got this. I’m not canceling because I got banned for a week. If I had knowingly done something wrong–or even if I had unwittingly done something wrong and was told what had happened so I could prevent it–I would have accepted the ban with no question. No, I’m canceling based on the principle of this whole experience. No customer should ever feel like this.

Here is the message I included when I canceled my subscription:

You can read the full account of my experiences here: http://battlechicken.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/swtor-my-unexplained-ban-a-cautionary-tale/. Not that you will, but you’re certainly welcome to.

This is why I’ve chosen to cancel my subscription:

I have been falsely accused of cheating four times now in the course of three days. I realize that whatever you’re seeing on your end must look very convincing, but whatever you’re seeing is wrong. If I did use a third party program with SWTOR, I am STILL unaware of what program I used, and I didn’t use it intentionally.

No one will talk to me. If someone would have an actual conversation with me, asking what programs I’ve used, what happened to me in game, getting details about what I have been doing, then maybe we could clear this up. I refuse to be treated unfairly and then get form letter after form letter telling me that I’m wrong without any actual discourse with your company.

There has been no legitimate attempt by your customer service to help me figure out what happened in this situation (exception given to JJ @SWTOR on Twitter, who did actually reach out to me). You have, in essence, treated me like a guilty liar without attempting to find out from me personally if there could be any truth behind what I’ve said. Based on the responses I’ve gotten, I’m still not sure anyone has actually read my emails.

I have been patient and thoughtful in all of my responses. I have tried to create some kind of communication, first by earnest emails and then with public support, and I’m still getting the exact same email over and over with absolutely no personal recognition of my experience or frustrations.

I still hold a faint hope that this could be resolved, not only for my sake, but for my husband, who is extremely upset that the game he’s waited for so long is being ruined for him with my issues.

Also, I hope you resolve your Customer Service issues in general for the sake of all of those others who have experienced this or similar and haven’t had the platform to voice their opinions and garner the support I have. I might have felt downright bullied were it not for the wonderful MMO/blogging/Twitter community that has consistently had my back through this situation.

However, my subscription is set to renew tomorrow, and I refuse to give that $15 to a company who treats their customers like liars and declines person-to-person interaction in a situation that has escalated to this point.

For this reason, I am canceling my subscription.

Good luck to you.

Sincerely,

[...]

C’est la vie. 

I’m sad about not being able to play a game I enjoy, but my principles will not allow me to sit down and accept this. Maybe there’s still some resolution to be had and I can come back. I hope so.

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45 Comments

Filed under Blogstuff, Experiences, Information

45 responses to “SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: Part 2

  1. I am sorry to see things end like this for you. :(

    I also really hope they wake up and do something about their customer service. The way they treated you is absurd to say the least.

  2. You could have formatted the cancellation letter to form the capital letters F & U. And perhaps in small print something like you can’t disclose the actual reason due to personal policies.

  3. Shannara

    I am glad you took that step. More and more people should stand up to criminals and take their money elsewhere.

  4. After reading about your experience , I know my husband and I won’t be playing, ( we were looking fora bit of a change from WoW over the summer) he used to play and I certainly won’t start now. I think people shouldn’t deal with companies that treat customers like that.

  5. Yep, the company refuses to talk to you, which is a shame. Try to have the issue escalated to a supervisor. You don’t need to yell or get out of control on a phone, just kindly ask to talk to a supervisor because all your e-mail attempts didn’t bring you the answer you are looking for, and you are feeling greatly ignored. Demand to talk to someone about it.

    If that doesn’t work? Keep going up until you can’t find anyone else to e-mail or call. It might consume some of your time and patience, but if you feel like it, please do it. I’ve seen it work with other kinds of products, and I don’t see why a game service should be different.

    • battlechicken

      That’s good advice, thank you Brazokie. It’s so frustrating to be stuck feeling like no one’s listening.

      • Might I suggest you find the President of BioWare’s e-mail and send an e-mail to him and any of the other upper management people you can find an e-mail address for. Can’t hurt, and it sometimes helps.

