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Blizzard – Taken Over by The System September 3, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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The ongoing tale of trying to get Blizzard to not charge my credit card at the end of my annual pass commitment.  The post that sets the situation is here.

I opened a support ticket to see what Blizzard would say on the subject.  After setting up the situation, I asked what I thought was a very specific question:

I do not wish to be billed further after the one year commitment.  How do I ensure that does not happen?

The first response was of the classic “we didn’t bother to read your question” variety.

We cannot remove a credit card from an annual pass subscription until the subscription expires. Once this is done, you can either remove the card yourself or contact us to do so.

That response didn’t even come with a name attached, so I assume it was a keyword generated response.

I responded to that and started getting responses with a series of excuses about why Blizzard could not, at this time, honor my request to not charge my credit card in the future without stripping me of all benefits (i.e. my copy of Diablo III) for which I had already paid.

It appears that an evil system is controlling Blizzard.  This system was referenced several times.  The system would not allow this.  The system would cancel my benefits.  My favorite was this bit of circular logic:

The way the system checks to mnake sure you are fullfilling the contract is to check to see if you have a credit card on the account, If the card is removed the system will think you defaulted and remove the benefits, this is why the card needs to stay on the account.

If I don’t eat my meant I cannot have any pudding, so if I want pudding I clearly need to eat my meat.

Except, of course, I was not asking to remove my credit card, I was asking Blizzard to stop charging it.  That is not even a subtle difference to my mind.  However, the system sees these things as one and the same.

It is the system’s fault.

Another agent said that they were aware of this issue with the system.  But hey, it’s the system.  I was even offered advice on working around the system.

Another option is you can change to a prepaid credit card that has at least $1 on it and leave that on the account.

I wonder if that one came from the list of approved responses.

I realize that the person in support is limited in their options, but the so-called “system” is not some external entity outside of Blizzard’s control.  The system is Blizzard behaving exactly the way Blizzard wants to behave.  If Blizzard wanted it to behave differently, Blizzard would fix it.

This morning I got the final response from Blizzard support that denied that Blizzard was doing anything that could be construed as refusing a request to stop billing my credit card, and then refused to stop billing my credit card unless I was willing to forfeit the benefits for which I already paid.  Again, it was the system.

The response closed with a note that there were no more answers to be had from support, so go away.  If I had any further questions about my annual pass commitment… and the tone of this final message was one of me breaking my obligations, as though I had somehow not already paid them the money back in April… I could take it up with somebody at the cryptic email address custodianofrecords@blizzard.com .

In the end, I am not one bit better off after having dealt with Blizzard support, and yet I am more annoyed with Blizzard as a company.

Comments»

1. Emerald Tablet - September 3, 2012

That doesn’t leave me with a fuzzy warm feeling. I just ended my account with WoW, although mine was just a monthly subscription. I hope I do not fall into your horrible quagmire. Good luck to you.

2. mbp - September 3, 2012

I predict this will end with you being automatically billed for another annual subscription.

By the way is there really someone called The custodian of Records? He sounds like a character out of a video game.

3. Jonneh - September 3, 2012

Do you not have an office of fair trading in the US?

4. bhagpuss - September 3, 2012

You should organize a raid on the Custodian of Records. I bet Mittens could make that happen.

Why does no-one call him Mittens any more, by the way?

5. Wilhelm Arcturus - September 3, 2012

@Bhagpuss – Indeed, this enigmatic custodian of records might be the most interesting piece.

I don’t think I have called him “Mittens” lately because there hasn’t really been any news about specifically about him, except the launch of The Mittani dot com.

@Jonneh – I have no idea what your office of fair trade does, but there is a California Department of Consumer Affairs and any number of federal level laws relating to credit card transactions. I could open a complaint with the Better Business Bureau to lever them to fix my problem. I would prefer that they fix what even they admit is an issue in “the system.”

In a completely unrelated note, I cleaned out my office this past weekend and threw away all of my WoW boxes. (Along with a bunch of similar items.) Burning Crusade came on 4 CDs. There is so much patching involved at this point I cannot imagine ever having to start from disks again.

6. Telwyn - September 3, 2012

I expect I’ll have to deal with this monstrosity of an issue next month. I certainly do not want any more money going to Blizzard at the moment. If I have to remove the card and they cancel my ‘priviledges’ such as Diablo 3 then I won’t be that upset. I played it long enough to get bored.

It’s pretty shocking the attitude from a company though. “computer says no” is never an acceptible response to customers!

7. evehermit - September 3, 2012

LOL at “computer says no”.

I think you may find the issue is not unknown for renewal subscriptions. I had to go through several companies to update a credit card expiry date. I remember CCP would not allow me to change my credit card details on an annual subscription until it was due to be paid again. I expect something silly was going on such as keeping the encrypted details of the credit card against the account instead of the transactions. CCP turned out not to be the only company with similiar silly rules.

8. kiantremayne - September 3, 2012

This might be one of the worst examples of customer service I’ve ever seen… and seeing as my trade is call centre design, I’ve seen some pretty terrible examples.
I suspect that this ISN’T actually a nefarious plot to gouge one more subscription payment out of all the PO’d customers who want to cancel at the end of their year of indentured servitude. It’s more likely a poorly designed, inflexible billing system designed by a semi-competent who didn’t think all of the possible customer journeys through correctly, and compounded by an inflexible corporate culture that doesn’t give minion level employees much discretion in dealing with customer concerns.
But top marks to Blizzard for managing to make it LOOK like a nefarious gouging plot. What’s their new corporate motto – “More Evil Than EA” ?

9. Bristal - September 4, 2012

Loved the Pink Floyd reference.

