I’ve only encountered one customer service hotspot in my lifetime. That was about a decade ago when I was 10/11. I had The Sims on PlayStation 2, but the disc was a bit fucked, lets just say. Why, I can’t remember, but I wrote a letter to EA Customer Service along with the copy of the game asking if it could be fixed.
I can’t remember what the original time limit was, but I wrote again to EACS asking what was the hold up. I then got a letter from the then head of EA’s PR in the UK (he is actually now heading up EA’s PR stuff in Australia) explaining the situation at the time.
Eventually, the original copy of the game couldn’t be fixed, but out of goodwill, I got a new copy of The Sims for PS2 as well as demos for Need for Speed: Underground and something else, though I can’t remember what that was.
Obviously, I’ve had talks with CS reps since on other things, but that is the one that sticks out to me. Maybe because of the goodwill involved. What my point is that, stating the obvious it may be, if you’re a company and you give a good customer service experience, chances are that person you gave the good CS experience to will be a customer of yours for a long time.
So it’s absolutely shocking to see ShopTo.net, one of the most critically hailed retailers of games in the UK (to the extent it won the 2012 Specialist Retailer of the Year at the MCV Awards), see give such shitty customer service on its Twitter account.
It all started when one person enquired about a purchasing rule on the site. A Shopto rule notes that users can’t use the same credit card for multiple accounts per address. My issue isn’t with that. Agree or disagree what you will with the rule, it’s there.
What my issue is with, however, is the attitude it gave to the customer who enquired about after it was pushed to further answer the question. Here’s a screencap of said conversation (thanks to Sarah Lea Donlan for the cap). And here’s the second part of that conversation.
This then started to pick up when Nintendo Insider editor Alex Seedhouse made note of it in a tweet. It was from there that it came to my attention. And then to other people. And then, it spread like wildfire from there.
Once people started calling Shopto out on what was a shocking display of customer service, people started getting blocked from its Twitter (though, if you were blocked, you could still see its timeline through an incognito window on Chrome). More noticeably, some of these people were also games journalists who could also report on said happenings. Some of these journalists include freelancers Ashton Raze, Jennifer Allen and Jon Brady, to name a few. And yes, I was blocked too.
Most people remember the Granger Games situation at last year’s GMAs (I even blogged about it from a first-hand experience). I’ve seen a comparison or two to that little situation on Twitter. I wouldn’t quite go that far, quite frankly. But tonight’s example of customer service from Shopto’s Twitter is one of the worst, if not the worst, I’ve seen.
In my regard, Shopto hasn’t been high up in my good books for a few reasons, but I’ve heard many people – games journalists included – who’ve given them high regard for their service. Now I’m not the biggest social expert in the world, but even I know that on tonight’s evidence, however, Shopto might need to reconsider its social strategy.
And maybe then, we might have that bit of goodwill that I experienced ten years ago.
Update: I’ve received since last night two screenshots (thanks, Nick!) of subsequent conversations it had with customers which seemed to suggest that lying to its customers “isn’t a bad thing”. The other screen shows them talking about a “gamble” on their normal postage service.