Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

How to lose my business, twice

November 26th, 2004 · No Comments · Customer Service, Gaming, Stupidity

There’s a lot of games which hardly warrant a $40-$50 purchase, but can be fun for a few days. These games are perfect for renting. While we can rent from either the local Blockbuster or independent rental place near us, both suffer from poor inventories. Also if we rent a game that’s good enough to play all the way through, we frequently hit late charges for an extra rental period.

Being a fan of Netflix, I always thought a similar model for Xbox and Playstation games would serve me well. I looked for a service that had something on the east coast (most are west coast based) since the games are shipped by first class mail and local fulfillment can mean much faster turnaround. I found Deep Shark and signed up.

The first thing I didn’t like was Deep Shark gives you a customer ID number to log in with. It took me almost a year and a half to remember my ZIP code, and I was referencing that about a thousand times more than I ever will my five digit Deep Shark ID. Here’s an idea, Deep Shark: let people use their email address as a login, or go hog wild and let them choose.

That’s the most conspicuous usability gaff, but it’s not the only one you can find. Deep Shark is no NetFlix when it comes to ease of use. The site is functional but a little rough, like there’s no indication of availability of titles. But the site makes it possible to find and select games for the queue without too much fuss, so I selected several games and began my wait.

The first game arrived a few days later. I was supposed to get two, and according to the web site, the second one was shipped already. After a week, when I was getting ready to return the first game, I decided to contact them about the missing game.

This is when I discovered that Deep Shark simply bins all support emails. I filled out the support form on the web site several times, without even an automated response for my troubles. I tried emailing them directly. I double checked my spam filters to make sure they weren’t being blocked.

Nothing. Silence. For three days I tried, and for three days there was no response.

You can imagine that their process for canceling an account was not a usability delight. Especially when you can’t cancel until all games are returned, including games you never got, and have reported as missing.

I finally dug up a phone number for these clowns and called them. Pleasant enough on the phone, and the matter was resolved in about 10 minutes. But I was no longer a customer. This was several months ago.

Hope springs eternal at the Nosuch house, which is why when I got an email from Deep Shark saying “We’re new, we’re improved, we’ve mended our ways, come back for free for 30 days” I took the bait. Apparently another firm is doing fulfillment for them now, so I was optimistic.

But still the membership number is used as a login (and I was assigned a new one for the offer, instead of my old one.) The rental queue is set up with the same clunky site. The queue still offers no feedback about availability.

After signing up and filling my queue with six games (and not all new titles mind you) I began to get concerned when after three days, none of them had shipped. On the fourth day, they finally shipped one game, probably the oldest release, and 4th on my queue. Two days later, they still hadn’t shipped another game.

I’ll let you know how the cancellation goes this time around. Hopefully I won’t have to call.

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