Ignored Gamer Puts The Smackdown On Mixed-Up Game Publisher

When we last spoke to Jess, the gamer with the questionable taste for dolphin pet-simulating video games, she was adrift in a sea of despair, having bought a game based on promotional copy on the game’s site and box, only to find the game she bought was different than that which was promised. Publisher 505 Games seemed to be blowing her off.

But Jess kept fighting and now she’s won, having convinced the publisher to send her the game she was after and change its promotional copy.

Proceed with bragging, Jess:

On the suggestion of commenter OMG! Conies!, I decided to contact Nintendo of America to see what they had to say about the misleadingly-advertised DS game “Discovery Kids: Dolphin Discovery.” I filled out a form on nintendo.com describing my issues with the game, and I received the following response:

“I’m sorry to hear that 505 Games hasn’t replied to your inquiries. While I cannot promise anything at this point, I will be sure to forward your feedback about the licensee to the proper department.”

Given my previous experience with individuals who were supposed to forward my feedback to the appropriate people, I wasn’t too optimistic, but, hey, it’s Nintendo — hopefully, they’d have the means to actually do something about this fiasco. In the meantime, I discovered that Nintendo’s own website described “Dolphin Discovery” inaccurately — the product page, which has since been corrected, is here — and I replied to the email I’d received from Nintendo to let them know that their own website was advertising the wrong game in case they wanted to change it. That’s when I got this:

“I appreciate your taking the time to share your comments with us in regard to this issue. I will forward your email on to the appropriate department for further review. While you won’t be contacted further regarding this issue, please rest assured that your feedback will be taken into consideration.”

I “won’t be contacted further regarding this issue”? I figured the wording was a CYA thing on Nintendo’s part similar to “I cannot promise anything at this point” in their first communication with me, but it still made me angry. I’d been trying for over a month to get *some*one to listen to me, and Nintendo was politely telling me to GTFO.

Fortunately, there was a link at the bottom of the email directing me to a quality survey. I rated my experience “poor,” explained my reasons, and stated my intentions to take my concerns to the Better Business Bureau, which I did after waiting twenty-four hours. Within a couple of days, I found an email from 505 Games in my inbox; an email from Nintendo followed shortly. Both companies wished to touch base with me and provided phone numbers for that purpose, and I talked to representatives from Nintendo and 505 Games on Friday, June 12th.

First, I spoke with Nintendo of America’s Linda Rowan, who explained that Nintendo’s options are limited when it comes to licensees — apparently, so much as altering the game’s description on Nintendo’s official website may not be up to them — but she wanted to make sure that Nintendo followed up with me after I indicated my dissatisfaction in the customer survey, and that they tried to resolve the situation as best they could. This involved Ms. Rowan offering me the Nintendo game of my choice at a fifty percent discount, which I thought was a nice gesture. I don’t know if I’ll take them up on it, but, since Nintendo itself evidently didn’t play much of a role in this situation (other than slapping their “Official Nintendo Seal” on the game and distributing it), I thought it was kind of them to make it right on their end in any way possible. Honestly, I was just happy that someone was listening to me, especially after that “you won’t be contacted further regarding this issue” line.

I then got in touch with Damian Garcia, Brand Marketing Manager at 505 Games. He was extremely nice, apologizing for the mix-up and taking the time to explain to me exactly what caused the confusion and resulting error in game packaging vs. game material. He said that a copy of the UK’s “My Pet Dolphin,” which is the game that “Discovery Kids: Dolphin Discovery” *should* have been, was on its way to 505 Games’ US office, and that he’d send it to me along with the other titles in the “Discovery Kids” DS series free of charge. Considering I’m a sucker for pet sims, this generous offer is right up my alley. =)

What made an even bigger impression on me than that, though, are the steps that 505 Games is taking to ensure that this doesn’t happen again: they’ve already changed the text and screenshots on the DiscoveryKidsGames.com website to reflect the true purpose of “Discovery Kids: Dolphin Discovery,” and Mr. Garcia said that they’re working on contacting retailers and correcting the promotional material. This is not a task I envy them. The fact that 505 Games endeavors to resolve the issue for all consumers, not just the squeaky wheels like myself, says a lot about the company’s commitment to its customers. I was pleasantly surprised; good customer service is easy when things are running smoothly, but it’s the reaction when something goes wrong that shows you a business’s true colors.

Although I added this information to my BBB complaint and stated that I considered the matter resolved, the case wasn’t reviewed until after Nintendo responded; I guess their original reply was due to the quality survey, while the snail-mail letter and phone call from Christie Hamilton were directly related to my BBB complaint. Like Ms. Rowan, Ms. Hamilton was very kind, and she said that, while she didn’t have access to the 505 Games’ UK title “My Pet Dolphin” to send to me, she’d be happy to refund the purchase price of “Discovery Kids: Dolphin Discovery.” I felt bad at this point, though: I’d already been offered a fifty percent discount on any Nintendo game by Ms. Rowan as well as the correct video game AND several extra ones from Mr. Garcia at 505 Games, so I wasn’t going to take Nintendo’s money, too. I didn’t get into this whole mess for freebies or cash; I just wanted the right game, and I wanted to make other people aware that “Discovery Kids: Dolphin Discovery” wasn’t the game advertised on the website and product packaging. Since both of these aims were accomplished, I considered myself suitably compensated, and I declined the refund. No sense in getting greedy!

In the end, it may just be a silly pet sim, but I still think that video games like “Discovery Kids: Dolphin Discovery” need to adhere to certain standards, accurate advertising being one of them. Resolving the situation has taken longer than I would have liked, but I’m very pleased with the time taken and efforts made by both Nintendo and 505 Games to make sure that their customers are happy. I’ve closed my BBB complaint, and I’d also like the public to know how well these two companies handled this issue once it was brought to their attention.

Thanks for your help, Consumerist! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some video games to play… =)

An inspiring triumph of the underdolphin. Thanks to the work of Jess, it will probably be a long, long time until another publisher makes a dolphin pet simulator for the DS that doesn’t deliver what’s promised in the ads and on the box.

For the record, here is the before picture of the game’s promo copy:

and after: