Posted by Chris Scott Barr on May 4, 2012

EA Asks for Origin Feedback, Insults Our Intelligence In The Process

It’s been nearly a year since EA launched their Origin service. To say that the company’s digital distribution platform has been a huge success would be a gross overstatement. In fact, I don’t know anyone that actually enjoys using it. Sure, some friends will say that they don’t mind it, but in stark contrast to Steam, no one tells me about how much they love Origin.

EA has at least noticed that their customers aren’t particularly thrilled with the service. They recently made a post where they admitted that Origin isn’t perfect, and they asked for feedback. That’s right, if you head over to the official EA blog, you can tell them what you like and dislike about the service.

So what do I dislike? To be frank, I dislike the post that they made. While I appreciate their desire to listen to feedback, they went about it all wrong. Namely, they made an example out of an experience a particular journalist had with the service. This line is what really gets me. “The exchange also made it obvious to us that some of Origin’s most fundamental features—like the ability to play your games from any PC—weren’t as clear as we’d hoped.” Not as clear as you hoped? After reading the article they referenced, it wasn’t a matter of making things more clear, it was an issue where their service just plain wasn’t working right.

I feel that I really need to address the journalist that was referenced, Jon Peddie. The piece he wrote late last month was disgusting. He starts out talking about how he was frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t play Battlefield 3 on his laptop because the registration code had already been used. He was signed into Origin like he should be, but the service was denying him access to the game. At this point, I’m totally with him. I’d be pretty upset if I couldn’t play my game too. However, from there his piece turns sour.

Mr. Peddie goes on to explain that he “fired off a WTF email to a few people and made sure it would get to folks at EA.” Despite having contacts at EA, I’d still probably try the support line, but who am I to judge? Anyway, he then starts singing the praises of the company, as they were kind enough to send someone out to a coffee shop a few days later (he said that he was impressed with the response time) to explain what went wrong, and fix his mistake.

“It seems I was too fast. I out ran their server and it lost the credentials transfer,” he said. You don’t “out run” a server. The server knows that you installed the game on one computer, so what was it still trying to do? Does it really take more than a few seconds to update your Origin account with your registration key? If so, that’s a problem for EA, not someone who’s trying to play a game.

The person Mr. Peddie spoke with did apologize and take responsibility, though from the quote above, it sounds like Mr. Peddie was still made to believe he did something wrong. The EA rep then astounded him by rebuilding his account in Starbucks, then had his boss come in and make another apology. Naturally, by the end of it, he was delighted with how this company treats its customers.

Of course, this isn’t how real customers are treated, is it? Most customers are going to hop on the Origin Support chat, where they might get someone helpful, or they might get hung up on without any resolution. Either way, the problems don’t always get fixed in a snap. And even if they do, no one’s going to meet you at Starbucks to hold your hand and kiss your ass.

So why am I so upset with EA’s little post? Because after reading the account of Jon Peddie, I understand exactly what it is they were trying to do all along. They were lucky enough to find a journalist who had a problem that they could personally come out and assist with. What’s more, they found a journalist who could be so easily manipulated into writing a piece praising them for customer service that they don’t actually provide to their regular customers. Once the article was written, they showcase it as an occasion where EA was able to ride in on their white horse and save the day of an average gamer. Nevermind that he was given special treatment, or that he wasn’t considered average at all.

Shame on you, EA. Had you simply admitted your shortcomings (which you did start to do) and ask for feedback, I would be writing about how I’m happy to see you taking a step in the right direction. However, you didn’t just leave it at that. You had to send not one, but two of your employees out to hold the hand of a journalist, just so that he’d sing your praises.

How do I know you did this with devious intent? Well, if you were just helping him for the sake of helping him, you wouldn’t have felt the need to tell everyone about it by linking to his column, now would you? No, you needed us to see that someone else thinks your support is awesome, so that maybe, just maybe we’d believe it.

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