Adventures With Trion (’RIFT’) Customer Support

’ve been really enjoying my time with Trion’s new MMO, RIFT.  So far it’s been a blast and it’s one that I hope to be playing for quite some time down the road.  So imagine my horror when I logged in earlier this afternoon and found out that most of my money was missing and I was left standing naked near a mailbox.  Having been hacked multiple times in World of Warcraft, my mind instantly raced to panic and frustration because those were not exactly painless situations.  Contacting Blizzard customer support often resulted in waiting on the phone for up to three hours.

Due to the sheer volume of customers Blizzard has, submitting an in-game ticket could sometimes take up to a week before a satisfying result would come around.  This was not pleasant, but I thought, “well… maybe something good could come out of this.”  I would at least be able to see how Trion’s customer service would stack up against Blizzard’s behemoth.  Having worked in customer service for over ten years, I know all too well how much it can ruin your day to get an overly hostile customer.  No matter how frustrated I get, I never treat customer service representatives like crap and neither should you.

My first thought was to contact Zann, who is in charge of RIFT’s official Twitter account.  In the past Zann has always been friendly and very responsive, so if you don’t already have a Twitter account but you do play RIFT, I would highly suggest making an account if only to contact them in the future.

There were a few weird things about my problem.  For one thing, not all of my money was taken.  I was left with 82 gold and I still had some crafting gems left on my character.  No self-respecting gold farmer hacks an account and leaves gems and money behind.  This seemed a little too fishy to me, but I still went to change my password just in case. The only problem was that I had never seen the presented security question in my life.  I never would have picked this question as my security question in a million years, so it was time to call Trion!

In my past experience with customer support, it has never been possible to change my security question easily.  Most of the time they’d like you to fax in some information about yourself, such a driver’s license, to prove that you are who you say you are.  This is a great way to keep people from stealing your account but the downside is that it could also turn out to be a hassle.

It took a little bit of digging around on the Trion website, but I found the support phone numbers easily enough.  When I called, I was greeted by the standard “thank you for calling!” automated message and was instructed to pick my language and what type of department I was looking to contact.  Once I had selected account and billing, I was told I would be on hold for two minutes.  Two minutes?  At first I thought they said two hours, because that’s what I’m used to.  I’m used to sitting there with a phone on my ear while I surfed the net for a bit, so two minutes sounded better than excellent – it was absolutely fabulous!

Unfortunately while I was one minute into the queue, support hung up on me.  I immediately called back and jumped back into the queue.  This time they said I would be on hold for three minutes.  No big deal.  As time went on, I was told five minutes, then six.  After the two minute mark had passed, I was hung up on again.  Feeling a little frustrated by this point I called for a third time – and you know what they say: The third time’s the charm.  I was finally greeted by a very pleasant man, but I could barely understand him.  Flashbacks of calling Dell tech support in college began to creep through my mind as I attempted to explain my problem to him.  He was very nice. So nice that he sounded extremely apologetic and weary, as though I had just kicked him in the face nine times.

He assured me that my account was okay and was definitely not compromised.  Phew.  But how does that explain the weird security question?  He then asked me what the answer to the security question was.  I explained to him again that I didn’t know, because that wasn’t the security question I had set up.  He then asked me to please wait while he asked his supervisor what to do.  Thank you, thank you Trion for not blasting music from the game while I was on hold.  I really do not like sitting there with music constantly looping over and over. I really got sick of the Grizzly Hills music from World of Warcraft, and I used to love that music!

I was on hold for about seven minutes and when the customer service representative returned, he had more questions for me.  I answered all of them and had to repeat most answers two or three times due to the language problems, which is par for the course if you’re used to calling tech support.  At the end I couldn’t really understand him very well but he told me that he’d ask someone to switch the security question for me.  I didn’t have to fax in a driver’s license or any additional information about myself, and it was that plain and simple.

Note that while this sounds all very clean and easy, it was not.  This phone call lasted around thirty to forty minutes, explaining and re-explaining the problem over and over.  He couldn’t really understand me and I couldn’t understand him.  Phone support is a little tricky when there is a language issue so while I was glad I didn’t have to wait very long to speak with someone, I wasn’t confident my issue would be fixed because the customer service representative was very vague over the phone.  When we hung up, I was sent an automated e-mail thanking me for calling and if I had any other issues to please contact them again.  While on the support page, I located an area for submitting a question.  Since I got my account supposedly taken care of, I would try to get my in-game nakedness fixed too.

