† Warning: the following blog post contains a strong opinion and a minor rant. It should be taken light-heartedly.
I don't tend to make a habit out of complaining about trivial occurrences, but lately I've found myself growing exhausted with Electronic Arts and their individual "professional support" team. I've had quite a few run-ins with issues stemming from multiple EA titles in which I needed to contact their official support team, and nearly every time was incredibly unsatisfactory.
Naturally—and needless to say—my main issues stem from The Sims 3. Shocking, I know. For a bit of insight for the unaware, The Sims 3 isn't the most agreeable computer game on the market today. Its exaggerated minimum system requirements will bring a tear to your eye, and it isn't supported by the sharpest knives in the drawer. With every update to fix an individual issue, three more take its place and they seem to get progressively worse. Now, my three-to-four year old computer isn't exactly the most advanced system on the market, with a 2GHz processor, dated video and graphics cards, and a disappointing 3GB of RAM. However, I am still able to run Skyrim on minimal settings, Portal, and GoldenEye Source on medium, and Lucius, Amnesia, and the Hitman trilogy on the highest. So why is it that The Sims 3 is so demanding, and while playing, takes up to 72% of my RAM? The official answer is because it's an open world game. In translation: EA didn't get the open world aspect right, and in lieu of this, the game is far too demanding.
Since the release of the 1.42 update for The Sims 3 and the release of the latest expansion pack, Seasons, players around the globe are suffering the same issues: crashing to desktop during Create-a-Sim, freezing for 5 real-time seconds every 5 in-game minutes, and the ever-so-hated and hard to fix Error 12/Error 16 when trying to save. Needless to say, issues like this render the game basically unplayable, so the frustration in the air is perfectly understandable at $40 an expansion pack.
Now, my experience with Electronic Arts' support has gone back as far as early this year when store content from The Sims 3 website would not install. After clearing the cache and trying about three more times, I decided it was time to contact the support line. As I opened up the chat window and typed in my issue, I was greeted by Sahnjeeb who was spurting out the copy/paste textbook greeting. After I let him know what the issue was, and after receiving the obligatory "I'm sorry for the inconvenience caused, please give me a moment to address the issue," what happened next still ticks me off to this day. I informed Sahnjeeb that I was well aware of how to properly install store content from the website, as I have done it time and again before. His response, in incredibly poor English, was in the form of a request of what they call "screen sharing." In short, you basically download a temporary Java application that they provide and it allows them to take control of your mouse and view and access your desktop and files. Now, I understood his intentions...or at least I thought I did; he most likely wanted to try installing it himself or something of the sort. However, I've already a negative experience with screen sharing courtesy of my ISP technician who was basically point and clicking all over the damn place to no avail.
I politely informed Sahnjeeb that I did not believe screen sharing was necessary, and that I would much prefer if he just shoot me some troubleshooting steps relevant to my situation. Sounds fair, right? Nope. It wasn't until I abruptly closed the chat that Sahnjeeb continuously sent the screen sharing invitation, repeating "Please accept the screen sharing invitation," so much to the point that I firmly believe that he copied the text and to every rebuttal I could possibly offer, he'd CTRL-V a second later. Needless to say, the issue was not resolved that day.
Fast forwarding to the present, I had to speak with a representative last week about the current Error 12/Error 16 issue, and luckily, I spoke with a fellow named Andrew who was less about copying and pasting from the EA Support Official Manual on Customer Service and more about proper communication and understanding my issue. Unfortunately, the troubleshooting steps he provided did not work for me, and I had to contact the support line once more, with my newly appointed case number. However, this time, I was connected to someone named (as well as I can remember) Jahasifhar who, like Sahnjeeb, quoted from the Bible of Customer Service and instead of paying attention to what I was trying to say, threw troubleshooting steps at me left and right, insisting that I "try them until they prove working."
Forgive me, but are you f---ing kidding me? I understand having diversity hires within companies...or outsourcing, but at least teach your employees proper communication such as making the effort to understand what the issue is and actually help—or direct me to someone who can—instead of quoting from your manual. I find it insulting that companies think of their customers to be so primal that we'd sooner jump down the throat of a support agent than research the issue ourselves. I take the time to research the issue I'm having to avoid the inevitable wait in a queue and having to explain the situation three times over, plus list the troubleshooting steps I've taken.
Now this is where my real gripe begins. After finally getting my point across to Jahasifhar (in a rather demure way, I will admit) he thankfully informed me that he'll have to escalate—they love using that word—the issue to the senior department for further investigation and troubleshooting, and that I should hear from them in three days' time. Naturally, I was reluctant because I've been down that road before. Would you care to know how that went? The same bloody way as last time: I didn't hear diddly from this so-called senior department, and someone closed my case.
As you can well imagine, I am not at all pleased with the customer "service" I've received from Electronic Arts over the year, and I will make a stand against them by purchasing any current or future Electronic Arts games pre-owned. EA will no longer receive my custom nor my money, and I've written a formal letter of complaint to the support supervisor, and I will continue to send the email weekly until I receive a response. I encourage anyone to do the same should they experience anything like I have.
As for the kicker of the blog? My issue was resolved by a gamer in Canada over at The Sims 3 official forums. I couldn't receive support from the damn company that made the game, but from another Simmer like myself. That's saying something.