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Warning To All WoW Players!

You can be a completely legitimate player, not using any hacks, cheats or bots, and with your account always paid up, and Blizzard may still find a reason to ban you. Below is the text from a letter I sent to Blizzard after my account was unjustifiably banned. Below that is the original e-mail I received from Blizzard regarding their action.


Update!

My faith in Blizzard is restored! They responded - and responded well - to my complaint. This showed great character on their part as a company. It is only fair that I show how they responded to my letter, so that response is now posted below, ahead of my complaint letter and their original e-mail that caused my complaint in the first place.

This interaction I had with Blizzard Entertainment demonstrates a very valuable fundamental principle about the world we live in. That may seem silly and overly profound, but I mean it. Free enterprise works. A good company will respond to complaints from customers and will strive to improve itself. A company that does not care about its customers and does not constantly work to improve itself will lose business to the better run competition. This process means we consumers always have the best to choose from.

If you have been wronged by a business, take action! Do what I did and write a letter. Express your complaint thoughtfully and concisely without being hateful or vulgar. A good business, such as Blizzard obviously is, will respond. A bad business will end up going out of business, resulting in better options for all of us.

On a broader scale, support the fantastic free enterprise system. Do not vote for or support anyone who thinks government is the solution to problems. Several democracies (Greece, Spain, Portugal) are falling apart at this very moment because the people allowed themselves to believe the government would take care of them. Do not let the same thing happen to US.


Blizzard Entertainment's Response To My Complaint Letter

 

From: Todd Pawlowski
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2012 3:02 PM
Subject: Blizzard Support – Response

Hello Jarvis, 

We’ve been made aware of the challenge you have had with our organization lately and wanted to address your concerns.  Blizzard is fortunate to have dedicated players who give us opportunities like this one, to identify and correct gaps in our communication.

As you noted, the tone of the reply you received last week was off-base.  Messaging for this situation should not imply that legitimate players must change the way they play World of Warcraft, and should include an apology when service has been interrupted in this fashion.  I’m sorry that this happened for you.  Here’s what we’re doing about it.

First, we will improve the communication we provide to players in unusual situations like this where the tone should be polite and professional.  Second, we will use this case and the logs here to examine and improve our detection methods.

While we will continue to evolve our detection methods, there still exists the possibility that accounts engaging in unusual play patterns will be detected and flagged down.  If your account gets tagged in the future, please contact our support teams, allowing our specialists to provide you a proper investigation and response.  We appreciate your loyalty to our games, and look forward to restoring your confidence in our service going forward.

Sincerely,
Todd Pawlowski
Vice President, Global Customer Service



My Complaint Letter To Blizzard Entertainment


To: Blizzard Entertainment
From: Jarvis Hooten
Regarding: Account Ban
Copies To: Irvine Chamber Of Commerce, BBB Of The Southland, International Game Developers Association, Electronic Arts, Trion Worlds, Beckett Massive Online Gamer
Posted To: NightOwlInk.com/ZenasWoWGuide/WarningWoWPlayers

March 22, 2012

Recently I was introduced to a new and unwelcome experience. My World of Warcraft account was banned by Blizzard Entertainment. I was given no warning this would happen and no explanation for why it happened. One night I entered my log-in information and, instead of the game coming up, a window popped up informing me my account was banned.

The pop up window did offer a URL I could go to for information about banned accounts. I went to that web address immediately and was rather amazed to discover no specific information about why my account was banned or even what I could do about it. All the web page would say is that I should have received an e-mail informing me about the ban. I checked my e-mail. Nothing there from Blizzard at all.

Next I tried checking my online account management page. There I could log in to my account overview, but when I attempted to go specifically to my World of Warcraft account I was shown yet another ominous “Account Banned” page. No explanation, no message about what to do about it; just a complete ban to my WoW account, both the game and the Internet account page.

My first concern was that my account had been hacked. First thing to do when an account of any type has been hacked is to change that account's password, so I did that right away. Then I logged in again and discovered the ban to my account persisted. Next I spent over an hour searching Blizzard's online support pages for answers to why my account had been banned. Finally, I found a way to send a message to Blizzard requesting information about their action. I sent the message, then logged out of Blizzard altogether and decided to play Roller Coaster Tycoon instead of WoW as my means of winding down after a stressful work day.

To Blizzard's credit, they responded to my message the next day. To my utter astonishment, and to Blizzard's extreme discredit, their response was intolerably arrogant and unapologetic. Turned out my account had been banned because I had spent too much time “grinding” lately. (“Grinding” is a style of game play in which a player repetitively kills monsters to gain experience points and/or acquire loot.) To their monitors it appeared I might be using a “bot” to play the game for me.

They got me. Yes, the past few times I played WoW I had been grinding in a specific area of Deepholm to build up my cloth and loot levels. Had the row monitors at Blizzard taken the time to check my overall game play, they would have clearly seen I do all the other activities they apparently expect their players to do. I join dungeon groups, play battlegrounds, run quests, and most of my characters are members of guilds.

Grinding is a fundamental part of WoW. It is built right into the game design. Characters who choose a Gathering profession have no choice but to grind. In the Cataclysm expansion, a new potion was introduced to the game called “Potion Of Treasure Finding.” A character drinks this potion, then for the next hour has the chance of picking up a bonus “Tiny Treasure Box” as loot after each monster kill. This potion is very pricey. Anyone who buys and uses this potion is going to spend the next hour grinding. That's how the potion is intended to be used.

