Mike had an increasingly rare experience with EA Games tech support: the customer service representative listened, empathized, and made an exception to the rules in order to please a customer.
I recently moved and in the process lost the manual for my copy of Battlefield 2. Right around that time, my hard drive was wiped due to a faulty system restore disc and I had no other record of my serial number and had not registered the game on their website. Not only did this mean I could not reinstall the game, but if I did the countless days of playtime I had spent unlocking items would be undone in the blink of an eye. So, being a good consumerist, I googled the hell out of the situation and learned that people had been unsurprisingly unsuccessful at getting replacement serial numbers (or even their original one) from EA, but EA oh so conveniently offers to sell you a replacement for $10. Well, it turns out you can actually buy the game brand new on Amazon for about $7 last time I checked.
Figuring the worst I’d be out is $7, I hunted down their customer service number (no easy feat) and waded my way through a monstrous phone menu. After many attempts I reached a kind rep who was both a pleasure to talk to and also incredibly knowledgeable about games as we shared many in-game jokes while he helped try to locate my info. He initially told me about their serial replacement program (which actually came out to around $13 or so) but when I mentioned how cheap Amazon sells it for he confessed that it was just a blanket charge they applied to replacement for all games. So 20 minutes later, after searching an endless variety of User ID and email address combinations that could have been attached to the account, he puts me on hold for a minute and comes back with this…
“You know, to be honest, it seems like you’ve played every Battlefield game out there and I’m not sure why your account for Battlefield:2142 shows up but not Battlefield 2. I trust that you own the game and simply misplaced your manual so I will just give you a new serial number for free. It won’t get your unlocks back but if you can figure out what your original login and password are, you’ll have everything available again.”
He then walked me through how to register my game on their site so that if I ever lose a serial again I can access it by logging in to my account there. I normally NEVER register software (let alone games) but immediately registered all my EA games after that in the likely event that I will at some point in the future lose more manuals. So not only did EA give me a brief interlude from their long and colored history of anti-consumer behavior, but I also managed to unlock my account again after about 10 minutes of account guessing and was able to bask in the sweet sweet sound of virtual gunfire and obscenities once again.
Help a customer, get good publicity. Repeat. See how easy that is?