There’s a place to submit a question on the Trion support page, so that’s what I did.  I asked if my problem was a bug and if I was eligible for a character restore.  That was the way to get your stuff back in World of Warcraft, so I figured this was the way it would work in RIFT, too.

Since I had planned on writing this article, I decided after thirty minutes to call Trion back to confirm that my security question was going to be fixed (because by this point, it hadn’t and I was getting worried he didn’t understand me).  I was only in the queue for a mere twenty seconds or so before another customer service representative answered the phone. To my dismay, he was even more difficult to understand than the first one.  I slowly explained the problem I was having, told him how I contacted them earlier but wasn’t sure if my issue would be resolved.  He re-confirmed that no, this was not an account compromise but an in-game issue.  That’s a pretty important thing to know.

It was frustrating to say something then have the representative on the other line go, “what?” and then ask him to repeat everything he said because I couldn’t understand him either.  This whole ordeal felt like pulling teeth but both of us remained very polite to one another despite the fact that we sounded like two elderly folks who couldn’t hear one another.

Quite a while later, the rep and I finally came to an understanding and my issue was resolved.  Relieved, I thanked him and hung up.  Now it was time to see about contacting a GM in game.  Here’s a tip:  If you asked a question via the little form they have you fill out on the Trion support page, do not submit a ticket.  Conversely, if you have opened a ticket in game, then don’t fill out that form on the support page.  Sadly, I filled out both and when I finally had a GM answer my ticket in game, they told me I already had “multiple tickets open.”  I had no idea what they were talking about since this was the only in game ticket I had filled out.  Enter more confusion.

Apparently the question you fill out on the support page counts as a ticket and they will only respond to one.  I checked my e-mail and apparently they had asked me in the e-mail if I would like a character restore.  The problem was, I couldn’t reply back to this e-mail.  I went back into the game and used the other ticket I already had open and just typed out “yes please,  I would like a restore” in the text box.  Within a couple minutes I was knocked out of the game by an administrator and received my character restore.  All of my money, items and gear were back and my character was back in the spot where I last left her.

In the meantime, I had received a couple direct messages via Twitter from Zann, who wanted to make sure that my problem was taken care of.  Now that’s service!  I checked the forums and saw a few people complaining about the customer service – specifically, the outsourced customer service representatives and how frustrating it was to get anything accomplished.  In the end, not everyone’s customer service experience is going to be a good one.  There will be some people who have their issues fixed within minutes and for others, days.

Now let’s break the customer service down a bit…

Trion Customer Service Report Card

Phone service: C

I didn’t have to wait very long at all for service.  The most I had to wait was about three to five minutes, which is great but I was also hung up on twice in a row, which is not so great.  Once on the phone, the representatives had difficulty understanding me and vice versa.  This hurts the service because I can see many short tempered people either yelling at the representatives or giving up completely. Having someone tell me that it would be fixed and finding out that it wasn’t was bad. Very bad.

In-game service: B+

I waited a long, long time with that ticket open and for a while there I was thinking I wasn’t going to receive help.  While it would have been nice to actually speak to someone in real time (like in World of Warcraft) instead of through the actual ticket itself, my issue was ultimately resolved.

Web service: C

I’m giving the web service a C because it isn’t the easiest to navigate.  It’s not overly difficult, but nothing is really out there in plain view.  You’re going to have a dig a little bit to get a phone number and it wasn’t very clear that if I submitted a question via the “submit a question” form it would count as an in-game ticket.

Twitter service: A+

Zann is also quick, helpful and takes the job seriously.  Doing a quick inquiry with @Riftgame is always the first place I go when I have a question or in need of some minor assistance.

Overall score: B

There are a couple of areas that could be improved, but in the end my problem was fixed within the same day and in only a matter of about two hours.  If you aren’t used to using customer service for an MMORPG, this may seem like a long time, but compared to NCSoft’s (AionGuild Wars) customer service, this was a dream come true.  As I mentioned before: Not everyone’s customer service experience will be the same and I’m not even sure if the support will remain this responsive.  Considering the game was only officially launched on the first, I’d say this was an above-average experience.

The thing that worries me the most is just how easy it was to get the security question changed.  While on the phone with rep #2, he asked me a series of questions that could have been easily found under my account settings.  If someone did hack my account, they’d be able to see that my account was a standard edition game and the last four digits of the credit card used for the subscription.  While it’s great that I personally didn’t have to jump through any hoops to get it changed, it makes me a little leery that the support might be on the weak side.  Only time will tell, I guess.

Now, if only that bug didn’t exist in the first place.

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