Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The post in which GM Huw restores Larísa's confidence in Blizzard

Oooops! You spotted me. That wasn't really intended.

No, I'm not taking back the charge of the bar disk quite yet. My trusted stand-ins are obviously doing just fine and I'm still on vacation, only stopping by here for a couple of hours to change my clothes, and then I'm off on the roads again.

But since you've seen me, I could as well bring you a little piece of news that has reached my ears.

You remember that post I made about a guildie of mine that lost the right to his name after a conflict with a GM? I'm pretty sure you do; it's the by far most commented post I've ever had on the blog, and to be honest the majority of the readers thought that I was wrong in taking the side of my grumpy fellow player. Most of you thought that he got the treatment he deserved. I still don't think he did. But I don't mind disagreeing with my readers from time to time, it makes a much better discussion.

Anyhow: Blizzard has now come to a decision on how they look on this incident and they actually give Eräjorma right! A guildie of mine published this in a comment to the original post, but most of you will probably not see it there, so I thought I'd better post it separately. I thought I owed you the conclusion of the story.

This is what they wrote:

"Hello [real name]

Thank you for your mail. I am sorry that we took so long to get back to you. Starcraft 2 launch had an effect on all of our response times :(

Firstly; allow me to apologise in the matter your issue was handled. It is with deep regret that we see this type of issue.

We aim to be at the forefront of customer support for online gaming and strive to provide a level of support to match the strength of our products. This occasion highlights that we are, at times, far from this.

We will certainly be investigating the manner in which this was handled further.

Regarding your name; I cornered a Finnish colleague who assured me that your name was perfectly acceptable. so we reverted the name earlier today and removed the warning from your account.

We never change names unless they have been reported by other players and we have verified, so this was an unreasonable and needless name change for which I am again sorry for :/

Hopefully this incident has not tarnished your image of our support and you will feel
comfortable coming to us in future with other concerns.

If you require any further help or have any other issues, please feel more than free to get back in touch with us and we will respond as swiftly as possible.


Senior Game Master
Blizzard Entertainment Europe"

I can only say that I'm really, really happy about this. What the first GM did to Eräjorma may have been unprofessional (although understandable from a strictly human point of view), but that wasn't the end to it. This shows that they take customer concerns seriously. The e-mail address where you can complain about issues you have with GMs isn't just there as a marketing gimmick - it's there for real and if you have a good reason to use it you should do it.

To be honest I was quite surprised to see the response. I really hadn't expected them to listen to Eräjorma - which actually is a little bit saddening to think about. When and why did I become so cynical? When did I start to see Blizzard as a faceless giant who doesn't care about an individual player any more than a cow cares about the whereabouts of a fly? Is it the RealID thing that has affected me? The general atmosphere in the community? Playing for too long without a break?

Oh well. My eyes are pinkish and sparkling again. Our grumpy ret paladin is back, and hopefully he'll focus his fury on attacking monsters with his Shadowmourne axe rather than GM:s in the future.

So I'll finish this little unplanned post by bringing out a toast for GM Huw, who put everything right again. Here you are - a pint of The Black Sheep, a wonderful local ale I picked up in Yorkshire - a perfect match for an inn run by a mage if you ask me. Cheers and enjoy! It's on the house.

That's all folks. Now, go back to where you were. I heard there's been some great storytelling going on in the bar...

Thanks for keeping this up, Tam and Ixo. See you again in a couple of weeks!

(Larísa goes invisible and sneaks out through the backdoor.)


Redbeard said...

You know, I could have sworn I saw a gnome around here....

Gronthe said...

Glad to see your guildie got his name back. Despite his ill temper, the manner in which the name change happened wasn't very professional.

Now get back to your vacation! I'd hate to walk into the Inn and step on a Gnome that was supposed to be adventuring in big-person land.

Rhii said...


Good for Erajorma! I was hoping you would update us with what happened in the situation. I was on his side with the name change, and I am glad that Blizzard agreed with me.

I'm glad they have regained your confidence, Larisa! Have a good vacation. :)

iapetes said...

Heh, I kind of feel the opposite. I totally expected this sort of response from blizzard. But I don't really think your guildie earned an apology in the least. Someday maybe someone should actually hold him accountable for his shitty attitude.

Dwism said...

I'll drink to that!
Imo justice was served. But lets not get in to all that again, shall we

Jen said...

I'm actually sad a GM probably got told off, if not worse, because of this... guy. I'll refrain from worse words since it's your guildie. The GM probably exaggerated with the name change, but now guildie thinks he was completely right, so he'll continue spewing his anger over innocent people... I don't see that as a very good outcome and I honestly hope his big mouth gets him in trouble in a way that can't be undone by a senior. There is absolutely no excuse for abusing another human being just because he's paid to help you.

mute said...

