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Author Topic: Why, screw you Walmart. And you too, Valve. And BTW, Steam sucks.  (Read 2793 times)
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Darkstar One
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« on: March 06, 2009, 03:42:17 AM »

Sorry, I just had to blow off some Steam (pun INTENDED) after what I went through today.

Went to Walmart, bright and early this morning.  Picked up Empire:  Total War.
Get it home.  Go to install it.
And Steam tells me that my key has already been registered!  Yea, I bought the game sealed in plastic.

So I take the game back to Walmart.  Go to return it, explaining what had happened.  The cashier at customer service was JUST about to process the return when a manager came by
and asked why the game was being returned.  I told him.  He opens the box, takes a look at it, and tells me they can't accept the return, that they have no way to know whether or not I've actually used that key myself or given it to someone else.  Asking for the store manager does no good--he tells me to take it up with Steam/Valve.

So I email Steam customer service..and through three back and forth emails their message is "Sorry, we can't/won't do anything to help you, take it up with Walmart."

Great.  Their system screws up, and I'm supposed to eat the $50 and change?  It's not the money, it truly is the principle here.

I'm waiting for a call back from a Walmart DM tomorrow.  If I don't hear back and get satisfaction from him, it's chargeback time.

I just find it unbelievable that Steam/Valve's attitude is "sorry, you're SOL"
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Kagath
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2009, 03:59:57 AM »

Yeah, unfortunately as much as people praise Steam this kind of occurrence seems to happen often while dealing with them. 'We got your money, now piss off' attitude.

Good luck.
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2009, 04:09:20 AM »

What Valve should do is ban the serial you have that is taken and give you A new one.
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2009, 04:16:12 AM »

I suggested that.  They told me "how do we know yours is valid and theirs isn't"
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2009, 04:20:23 AM »

Id ask them why the hell do they bother printing the things then hehe. That sucks.
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2009, 04:25:07 AM »

Quote from: Darkstar One on March 06, 2009, 04:16:12 AM

I suggested that.  They told me "how do we know yours is valid and theirs isn't"

Not sure if Steam/Valve still have this policy, but as recently as last year you could (or had to) actually take a picture of the key and UPC code and game or something like that and email it to them to prove that you owned the game.  Seems like this would be a case for that.

EDIT: now that I think about it, that may have been using a registered code to prove that the account it is registered to is yours (when it has been hacked).
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2009, 05:07:03 AM »

Wow. I have to admit, I am one of those "what's so bad about DRM" kinda guys since I have never had an issue. But I sure would be quite pissed if this happened to me. It will be interesting to see what the DM does.
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2009, 05:20:07 AM »

When I had an issue with a used game I got from someone here, they told me to scan a copy of the receipt to prove that I had bought the game. Of course I didn't have a receipt, but if I had that would have done the trick.

Don't give up on this. Write them back, tell them that you have a receipt showing the game was purchased new, that you have the disc, the box, everything, and you'd be willing to prove ownership.

Total pain in the ass, but I think persistence will pay off here. I wouldn't be surprised if the service reps have standing instructions (due to scammers) to deny the first such request.

If all else fails I would contest the charge with my credit card company. If that fails, take it to the Better Business Bureau and to your Attorney General's office.
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2009, 05:58:33 AM »

I guess it's a blessing that when I tried to sign up for Steam a few days ago to buy Galactrix it kept saying there was a problem with my registration. So I never was able to sign up for Steam and instead took my $20 happily to Stardock's Impulse.

It's outrageous that it's such a hassle for you to activate your legitimately bought game. Valve should be bending over backwards to help you.
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2009, 06:06:01 AM »

Chargeback first, play nice second. Otherwise, bend over, bring your own vaseline, and HOPE they don't take advantage.

Rule 1: Companies are not people, they're companies. They don't have a heart, etc etc, so no remorse/guilt/etc that you got screwed.

Rule 2: People don't generally want a hassle. How many times have you hit 'Sorry, company policy' from someone? That's because they either didn't want to get involved, or someone higher up the food chain ordered them not to.

