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The Problem With EA's Customer Service

Discussion in 'UHall' started by Llewen, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    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.
     
  2. GarthGrey

    GarthGrey Crazed Zealot
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    I haven't read your entire posting, but most US companies (including the one I work for) have outsourced their CSC departments to Manilla. The problem is, Manilla doesn't set up individual stations for each account. They all handle calls from everyone. That's why they sound so programmed when you call...here's an example of one..."Thank for calling *pause as they look up who you're calling about*...HSBC Card Services on behalf of your.....*pause while they confirm what type of card you're calling about*....GMAC Flex card.....*pause*.....my name is *something inaudible making it impossible for you to log a complaint on this person*...how can I help you?.....

    They won't outsource the manufacture of important items (well, Microsoft did and look how the Xbox debuted*, but they'll let the "Voice of their company"ruin any and all good impressions of them, for $2.00 an hour.......USA 4tw!!!!!!
     
  3. Loqucious

    Loqucious Guest

    The problem with EA's customer service is that there is none and there doesn't seem to be anybody at the wheel who gives a damn.
     
  4. Rubican

    Rubican Guest

    I think one of the things we need to accept is that customer service is and will be sub-standard. If we can't learn to deal with it, we need to do as you did and move on.
     
  5. Katlene

    Katlene Guest


    QFT
     
  6. Experimental

    Experimental Lore Keeper
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    Yup, and all I can say is
    Gm Reviews
    Gm Reviews
    Gm Reviews
    Gm Reviews
    Gm Reviews
    Gm Reviews

    You don't have to be sending in a review on a GM to do this, it's just that this is the form EA gets, the one Jeremy told us to use (I think Jeremy reads them) and the one to use to send in complaints.
    I myself have used it three times this week and plan on sending a review in every time something pisses me off (written with tact, of course).
     
  7. MalagAste

    MalagAste Belaern d'Zhaunil
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    I have written GM reviews till I'm blue in the face..... don't do any good at all... 9 times out of 10 the damn GM hasn't even read nor can comprehend my page... most of the time I either get a canned comment about something completely unrelated to the issue... or I get zero ingame response after 4 to 6 hours... and find an email telling me it's NOT AN ISSUE!..... and nothing is done....

    Heck half the time I can call up EA customer service and NEVER find a way to an actual live person. All kind's of hoops you jump through and then sometimes I even get hung up on when calling Tech support!..... That's truly irritating....

    Nope I lost all hope or faith in EA customer service shortly after Mythic was brought onboard..... before that I could at least call customer service and TALK to someone.... even if sometimes they had NO clue what I was talking about.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Masuri

    Masuri Seasoned Veteran
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    This.

    Let's dispense with this mildly-offensive idea that outsourcing itself is really The Problem. It's not like paying good old fashioned Americans to work in their support call center would be any better. They'd care just as little, be just as rude, speak just as unintelligibly, be just as unaccountable, possess just as little actual knowledge, and be just as unhelpful. They'd suck just as much, and cost ten times as much. They aren't the problem. EA's 'who cares, they will keep paying us for nothing' attitude - and our willingness to do just that - that is the problem.

    OP, you did the right thing canceling. Companies only change their policies when enough people stop dealing with them that it hurts them where it counts: their bottom line.
     
  9. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    I filled out the customer satisfaction survey, and I was absolutely scathing. You would think they might be somewhat concerned that they lost a client who had been subscribing for more than six years, and for most of that time had been paying for more than one account, but I never received any indication that anyone had even read the survey.

    I emailed Jeremy about the problem, and referred her to the two threads about it, and heard nothing back from that either. My guess is that even if she wanted to do something about the issue, she is either too busy to deal with it, or simply doesn't have the necessary contacts or juice, or maybe I've managed to annoy her, as I seem to be at least an adept in that skill...

    Anyway, I've moved on. I'm waiting for Darkfall Online to go beta, now that it no longer looks like it is vapourware. This is the only time I'll mention this in this forum, but a ton of old UO players have gravitated to this game, because it's rules set is going to be very similar to that of old school, pre-Trammel UO.

