Thursday, January 11, 2007
Customer service in the event of being hacked
A reader directed my attention this Blizzard customer service forum post: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! As the advent of the expansion looms ever closer, we have noticed a marked increase in players posting on this and other forums regarding the current status of their account investigation; more specifically, there seems to be some concern as to whether all restoration of characters and items lost due to compromise shall be concluded before The Burning Crusade is released on Jan. 16.
We can certainly appreciate players' desire to know precisely where they stand in regards to their investigation, and how much longer they shall have to wait before restoration can occur, as we recognise and share the player base's sense of urgency in the matter; please be advised, however, that neither the in-game Game Masters, nor those who moderate the Customer Service Forum, shall be able to provide any additional information beyond what is offered in the update e-mails sent at regular intervals by the Account Investigations team. While it may happen that those e-mails do not always contain all the pertinent information players seek, this is due to our having diverted all possible resources to the investigations themselves, in order to maximise the efficiency of the restoration process to the fullest extent possible under the circumstances.
(Please note: In our efforts to stave off clutter, any additional threads regarding this matter may be locked or deleted at our discretion.)"
Apparently keyloggers and phishing scams have lead to a large amount of accounts having been "hacked", that is their password stolen, characters robbed, and either left naked or deleted. And customer service is unable to handle all these cases, which leads to waiting times of several weeks, if not months. And there is no information to be had where you are in the waiting queue and when your account will be restored. Obviously the affected players are angry, and post on the forums. And Blizzard tells them that they will just lock or delete their posts.
Being hacked is apparently the customer service situation which game companies are least able to handle. I remember in Everquest SOE stopped people from overwhelming customer service with "I've been hacked" requests by making reporting to have been hacked a bannable offence. Yes, you heard that right, if you came to customer service saying your account had been hacked, SOE would simply close down that account forever. The argument was that "hacking" didn't exist, all incidences were caused by people sharing accounts and passwords, and as that was against the EULA it was reason enough for banning. It "worked" insofar as soon nobody was complaining about hacking incidents any more. But it didn't improve SOE's reputation for good customer service.
Blizzard at least say they are working on each hacking incident, but if it takes several weeks to repair, you might as well start playing a new character. The problem is that Blizzard has no way of knowing what really happened. Was it a hacker who stripped your character, using a keylogger trojan? Or your little brother, using the password you attached with a post-it to your screen? Or did you try to dupe your money by sending it to a friend and then claiming you got hacked? Blizzard can't just automatically restore every character on request, that would be too easy to abuse. And a lengthy investigation into what exactly happens would cost a couple of hours of some customer service representative, which could easily wipe out all the profit they made from you.
Unpleasant as it is to have been hacked, in the end you will have to assume part of the responsability. If a virus formats your hard drive you can't demand restoration of your