Well we take a break from the quick fire bloggings of late and I present you with a much more heady tome for your delectation.
Well, to get started then, you may or may not be aware of the saga of my stolen Nintendo 3DS and the ensuing problems around it, well, I have an update and a final chapter, and if you are so far unaware of it, I have the full story, so read on. At the end of this you can make up your own mind about how well Nintendo have resolved it, and whether or not they would have resolved it if it weren’t for some not inconsiderable persistence on my part.
Let’s go back to the beginning and I’ll take you through the whole thing.
It started on January 12th 2012 when my house got broken into and a bunch of stuff got stolen, including my Aqua Blue Nintendo 3DS. Now on this console, for those who don’t know, you can access the Nintendo eShop and you can use either a credit card or Nintendo Vouchers to purchase games in much the same way as you can for the Wii and the DSi.
On my console I’d put £20 worth of credit on the console and I’d used about £15 of it, so I had about £5 left to spend when I saw something I wanted to buy. Now you’ll notice I said “I’d put £20 worth of credit on the console” as oppose to “I’d put £20 worth of credit on my account” That’s because Nintendo do things differently to their competitors’ online stores. On the Playstation Network, on Xbox Live, on the Apple iTunes store and on the Android Market Place, you have your own account, and if for any reason you have to get a new console, you simply move your account over to it. With my Sony PSP that was also stolen during the same break in, I got my new console, entered my account details and I had my account back straight away and I could access the games I’d bought.
On the 3DS however, things are not so simple, you see, the account is tied to the console itself, so whoever had hold of my 3DS also had all of the games I’d bought and all of the credit I’d put on there as well. Nice. Cheers Nintendo.
So, the day after the break in I contacted them by email to see how I should proceed. I wanted my games and my credit back and I didn’t want somebody else spending it for me. So on January 13th I emailed Nintendo Customer Support (firstname.lastname@example.org) and told them simply:
Hi, I have had my 3DS console stolen and I had some eShop credit on there. I had also purchased several games from the eShop.
Is there a way to lock my account, ban my console from online activity and to transfer my purchases and credit to my replacement console when I get it?
They replied the same day with a message that said:
Thank you for your email.
Your Nintendo eShop account (including Ambassador titles) is tied to the console itself so if the console has been lost, stolen or has been replaced by the retailer then transfer is not possible.
Please note that this cannot be performed with the use of just an your SD card and the 3DS transfer tool will require both both (sic) consoles to be in your possession and both need to be fully updated and configured for internet access to follow this process. Both consoles also need to be from the same region for example Europe for this to be possible and you may need to re-download your titles from the eShop once more once complete.
If you have purchased a second console for example because you wanted to take advantage of one of the new range of colours we now offer but traded-in your original console we strongly recommend getting in touch with the retailer/buyer to see if they still have possession of your original console to carry out this process.
Please note that if the console has been sent to our repair centre and no longer has the downloaded titles stored on the console then you should re-visit the eShop and they should be available to re-download free of charge.
If this is not the case or you have any further queries please call us on the number below.
The Nintendo Team
So, not quite what I wanted to hear. Sorry Mike but you’re screwed, buy your games again bitch. So I posted this on a gaming forum (not our own forums) and I was contacted by a member who shall remain nameless as they work for Nintendo UK. They sent me a private message that read:
This is a summary of what I’ve been told: Hope this helps you!
There should be a paragraph there to highlight the steps to take in order to recover accounts if the product has been stolen. There basically needs to be an official email from the police to our R.I.P.A. email. Thanks for feeding this back to me, it’s really helpful.
The local police dept need to put in a request on the following email RIPAemail@example.com
It basically needs to be logged as stolen and then request then comes to us on the above email and we can action.
So OK, Nintendo Customer Support had told me a complete lie. Transferring accounts was possible, they just couldn’t really be bothered or they would rather keep my £20. Not the largest amount of money in the world and a pittance compared to their income as a whole but every little helps, especially in this day and age. So I took this advice and I got Greater Manchester Police to send an email on my behalf outlining the crime and giving the crime reference number and sending it to this RIPA Address (RIPAfirstname.lastname@example.org) but by now more than two weeks had passed and this email was sent on February 1st:
I won’t read that email because it’s got Police and private stuff in it but the very next day and just in case they didn’t know that the Mike James in the Police email was this Mike James, I sent them another email quoting that email and reference numbers and told them we were one and the same. I sent them this:
Further to your standard reply below I have been informed that there is indeed a way to recover my account and access it from my new console.
I have followed the advice given by yourselves and had an email sent from Greater Manchester Police to your email address at RIPAemail@example.com so that you have it on record that my console has been stolen and you can pursue the process of account recovery.
The email sent on my behalf by the Police refers to a crime reference number (Greater Manchester Police crime reference blah blah blah).
I look forward to your reply.
So now they knew my console had been stolen, they knew that it was me and they knew that I knew that they could recover my account for me. No problem now right? Well, after a week of not hearing anything I rang them, for the first of many times.
Ringing Nintendo UK is a mind numbing experience not unlike hitting a brick wall constantly and whenever I rang them I was told on different occasions that:
Basically, piss off and give us your £20.
If you persist you will get through to somebody who is helpful but it generally isn’t easy, and finally I got to speak to somebody purporting to be a manager who said that they hadn’t received the email from the Police or the one from me either, but if I sent them again they would follow them up personally, so I did just that. I told the manager I would send it within the next five minutes and if they didn’t receive it they should contact me.
Oh of course we will sir!