So what happened with Eræjørma's actual problem? It seems to me that Blizzard created a problem for the player and now stepping back and solving it by apologizing. Fine but what about the matter that your friend contacted the GM for at first place?

Gevlon said...

Great! Professional solution for the problem. If only the first GM was so professional, or in such cases there would be stress-GMs who are trained to handle nasty customers.

Elis said...

I agree with iapetes.

The GM was called to account for his behavior; who will call your guildie to account for his? This may serve as reinforcement for his belief that treating customer service reps like shit is okay.

Joar said...

I don't know. Seems to me your guildie ended up having his name / identity taken away for a couple of weeks. Hopefully that will make him think twice the next time when starting a conversation with a GM (or with anyone else for that matter).

SpiritusRex said...

That's nice for your guildy. (*rolls eyes*)

I guess I just don't have the patience anymore to deal with unappreciative jerks. To me, the most important question in this whole thing is will he now have the stones to apologize to you and the guild for threatening to sacrifice all the work they did on his behalf to get the axe just because he didn't originally get his way? Or, instead, will it just be business as usual and he will continue with the asshattery? That will show the true measure of character of Erajorma.

Scarybooster said...

I think it is pretty cool of Blizzard to admit they were wrong. I see them as a great company. People just hate on them because of the Lottery Syndrome. Noe that Blizzard made it big, everybody either has their hand out or hating on them. This shows they still have heart.

Lily said...

"Gevlon said...

Great! Professional solution for the problem. If only the first GM was so professional, or in such cases there would be stress-GMs who are trained to handle nasty customers."

Lol! I'm imagining a green slime covered orc-type being in the basement of the Blizzard call center, where all the CS people have a red button at the bottom of their screen that says "Bad person".


iapetes said...

"So what happened with Eræjørma's actual problem?"

well his original problem is he somehow deleted his macro cache which is entirely his own fault, so...

Holycrepe said...

Once again this makes me laugh, not the post but the comments defending the customer service rep.

The customer pays for the game, the rep is paid to help the customer. Yet from some of the responses here, it is almost as if we as customers should be grateful that Blizzard let us play their game...

Some people are painfully blunt in how they complain, this a fact of life. It doesn't not justify the rep trying to make things personal and not in a good way.

I think Larissa summed it up in the title, and my confidence in Blizzard's (customer service) is somewhat higher than it was.

iapetes said...

I think your confusion comes from the idea that we care whether the GM was professional or not. Obviously he wasn't, and that's not how you want to generally handle that job.

But on the other hand, Erajorma just completely 100% deserved it. And if we were talking about, you know, an ordinary interaction between human beings? Erajorma would be obligated to apologize first. But he probably wouldn't because he's a giant baby who messes up his own game then yells at other people who are trying to help him.

Kaputt said...

I really, and I do try hard, can not understand how you all came to the conclusion the he was soooOOoooOOOOo rude. He did say one or two rather honest things, where did you see the hate and rudeness that made him deserve that and whatnot.

Is it really that utterly disgusting to so many of you if anyone dares to speak his mind? I really find the comments on that issue unsettling, creepy and downright frightening.

I thought the movie Equilibrium was fiction but you all seem to long for that world so much.

*slowly backs away*

Vigorless Fragmentary said...

...he 'deserved' an unreasonable name change? really? funny how justice only goes one way for some people.

Anyway, a good outcome for your guildie Larisa and great to see there's good (read: professional) GMs just as there is overchallenged ones. just a matter of luck which one you get, I guess. :)

Dwism said...

Im sorry, but Iapetes, Jen, ellis and others: What is wrong with you?
He is an upset costumer, he is allowed to be upset. The GM on the other hand is not. He is getting payed not to be.
I work in a job where I handle lots of upset costumers, and if I tell them of or use my powers to punish them, I would get fired.

imaginge if a caseworker decided to cut of your social welfare (or hospital care) because he thought of you as being "rude".

As a costumer rep you are *not* supposed to take crap from angry people who cannot calm down. You have to handle them to make sure they do not turn even more upset.

And getting revenge on them, like this GM did, was power abuse. And that should never ever ever be tolerated or justified.

Ron said...

I agree with the people above. Awesome for your guildie to get his name back, but sadly it just reinforces the "If you don't like it, b*tch loud enough and someone will change it for you".

Sage said...

I, ironically, have actually had all of my Macros wiped like this too. Some odd crash (hard-crash to the desktop, and instant too) happens, then all of my macros are gone. It was hell getting them back, and annoying finding out what happened.

Imagine yourself in his shoes. At first you think your addons aren't working right, but you've reinstalled them, and you can't figure out what's going on. A core part of your game isn't working, something you rely a lot. Imagine if this happens during a raid.