But beware, if you use a Potion Of Treasure Finding and go grinding for an hour, then do it again for another hour, Blizzard will ban your account. What the...?

It is understandable that Blizzard Entertainment has strict policies against players using robot software or hacks in their games. Those cheats hurt the game experience for all legitimate players. It is also acceptable that Blizzard may occasionally commit the accident of unjustifiably banning an account in their policing efforts against cheating players.

What is not understandable or acceptable is Blizzard's arrogance toward me about unjustifiably banning my account. Oh, they did reinstate my account, but with no apology whatsoever for mistreating me. In fact, not only did their response not contain an apology, they doubled down on their insult by warning me my account might be banned again in the future. Further, if I don't straighten up and play the game the way they want me to, they threatened to close my account completely.

I own a small business. If one of my customers is displeased by one of my products or has been mistreated by me or one of my employees, I bend over backwards to make things right with that customer. Sure, there are some customers whose complaints are unjustified, but if a customer's grievance is legitimate I feel a business and a moral obligation to apologize for and resolve the issue as best I can.

When Blizzard discovered they had banned my account without justification, they should have offered me three months of free game play, perhaps some highly desirable mounts for each of my characters, or, at the very least, an apology for the insult of making me feel like some kind of online gaming criminal.

I played Diablo, another Blizzard product, before getting into the WoW phenomenon. I have been a loyal fan of Blizzard's games since 2001. At least a thousand dollars of my discretionary income has gone to Blizzard over the past eleven years. To be treated so badly by a company to which I have been so loyal simply will not do.

Blizzard, your very success may be your undoing. Blizzard is by far the biggest player in the online gaming industry. Blizzard can take credit for pioneering much of what goes on in the online gaming industry. That success is laudable, but it also means Blizzard now has many competitors. Lots of other companies have seen the millions of dollars being made by Blizzard and have jumped into the online gaming pool. Players now have dozens of other options for online games that have just as impressive graphics, just as fast servers, just as many or more character types, just as good or better story lines as anything Blizzard has ever put out.

There are two reasons why Blizzard's arrogance is so unacceptable. First is basic business. As I just pointed out, Blizzard, you aren't the only game in cyberspace any more. There was a time when people interested in online games could play Hearts or Backgammon or other such board games, but for an immersive online gaming experience their only choices were EverQuest or one of Blizzard's games. Online gamers have far more choices now. Treat us badly and we will take our loyalty and our money to someone else.

Second reason to check your attitude, Blizzard, is fundamental human decency. Arrogance, especially arrogance by a business toward its own customers, is a particularly heinous character flaw. We all make mistakes from time to time. We all occasionally cause discomfort or hurt without meaning to. Here's what sets decent people apart from scumbags: When you make a mistake, mistreat someone, abuse a person's trust or just cause an unpleasantry, even if it was by accident, it is your human obligation to take responsibility and attempt to right the wrong you caused.

I have not logged back in to WoW since the ban on my account was lifted. Playing your game just doesn't really appeal to me right now, Blizzard. Eleven years of loyalty to and enjoyment of your products, then one really insulting experience and I'm considering dumping you altogether. Get it? I may return eventually, so I have not canceled my subscription yet. Besides, I'm paid up six months in advance, as usual. For now I've downloaded the free trial version of Rift. Think I'll give that a try. Then perhaps I'll check out Star Wars The Old Republic, EverQuest 2, Age Of Empires.... Dang, there really are a lot of other games available, aren't there?

Believing that online gaming is not just for pasty skinned geeks with bad attitudes,
--Jarvis Hooten

 



Blizzard's response to my request for why my account was banned:



World of Warcraft Account Action Dispute
From: donotreply <donotreply@blizzard.com>
To: Jarvis <****************>
Date: Fri, Mar 16, 2012 8:58 am


Greetings,

Thank you for contacting us concerning the recent action taken against the World of Warcraft account JARV**********. After a thorough review of the circumstances involved in this action, the account has been reopened and access restored.

You may wish to temper your time spent killing and grinding with time spent running dungeons, or attending to activities that aren't so repetitive and bot-like. This will help avoid this situation in the future.

Please take a few moments to look over the World of Warcraft Terms of Use (http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/legal/wow_tou.html), as we take matters involving the integrity of the game environment very seriously. Please understand that should another incident of this nature arise in the future, it is possible that a different outcome will be reached, up to and including Account Closure.

The Terms of Use state that you will not "...modify or cause to be modified any files that are a part of the Game Client or the Service in any way not expressly authorized by Blizzard" or "...use cheats, automation software (bots), hacks, mods or any other unauthorized third-party software designed to modify the World of Warcraft experience..." Additionally, the Battle.net Terms of Use (http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/termsofuse.html) state that "You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the Login Information, and you will be responsible for all uses of the Login Information, including purchases, whether or not authorized by you."

Thank you for your continued correspondence in regards to your account and for respecting our position.

Regards,

Game Master Scrydaen
Customer Services
Blizzard Entertainment
www.blizzard.com/support





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