Blizzard Doesn’t Want Me to Play World of Warcraft

Back in the day I did my 10 day World of Warcraft trial and blogged about it. If you recall, I was able to convince myself that WoW was not for me in the end.

Then recently I started having these urges – I wanted to go back and play it again. The fact that Shamus can’t shut up about it didn’t help either. So I decided to see if my trial account still exists. It did. It also had a tantalizing new button in the middle of the interface. It said “upgrade your trial account”. Tempting… Oh so tempting. Why did they do this to me. For 2 days straight I was fighting with myself, and going back to that page. I was hovering my mouse pointer over that button. Clicking it… Hitting back button. Do I really want it? Won’t I get sick of it after few weeks? Do I really have time for this now?

Time I had. There is the long 4th of July weekend coming up, and I also had few day vacation lining up in a few days – I could spend mornings on the beach, and evenings playing WoW. So I said, what the hell. I whipped out my credit card, and upgraded.

My character was still there, intact. So I picked up right where I left of. I started running quests in the Barrens, got my cooking and first aid skills up. I was mining things, smelting copper, fishing. I gave up on running around and looking at stuff and getting killed by high level beasts in areas where i was not supposed to be, and concentrated on my quests, and fun things to do in the game. And it was fun – tons of fun. But I noticed that I still had trial account restrictions. I couldn’t trade items in an auction house, invite people to my party and etc.

I sent them an email about it via the form on their website. Didn’t even feel like calling about this – after all there was no rush. As long as they got it fixed in a day or two I would be perfectly happy. Next day I got this in my email:

This notice is being sent to inform you that we are unable to successfully process the recently requested electronic upgrade for World of Warcraft account [my user name]. As such, this account will remain at the current account level and no charges have been processed for this upgrade. In addition, in order to protect the security of both this World of Warcraft account and your payment method we have disabled access to this account to prevent potential abuse. Please contact the Blizzard Billing and Account Services department via telephone at (800)-59-BLIZZ (1-800-592-5499). Please note that due to security concerns we will be unable to assist you via email.

We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience in this matter.

Regards,

Blizzard Entertainment

WTF? They completely locked me out of my account. Fine. Maybe they had some issue with the credit card. Maybe I typed it in wrong. Perhaps the credit card put a stop on my payment for some reason. I figured out that I’ll probably need to give them a different credit card number in order to unlock my account. Whatever. It’s fine. No problem. Minor inconvenience but nothing I haven’t seen before.

After getting home from work I called them up. After 20 minutes of waiting on hold (listening to Diablo music streaming from the headphone) I finally got a live person on the line. The customer service lady who introduced herself as Samantha explained to me that for some unknown reason Blizzard considered my online upgrade as highly suspicious. Furthermore the only way for me to unlock my account was to go to a store and purchase an actual physical copy of the game and call them back with a CD key. In fact, she suggested that if I run out now, and call back right away I may still catch her as she will still be there for another hour.

Yeah, I’m going to drop everything, skip dinner and run to the store in the pouring rain because Blizzard wants to sell more retail copies of the fucking game. I’m sorry, but I’m not that fanatical about this game. If the online upgrade is so insecure and suspicious, why do they even offer it?

Samantha gave me this weird vibe. I don’t think that I ever spoke to anyone who was both so incredibly polite and so overwhelmingly condescending in that weird intangible way – both at the same time. She didn’t really try to troubleshoot the problem, didn’t ask for my account information and refused to try to reactivate the account. Just go buy the game – she was adamant about it.

I politely told her that I’m actually very quite disappointed with my WoW customer service experience so far, and that I likely won’t be buying the box or calling back and thanked for her time. I really wanted to give her some choice words but I’m a nice guy so I simply flipped a middle finger into the handset before hanging up.

