I Hate Our Freedom Too: C.E.S.

Louis now has a baby son, meaning we are, at least for the time being, denied his dulcet opinions on the world. I suppose that’s especially official now that his Tuesday time slot has been taken over by new blood.

But while he may be on hiatus from the Show, as long as there are people in the world whose views make your mind boggle, he will not be forgotten. For this week, I am boggled, and it’s for similar reasons to the ones he succinctly spelled out several months ago:

https://satelliteshow.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/i-hate-our-freedom-customer-service/

We are way too entitled. Not only that, we feel entitled in purely selfish, egocentric ways that don’t give a damn about anyone else so long as our own needs are catered to. Not only that, we are somehow able to look at what should, by any objective stance, be considered generous offers and find them not only wanting but personally insulting. I’m going to just call this ‘Consumer Entitlement Syndrome’, rather than using more confrontational phrasings like Raging Douchebag.

You really haven’t lived until you find yourself sworn at and being called rude because you won’t give service to some asshole who shoves another customer out of the way of your window and pushes their application at you, not incidentally also cutting in front of 20 other people who are patiently waiting in line. It’s like they don’t even see them, much less consider that maybe, just maybe, those people have needs of equal or greater weight. I point it out to them and even then it’s like I’m speaking a foreign language. Serve ME. Right NOW. In any way I damn well ask, even if what I’m asking you to do violates state or federal laws.

I’m not saying this has happened to me several times at my day job. I’m typing it.

My experience is not unique, of course. It’s rampant everywhere, from the Macy’s debacle Louis was mute witness to, to anecdotes like this one from the Gamer’s Edge video game store:

Customer brings in PlayStation with a non-responsive controller port.  A simple fuse re-soldering job.  A quick pop the top off, and boom, it’s done.

Next day, the mother of the customer comes in to pick up the machine and to pay for it.

Normally it’s a $20 bill for fixing the machines.  Gord is just about to inform her of that after he explains what he fixed.

“That machine has a mod chip in it! If you touched that chip, then you’ll have to replace it!  I’m going to check!  If it’s gone, we won’t be able to play our games and you’ll have to pay for all of them!”

Whoa.  Angry white trash mode.  And why would Gord have to pay to replace their stolen games with new ones?  Three guesses at which of these two failed law class?

I mean, does she not realize that if she took this to court the judge would, at best, laugh her and her son out of the room? This is akin to filing an insurance claim for damages to your car against the pedestrian you hit-and-ran during your recent alcoholic bender. Alright, maybe a bit less serious on the scale, but the WTF factor is still there.

I’m dropping down the scale even further with the current subject of my ire, but again, it’s still no less of a headscratcher. If you follow my posts at all, and let’s assume for the sake of sanity that you don’t, you’ll know I broke down and pre-ordered Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, making this not only the first MMO I’ve paid money for in years, but the first ever MMO I’m going to be part of at its launch. It impressed me that much during the beta.

Now the big reason I pre-ordered was because the price of the pre-order and the price of any retail outlet I could find was the same. Pre-ordering through EA’s new Origin service cost you $5, but the game itself cost $54.99, bringing it right in line with the across the board $59.99 I was finding otherwise– and with a release date of 12/20 I figured the chances of a Christmas sale going on were next to nil, any retailer who did that would be on a serious shitlist. Barring, of course, Wal-Mart’s usual “Hey kids, we’ll sell it to you for one penny less!” shenanigans.

Added apparent bonus though: by pre-ordering, Bioware was advertising the possibility of “early access” to the game prior to the official launch date. Up to 5 days earlier, depending on how early you pre-ordered and registered that pre-order code with the official site. There were no asterisks or small fonts involved with this announcement, though, the ‘UP TO’ was pretty obvious. I expected, since I was a faithless Lukey-come-lately who didn’t order until Nov. 24th (pre-ordering started in July) that I’d be lucky to get in a day or so beforehand… but that worked fine for me since it would mean I could still get all the patching installed and get online before the huge rush of opening day.

Well, Bioware was even more awesome than I figured about things. Because I registered my pre-order code, they allowed us to go ahead and download the game client a couple weeks ago. Couldn’t play yet, but considering otherwise I would have been stuck waiting for 5 hours of data transfer on the day I could play, I felt this was quite a nice gesture. Soon after that we were informed that the early access period was going to be extended and some people would be able to start on the 13th of December, not the 15th as originally stated.

I want you to keep this in mind: even the original offer of the 15th was still very clearly defined as a date that NOT EVERYONE WHO PRE-ORDERED WOULD BE PLAYING ON. That did not change, even though now some lucky earlybirds would have access on Tuesday rather than Thursday. Generosity? Or cold, hard numbers calculating how best to handle the server stresses? Who cares? You’re still getting a timeframe that’s better than you originally were led to expect.

Did the masses react with joy to this? Well, probably. But the ones who go to the forums were flooding them Tuesday with an outpouring of amazing douchebaggery because they didn’t get their access at 12:01am GMT. Regardless of their actual pre-order date. Regardless of the fact it was stated  that access would be staggered. Regardless of the fact that getting in on the 13th would have been two days earlier than even the earliest of earlies could have originally hoped for.  WORST. LAUNCH. EVAR.

My favorite? A depressingly large amount of posts which more or less boiled down to the following:

Bioware, you are the worst scum ever to crawl on the face of the Earth. I ditched work/school on the 13th because for some reason I interpreted your rather clear announcements about staggered access between the 13th and 19th as an absolute guarantee I would be able allowed to log on in the very first wave. My wasted day is all your fault and you should be ashamed of your poor business practices. Furthermore, I demand compensation for my lost productivity.

So yeah. You blew off your job or school on the basis of a ‘maybe’, and not only is your horribly bad decision now somehow the company’s fault, you want… what? Bioware to contact your company’s payroll or college registrar and let them know “Sorry, Joe wasn’t actually sick like he claimed, but it’s our fault because there’s this game of ours he really, really wanted to play. Would you mind not docking his pay/letting him make up that test?”

*sigh*

This is why we can’t have nice things, folks. There’s an old customer service adage: “Underpromise and Overdeliver”. Amazon knows it well, constantly beating their Super Saver shipping estimates by a week or more. But nowadays? There’s just no satisfaction, no compromise, no generous circumstance that will stop us from not just expressing grumbling acceptance, but angrily slapping down and pissing on those extending it in ways that bespeak a complete absence of rational thought, much less common courtesy.

So, like I said I didn’t order until after Thanksgiving. You know when I got access? The morning of December 15th, still five full days before launch. The original timeframe for the earliest of earlies. I read the email from work, and was quite happy. 

Later, I was on the phone being screamed at by a lady who had fabulously managed to lose the time and location of her final exam, had waited until the last minute to check, and was now incensed that my office (which in no way sets schedules for final exams) did not have the information for her.

It was all our fault.

I hate our freedom.

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About Clint

Clint Wolf is an opinionated nerd, who writes a comic (Zombie Ranch) about cowboys who wrangle zombies. We didn't claim he made sense. http://cwolf.zxq.net/
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