UPDATE: Electronic Arts has announced that CEO John Riccitiello is stepping down. His last day on the job will be March 30. Interesting timing, eh?
It’s now been almost two weeks since Electronic Arts launched its newest, always-online SimCity game. Since that debut, EA has apologized for slow servers and said an offline mode wasn’t part of its vision, further inflaming customer ire. And now it’s time for another chapter in this unending saga of fails: We’re hearing from readers as well as reports online that any users who’ve contacted Amazon for any reason regarding SimCity are getting kicked out of the game.
This phenomenon has been chronicled on Reddit as well as in gaming forums, and each story sounds a lot like what happened to Consumerist reader Jeff. He writes in that he had ordered the digital version of the game from Amazon, and decided to play it recently.
But when he tried to play, he was told that he had an invalid key and that the game code had already been used. He figured maybe it was a glitch as he’d had to update the game, and went to sleep thinking such. The next morning it was the same story — SimCity wasn’t going to work for him. So he went to Amazon first, where he had purchased the game.
Amazon was more than happy to provide me with a new product key. I put the key in, SimCity re-appeared in my Origin game library. All is good, right?
After yet another forced update, the game once again told me that the key is no good, that it had already been used. At this point, Amazon offered to refund me, which I declined because I want the game, I enjoy playing it, and I was one of the few that was patient enough to sit through the server issues, AND I’m one of the few that realize life is too short to worry about the always-on feature (although, I could totally live without it, but that’s an argument for another day).
So now, I contacted EA Origin through chat, and they said I need to call them. The problem is – I’m deaf, and a phone call is the only way to do this. EA Origin chat guy suggested I find someone to call on my behalf. What a jerk.
I used the relay (a service for the deaf where the middle-man relays the message in typed format). After an hour on hold, I was hung up on before I could answer. So here I am, sitting, waiting for someone to respond while being on hold for a second time. I realize that EA is backed up in the CR department due to the various gaming issues people might have. But this is ridiculous.
So I looked into the issue, and guess what? It’s happening across the board. Anyone who even remotely contacted Amazon about the game got their accounts cancelled – by EA. EA blames Amazon. EA claims that I (along with possibly thousands other users according to a thread) have been issued a chargeback. Except the thing is – I never asked for a refund, nor was I given one either. I had this confirmed by Amazon, which is why they were more than happy to provide me a new product key.
Jeff says he was finally able to use the relay to talk to EA, and found out that indeed, he’d been banned from the game because Amazon had instituted a chargeback. Except, it didn’t, because he never asked for a refund or chargeback of any kind. He adds that Amazon was nice enough to give him a $40 credit for the problems it hadn’t caused, while EA simply gave him a 15% discount off his next Origin purchase and blamed Amazon for his troubles.
According to the post on Reddit, an Amazon CSR said EA is “aware of the issue” and will be busy re-enabling user accounts.
Further proof that the word refund is a dirty word to EA these days? If you needed evidence, that is: EA is reportedly replacing its own support number with asterisks in the SimCity forum, just because players don’t already have enough hoops to jump through and hey, why not make it even more difficult to log complaints?
Now’s a great time to remind y’all that EA, winner of the Worst Company In America 2012, is up for a repeat on that title very soon. Something to think about.