All this boils down to, secure the money first, THEN take up negotiations with walmart/steam etc. That way you're at least negotiating from a position that, other than annoyance, you won't lose anything if they stonewall you.

How much time you really want to burn on this?

Pretty sure you're time limited on how long you can wait before complaining to the CC company.

Oh yeah. I've been using Steam for a long time, with no issues. But generally speaking, I don't buy store copies, and then activate them on steam... I buy them through the Steam interface, and download them... this won't work well for anyone not on broadband, but other than that, it's been completely trouble free.

Atomic

PS: Thankyou... I've just realized a perfectly good reason to actually use a credit card, as opposed to debit card/paying cash for purchases... and THIS is a perfect example. I had a friend get burned a while back by a certain electronics company that shall remain nameless. Bought new VCR in box. We take it to his place, plug it in... dead in the box. No prob... box it back up, return it, same day, to the store. We're in the middle of getting it returned when the manager bulls his way past several people to involve himself in our conversation with the returns clerk... opens up the box, pulls out the vcr... and lo and behold.. it's last years model in this years box. (this is a new in the box unit, folks, heat sealed, the works). He refuses the return.

Because my friend paid cash, he was out the 80$. Because my friend was lazy, he didn't get a replacement vcr from symphonic when we phoned and made the complaint... they offered him a brand new replacement, if he'd write out the complaint and send it to them... he never got around to it. :/ (apparently this was a known issue... they appeared to be collecting evidence, thus the offer)

For those who aren't putting it all together, I'm pretty sure someone in the store, opened the box, swapped the vcr's, and resealed the box/put it on the shelf. And unless I'm mistaken, the manager knew about it, and rushed over when he saw us trying to return it at the counter. (the girl did NOT call for his assistance). He was extremely unhelpful, to the point of insinuating we had made the swap, and ordering us to leave the store, iirc. I must admit, I nearly got arrested that day... my friend is probably the nicest human being I've ever met... for someone to imply that he's dishonest... let's just say I was a little volcanic and leave it at that.

If my friend had used a credit card, we could have made a fraud complaint to the cc company, gotten the charges reversed, etc.
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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2009, 06:12:08 AM »

Quote from: Godzilla Blitz on March 06, 2009, 05:20:07 AM

When I had an issue with a used game I got from someone here, they told me to scan a copy of the receipt to prove that I had bought the game. Of course I didn't have a receipt, but if I had that would have done the trick.

Don't give up on this. Write them back, tell them that you have a receipt showing the game was purchased new, that you have the disc, the box, everything, and you'd be willing to prove ownership.

Total pain in the ass, but I think persistence will pay off here. I wouldn't be surprised if the service reps have standing instructions (due to scammers) to deny the first such request.

If all else fails I would contest the charge with my credit card company. If that fails, take it to the Better Business Bureau and to your Attorney General's office.

Yeah, I'd offer to prove it to them.  It sucks but what else can you do?  I suppose you could just do the charge back and buy the game somewhere else, but either way your are dealing with Steam with this game.

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« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2009, 07:22:58 AM »

Quote from: Godzilla Blitz on March 06, 2009, 05:20:07 AM

When I had an issue with a used game I got from someone here, they told me to scan a copy of the receipt to prove that I had bought the game.
When I managed a tech support team for a software company that was the policy we had, except we required a 2nd confirmation similar to what Engine stated here.

Quote from: EngineNo9 on March 06, 2009, 04:25:07 AM

Not sure if Steam/Valve still have this policy, but as recently as last year you could (or had to) actually take a picture of the key and UPC code and game or something like that and email it to them to prove that you owned the game.

In our case it was either a UPS code or a scan/photocopy of the CD-ROM label. I'm not sure about various states in the US, but the Sales and Goods act for the province I live in requires that you have some process to cover for this type of situation. I'd be surprised if Valve didn't have a similar mechanism, and you probably just need to escalate your problem up the chain of command a bit. I can also say that on the other side of the coin, there's unfortunately a heckuva lot of people that try and scam for freebies. You can often determine what is and what isn't a legitimate claim with a series of good closing questions. However, it's often just the Manager and Supervisors that have those skills or the actual authority to do anything about it. It's unlikely a front line customer service/support agent will be able to do anything, so you'll need to push a bit to get a resolution.
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« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2009, 07:26:52 AM »

It's bullshit we can't return a PC game. Look idiots, if we wanted to steal the game we wouldn't have gone to the store in the first place. I'm not sure if you have heard of this "internet" but we can download it easier than walking through your store. I like how retail is stuck 10 years behind the real world.

It's ridiculous. You brought a product, it doesn't work. Simple as that. This is one reason I hate DRM. I'm not a bloody thief, but if you treat me like one I may as well be one, right? It's far easier to download a game and never have to put up with disc swapping, cd keys and limited installs than going to a store and spending 50 bucks. But I digress.


edit: I'll say that I do love steam though. In fact, I pretty much won't buy a PC game any where else. That is if you can actually find it in a 4x4 section at a store to begin with.
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« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2009, 07:32:56 AM »

That sucks DS1, sorry to hear it... While I dont have any good tips, I must admit I wonder at the store(managers)s that do things like this? It's like some people dont realize that their entire business is made up of their costumers, however annoying they are. While the clerks/store manager still get paid no matter what the sales are, chances are, especially in these times of crisis, that low sales results in layoffs and/or closure of the store.
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kronovan
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« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2009, 07:42:08 AM »

Quote from: jersoc on March 06, 2009, 07:26:52 AM

It's bullshit we can't return a PC game. Look idiots, if we wanted to steal the game we wouldn't have gone to the store in the first place. I'm not sure if you have heard of this "internet" but we can download it easier than walking through your store. I like how retail is stuck 10 years behind the real world.

I'm actually surprised that the no return policy for games and software hasn't disappeared. When I worked in support there wasn't DRM because not enough customers had Internet connectivity of stable enough connections to make it work. On the other hand there were a lot of CD-ROM burners around. That's the era in which the Retailers' no return policy began, and unfortunately it was a necessary evil for the time. With DRM so common now, there really isn't much of a justification for keeping that policy. I guess if people stop buying at storefront retailers that might force the change.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 08:00:20 AM by kronovan » Logged
Sarkus
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« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2009, 08:13:37 AM »

It's actually odd that to me that they refused to exchange the game now that I think about it.  I think your mistake was in telling them all the details.  Had you simply said "hey, I bought this earlier and it doesn't work, I'd like to exchange it" they wouldn't have had any ground to refuse it.  If it was me I'd simply go to another Walmart and do the exchange there if it's possible and this time don't get too specific. 

A weird thing with WalMart and games, DVDs, and CDs is that somewhere along the line their corporate office started telling everyone that is was illegal for them to take those items back except for defective exchange.  It makes me wonder if there is some state somewhere that has decided that officially because I know from working at other national retailers that they will often change policies everywhere if it's to their advantage if they have some state somewhere they can use as a justification.  That's what GameStop told us (I was a store manager at the time) when they stopped allowing games to be returned for any reason.  Some legal decision in California allowed them to justify the change. 

I work part-time at a WalMart and what is annoying is that what is allowed to be returned is very inconsistent and often simply depends on the mood of the manager called to make the decision.  I've had situations where it was very obvious to me that the customer was scamming the store for serious money where it was approved and others where the item returned was so cheap it wasn't worth arguing about where they refused to do it.

« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 08:18:26 AM by Sarkus » Logged

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Darkstar One
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« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2009, 08:59:37 AM »

I know I could escalate it further, but they're not worth my time when I can just wheel out the nuclear option (chargeback).
ESPECIALLY after the amount of aggravation I've had with it so far.  If I didn't have a pile of games in my Steam account I'd tell them exactly what they can do with their
precious DRM.
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« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2009, 09:17:42 AM »

Quote from: kronovan on March 06, 2009, 07:42:08 AM

Quote from: jersoc on March 06, 2009, 07:26:52 AM

It's bullshit we can't return a PC game. Look idiots, if we wanted to steal the game we wouldn't have gone to the store in the first place. I'm not sure if you have heard of this "internet" but we can download it easier than walking through your store. I like how retail is stuck 10 years behind the real world.