Have you considered calling your credit card? They may be able to set up a refusal to pay a particular vendor. Or at minimum cancel it and get a new number. Might be a bit of a pain if you have multiple other automatic billings set up, but it’s typically free.

I had a credit card expire in the middle of my 6 month cycle and they didn’t find out until they tried to bill it again.

10. Stropp - September 4, 2012

Bristal has a point here. If you cant set up a refusal, and I think that is tricky anyway, you might be able to ask your credit card provider to change your card number and cancel the old one.

It’s a pretty simple process to do that, I had to when someone hacked my XBox account and bought a whole lot of points, the only problem being the need to change CC details on other game accounts and direct debits.

11. Anonymous - September 4, 2012

I am waiting patiently for the inevitable 10/22 (23?) rant. Are you posting a countdown timer?

12. Wilhelm Arcturus - September 4, 2012

I don’t want to look like I am overplaying this whole situation. I am writing about it because it annoys me, not because it puts me in any real bind. I can figure any number of ways out of it. (I am actually kind of amused that one of the reps responded with that $1 pre-paid credit card idea. I hadn’t come up with that one.)

I think I might also be in a weird position in the way my account and annual pass expire so close together. With my daughter’s account the date spread is about a month. Of course, I am cancelling that and foregoing all benefits. She doesn’t want Diablo III and I started hers a couple months after mine, so there is financial advantage to just pulling the plug.

As like as not, my annoyance and propensity towards holding a grudge will pretty much ensure that I will remember to cancel my account in the 18 hour and 58 minute window I have. Not sure if that will rate a rant. More just a “buh-bye for now.”

I just don’t think I should have to cut things so close or any of the other potential cancellation options. I think Blizzard should simply not charge my credit card any further when I ask.

13. Jason - September 4, 2012

As I recall, if you can your account, Blizzard automatically removes your credit card. So, if they’re validating by that existence(there has to be better methods, but I don’t work there) for your annual pass schlep, I can see how that would muck things up.

That said, it’s definitely a stupid way to do things, and I can’t fault you for being irritated.

14. james - September 4, 2012

you may either have the use a prepaid time card till your Annual pass billing expires or wait till sept 22 or whenever the last month is due. changing to a prepaid card that only has a buck on it might work too after the last bill is paid. on another note your not going to be in panda land?.

15. lancore - September 4, 2012

Well, that’s interesting. I was in the exact same situation, my annual pass is ending 5 days prior to the already paid time.

Probably a week ago I told them that I’d like to cancel my subscription and since the time for the annual pass is already paid that it shouldn’t be a problem.

The supporter asked for some account details and the secret question and removed the payment data within the next hour.
No macrod answers, no problems whatsoever.
Though that was an EU account, maybe it’s a bit different in the US

16. Wilhelm Arcturus - September 4, 2012

@James – I will say that, right now, Panda land holds no interest for me. There is a whole post brewing about that for another day, but the basic thrust is that Cataclysm killed my interest in the game and pandas on top of Cata aren’t selling me.

I have had last minute changes of heart in the past, and my subscription will still be active on panda launch day. So we shall see.

@Iancore – Maybe the evil system hasn’t gotten as far as Europe as yet. It might fear salt water.

Or that the jumble of laws across the EU are such that they had to be more liberal in their approach lest they run afoul of regulations in one country or another.

Either way, it does seem to support the claim that my request is neither unreasonable nor impossible.

17. Disgruntled Consumer - September 4, 2012

Never argue with the weather.

Go with the $1 prepaid credit card option.

18. GrayGhost - September 5, 2012

US account– I always cancel my subscriptions after making them to ensure I’m not accidentally charged for another cycle. So I submitted the following ticket back in April after my card was charged for the second 6 months:
“I’d like to cancel my subscription so that my card is not charged for a subscription renewal on October 24, but that doesn’t seem to be an option until after the agreement expires on October 22. If this is intended, please implement the option to cancel subscription once the annual pass has been paid in full. I’d prefer to not have to remember to cancel during the small window after the Annual Pass agreement expires and before the subscription is renewed. Thanks.”

The friendly reply from CS rep Arebhalis:
“As you requested, I removed the recurring payment method to prevent the account from being billed once the WoW Annual Pass promotion period ends. Ordinarily, we would not be able to remove the card until after the full 12 month period has concluded.

With that said, there is a posibility of a hiccup occurring in our system. In the event that you seem to loose the WAP benefits, please contact us by phone and reference this ticket. We will be able to reapply the benefits.”

Had no problem with accessing Diablo III or the MoP beta. Not sure why you’re getting the run-around.

19. Wilhelm Arcturus - September 5, 2012

And an unexpected final parting shot from Blizzard showed up today in my inbox, restating that “Due to the nature of the contract it cannot be cancelled until after the year passes.”

It is not the system, but the nature of the contract. I should have paid more attention in that contract law class 25 years ago.

But I was told that should I be charged, I am welcome to get on the phone and try and get a refund.

I remain amused/incredulous that the rep should reassure me about Blizzard’s refusal to yield on one written policy (annual pass) by telling me that they will break another written policy (no refunds) which I quoted in the previous post on the subject.

@kiantremayne – Missed responding to your comment previously. No, the worst is no response at all, which I hate to say has been a 50/50 proposition when it comes to tickets submitted to SOE. Some times they answer and some times your ticket mysteriously disappears and you are left holding a tracking number to nowhere. I think the ticket system must be run by the same people who moderate their forums.

20. Jeromai - September 6, 2012

I knew there was a reason I only used game time cards or Paypal to feed Blizzard a month or two of sub at a time, rather than trust them wholesale with my credit card info…

The inflexible “system” is more than happy to stop my access to my WoW account the second the $$$ stream stops flowing to them.


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