This guy is irate, and while he handled his discussion with the GM in a bad manner, he wasn't the only person there. PR people learn to grin and take abuse; it's not a nice job, but you can't be an ass. The GM provoked a response (if you're dealing with an irate person, only a moron would ask them to calm down, because you're basically saying they can't control themselves, and it would make anyone angry), then took away the guy's name. While I can't say I'd be friends with Erajorma, I can say he was treated unfairly.

Chadrassa said...

I only hope the GM didn't lose his job because of your asshat-guildy. *sigh*

Perdissa said...

Its good to hear that Blizzard has turned around on this issue, as the name-change was clearly petty retribution to begin with.

What Era actually said is inconsequential. The GM was professional to begin with, and would still have been professional if he refused to entertain Era, or even to slap him with a temporary ban or a suspension for his rudeness and abuse.

Trying to get at the customer via a grey area in retribution was completely unprofessional, and unbecoming of the customer service of an international gaming corporation.

Sure, the person is a jerk and probably deserves some crap to happen to him. But. Blizzard's customer service has no business going around playing vigilante.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

I'd love to see our Innkeeper, punishing the naughty mouthed guildie. I picture her with her cocky raiding smirk, confidently playing with the paddle as she approaches.

Oh my! Now I'm going to have to commission some fan art!

Stay frosty (or arcane) cutie!

Jayd said...

I'm just stunned, really. All I see here in comments (with a couple of exceptions) is 'oh yes, Erajorma was very rude and abusive, but the GM is REALLY the one at fault.' Or, 'it is understandable for Erajorma to treat the GM this way, it was all the GM's fault.'

Really? Are you all serious? I'm guessing you've never been on the other side of the fence, have you? You've never had a customer treat you like crap and been unable to do anything about it, then had your boss blame you for the entire thing to the customer just to diffuse the situation. The only thing that's different here is that the GM actually had an avenue of revenge open to him, and being frustrated and not knowing anything else to do, he took it.

Of course, he definitely should not have taken it and he most certainly should have handled the conversation differently, but is there not even a smidgen of understanding amongst all you bullies? Perhaps this particular GM was not trained well enough to handle such abuse? Perhaps Erajorma was their 50th abusive customer that day and they just snapped?

Honestly, those of you putting the full blame on the GM need to take a good look at yourselves.

Sage said...

The problem is, the GM was provoking Erajorma to do this. The GM even gloats at the end. The right/wrong response here is to deal with some macros, not ban someone's name....

Does customer service suck? Yes. But if the GM wants to take vengeance, there have got to be bigger, more legitimate, and better targets then Erajorma.

Perdissa said...

In response to Jayd.

Of course, the GM, as a human being, has every right to be frustrated. In fact, it would probably be strange if he weren’t frustrated. Customer service staff usually have protocol and a certain latitude accorded to them to manage unreasonable customers. In this case, the GM had pointed out fairly early that he could suspend Era’s account, give him a temporary suspension, or ignore him. All these are professional, legitimate responses the GM could have given, and I’d be rooting for him had he done so. But instead, he chose to try to get back at Era using a very personal and backhanded way. This is where I feel he crossed the line.

Naturally, we empathise with what the GM did, but it doesn’t make it any less wrong that he did so.

Kensai said...

I am on the other side of the fence, as a tech support guy. I actually call them to solve their problems, which 60% of the time are their own damn fault. I get my share of abuse too. I get guys yelling to me:

"I'm gonna stop paying you !"
"That's your choice, sir."

"You're a bunch of incompetent idiots!"
"Yes, well, this one can solve your problem."

"You thieves, you ()*&&^^"
"Sir, we can focus on that, or we can focus on solving your issue."

I can't remember the last time i actually hung up on someone. And i never, ever abused my power. Even if the particular customer was abusive, even if he'd fuckyou'd me to smithereens and the conversation would end abruptly, i'd still take care of the problem, or forward it or anything else. Because that's my damn job. While i'm at work, i work. I'm a problem-solving machine. And I'm the lucky one here. I can choose to talk to the guy, or work for 20 mins in blessed silence, then call him and go like "try now. works, yes ? kk, bye bye". My colleagues from the call center are constantly under fire. Some give up after one year or so, but i have colleagues that are in the breach for more than 3 years, and they're still holding it together.

Does this job take its toll ? Definitely. But if you're not cut out for it, don't apply for it. If you have a short fuse, don't go into PR business, buddy. Hell, I have a short fuse, but i keep it for AFTER i hang up the phone. Simply put, if the GM thought he was entitled to retaliate, he wasn't cut out for the job. And yes, i do hope he got fired.