      • If not his email, then at least try his twitter; here’s Dr. Muzyka’s: https://twitter.com/#!/RayMuzyka … and Dr. Zeschuk’s:

        https://twitter.com/#!/DoktorZee

        As an analyst in a customer service call center, Brazokie’s advice is totally sound. There’s nothing we hate hearing more than the words ‘executive escalation.’ Set aside a couple of hours when you can and call BW customer service up. When you are on the phone with CS, ask to speak with a supervisor. Make sure you get the agent’s operator ID and document the major talking points and times, as well as ask for the case ID/ticket number. Advise the agent that you are documenting all of this for your own records. This will make the agent more receptive to an escalation. Once you are sure that the agent can’t/won’t help you, ask to escalate to a supervisor … and this is important, as soon as the ‘supervisor’ gets on the phone, ask if his actual title is ‘Supervisor.’ Many times, the escalation queue is just another set of higher-paid agents. He/she won’t want to be caught in a lie on a recorded line, so they’ll need to answer truthfully; if they hesitate, remind them that by their own admission they are on a recorded line and lying will be a ‘no tolerance’ quality failure. If it’s an agent, get their operator ID and escalate again. Keep escalating until you get the answer you need.

        The escalation path should be as follows: Agent -> Supervisor -> Operations Manager -> Site Manager -> General Manager -> Division Manager -> Regional Manager -> Executive Management

        The important thing is to never, ever hang up. Even if they frustrate you to the point of tears or leave you on hold for twenty minutes, NEVER hang up. Always get the operator ID first; if the agent hangs up on you or disconnects the call, you’ll need that info for your documentation. Document all disconnects and timestamp them. Hopefully you’ll be able to clear all of this up over the phone.

        Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you write a letter (a real, physical letter) to Drs. Muzyka and Zeschuk after all of this is over, no matter what resolution you reached. Show your documentation, time stamps, actions taken, operator IDs, and ticket numbers. Print out copies of your blog posts and include them as well. Include everything you’ve done and everything that’s been done to you, and mail it to their Edmonton address:

        BioWare Edmonton
        200-4445 Calgary Trail NW
        Edmonton AB
        Canada T6H 5R7

        Send it UPS/FedEx (yes, it will cost more than regular mail, but it WILL be worth it) that way you will have confirmation of receipt and automatic delivery to the Doctors’ administrative assistants. They will review and see your pile of documents and say, “Whoa, Doctor, come take a look at this.” I’ve seen it happen many times before. And since you’ve documented your tribulations with operator IDs and timestamps, they know EXACTLY who to point this to. The important thing about corporate culture is to provide documentation and someone to blame. When you mail something to corporate and include the reasons for why something happened, as well as documented proof of what their CS department did, you’d be amazed at the type of response you get. It may take a while (about a month), but I have been personally called by the President of Pitney Bowes as well as the Regional VP of Office Depot when I’ve used this exact same process. Believe it or not, they do care. May not seem like it, but they do.

        Best of luck in this, and hope this helps. (wall of text crits battlechicken of over 9000!)

      • battlechicken

        I am seriously considering this. It’s fantastic advice. I have one more avenue being explored, but if that doesn’t pan out, I will set aside some hours and try this.

        Thank you!

  6. Can only imagine how frustrated you must be!
    Even if they did a back flip if it were me I don’t know if i’d be able to overlook what’s already been done.
    I had some growing curiosity about SWTOR but no thanks. I wont be bothering with it if this is how they treat their customers.

    • battlechicken

      It really had been extremely frustrating. Even if I HAD broken the rules, I should be able to ask what I was caught doing, and further, I should at least get some form of personal correspondence. :-/

  7. Wow, was thinking about trying SWTOR but this has thoroughly convinced me against it. I hope you get resolution somehow, but I know I won’t be giving any money to them now.

  8. Pardoz

    Well, it’s good to know that they’re dedicating so much time and effort to suspending people for not-cheating (and spending even more time and effort refusing to explain why) rather than taking 15 seconds out of their busy day to force a rename on reknowned Jedi Consular Master Baiter…

    • battlechicken

      Lol, oh dear!

      • Pardoz

        I only wish I were kidding. Reported him when I saw him at level 2 proudly boasting in /general about how ‘mai frendz r gunna pl meh soz i kan haz Master taitl’.

        4 months later, just before the last day of my sub, still running around, now level 50, still proudly announcing the Jedi Order’s devotion to Onanism on the Republic Fleet…

      • battlechicken

        Makes you wonder exactly what’s going on around there, doesn’t it?

  9. As a CS manager, it’s pretty horrifying that this whole thing occurred. I could see the error the first time, but they compounded it infinitely by ignoring you. It would have only taken one person acting like a human being to make you feel better, even if whatever stupid policies they had in place prevented a fix. The fact that not a single person at SWTOR could take the time to speak to you like they cared really shows that they don’t care about the game anymore. That more than anything speaks volumes of SWTOR’s failure as a game. No wonder we’ve all moved on. Sorry you can’t play with your husband anymore, but I think you made the right call. We won’t forget!

