Obtaining My Playstation Vita – A Customer Support Horror Story

PlayStation Vita illustration made in Inkscape...

In November I had a birthday, I’ve decided to buy a Sony Playstation Vita for myself as a birthday gift. Amazon had a nice Black Friday sale for the Vita – which might have pushed me to decide to buy myself a birthday gift, rather than going out there looking for a Vita and there happening to be a sale.

 

Amazon, for those who don’t know, won’t ship electronics to most countries outside of North America, and certainly doesn’t ship them to Israel. So, I’ve decided to use a deputy service, Buy2USA, an Israeli deputy service that has a very handy tool for ordering from Amazon – so long you order from Amazon, they tell you in advance exactly how much you will pay for the product, the shipping, the handling charges and the taxes – you know in advance the full sum you are expected to pay.

The product arrived, and all was well and good, but then I checked, and as part of the order I was supposed to receive codes for 3 months’ worth of PS+, and a code to download Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, basically Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. – I did not receive these codes. The one downside to ordering via Buy2USA from Amazon directly using the aforementioned method is that the account used to make the orders isn’t your account – it is theirs. So, these codes were supposed to be sent via email, but not to my account, but the deputy service’s.

I’ve contacted the deputy service, they told me they didn’t get the codes, they were willing to contact Amazon, and they received nothing useful, and told me to contact Amazon – I contacted amazon – time and time again. The responses I’ve received seemed copy-pasted, and were more or less all the effect of “I don’t see the order you speak of on your account, why don’t you give us a phone number and we’ll call you?” – never mind the fact that in every very lengthy email I’ve written I explained that I’ve used a deputy service, and as such of course the email doesn’t match my account – it seemed like they never truly bothered reading my missives but only searched for keywords and replied based off of those. And when they did read the 3 sentence reply explaining just why I don’t have the code, the reply was then “Well, we can’t help you, but why don’t you give us your phone number? I’m sure we’ll be able to help you if you talk to us over the phone.”
For the record, I did tell Amazon the order number, sent them a PDF with the order confirmation, etc.

Long story short, Amazon wouldn’t help me, tried asking Buy2USA for help, after contacting Amazon once more and not receiving the right info they told me “We’re not going to waste more time on you. Sending emails to Amazon and checking our email account is too much work.” I said “Screw it” and decided to talk to Amazon on the phone. Talked to people in India with the call rerouted through the USA, talked to someone in the USA with the phone call rerouted from India from the USA – the call quality was awful… in the end, even though there was an amazing lack of communication between people – one told me they can’t help me, another said they couldn’t, then I received the codes in the email (finally!) and someone else said after that that they can’t send me the codes!

Then of course the other shoe dropped – the codes were for USA Playstation accounts, and mine was European. D’oh. So then I contacted Sony, and saw that nothing could ever be done and gave my codes away on the Vita’s sub-reddit.

However, there were a couple of other interesting points that happened during my communication with Sony and their similarities to some aspects of my communication with Amazon really make me want to talk about a couple of things more:

Amazon’s site has no email address for support – you have to find a “Contact Us” form and fill it. It takes about 5 minutes to find it the first time, and about a minute to navigate to it even if you know where it is. Their modus operandi seems to be “Call us!” or “Chat to us online” rather than “Send us emails and we’ll help you.”
Sony on the other hand is worse. Their site has no “Contact us” form, it’s online chat or phone-call only. I enquired on the Sony facebook page after searching their site and forum for over 30 minutes – and got pointed towards SonyListens@am.sony.com – how Orwellian (“Big Brother”) does that email address sound like? Googling it shows it’s Sony employees who look around the internet for people who need Sony support and assist… why not help us get help on your own site?

I have a thought as to why it is so, and I’d be happy to get your own thoughts on the issue – I can write lengthy emails, get quite worked up, and use really complicated sentences in my emails – and I probably do. Moreover, people can easily notice the copy-paste work going on in these support emails and companies are ridiculed as a result.
In chat, they can keep messages relatively simple and short, and I suspect that many people “Choose out” – they’d rather just give up than call the support on the phone – it takes longer to speak, wait on the line, etc. than it is to read and write.

And let us not get into how shitty Sony EU’s support is – you can only get support from the country where you live, even if they’re powerless and shunt everything to a main office, and things of course get garbled on the way… and even the Sony EU Playstation blog’s staff point you towards Sony UK, who won’t help you since you don’t live in the UK, and there’s not a centralized support site – the people who visit the forum treat it as a support forum and voice all their complaints there, because there simply isn’t another viable alternative – I feel for both sides. When I need support from Sony right now, I just give up – because I know not only will I not receive support, I’d have wasted my time.

So, why do you guys think major companies are seriously downgrading their support recently? Making you have to call them/chat to them rather than use emails?
And what support horror stories do you guys have to share?

 

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2 comments on “Obtaining My Playstation Vita – A Customer Support Horror Story

  1. Kai says:

    That sounds awful, man, must be a terrible birthday experience. I’m always pessimistic about these support services and since I live all the way in Brunei and I know how some of these companies only give support to people of their own country, I never even try it once. Most important thing is that the console needs to be up and running, As such, I don’t think I have any support horror stories to share, though I do heard Sony seems to has one of the worst customer support service. I never once order electronics online either xD Thought of doing so some time ago but was afraid of any warranty issues that may surfaced. Only problem is what I wanted to buy, I can’t find it here. There’s no Vita on sale in Israel?

    • Guy says:

      1. There is Vita for sale in Israel, but it’s a lot more expensive. Even with shipping and customs it was considerably cheaper than it was here.

      2. There is customer support in Israel for Sony, but if it’s not to do with the hardware then they send all questions abroad and are completely useless.

      3. I don’t buy much electronics online, due to the same reasons, but consoles and games are purchased online, just like buying consoles abroad but doing it in person.

      4. The experience was fine, for my birthday gift, it was mostly in principle, it wasn’t worth a lot of money, it was more an annoyance, I had games, they worked, I had fun playing them too :) I still enjoy my Vita immensely.

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