Once I cooled down a bit I gave them another call. I figured that maybe Samantha was just being a pain in the ass. Perhaps I could get someone more sensible on the phone. This time around I got Steve and he was super nice and extremely helpful. He actually tried reactivating my account using 2 different credit cards but unfortunately it didn’t work. Finally he recommended buying a retail copy of the game, create a new account and then shoot him an email to see if my characters can be transferred to it.

Neither Steve nor Samantha could tell me why my account was locked, and why the credit card payments were being rejected. This information was simply not in the system, and they had no means of finding out what was going on.

In the end I really have two options. Option A is to:

  1. Buy a retail copy of the game
  2. Create a new account
  3. Email Steve and beg him for help
  4. Keep my fingers crossed
  5. Find out that trial characters are probably not transferable
  6. Start over

Option B is:

  1. Not to buy a retail copy of WoW
  2. Forget about the damn game
  3. Save $15/mo
  4. ???
  5. Profit

Right now I’m leaning towards option B. In general, any list that contains ??? and Profit is inherently more attractive to me. Besides, perhaps this is a sign from the above that I was not meant to play this game. Call it fate, destiny or divine intervention. Perhaps there is something to it.

In fact, I don’t even feel like playing this game anymore. I don’t want to give them my money. This lousy customer experience left a bad taste in my mouth. All I really wanted is to give them some of my money – but apparently they don’t really give a flying fuck if they loose a customer. They can afford to lock your account on a whim, and don’t give their billing support tools to properly troubleshoot these sort of problems. I’m not going to encourage that behavior by giving them my money. Not that this actually means anything since the have like a bazzilion subscribers but it makes me feel better.

I’m not sure if this is a common thing with these trial accounts. Anyone else ever had issues upgrading from them? Perhaps I’m just lucky. My advice for anyone who wants to do the trial would be not to get attached to their characters too much because this sort of thing may happen.

[tags]world of warcraft. wow, wow trial, wow trial upgrade[/tags]

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24 Responses to Blizzard Doesn’t Want Me to Play World of Warcraft

  1. Aaron UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I had the same problem when I tried upgrading. I plaid the trial and then after 6 months decided I’d like to play again. I played through the couple of days and then got locked out of my account for the same reason.

    I called them up and then after the seemingly required 20 minutes on hold I talked to rep and he was able to get my account up and running. I haven’t had a problem since then including when I upgraded online to the expansion.

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  2. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    You aren’t missing much anyways. I played for a while, got a character up to level 70 and have been fairly bored ever since. Play it off and on (usually when I have nothing else going on, which is rare these days). You’ve saved yourself $$, which is always a good thing :)

    As for trial accounts – heard the same story as yours many times. Seems like a scam to me.

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  3. Pingback: Blizzard Doesn’t Want Me to Play World of Warcraft | World Of Warcraft News MALAYSIA WordPress

  4. Pingback: Twenty Sided » Blog Archive » World of Warcraft:Dropping the Ball UNITED STATES WordPress

  5. Kevin UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    Looks to me like they flag any trial account that tries to upgrade after the stated trial period as a potential hacker. I can’t speak to the indefinable something that made you think the first customer service rep was being condescending, but otherwise I can’t see anything they actually did wrong. It was certainly inconvenient for you, and that’s unfortunate, but everything else seems like a overreaction.

    Of course I wasn’t there, and I don’t know you, but that’s the view from here.

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  6. JFargo UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I’m here via the link over at Twenty Sided, and I want to say that that’s absolutely nuts. The fact that they “can’t” tell you anything about why your upgrade would be considered “high suspicious” is ridiculous.

    I’d be going with plan B, in your shoes. Especially part 5.

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  7. Nick UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    As a internet help desk vet (2 years on the phones at various support call centers), I can understand. The people on the other side of the phone are doomed to a life of constant calls, and are given little to no support tools to really help the kind of people that have to call up in the first place. So these guys see your account is locked, and “can’t” tell you because they don’t know. They really DO want to know, and want to tell you, but the separation between those with the power and those that the customer talks to is a large void.