    • battlechicken

      <3
      I hate to make the comparison, but when you do something in WoW against the rules, I'm pretty sure someone at Blizzard will talk to you one-on-one to tell you why you're banned. A guildy of mine says it happened once to him, and he was told, "you were seen with this and this." He didn't realize he had done something wrong, but once they pointed it out to him, he understood and accepted it.

      That experience was totally fair. This isn't. :-(

  10. I was pretty angry after reading the previous entry (I had a small rant about it to my wife), so you can imagine that BW’s continued approach of the customer is always wrong has not made me regard them in a more favorable light.

    Sad that they have forced you from enjoying their MMO and it will probably make you consider any of their future releases without being reminded of the lack of respect shown to you (and others). Customer service is the face of a corporation that the online public come into contact with but it seems they cannot grasp this simple principle. I did play SW:TOR for the first month but it wasn’t for me, I would be wary of any future online IP they might release.

    Any organization that hides behind the ‘not our policy’ defense doesn’t really deserve to be a commercial success, especially as this is not an isolated case.

    I hope you have better experiences with whatever replacement you find for SW:TOR

    • battlechicken

      The respect is the biggest problem for me. I just wanted some actual communication. No one ever tried to start a conversation, to give me a chance. That’s the worst part.

  11. Brian

    I myself have have just experienced this same issue as of this morning and have a 7 day suspension. Responses to my dispute emails almost read word for word the emails you have posted. I have been in contact with the customer service (billing, which is the only one you can actually talk too) as well as BW’s corporate office with no luck. It’s unfortunate that a company can suspend an account without actually giving a reason, then not have a way to effectively handle a dispute. The canned email responses are the part that bothers me the most. If for some reason I decide to wait out the 7 day suspension and keep my account open, what’s stopping me from getting suspended again without knowing what caused the issue to begin with.

    I could go on and on.. Point is, the email support is BS and the fact that there is no way to verbally handle a dispute like this is ridiculous.

    • battlechicken

      I really hate to know that this happened to someone else, but I’m not surprised. The initial canned email didn’t bother me, and though I was certainly annoyed at the reply, I wasn’t completely surprised. It was the two that came after that really flabbergasted me. If this is what “escalated ticket” means, I’m afraid they need a new dictionary.

      Agreed; the whole thing is a mess. I’m glad to know I’m not alone, in a way, but I hate that you had to deal with it, too. It does make me feel like whatever they’re seeing on their end is something they’ve caused, if you’re also getting unjustly accused.

      Sorry to hear this; *hugs*

    • “what’s stopping me from getting suspended again without knowing what caused the issue to begin with.”

      This is why the procedure of not disclosing exactly what you might have done to get a ban is flawed. Presumably the logic is that if it became widely known what third party software they can detect that software would be modified so that it could no longer be detected. It is a bad procedure none the less. If everyone who gets such a ban cancels their account maybe they might change their policy, but maybe not.

      If someone could organize a coordinated ‘email’ or similar protest aimed at whoever determines procedures and policy it could encourage a change otherwise people will continue to experience random bans. Keep in mind it would take thousands of protest communications to have any chance to achieve this.

      • battlechicken

        At this point, I would be okay with them not telling me what the third party program is IF they would say “this is what you were seen doing.” And then also, actually read my response and take it under consideration.

        I’m curious, Brian; the day before or of your ban, did anything weird happen to you in game? Any bugs or anything? Since they aren’t willing to disclose the info, maybe if we can figure out on our own something that’s triggering their system.

      • Brian

        The only bug I have experienced is one I’ve experienced many times before. My cool downs won’t show up on my screen, lifts won’t be moving, and I can’t join any war zones. I need to completely need to quit and re-log in order to correct. Other than that, nothing strange. I ran a couple dailies on Balsavis, and that’s it.

        I did do a server transfer for 2 characters on Friday, but who knows if something is causing issues there. And I’m pretty sure this is just coincidental, but I did find it ironic that my paid service expires 6/26 (7 days) which will also be the day my suspension will be lifted.

        I have ran my virus software to see if somehow I had a virus and nothing came up. At this point I’m completely stumped. I’m using what is essentially a brand new computer that I actually upgraded to in order to play this game. The only software I have installed other than the game has been Ventrilo and my anti-virus.

        It’s sounding more and more like there is a bug somewhere in their program that looks for 3rd party software.