Yeah right. I was only ever contacted by them twice and this wasn’t one of those occasions. They would usually spin me a line about trying to contact me but being unable to, despite holding two phone numbers, two email addresses and a postal address for me.
I left it a week and rang them back, and guess what?
No sir we haven’t received the emails from you, would you like to send them again? Also, actually our policy on stolen consoles has changed, you now have to send the email to the RIPA address and also an additional one as well so we can follow it up.
I did just that and sent both emails to both addresses on what was by now February 24th. Again I said I would do it within 5 minutes and they should contact me if they didn’t receive them. I was assured that they would, and after the weekend when I hadn’t heard from them I rang them back yet again and this time sent the emails while I was on the phone, by now we were on March 8th.
Feeling at least a little aggrieved by the whole process and lack of good service so far I decided to complain using the online complaint system, so I filled in a lovely account of my lack of success and my complete frustration with the company so far and hit the submit button.
I’ll show them!
Well, I would have done if the complaint system actually worked but instead I got a 404 error on the page. Luckily I’d pasted my complaint to Notepadd++ before hitting Submit so I did it again, and again I got a 404 error.
Now really pissed off I decided to email them on the email address that also apparently wasn’t working and I said:
Not only have I received shoddy service from yourselves, but when I try to complain about it I get this:
The requested URL /survey/confirmation.php was not found on this server.
Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Knowing that there was every chance that they would ignore or pretend not to have received this email I sent it with Delivery Notifications on it and got back the message:
Delivery to these recipients or distribution lists is complete, but delivery notification was not sent by the destination:
Fair enough, not all mail servers send a response but at least I knew it had hit somewhere, and now I felt the need for a letter of complaint, but who did I know that specialized in letters of complaint? My brother Neil, that’s who, so I gave him the basic info and he came back with one of the finest complaint letters you’ll ever read. I won’t quote the whole thing here because it’s quite lengthy and repeats some of what I’ve already said but you can read it yourself here and I recommend that you do so because it will definitely give you a good laugh if not inspire you into writing your own.
I sent two copies of it, one to Customer Support and one to Satoru Shibata, the Head of Nintendo UK. It began:
The Customer is Always Right”, and Other Modern Myths
and it ended:
PS. According to a TARP report in 1997, a customer who is satisfied with an organisation’s response to a problem will, on average, tell four or five people. If the experience was bad, they will tell nine or ten people.
I’m sure that you can hazard a guess at my current quota (although maybe times were different back in 1997 but, from recent personal experience, I think they underestimated).
You remember earlier I mentioned Nintendo getting in touch with me twice? Well, this was one of those times, following receipt of that letter. Not only did they contact me but they did it on a holiday weekend. They even apologized for ringing me on a Bank Holiday too, and the guy I spoke to was the most helpful person I’ve ever spoken to on the phone and he outlined exactly what was going to happen and how Nintendo were going to resolve this for me.
They would email me a prepaid postage label and I had to send off my console to them so they could transfer my account to it. Not only that but they would add me to the Ambassador program and give me the Ambassador titles as a gesture of good will.
OK, a result it seems, so within the hour they had indeed emailed me a label and launched a support ticket for me on their site, signed:
The Nintendo Customer Support team
so they did have more than one person working in that department, so I packaged up the console and sent it the next day, by now it was April 10th.
On April 13th I got an email from them to let me know that they had received it and they would process the repair of my Aqua Blue 3DS. I didn’t like saying that I had sent them a black one, but still, they knew best.
Once again things now took a turn for the worst because two weeks slipped by before I heard anything from them so I called them and got the usual response of
Yeah yeah managers, yeah yeah get back to you yeah yeah leave it with me.
Within five minutes of me putting the phone down from that idiot, he must have looked into the support ticket and seen the notes attached to it and the fact that Shibata San was on the case and he rang me straight back and couldn’t have been nicer.
Aah Mr James, we’ve been trying to get in touch with you for a while now.
Again, this is despite having two phone numbers, two email addresses and a postal address for me, but never mind that minor detail.
What they actually wanted and were waiting for was for me to confirm to them that they could delete the account that my new console had on it in order to restore my lost account, so once I’d confirmed that my new console didn’t have anything on there that I wanted to keep they could get on with the repair and was there anything else they could help me with today?
So, on May 4th they emailed me to tell me that they had, and I quote;
Excellent news! We are please to inform you that your Nintendo Aqua Blue has been despatched.
So now there just remained the small problem of what colour console they had actually repaired for me and what colour console they were going to return to me, and luckily it turned out to be my very own black console that showed up, resplendent with my original Nintendo account and eShop purchases, and all of my remaining credit.
Unfortunately they hadn’t added the Ambassador titles like they had promised but do you know what? I couldn’t be bothered chasing them up. I’d had enough, I got what was rightfully mine and what I had asked for and I had my console back and I was happy enough with that in the end.
The Ambassador titles would have been nice but whatever. I was more concerned with having to re-unlock some of the features I’d unlocked on my deleted account, like all the features of Nintendo Letter Box (Swap Note) and the Puzzle Pieces and Streetpass Quest that I had to do again, but no biggie.
So, to summarise all of this then, did Nintendo UK manage to port my old account from my stolen console to my replacement console? Yes they did.
Was it a pleasurable experience? On no account was it pleasurable.
Would 99% of people have given up before getting a result? Probably yes.
They really only carried out the restore because I was so persistent and because Neil wrote such a good complaint letter. Whether Satoru Shibata or one of his minions read it, it doesn’t really matter, but without that letter I would still be waiting for them to ring me back on one of the two telephone numbers they hold for me.