Thursday, May 21, 2015

Game account wrongly banned; appeal denied

This is written for people who already see what I'm seeing, and who would like to do more to help, if they knew what to do. I'm not sure I have any ideas that they haven't already thought of and tried, but I'm not sure I don't. Please, anyone reading this, if you have any ideas or encouraging words for me, please find some way to communicate them to me. My Yahoo address is geotalk.

I'll be adding to this post and revising it, as my thoughts evolve.

For reference, I'll briefly describe an example of what I'm seeing.
A person is falsely accused of some violation of the terms, and her game account is banned. She submits a ticket, and receives an automated response that does nothing but repeat the allegation, completely ignoring everything she says, ending with "We now consider this matter closed, and would not look to enter into further discussion on the subject." She requests a callback, and the person who calls says he can't do anything to help her.

What can anyone do to help that person? First of all, how can we even find that person, to try to help her? Some few in that situation might find their way into the forums, but there might be others who don't. My only idea for now is to publish a blog post like this, that some people might find if they search for solutions on the Internet. If I see any discussions about it in the forums, I'll mention this blog post. Some people who are falsely accused might be searching for solutions in the forums, and see that.

Some of a person's possibilities might depend on why and how this is happening. I'm not sure that I know, or ever will. For now I'll imagine that the resources and capacities needed to find and reverse all the bans that were issued by mistake, are simply not available, and never will be. In other words, some people whose accounts have been wrongly banned will never be able to have the mistake corrected.

It might be that anyone who persists patiently, and/or requests a live chat or callback, or has a friend that can do that for her, will eventually be able to have the mistake corrected, but if that is said in public, it might result in an overload on live chat and callbacks. Under those conditions, what can any individual customer service representative, or anyone else, do to help in those circumstances?

First I'll discuss the kind of moral support that I'd like to see for that person. Then I'll discuss some ideas for practical advice to give her.

Moral Support

A person looking in the forums might see a variety of ideas about how to reconcile herself to being robbed, and not being able to play the game for however long her account will be banned, which is sometimes permanently. I can see a lot of value in those ideas, but more than that, I would like to see her get some recognition and sympathy for being robbed and not being able to play the game, and some encouragement and support in trying to get the mistake corrected if she wants to. Simply repeating over and over that all she can do is submit a ticket seems dishonest, cruel and insulting to me. I see no need, with a person who has been told explicitly by Customer Service, in response to her ticket, that they will not discuss it with her, to keep repeating that the only thing she can do is submit a ticket. That feels dishonest, cruel and insulting to me.

In the forums she might see a lot of posts denying that what happened to her could possibly happen, or excusing it. That's very demoralizing. It might help her to see someone saying that it *does* happen, and that nothing can make it right for anyone to be treated that way.

Practical Advice

In some cases, it might be possible for someone else to contact Customer Support and have the mistake corrected. That's what happened in my wife's case. I was finally able to talk to someone who looked at her account, and saw the mistake and corrected it. That possibility might be very remote in most cases, but it is a possibility.

Another possibility I see for her in some cases is to wait a few weeks, and try again, then again in a few more weeks, and so on. The automated denials of the appeal might be the result of a temporary overload in Customer Service.

If a person has been accused of using third-party software, and would like to find out if there is actually something on her computer triggering that, she might bring that question to a virus removal help site. That needs to be researched carefully, because there are a lot of fraudulent ones.

Other thoughts

1. There might be much better ways that Customer Service representatives could help, that could only be found in live consultation between some CS representatives, and some of the people whose accounts have been banned by mistake, and whose appeals were persistently denied.

2. I've seen examples of this happening with at least five game companies. A person's account is banned by mistake, and every way is barred, to have the mistake corrected. One company even says openly and explicitly that there is no way to appeal a ban, at all. Even in a case like that, it might be possible to contact customer support through another account, or through a friend, to ask for help on some other topic. If that leads to some actual communication with a person, it might be possible to persuade that person to investigate and have the mistake corrected.

3. Game companies sometimes say that there's no way to appeal a ban, that the only way is with a ticket, or that it's impossible to use another account for an appeal or for a friend to do it. It looks to me like in some cases, possibly in most cases, none of that is true. Many people have had the mistakes corrected, and their accounts unbanned, with those companies, using phone calls and/or other accounts, or by a friend doing it for them.

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