I'm actually surprised that the no return policy for games and software hasn't disappeared. When I worked in support there wasn't DRM because not enough customers had Internet connectivity of stable enough connections to make it work. On the other hand there were a lot of CD-ROM burners around. That's the era in which the Retailers' no return policy began, and unfortunately it was a necessary evil for the time. With DRM so common now, there really isn't much of a justification for keeping that policy. I guess if people stop buying at storefront retailers that might force the change.

Unless someone "un-invented" cracks then I don't see what purpose there would be to remove the return policy.  You could just install the game, apply a patch and take the game back to the store and say it was defective or didn't work on your computer or something.
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« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2009, 09:25:25 AM »

Here it is actually written into law, you can return anything the first week without answering any questions.

I am surprised though that VALVE didn't offer to check your reciept or something, surely you can show them your VISA transactino or something?
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Darkstar One
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« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2009, 12:13:39 PM »

Quote from: Canuck on March 06, 2009, 09:17:42 AM

Quote from: kronovan on March 06, 2009, 07:42:08 AM

Quote from: jersoc on March 06, 2009, 07:26:52 AM

It's bullshit we can't return a PC game. Look idiots, if we wanted to steal the game we wouldn't have gone to the store in the first place. I'm not sure if you have heard of this "internet" but we can download it easier than walking through your store. I like how retail is stuck 10 years behind the real world.

I'm actually surprised that the no return policy for games and software hasn't disappeared. When I worked in support there wasn't DRM because not enough customers had Internet connectivity of stable enough connections to make it work. On the other hand there were a lot of CD-ROM burners around. That's the era in which the Retailers' no return policy began, and unfortunately it was a necessary evil for the time. With DRM so common now, there really isn't much of a justification for keeping that policy. I guess if people stop buying at storefront retailers that might force the change.

Unless someone "un-invented" cracks then I don't see what purpose there would be to remove the return policy.  You could just install the game, apply a patch and take the game back to the store and say it was defective or didn't work on your computer or something.

Yea, but people can torrent their games for free anyway.  And there are so many private torrent sites out there that it really isn't that hard for someone to get what they want fast if they choose to steal it.
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« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2009, 12:24:12 PM »

Quote from: Darkstar One on March 06, 2009, 04:16:12 AM

I suggested that.  They told me "how do we know yours is valid and theirs isn't"

Send them a photo.
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« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2009, 12:28:30 PM »

Take it to a different wal-mart, and say that the disk doesn't read or something similar. Telll them you disagree with the Terms and Conditions, or that this is for a a pre-teen and their mom said no to the ESRB rating.
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« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2009, 02:21:37 PM »

Steam policy sucks.

I had a run in with them, recently.  Mine is a less valid complaint than yours, but it seems to me any other company would have said, "Sure, we value your business.  We'll help you out."

Basically, I bought two games for $10 each (and a number of other games, as well) that became part of the Indie Games pack the very next day.  That pack was 5 games for $10.  I bought one of the other games a longer time ago, so no big deal, but basically, they've taught me to never again buy anything full retail price from Steam.

In dealing with e-mails back and forth, it really has been a "thanks for the money, now fuck off" kind of thing.  I started the process the Friday the deal was announced.  They took a couple of days to get back, but the deal was still going on.  A little back and forth.  Then a guy (possibly a manager) comes back to me with "Unfortunately, this package was only available for the duration of the weekend sale which has now expired."

Are you fucking kidding me?!

Look, I know I'm not entitled to this, but there should be something about customer service and wanting to keep your customers happy.  Instead, they've essentially thrown me away.  That attitude will bite them in the ass in the long run.

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« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2009, 02:24:36 PM »

Quote from: Purge on March 06, 2009, 12:28:30 PM

Take it to a different wal-mart, and say that the disk doesn't read or something similar. Telll them you disagree with the Terms and Conditions, or that this is for a a pre-teen and their mom said no to the ESRB rating.