    Sorry to hear you won’t be trying out WOW any more. I enjoy it, but mainly because I haven’t experienced the issues you have. It really does irk me that Blizzard seems it wise to charge people full price for a game that requires and online subscription (bought WOW and TBC on release day). Of all the other MMO’s I’ve tried, WOW is the only one that required me to purchase a retail CD key.

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  8. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Kevin – I’m not blaming the customer service reps – especially Steve who was really helpful. Maybe I was just annoyed when I talked to Samantha – or maybe she was just one of these people who have that annoying vibe and you can’t do anything about it.

    I feel that Steve did all that he could to help me and I appreciate that. What I do not appreciate is flagging all trial accounts upgrades after the stated period as potential hackers. This is a bad policy no matter how you look at it.

    If this is what they *always* do why not simply remove the “upgrade” button from the trial accounts after few weeks once they expire? This way we are all on equal footing and I’m being fully informed. I log into my account and see:

    “Due to security concerns, to upgrade your expired trial account Blizzard Entertainment requires you to purchase retail copy of World of Warcraft. Electronic update is not available to trial accounts which were expired for longer than a week. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

    Wouldn’t that be easier? That would be being honest about your policies and I would totally respect that. It would make perfect sense. In fact it would be less work for them (less processing of dubious accounts, less customer support expenses and etc).

    Maybe I’m overreacting but I just don’t have the patience to jump through hoops to play a video game, no matter how awesome it is. I just don’t want to spend another hour on the phone with Blizzard to get my characters transferred – it’s just a pain in the ass to sit on hold for half an hour, and then explain my story to yet another rep and beg, plead and demand that they do a character transfer for free. Cause, it is a paid service they offer after all – they may just want to charge me for it.

    Seriously – I did absolutely nothing wrong. There is no place on their website that says “if you upgrade your expired trial account after few months of inactivity we may flag it as suspicious activity.” There is no way for me to know their internal policies. So why do I need to go through this lengthy process when all I wanted was to play the game.

    It just doesn’t seem worth the effort and frustration to go with this any further. Someone else who is more into WoW perhaps wouldn’t bat an eyelash and go through with it but I’m just tired and sick of dealing with Blizzard at this point.

    @JFargo – yeah, part 5 is real too – I earn $15/mo by not playing this game. lol

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Nick – I’ve been in the tech support too so I sort of understand. Then again it was an internal help desk and I was sort of the top tier guy where I was actually expected to resolve issues (I had the tools and access to all our systems and was authorized to order hardware and software when needed) instead of just processing the calls. But yeah – I get it.

    That’s why, as I said I don’t blame Steve. I blame Blizzard for not giving Steve the information and tools to help me. And for the idiotic secret policy that I somehow must have validated to warrant the account lock.

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  10. Nick UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I do understand your hatred of Blizzard’s “shoot first and never ask questions again” policy. It seems too self serving, banning anyone at a moment’s notice, then requiring them to purchase another retail copy to keep playing. I hear nothing but horror stories by people attempting to take on Blizzard.

    It seems to me that if blizzard did the math and figured they’d earn more money by continually banning all their subscribers each month and getting the 80 dollars from retail again, they’d do it.

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  11. Leahn BRAZIL Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Actually, the price for online upgrade and retail are the same. So they earn nothing by asking you to buy the retail copy. Actually, they are losing since part of the money now goes to the retail store.

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  12. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Leahn is right – the online upgrade is 19.99 which is the same as retail copy I believe. In fact, the retail copy may be actually cheaper than that since the store may have a discount that day and forgoe the profits if they want to move the merchandise.

    So they are loosing money, but at the same they are driving retail sales which I suspect are more important in their “sales numbers” at the end of the month.

