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Grimmig
12.11.2012 , 10:59 AM | #1
Some background:

I created my account on swtor.com on 10/22/2008. I played the hell out of the beta. My account includes a pre-order code, a digital copy purchased at retail, and 7 or 8 months of subscription fees including the crucial launch months. My young child is in love with Blizz and she won't let me play without talking to him, thank goodness for the party Jawa so I she can see him no matter what character I want to play.

To say I have been a vocal and prolific promoter of SWTOR would be a gross understatement.

Immediately prior to the game going F2P my account was resubscribed for a month so that I could release character names I held for my wife since launch, she was finally going to give the game a try!

Thus begins the fail:

Cartel Coins were used to purchase account-wide unlocks to enable features for her account, and mine in preparation of letting my subscription lapse so that I was playing with the same limitations as her. The hope was (is?) that if she likes the game well enough we would both become subscribers.

The following account-wide unlocks were purchased from the Cartel Market:

12/07/2012 Authorization: Artifact Equipment (Account) -2700
12/03/2012 Customization Control: Hide Head Slot (Account) -775
12/03/2012 Customization Control: Hide Head Slot (Account) -775
12/03/2012 Customization Control: Unify Colors (Account) -775
12/03/2012 Customization Control: Unify Colors (Account) -775
12/03/2012 Unlock: Inventory Module (Account) -390
12/03/2012 Unlock: Inventory Module (Account) -390
12/03/2012 Unlock: Inventory Module (Account) -390
12/03/2012 Unlock: Inventory Module (Account) -390
12/03/2012 Unlock: Inventory Module (Account) -390
12/03/2012 Unlock: Crew Skill Slot (Account) -945
12/03/2012 Authorization: Artifact Equipment (Account) -2700

One each of Artifact Equipment, Hide Head Slot, and Unify Colors were mailed to my wife's characters which she used without problem. I have also bought her many account-wide unlocks via GTN and all were used without issue.

The Inventory Module unlocks were used on my account immediately and without issue. The remainder I saved.

On 12/08/2012 my subscription time ran out, and on 12/09/2012 between 01:00AM and 02:00AM CST I logged in to my now Preferred Status account. I attempted to use the following Cartel Market items:

Unlock: Section-X (Account) [purchased from GTN]
Authorization: Artifact Equipment (Account) [purchased from Cartel Market]
Customization Control: Hide Head Slot (Account) purchased from Cartel Market]
Customization Control: Unify Colors (Account) [purchased from Cartel Market]
Unlock: Crew Skill Slot (Account) [purchased from Cartel Market]

The access to Artifact equipment unlock worked fine across all characters on my account. The access to Section-X works fine.

The 3rd Crew Skill slot unlocked for all characters, although I can now only queue up one item for creation per companion. That seems like something that should be unlocked with the purchase of the 3rd crew skill unlock.

The Customization Control: Hide Head Slot (Account) and Customization Control: Unify Colors (Account) both failed to unlock those features.

Let me remind the audience that these items were bought from the Cartel Market, using Cartel Coins, which cost real money when purchased from swtor.com

Both items cannot be used while an account has subscription time, it correctly notifies you that you already have access to those features. In fact a subscribed account wouldn't even need to buy those items in the first place, but as I mentioned I let my subscription lapse.

So I logged a ticket (#7309532) courteously explaining this situation in detail. This the response I received via email:

Quote:
Greetings,

I am Protocol Droid M0-T0, Human-Cyborg Relations.

Thank you for contacting us to report the issue you encountered.

If you have a Preferred status or Free-to-Play account, please be aware that in-game support, including item and character restorations, is only available to subscribers.
The ticket was closed.

I logged another ticket filed as a bug report (#7325596) containing essentially the same details as this post, it is currently still open.

I called Customer Service and spent 55 minutes on the phone bouncing between a front line CSR and his manager, they did nothing for me. Actually that's not true, while I was calm and firm with them on the phone they sent me into a rage. They informed me that in-game support was not available to me because I was not a subscriber. They informed me that item restoration was not available to me because I was a subscriber. They acknowledged that the items I purchased via Cartel Market had cost real money, and that I had not received what had been paid for. They agreed that sounded like the legal definition of fraud.

But as far as resolving the issue, their only suggestion was to log a ticket in game. This was from the supervisor, a woman who had just finished telling me I could get no support in-game nor could I get item restoration or replacement of the Cartel Coins.

I tried once more to explain to her that a subscription account could not even USE the items I had purchased from the Cartel Market, nor would they want or need to. So in order to to encounter this issue you needed a F2P account of any status.

Now my question is this...

If real USD are used to purchase Cartel Coins on swtor.com and those Cartel Coins are used on the in-game Cartel Market to purchase the unlocking of features and those features continue to remain locked, does that not constitute a bug that is in no way the fault of the customer? Are they not entitled to replacement or reimbursement? Would failure to provide such replacement or reimbursement actually amount to being defrauded?

To top it all off, I was unable to post on the Customer Service forum.

That's right. You spend money on swtor.com to unlock game features, and the phone support tells you log a ticket in-game (and they tell you that you aren't entitled to in-game support anyway). The response to the ticket is that you aren't entitled to in-game support, call the phone number. You can't post on the Customer Service forum.

The lesson here is that apparently the only dollars that matter are subscription dollars. Apparently dollars spent to buy Cartel Coins are different from dollars gained via recurring subscription fees.

It is a tremendous customer service failure to not support F2P accounts. The only reason to move a game to F2P is because subscription revenue isn't providing the ROI the publisher desires, hence the switch to microtransactions to bring in the bucks. But then you tell the people who will be making all of those microtransactions that their money is basically just a gamble, and if an item fails to provide desired (promised?) result they are just SOL, buy it again and try it again.

The thing that really pissed me off is that I had to subscribe my account for another month, although I did not intend to, just so I could post this to the Customer Service forum. So since I'm a subscriber again I logged a ticket for Item Restoration containing all this information (#7337890).

Prior to this incident I was an unashamed fanboy, a hugely vocal supporter of the game. I was a person who followed every development rumor, press release, beta access, and essentially every little bit of game related information I could get my hands on. Now, I would have to say I'm on the verge of becoming an equally vocal and vehement detractor.

Sadly, it's not even really the money. The Cartel Coin value of the two failed account-wide unlocks amounts to what, $10 USD maybe?

It's the way I was treated over the whole thing. The lack of anyone attempting to address this problem, which I can guarantee I'm not the only one who is going to have this issue. The complete and utter lack of any form of customer service whatsoever being available to me simply because I've not comitted $15/mo. Regardless of the fact that money is money and they got some from me, unless it's promised monthly your money means nothing - it's the subscription that validates you as a person worth treating as a customer, apparently. The brushing off, the runaround, and the passing of the buck is what has pissed me off.

This is not the way to convert F2P players (like my wife) into subscribers. It's not the way to retain customer loyalty (like mine). In this day and age, when social media can cause something to go viral, stories like this are ones you want to resolve quickly and quietly before a $10 issue costs vastly more in lost revenue as people decide they don't want to face the same headache and play a different game.

The total monetary value of my complaint is what, 1550 Cartel Coins and $14.99 USD for the month worth of subscription I had to buy just to post this. So what, it comes to maybe $25 USD. Big deal. The ill-will generated by the handling of this issue is incalculable. It was a simple problem with a simple solution.

Hopefully, a CSR will actually read this wall of text and figure out the appropriate response.