Why Did Zynga Ban Me From Their Poker Game?

Image courtesy of (Mike Rollerson)

As Ofer tells it, he just wanted to play a little online poker. He signed up to play Zynga’s version of the game, which may have been his first mistake. The company promptly bans him. He tells Consumerist that he has no idea why they wouldn’t want his awesome self playing their game. None! We’ll take his word on that, because apparently Zynga has no idea why they banned him, either.

Ofer wrote to Zynga:

I started playing zynga poker a few weeks ago and it’s been good fun, despite the occasional midgame disconnection. I tried to log in today and was notified my account has been banned, and for the life of me I cannot think of any reason why that would be. Could you please help me rectify this issue?

Zynga replied:

Hello Ofer,
Thanks for your message. I am truly glad to assist you this day. We recently suspended the account due to playing behavior that violates our Terms of Service. After a careful review this suspension still stands.

If you choose, you may reinstate your account. Accepting this option allows you to have 10% of your chips back up to a maximum of 1,000,000 chips.

In order to reactivate your account, please visit our game and carefully follow the instructions.
We really appreciate you being a loyal Texas Hold’em player.

The Terms of Service are available for review through the link provided below: http://www.zynga.com/legal/terms_of_service.php

If there is something else we can do for you feel free to contact us back.

Zynga Player Advocate

Ofer wrote back, listing a few reasons why he thought his account may have been suspended: going all in early in a game, his 3G connection crapping out while he was significantly ahead in a tournament, and sending a few poker “gifts” to friends on Facebook.

Hello Ofer,
Thanks for replying. Allow me to tell youg that the information you have requested can be found in our terms of service which can be found in the link provided previously. We cannot disclose further information regarding this matter. I’d appreciate your understanding.

Have a nice day.

Zynga Player Advocate

This did not “put the wag back in [Ofer’s] tail,” as the Zynga customer service rep’s message signature put it, so he wrote back. This time, he brought out the big guns, threatening to send the whole exchange to us. Surely Zynga would crack under that kind of pressure.

Dear Mr. [redacted],

I read your terms of service and cannot find a violation on my part. How can I change my behavior if you do not tell me what I did wrong. Could you please provide more details or forward our exchange to your superior so he or she can? I’m very surprised at your response, as it seems so obviously absurd to suspend someone’s account and offer them the ability to reinstate it without letting them know what they supposedly did wrong. I am simply requesting an explanation of your actions, and it would be terribly unnecessary for me to have to send the details of our exchange to the consumerist.com and have them turn the exchange public just to get a respectful response from Zynga. How can anyone trust their money and time to your platform if have a policy of suspending accounts of honest players without explanation or recourse?

Zynga, of course, had no explanation to offer.

Dear Ofer,

Thanks for getting back to us!

I understand your frustration and I want you to know that I am sorry to hear that you are currently not enjoying the game.

We are constantly working to make the game more enjoyable and your feedback is appreciated. I will ensure that your comments are passed on to the development team for further review.

[a different representative]
Zynga Player Advocate

Clearly, Ofer was doing something that Zynga didn’t like. Something other than good old-fashioned winning. Either Zynga refuses to tell rule-breakers that they’re rule-breaking, or they just won’t give that info out at all.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.