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  13. Joe Cool UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Hi,

    I caught the link from Twenty Sided. Please read my comment there. The reason you were unable to upgrade electronically and asked to purchase retail has nothing to do with retail sales figures and everything to do with Blizzard’s attempts to combat gold farmers. Unfortunately, the gold farmers have created a situation which inconveniences legitimate customers. The ironic thing is, if Blizzard didn’t take the steps they do, then they’d get flack about the rampant gold farming issues, and not taking every measure to combat it. It’s really a no-win situation for them.

    Believe me, Blizzard wants your money and they’re not trying to be mean. But there’s more that goes on in the background than customers know.

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  14. I don’t know what it is about your site wanting to peg me as a spammer: I basically suggested that you should try out Pirates of the Burning Sea… its soo much better

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  15. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Joe Cool – thanks for the info. I read your comments on the other blog and I appreciate your wife’s insights into this issue.

    Still, like I said in my response on Twenty Sided – I’m new to WoW. I know next to nothing about gold farmers. I had no clue that upgrading my account after long period of inactivity was suspicious. In fact I still don’t know if it was that or the fact that my name is spelled slightly different on my account and on my credit card (Łukasz vs Lukasz). Or is it because I logged in once from work (different IP, different ISP, different town) to change my password. I wish I knew, but no one can tell me. And that’s the problem.

    I can sort of understand it now, but that doesn’t change the fact that it sucks for me – an average, naive customer. Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

    @Travis – Meh… I’m not really into pirate games at the moment for some reason but thanks for the suggestion.

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  16. Tim Keating UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    [quote comment="9532"]The reason you were unable to upgrade electronically and asked to purchase retail has nothing to do with retail sales figures and everything to do with Blizzard’s attempts to combat gold farmers.[/quote] Exactly. From an economic point of view, your lost (potential) business is not worth risking losing the N existing paying customers that will likely get driven out of the game if they let you in and you’re a gold farmer.

    The reason they want you to go buy retail is that if you get to day 89 and do a chargeback (a common gold farmer tactic… so they don’t even end up paying for the service), the cost of the box gets charged back to the retailer instead of Blizzard, who would otherwise have to eat that money in addition to the extra 2 months of service fees.

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  17. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    [quote post="2575"]The reason they want you to go buy retail is that if you get to day 89 and do a chargeback (a common gold farmer tactic… so they don’t even end up paying for the service), the cost of the box gets charged back to the retailer instead of Blizzard, who would otherwise have to eat that money in addition to the extra 2 months of service fees. [/quote]

    Wow, that actually makes a lot of sense. It still sucks for me as an average customer but it makes sense.

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  18. Zomglazerz UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Define Irony: I look below this line of comments and what do I spy? A banner ad for a gold farming site. *facepalm*

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  19. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Yeah, apparently gold farmers sped a lot of money on advertising their services. :(

    I should probably figure out how to prevent these from showing up here. I use Google Adsense btw, so these are showing up automatically based on the context.

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  20. Pingback: Relek 1 Corner » Blog Archive » WoW: Rebirthing SINGAPORE WordPress

  21. kylievb NEW ZEALAND Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I tried upgrading during my trial (4 days into it I think) and for a day nothing happened then suddenly locked out of my a/c. No email to explain why, and no response from Blizzard so far and it has been a few days. Thank god I didn’t get too addicted! There is no way I’ll go out and buy a retail copy, if they want to screw people around like this I’ll just get Warhammer instead :>

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  22. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @kylievb: My point exactly. Why don’t they just remove the online trial upgrades via credit card and make everyone buy the box instead of doing this shit.

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  23. Amy UNITED KINGDOM Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Hi I just came across your blog, I was searching for an answer to the same problem :(
    I’m just going to give up on it, if WoW are going to be this much of a pain, I’m not playing any more!!
    I have one question though, did you get your money back after a while? My bank account hasn’t actually been billed for the upgrade, but my available balance has gone down… it’s all really weird and annoying :'(

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  24. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    My card was never charged it seems. I eventually used Option A and bought a retail copy, then created a new account.

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