In the latest console wars, I chose PlayStation 4. Late last gen, my PS3 was the preferred gaming device (PS+ and my 360’s loud-ass fan were contributing factors), and their first-party stuff interests me more. So when they went on sale at Target in December of 2014, I bought one. Had I known what kind of customer support I was going to receive, I may have bought a different console.
Playing Bloodborne (an awesome game), I noticed at times my character stuttered when I was pressing up on the left analog stick. It was intermittent so didn’t really bother me. However, the issue kept getting worse. And as I was getting further in the game, those hiccups became costly. Then it became noticeable in Batman: Arkham Knight (another awesome game).
I had no choice but to contact support. After all, new controllers are freaking $60 – the price of a big-budget, new-release game – and I’d only had mine for about 8 months. And some Googling showed that it was a very common problem, so I assumed Sony was well-equipped to fix their faulty hardware.
PlayStation does not have a way to email support – my preferred method. So I go to their online chat. “Carlos” listens to my issue. He asks what I’ve done to try to remedy it; I tell him about resetting the controller, trying with the USB plugged in, etc. He says I have to send it in. And I have to pay for the shipping. And I have a 10-14 day wait to receive my fixed (or replacement) controller.
Remember Rock Band? Wonderful game, but the guitar had a strum issue that ran rampant. So what EA did – ya know, the “worst company on Earth” – was set up an easy way to register, give your credit card as a deposit, then get a replacement guitar and send yours back in the same box. That way, there was no out-of-pocket for you and very little time away from your game. It was an acceptable solution.
What Carlos was offering me was not an acceptable solution. I told him so. I said I want to escalate the issue, which in customer-service-speak means to have someone higher up handle it. So Carlos quits out of our chat. Yes. He, a Sony support employee, shut it down. And he did it before I could get my case number or save the chat text. It doesn’t get any more unprofessional than that.
I take to Twitter, which is generally a good way to get giant corporations to pay attention to you when there’s an issue. Generally, but not with @AskPlayStation. They uselessly directed me to the contact-us page and never again responded to numerous Tweets.
I thought I now was without a way to even send this messed-up controller back should I decide to fit the bill on shipping. But later, I got an automated email with instructions. And an outdated address representing me. I logged on to PSN and checked my account. No, that was the current address.
So I box up the faulty Dual Shock 4. As instructed, I include a copy of my PS4 receipt and hand-write my case number on a note. On that note, I also include the correct address, saying the one on the email was wrong.
Sooner than expected, I get an email saying the controller is being shipped back to me. Well, that’s a relief! Except the email again lists my old freaking address. Damn.
I immediately call Sony. And wow, does the operator give me attitude! I explain what’s happened to this point. She interrupts to scold me. She insists I gave them that address when I made the case number. I said I did not make the case number; Carlos did before he quit out on me. And I have no idea where he got it. She eventually finds my correct address listed as well, but it’s too late.
After several minutes of silence – she never once apologized for the wait or for the screw-ups to this point – she says the controller will have to go through FedEx’s loop and then will be returned to them. They will then send it to the proper address. All told, it’ll be about 2 weeks.
Are you shitting me?!
I ask about contacting FedEx to change the address. She says I can try that. I say, “Oh, it’s my responsibility?” Yup. But she’s never heard of it actually working.
You know why? Because, as the FedEx recording says before you even talk to a live person, delivery changes need to be made by the shipper. However, first the shipper has to give enough of a damn about their job and their duty to you as a paying and inconvenienced customer to get off their lazy asses and contact FedEx in the first place – which is obviously too much to ask from Sony support employees.
So I call FedEx. They’re friendly but can’t do much. The first time I call, the tracking number isn’t even in their system. Which means the box was still sitting at Sony, where they could have easily pulled it and changed the shipping address. I call FedEx again later, when the tracking number shows up on FedEx’s site. Even then, though, it’s too early for them to do anything. It’s in some flux state. It’s suggested I try back the next day.
I call FedEx the next day. The operator seems to think she can change the address. Until she can’t. Like the automated voice says, only the shipper can change the delivery address. I have to request the package gets returned to sender (Sony). The operator suggests I tell Sony it’s coming back. I hesitate because I don’t want to talk to them again, but she’s right.
I try to log into Sony’s chat. “We are unable to proceed with your Chat request.” Did they block me? Are they just unusually busy for a Wednesday? I try to log onto the support site for the first time since this all happened. “Hmmm … Looks like something went wrong. Please try again or click here to chat with an agent.” Guess what happened when I tried to click there to chat with an agent? Hint: reread this paragraph.
I really really really don’t want to call Sony support again. I fear that, if I do, I’ll go off on them. I’ll keep yelling until I get Kaz “Rrrridge Racer!” Hirai on the horn. They basically have my controller held hostage, and I’ll be damned if I want to give them another $60 for a new one.
In summation, PlayStation Customer Support is arguably the worst I’ve ever had to deal with. I mean, almost all customer service interactions with any company are a pain, but at least you usually don’t feel like you’re being pushed backwards two steps for every step forward you take. Perhaps I’ll update this if/when I get my controller back.
I keep tracking the package as it slowly makes its way back to Sony’s support HQ (or whatever) in Texas. It arrives at 8:34am on Wednesday, August 19. The next afternoon, I call Sony support. The phone system does not recognize my case number, nor is it easy to get to talk to a person. When I finally do, he seems okay. He puts me on hold to talk to an account specialist. My call is soon disconnected. I call back, and a very unintelligent person fumbles his way through some half-assed excuses. Basically, they haven’t logged that the package arrived. Neither of the two people I talk to apologize for my inconveniences.
I call back the following Monday. Oh boy, here we go again… But wait! This guy seems to have his head on straight! He’s actually sympathetic without burying his employer or co-workers, and he seems to have some ideas what to do. He puts me on hold and doesn’t hang up on me. While they still can’t find the returned FedEx package (remember, the one that they sent to the wrong address and made me do the leg-work to get returned to them), this guy says they’re going to send me a “promotional controller” which should ship out in 3-5 business days. I’m irrationally happy to have someone competent helping me out. I agree to fill out a survey about him (that never comes).
Sure enough, on Thursday August 27th I get an email that the package has been shipped. On Tuesday, September 1 it arrives. It’s just a plain controller in bubblewrap in a box, but it looks legit and works well. And all it took was 25 days from the date I shipped it, $3.29 shipping out of my pocket, one chat where the guy quit out on me, one shipment to the wrong address, 3 unproductive calls to Sony support operators, 3 calls to more competent but still ultimately unhelpful FedEx agents, several attempts at an inaccessible chat system, and 1 call that actually led to the solution.
Remember, kids: Everything is smooth until there’s a problem. Then, few people if any do their jobs because nobody gives a crap about you even when that’s what they’re paid to do. So if real shit ever goes down in real life, do not expect anything from anyone. They will push you off a cliff for a donut. For a donut. Thanks for reading.
*EDIT: On September 16, I received a surprise package. It was another – and presumably my original – Dual Shock 4 controller! Perhaps it was Sony Support ineptness finally in my favor, or maybe it was a consolation prize. After the issues I had, and the rumblings about analog-stick pads coming off, it’s nice to have a backup controller.