This should work just fine, or even just going back to the first WM on a different shift. (You shouldn't have to). By saying you want another copy of the SAME game, this should be a big green flag in the mind of the cashier doing the return. It should signal that you aren't trying to copy the game and get another one, but that your game/disc was genuinely defective. Walmart returns are generally pretty easy, but software, and most things from the "electronics department" are going to raise their suspicion.

I'm a fan of Steam, but right now I'd be more pissed at them than I would be at Walmart in this case. Valve/Steam probably sees hundreds of scam attempts on a daily basis though, and your legit claim might just be blending in to those. Like others have said, I'd press the issue with them. Using the magic 'chargeback' word might help in getting some resolution.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 02:29:25 PM by Jeff » Logged
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« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2009, 04:15:04 PM »

I usually am a steam supporter, but this does come across as being really unfair to the customer.   icon_evil
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« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2009, 04:35:33 PM »

While I like Steam, I only use it to buy games online; the whole "buy a serial number at the store and register it through steam" model doesn't make any sense to me, and this is a good example why.

Hope you manage to get it straightened out Darkstar - this sucks.
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« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2009, 04:55:15 PM »

It makes sense when the store copies are discounted $10-15 below the Steam versions the week of release, and you don't have to spend the time downloading the massive files through a network clogged with people trying to do the same thing.

That said, I also have no problem buying directly through Steam.  I'll do whichever benefits me more.
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« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2009, 05:39:47 PM »

PC World has an On Your Side consumer advocacy column where (probably 99% of the time) they work out complaints consumers had with a purchase (usually it's hardware but sometimes it's software registration related, and often its about rebates sent in for but never received). Usually the company will work out the case to avoid bad publicity and then the column will explain the situation and either what's wrong with it or how to avoid it.

I don't know if they look into game purchase-related stuff, but it might be worth trying:
http://www.pcworld.com/blogs/id,44/on_your_side.html

I'm not really sure where you send inquiries for consideration in the column though. I'll check my print issues when I get home, maybe there's an e-mail address they only list in print or something. They may actually have done away with the column as part of cost/staff-cutting measures, another sucky economy-related thing. disgust

It's a shame one of the gaming news mags or sites doesn't do something along those lines with regards to game purchases. I bet it would probably be clogged with people seeking help, and it's the kind of thing that would leverage Valve/Steam into doing something about this if it's happening to a lot of folks.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 05:57:47 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2009, 06:37:59 PM »

I returned an Xbox 360 that I had bought, which RROD 3 days after I bought it.  They took it back, in fact they didn't even look in the box to see if anything was there.

I would just lie, and say that the disk doesn't read, or that even better, it's missing a disk all together.
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« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2009, 10:49:19 PM »

I suggest sending your story to Consumerist...  If they publish it, Valve and WalMart both are likely to try to offer you something: http://consumerist.com/

Consumerist stories are dugg up frequently on Digg and receive a good bit of Internet attention.
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« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2009, 12:51:36 AM »

Just dispute the charges(assuming you paid with a card and not cash). When a store has tried to screw me in the past I would just say that and there attitude would change fast. Don't let them jack you over cause some asshole Walmart employee probably opened the game to use the key.
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« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2009, 04:26:21 AM »

Quote from: Jumangi on March 07, 2009, 12:51:36 AM

Just dispute the charges(assuming you paid with a card and not cash). When a store has tried to screw me in the past I would just say that and there attitude would change fast. Don't let them jack you over cause some asshole Walmart employee probably opened the game to use the key.
The game was sealed in plastic, so it's doubtful an employee opened the game and used the key.  How come I doubt that people would be as upset if this was a Target or other retailer.

