I no longer play UO, so you may wonder why I'm posting here again. Well, I still have friends who do, and one of them wanted to know why I stopped playing UO. For anyone that doesn't know you can get the basic idea here. Anyway, I described at some length today the incident that led to my cancelling my accounts, and reliving it got me thinking about it some more. The basic reasons were EA's horrible customer service, as the specific incident that led to my cancelling my accounts illustrates quite clearly, and the issue of cheating. I've already posted at great length on various occasions my opinions and complaints regarding the issue of cheating, so I won't go into that again here. What I wanted to share was some conclusions I have drawn regarding the horrible customer service EA offers. And let me be clear, if you can't plough through that thread that I provided the link to, EA's customer service is abysmal. Bar none the worst I have ever seen in my 43 years of existence in any corporate body, in any situation, in any place. I have subscribed to several other mmo's and all of them provided far better customer service than that provided by EA, and I think I know the reason why. I believe, and I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this is the case, that EA, in an effort to cut costs and streamline operations, read, "crush the competition", has outsourced it's customer service to a third party, or parties. I very much expect that also, in an effort to lower costs, they have outsourced their customer service to companies based in developing economies, for the same reason that any other company does it, they can pay far lower wages, with much less expensive benefit packages. In addition labour laws tend to be much less stringent than they are in the developed economies, so they can legally demand more of those employees in terms of work hours, with far greater options in terms of dismissal when they are dissatisfied with their employees. Technically there is nothing wrong with this. I don't have a problem with companies providing employment to people in developing economies. I don't think that those employees are intrinsically less worthy in any way than employees in the developed economies. However, it certainly does illustrate the importance that EA places on the bottom line, and highlights a certain odious corporate desire to circumvent the legal and financial protections that are necessary when offering employment in developed economies. It is also one of the major reasons why EA's customer service, flat out sucks. So why does this practise tend to result in sub par customer service? It certainly isn't because people in other countries aren't as smart as Americans, or as capable, but what I have seen, and what the specific incident that led to my closing my accounts amply illustrates, is that there is a huge disconnect between the customer service, and the products being supported. In other words, the customer service representatives have little or no first hand experience with the products they are supporting, and access to their client, in this case EA, is limited, ie. if there is a problem that they haven't specifically been provided information on dealing with, they can't call down the hall to the IT department, or a game master, and get a quick answer to this question that they aren't prepared for, in part because their IT department has nothing to do with the products they are supporting, and the relevant IT department is located on the other side of the planet, and seeing as they are the ones who have been contracted to provide customer service, I very much expect they are loathe to pass on customer support incidents they don't have the resources or information to handle to the company they are being payed to relieve of that burden. What makes the situation even worse is that it very much appears that EA has not kept the support information it has provided to it's contractors, up to date. In the specific incident that led to my cancelling my accounts, it was pretty clear that the support person was offering advice and information that was, at a minimum, six years out of date. Then when you add to that mix differences in cultures, and the fact that it is very likely for many of these employees the language they are providing support in is not their native language, you have a recipe for customer service disaster. I have railed in the past about the cheating issue, and this was in fact one of the factors in my deciding to cancel my accounts, but in my opinion, this issue of abysmal customer service, is as important an issue bearing on the long term success of UO, as the cheating issue is. Now I should add this, perhaps EA hasn't contracted out it's customer support. If that is the case, then I am back to square one as to comprehending how EA, a very large, thoroughly modern and professional company, with supposedly educated and experienced leadership, can offer such abominable customer support for their products.