Sony and especially PlayStation started out so well in this generation of consoles. A gamer friendly spin was the perfect salve for a Microsoft Xbox misstep and they have reaped the benefits of mindshare and sales accordingly. Yet in recent weeks I have encountered the unfriendly consumer side of PlayStation support in Australia and while living to tell the tale, I thought it might be one worth sharing.
It all started with a scary set of emails, two from Sony and One from PayPal. A request for a password reset, a thank you for a purchase and a bill from PayPal. It was a work day and in the haze that often comes over me while I work and had that ludicrous thought of ‘Did I forget I preordered something?’
Panic soon set in as I realised I had been hacked. It was only a mild sweat and absolutely no laboured breathing for the record. But I soon set about investigating the incident and my first visit was PayPal. I disputed the transaction and that was it. It’s why we use PayPal in the first place as an added measure of security.
It didn’t seem like that was at all understood by the recipients of my next phone call, Playstation support. The response was fairly quick and was told immediately that ‘Your account has indeed been compromised’ and an ‘investigation had been launched.’ I mentioned that I had put a hold on the payment through PayPal and the support person stated that my account would now be banned until the close of the investigation, a period of between 5 and 7 business days.
This seemed a little bit hostile especially when they acknowledged my account had been hacked. Still, what are you going do?
The good news was that both PayPal and PlayStation support found in my favour within a 48 hour period. It all seemed solved, the money returned, a relatively painless experience considering. Yet my adventure was just beginning and my hacker was the least of the troubles.
Communication Falls Apart
It was the following week that I wished to purchase some new PSVR titles from the online PlayStation store, the only place that they were available. I had one of our gaming events to organise and Star Wars Battlefront and Job Simulator were going to be the show pieces.
Before I purchased the items I took the added and suggested measure of putting in 2 Step Verification. For those of you who haven’t experienced it, basically, you’re sent a code via your mobile phone which is required to login as well as your password. It seemed like the smart thing to do.
It all went well, I didn’t use PayPal just in case.
The joys of the PlayStation Network and Australian Internet speeds meant that I had to wait overnight for them to download. The following evening, I sat down to play them, controller in hand, I logged in to PSN. The familiar vibration of a message came through on my phone with my verification code.
I typed it in.
It didn’t work…. The code you typed is incorrect.
Oh, I must have made a typo on this 6-digit number.
I logged out and got a new code, same problem.
It seemed one of two things I was unable to type in the smallest of codes correctly ( a distinct possibility considering my constant frustration at CAPTCHA) or something else was wrong.
I tried logging into the store via the internet and still, same problem, same error. It wasn’t until I tried to log into the Sony Playstation Support that I discovered a different error message.
‘Your account has been temporarily suspended’
There are two problems here, first what a ridiculous and useless error message and secondly why is there no information to communicate why I’ve been banned.
Back To My Friends At Playstation Support.
I promptly tried to call Playstation Support during their operating hours. It didn’t even ring, just a dial tone indicating I had been hung up on. Again, with the communication guys. A generic message that you were real busy randomly banning accounts might have been nice. So, I emailed, a nice friendly but frustrated email explaining the situation.
The reply the next day…. please could you call us.
Speaking again to support personnel I discovered that there was no definitive reason for why I’ve been banned. The person who again was friendly stated my account has been banned for the nebulous reason of ‘other’. They apologised and told me the ban would be lifted promptly. No explanation.
Fast forward 48 hours, the account ban had been lifted and with under 24 hours left to my event. I went to try my new products. A big lock appeared next the game icon on my PS4 and suggested that I buy these products. Wait, a second, haven’t I already done this?
I checked my bank accounts, the money had been taken, an email had been received confirming my purchases.
Guess what? Who ya gonna call? Playstation support.
‘Yes sir, it does seem you have purchased that product, but we cancelled it.’ It’s also probably why you were banned as a precautionary measure. You’ve banned me as a precautionary measure? Didn’t you think maybe you could have called? Emailed? Sent a message on PSN? No, it’s just automatic.
Your money should be returned to you in seven to ten days, the generic time frame for everything.
‘How am I meant to purchase the products then?’
‘Well, you could just try again and it should go through’
‘You can guarantee it will work and I won’t get banned?’
‘No but it should’
‘But you’re not certain?’
*Loudest possible frustrated sigh and laugh ever*
‘Should I use prepaid cards, is that more likely to work?’
The friendly Playstation Support Guy (and I mean that genuinely) asked ‘Is there anything else I can help you with today?’
I laughed ‘Honestly, I hope I never have to call you again’
We both laughed.
A somewhat desperate search through my local supermarket turned up little in the way of results for prepaid cards and I ended up using some nefarious site to get digital prepaid cards. I paused for a moment as the transaction went through and so far, so good.
It took my money another week later to be returned to me. The saga literally took three weeks to conclude.
In the end, it doesn’t come down to a whole lot in the scheme of things. It’s a small amount of money. A real first world problem. In fact, it only needs to be better communication and a more consumer friendly and efficient response. Surely, I’m not the first guy this had happened to.
The accusation is levelled at PlayStation support here it but it wouldn’t be hard to believe that other console manufacturers or even tech companies are much better. Yet getting back to PlayStation support and Sony in general, you can’t be a company that perpetuates this notion of 4thegamers and yet somehow be openly hostile to them, especially when clearly, they’ve done nothing to warrant it. It’s a shot in the darkness, a set of crossed fingers, a small voice in a loud cacophony of noise but hopefully someone shares this or reads this and it finds it hands into a PlayStation employee, because it needs to be done better and there won’t always be a consumer around to take advantage of.
For the record your staff were friendly, your policies and responses were not.
In a lovely ironic twist of fate, Playstation support have sent me a survey on the quality of their experience, I wonder what I could possibly say?