        I seen in an earlier reply above the twitter accounts for the Bioware corporate people and checked them out. It does seem that Dr. Muzyka’s: https://twitter.com/#!/RayMuzyka responds to twitter comments (or someone does for him) so I’ve attempted that route as well. I just hate to have wasted the money to play this game, only to be kicked out when there is nothing I can see where I’ve done wrong.

      • battlechicken

        It’s gotta be something on their end. I still was wondering if it was something I had done, but it sounds like you took the exact same steps I took and got the same results. I asked about the bug because the day before one of my characters was stuck in the terrain (specifically, a mailbox).

        They’re going to keep losing customers if they falsely accuse people and then don’t talk to them, either. I already know of several people who have canceled their accounts or aren’t coming back because of this and other reasons.

        SWTOR’s/Bioware’s loss.

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  14. Un-freaking-believable. That is insane. My husband and I always planned on resubbing to SWTOR at some point in the future, but we likely will not ever return to it based purely on this account alone. I can’t stand Customer Service that refuses to actually talk to you, and for them to not tell you exactly what it is that you did wrong is complete garbage. I’d rather give my subscription dollars to a company with real customer service.

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  17. Zogax

    I completely understand what you went through in regards to this. This exact same thing happened to my wife. We found out that she was banned on Tuesday morning when the patch went live. The only difference is that we have yet to have been replied back to from Bioware. The only email we received from Bioware was the account suspension notice, and then on Friday we got an email informing us about the “Amazing Launch of patch 1.3″

    As of yet we still have had no response from Bioware.

    The account in question is still banned.

    Zogax

    • Zogax

      Oh I forgot to mention, we have called customer service twice on this and also sent out 2 emails to Bioware’s ban dispute email link that was in the ban notification.

      • battlechicken

        I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with this, too. Keep after them. Call, email, every day. Keep notes. Another commenter, Brian, went through this exact same thing. It took a few days (I think it was 5 or 6), but he did get it fully resolved. He was persistent.

        The problem is, they’re overloaded right now. The other problem is, that doesn’t absolve them of the responsibility of replying to their customers. You at least deserve a “we’re checking into this.”

        If you’re on Twitter, send some messages @SWTOR and @RayMuzyka. If you tag me as well (@battlechicken), I’ll pass them forward myself.

        Let me know what happens. I’m anticipating a follow-up call in the next week or so, and I’d like to know what happens in your situation so I can talk to them about it.

        Thanks, and good luck! Tell your wife she has my sympathy and shared frustration

        Also, I’ve been trying to check into things that could be causing false positives on my end, and this is a random question, but: does your wife ever experience a graphic issue that makes everything on the screen look like it’s moving really fast? Lights blinking faster than they should, character’s breathing rhythm seeming rushed, character looking like it’s running really fast? I’ve had this issue, and I was wondering if it could be related. Thanks!

  18. Zogax

    Just wanted to give an update.

    My wife’s ban time is over. We still have no idea what triggered this ban in the first place, sent Bioware several emails and calls. No response from Bioware.

    Since we have no idea what is the cause of this (along with many others at this point), we are very paranoid about playing her account.

    We have DELETED the two characters that triggered the ban.

    Now don’t panic, they were level 1 and level 4, but still, this should not of happened in the first place.

    Thank you for your Blog on this topic, it has really helped us out to know that we are alone.

    I really hope that Bioware gets on top of this issue of “false-positive triggers” and gets it corrected.

    I will close with these three words:

    Worst. Bug. EVER.

  19. Zogax

    Thank you for your Blog on this topic, it has really helped us out to know that we are alone.

    I meant that “we are not alone”

    *its early and I need more coffee :)

  20. Kleygus

    I had the same experience on Monday. My 6 year old daughter was playing the Spaceship missions and I of course turn off chat features (she is 6 so of course that’s what I do) and apparently she got a tell from a player who reported suspected botting and then a Bioware representative tried to contact with no answer.
    I went through the same issues and I demanded evidence of why the suspension stands and they said “We don’t disclose our investigation materials”
    I submitted a claim to the BBB since they refused to give me evidence and refused to cancel my account and give me a refund on the 68 days I had prepaid on my account.
    They sent the same response to the BBB and I responded that I wanted a refund or evidence of why they think I violated the TOS. I haven’t received a 2nd response yet, but I wont let them falsely accuse me and trample my rights.

    • battlechicken

      Nor should you. I ended up quitting SWTOR about a month and a half later. The customer service did not improve from everything I had seen and I honestly became extremely bored with the game. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.

      If I learned anything from this experience, it’s that it is okay to stick by your guns when you know you’re right.

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