Personally, this is one of the things I don't like about Steam.  I bought the game, I can install it, but I can't play it until it gets connected?  No thanks.
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« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2009, 05:37:30 AM »

Quote from: Graham on March 07, 2009, 04:26:21 AM

Quote from: Jumangi on March 07, 2009, 12:51:36 AM

Just dispute the charges(assuming you paid with a card and not cash). When a store has tried to screw me in the past I would just say that and there attitude would change fast. Don't let them jack you over cause some asshole Walmart employee probably opened the game to use the key.
How come I doubt that people would be as upset if this was a Target or other retailer.
That's a good question. Why do you doubt that people would be upset about any store fucking somebody over?
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« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2009, 06:59:49 PM »

i second the consumerist site if you cannot get an exchange at another walmart. 

i hate the whole 'register your boxed copy to play' bs so much that i haven't even bought a pc game in 6 months.  this also pissed me off when i tried to update the witcher with the EE stuff and it required a connection to do so. 

unfortunately, with a game like this, a bunch of the value of buying it comes from the mp side or i would just say to go off to your nearest crack site and find one, as you just know it's already out there on pirate sites.
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« Reply #34 on: March 08, 2009, 01:02:45 AM »

Anyone know which email address at consumerist is best to send it to?  I've seen several diff ones on their website.
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Graham
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« Reply #35 on: March 09, 2009, 06:44:11 AM »

Quote from: Eduardo X on March 07, 2009, 05:37:30 AM

Quote from: Graham on March 07, 2009, 04:26:21 AM

Quote from: Jumangi on March 07, 2009, 12:51:36 AM

Just dispute the charges(assuming you paid with a card and not cash). When a store has tried to screw me in the past I would just say that and there attitude would change fast. Don't let them jack you over cause some asshole Walmart employee probably opened the game to use the key.
How come I doubt that people would be as upset if this was a Target or other retailer.
That's a good question. Why do you doubt that people would be upset about any store fucking somebody over?
Because a lot of people on here feel that Wal-Mart is evil incarnate and can do no good.  I doubt that Jumangi would have made the same accusation of a Target employee, for instance.
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« Reply #36 on: March 09, 2009, 02:31:41 PM »

Have to say that Steam was very helpful in correcting a double order error I had on my 2 seperate accounts for their holiday sale. I tried to order a gift purchase for my wife and it didn't appear to be going through so i took her laptop and ordered the games for her. Of course the next day I found out that i had purchased the games twice for her. The first response was a generic we can not help you response but when I replied nicely with what had happened and to check into so it didn't have to happen to anyone else they took the charges off and sent back a very nice repsonse.
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #37 on: March 09, 2009, 09:26:47 PM »

Quote from: JCAnejo on March 09, 2009, 02:31:41 PM

Have to say that Steam was very helpful in correcting a double order error I had on my 2 seperate accounts for their holiday sale. I tried to order a gift purchase for my wife and it didn't appear to be going through so i took her laptop and ordered the games for her. Of course the next day I found out that i had purchased the games twice for her. The first response was a generic we can not help you response but when I replied nicely with what had happened and to check into so it didn't have to happen to anyone else they took the charges off and sent back a very nice repsonse.

It's great that they fixed the problem, but I still don't think you should have to ask twice.

In my one dealing with Steam's support, they were anything but helpful. More than half the time they didn't even seem to read what I had written. I think they scanned my email for some common words or randomly read only one sentence and then pasted in a generic response and sent it back. The answers often had only the thinnest connection to my question.

I get a strong sense that their customer service personnel are heavily over managed. I bet they are under a lot of pressure to handle a certain number of service requests per hour and are given almost zero leeway as to how to deal with them: identify the topic, paste a canned response, move on to the next request. It's a perfect model if you want to save money in the short run but build frustration in your customer base over the long run.
 
Whoever heads the service department also seems fairly stupid in terms of "getting" the big picture. Take the story from 2007, when hundreds of Steam customers who had bought versions of The Orange Box from a legitimate Steam merchant in Thailand had their versions suddenly deactivated because the merchant wasn't supposed to sell the software internationally. Talk about stupid customer service. Your vendor breaks the rules, so you punish both him and all your customers that bought a game from him. WTF? Many of the customers hadn't even purchased the games from the Thai merchant, but were Australian customers had unknowingly bought them from Australian merchants who had purchased in bulk from Thailand. Let's piss off hundreds of our customers so we can punish this Thai vendor! Great idea! Let's do it!
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