    It is skill based, wide open pvp with consequences, with some amazing unique aspects to the game, such as true naval combat, and siege warfare. I've watched the supposedly unmodified game play video (I have no reason to think it has been modified other than the obvious moving from scene to scene), and the one example of mob a.i. I can think of in the video, is nothing short of stunning. I was not the only one that thought that the lizardman in question must have been played by a person, but wasn't apparently, it was all a.i.

    Anyway, that is the only DfO plug I will make here. Happy gaming everyone.
     
  10. Experimental

    Experimental Lore Keeper
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    Yup.
    Latest news on that:

    http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=228906

    and

    http://www.darkfallonline.com/news/

    (sorry, no time to shorten the links)
     
  11. Rix/\

    Rix/\ Guest

    heres an idea why don't some of you players who have this talent for starting in game biz, web sites for fans, brokers sites blah blah blah. Get off your rumps and see what it would take to start your own service so that EA has a better option if they need to hire an outside company to handle customer service. It isn't just a wage issue, it could be the availability of this particular service.
     
  12. Eslake

    Eslake Guest

    IMO, any company or individual that hires overseas when there is a willing resident of their own country willing to work for the going wage is a criminal (ragardless of where they are). At the very least it is grossly unethical.

    That aside, EA has always held a reputation for poor CS. Even before there was an OSI. That reputation has cost them major contracts not to mention hundreds of millions in repeat customers.

    They refuse to learn from their mistakes.
    Where the addage is a penny saved is a penny earned (and vise versa), EA has always given the impression that they believe a penny Saved Now is worth $3.50 in lost future earnings. :p
     
  13. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    I agree completely with this, that's why I was very careful in what I said. However, there can be no doubt that when you are in the service industry differences in culture and language can be a real issue. Again, the problem isn't so much that someone from a different culture is offering me service, the problem is that they haven't been trained properly.

    I should also be clear, I've never had problems with anyone from EA speaking poor English. It appears as though they have gone to great efforts hire individuals with excellent English skills. What I did find though was that the people who were attempting to assist me simply didn't understand the problem, and were fairly rude and unprofessional in their dealings with me. I'm guessing that at least part of that was the result of cultural differences.

    I wasn't perfect either, I was impatient, and I eventually became very upset, but a professional in the service industry must be trained to not take upset clients personally, and to maintain a professional, friendly and sympathetic attitude, regardless of how the client responds. Unless the client proceeds to be seriously abusive and threatening in some way, which was absolutely not the case here.

    I don't necessarily agree with this, but what I do have a problem with is companies that contract out, or move operations to developing economies to avoid labour regulations. If a company is moving operations so that they don't have to provide reasonable benefits, or so that they can make demands such as requiring workers on an hourly wage to work twelve hours a day for six days a week, that is criminal in my opinion.

    I'm not saying that this is the case with EA, I have no idea, but any time a company engages in this kind of practise, it does make you wonder. Now of course maybe they have perfectly good intentions, and are actually trying to improve the lives of people in the country they have switched operations to. If that is the case, then they deserve kudos, and not accusations.

    However, if you are going to do that you should do what you should do no matter where you are operating, make sure your employees, or those working under contract to you, are properly trained!
     
  14. the 4th man

    the 4th man Lore Master
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    You know.....I'm old school, and it was better then....jobs being outsourced are just corporate lingo for being placed overseas.

    That's the bs that brought our once industrial gigantism to a minute nothing.
    I don't go for that penny pinching guff.....

    Still, I for one, have to deal with the hard to understand CS reps too...just like they can't understand me.....oh well, so goes life.

    I wouldn't quit an online game though, there are other things in my life more vital when connecting CS with a product....take your ISP for example.

    UO has yet to do anything to drastically make want to quit.

    later
     
  15. phantus

    phantus Stratics Legend
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    Generally speaking it's not what they do, it's what they don't do that causes people to quit.