Let's get something straight, if a customer is being a dick, that's more or less his right. Two things can happen from here, either you humiliate them by proving their own stupidity ("so, you don't know how to set up your own router and you're wondering why your connection isn't working ?" "uhhh...") or you calm them down ("ok, i understand, we had some issues that are out of my personal control, but now i'm here and we can solve this together"). Either outcome always left me with a sense of achievement. I did my job. Maybe some of the customers i talked with were left even more pissed, but with a solution. Most of them were left in a better state of mind, though. Because, in the end, it doesn't matter how the customer behaves. It has NOTHING to do with what i do. In my job, all that matters is information and my own competence to solve a problem. That's it. Douchebaggery may or may not happen, I don't care. I'm not being paid to hand out "how to behave" leaflets, i'm being paid to solve shit. Whoever lets his ego affect his professional performance doesn't deserve the job.

Kensai said...

Oh and you know what, asshat behavior isn't against the law yet. I can't believe the youth today, so much apathy and inaction. You guys aren't pissed enough, imo. Man, when i was young, i'd wake up every day, stiff dick, stiff middle finger and i was off to burn shit. And we're left over with a pussified world, with everyone appalled that some guy goes bananas "omg, man, calm down, you're harshing my mellow, whoa whoa..". He SHOULD go bananas, if i'd work 3 hours to set up my UI and macros only to have WOW crash because of "not enough memory" when i have 4 GB of RAM and 8 GB of pagefile, there would be burning legion on azeroth all over again. Last time i checked, zen master level tranquility wasn't a system requirement of WoW, or any game for that matter. It's the point of a virtual world, damn it, let'er rip, give them hell.

Or perhaps you want to be subject to indoctrination and cattle like behavior in your virtual world too ? Good luck. I stand by Erajorma on this.

Not that i would like paladins.
Or gnomes.
Or alliance in general.
But, you get the picture.

Anonymous said...

Well said Kensai, well said. I have been on both sides of the fence for issues like this but, while I would play with an idea of retribution, I know going through with it is something I would never do as the professional. As the customer, I have ended my support for a company based on this type of service.

Matthew said...

I find it terribly sad that people, users, insist that it is their God Given Right because they paid their subscription to treat other people, support providers, like dirt. Bizarre that anyone would think its the job of a support person to take unlimited and unjustified abuse, but that a user doesn’t need to be reasonable or have manners.

Its the job of GMs to provide support, not provide an outlet for people’s anger. So yes, they should (and probably are) allowed to refuse service to people who don’t have the self control or manners to act like adults. Allowing that kind of behaviour is tantamount to encouraging it, which it seems many people here are doing.

Anonymous said...

They don't have that 'right' - that applies to your everyday human relations maybe, but this is not your normal peer vs. peer situation, this is the situation where one gets paid to provide a service. it's not in his competence to refuse to provide that as long as he's dealing with a paying customer. sorry you're just wrong there and are confusing personal feelings with professional ones.
and he sure as hell shouldn't do what he did, he will have gotten into trouble anywhere where usual customer service rules apply.

iapetes said...

lol @ kensai

we're all cattle if we laugh at a jerk getting screwed over

Avaryse said...

I'm glad your guildie got his name back - the way the GM handled things was completely out of order with their Naming Policy, no matter what.

As to the rest: I wonder how many people saying the GM had no right to be upset in response... have ever worked in a thankless Customer Service position?

You do NOT get paid enough in a CS position to put up with shitty attitudes from people who 90% of the time caused the problem themselves!

Customers are NOT always right, and they should not treat a company employee like your guildie did. Period.

All around, things were wrong.

But to expect the CS to be super-human is ridiculous.

I've lost all of my macros, all of my addon data, and tons of other things, but what good does it do for me to be RUDE and hurtful to another person whose job it is to try and help me? Not one bit.

Kensai said...

Avaryse, I did. Still do, to a certain extent. I never went bananas and i never took anything personally. You said it yourself, it's my job to help. So i help, no matter what. Whatever external factors come raining down on my head, i'm the helper. I'm the zen master. The battle isn't between me and the customer. It's between me and myself.

Really, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Rude customers are a risk that every self respecting company takes into account. So they have internal procedures for cases like that. I doubt actiblizz's internal policy when dealing with rude customers is, sorry for the pun, swift retribution.

Let's put it like this, Erajorma may fail as a human being (though i personally think he doesn't) but he doesn't fail as a blizz customer. He pays his subscription, he isn't buying gold, he isn't spamming, all in all, not breaking EULA and TOS. But the GM fails as a GM, he failed to do his job, to fulfill his professional attributes. He basically breached the contract between himself and blizz. That's all there is to it. And let's face it, he's probably better off with another job, cause he wasn't cut out for dealing with people. Everyone wins.

Anaia said...

I'm just catching up on my reading so I hadn't seen this post yet. That's great! I've always had an excellent experience with Blizzard CS so I'm glad this got sorted out. The apology email was personally written (not a form letter) and sincere.