This site collects stories from people with experience of Sony's customer services. It was inspired by the continuing tales in this thread on RLLMUK, from which some stories are taken.

If you have a similar story, please get in touch! We hope that collecting these stories will help Sony to realise that their awful approach to digital accounts, customer service and denial of standard rights is hurting their business. None of the major video games news sites seem to be interested for some reason!

Note that we will not take anonymous submissions, and submitters remain responsible for the factual accuracy of their stories.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

My niece bought a film on my Vita

From NeoGAF:
I'd gotten in from work yesterday with the Vita and a few other things in my hand. I couldn't put them all away at once so I left the Vita on a counter, and when I came back i saw it was on the table in a different room and a purchase had been made for a film. My sister and 2 year old niece were visiting and in the 2 minutes i was gone someone must have given the Vita to her and the purchase was made. It hadn't been downloaded and it was asking me If I wanted to which I declined.

First thing I did was find out the Customer Service number to but they were out of hours (Close at 8:30PM in the UK which is ridiculously early). I called them today wanting a refund explaining the problem. They agent said he'd send a refund request through to the department, but in his experience he expects it to be declined. I mean what? I never downloaded the film, have an account that stretches back to 2008 in which I've made a good amount of purchases over the years and never needed to call customer service or ask for a refund before, and a purchase that the agent agreed was clearly made in error can't be refunded because that's their policy.

The agent accused me of lax security on my end as well and said I should have had password on checkout. Now I can accept that my niece getting into her hands was on my end (even if I left it on a high counter for 2 mins), but the extra security is something I've always wanted. I have it so a password is required on checkout for all my online purchases, be they digital on stuff like Google Play, or retailers like Amazon. It's something I've wanted to set up on the Vita for ages but could never find the option. When I asked the agent how to do it, of all things he then says he's not sure if it's possible on Vita and shows me how to do it on PS4 instead.

Again, Sony says that it is the customer's responsibility to keep the account secure, but don't give them the tools to do it.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

I’m amazed that you think I’d still have a PS4 after all this

Shortly before the Watchdog piece aired, John Lappin (featured on the programme, whose story was featured here) received an email from Sony.
Dear Mr Lappin,

As you are aware, BBC Watchdog has brought your case to our attention.

We constantly strive to improve our Customer Service offering but unfortunately we sometimes get it wrong, and on this occasion, our internal processes have not met the high standards we set ourselves.  I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the experience you had.  This is not the experience we want our customers to have.  As a result of this case, we are conducting a review of our process for reviewing and responding to Unauthorised Transaction complaints to ensure other users are not similarly affected in the future.

Having re-examined this case, I can assure you that neither PlayStation Network nor Sony Entertainment Network services were compromised to obtain access to your account.  In this instance, available evidence suggests that your account was accessed by attackers using usernames and passwords that were obtained outside of our Network. 

Sadly, criminal activity like this is an unfortunate element of modern, online life, which underlines the need for everyone to take precautions to protect their personal details online.  We recommend that our players create complex unique passwords that they have not used before, use different username/password combinations than those used for other online services, and keep a close eye on their accounts for unusual activity. 

Your SEN account Wallet has now been credited with the funds that were used to make this purchase.  If you haven't already done so, please make sure that you change your SEN account password to ensure that your account is kept secure.

We hope that the above goes someway in restoring your confidence in PlayStation.

Yours faithfully,

Jon Budden
Head of Consumer Services
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited
It's a good job the BBC brought John's case to their attention, since the months of emails, calls and contact he had gone through didn't seem to.  A few things to note here:
  • Sony are still implying it was John's fault that his account was stolen.  Constantly telling basic security advice like 'complex unique passwords' implies that they are assuming he wasn't.
  • They have credited funds back to his account, which is useless as he no longer has a Playstation.
  • John did keep a close eye on his account.  As soon as he noticed an email about the purchase he contacted Sony.
John has posted his reply to RLLMUK:
Unfortunately, no it doesn’t come anywhere near restoring my confidence. You have begrudgingly refunded me after 6 months, multiple calls and emails, tweets to various executives at Sony and a BBC investigation. I suspect had the latter not happened you’d still be ignoring me. Whilst I appreciate that my situation could well have been someone trying to trick you, you just assumed that was what I was doing. The fact that this is even possible is a flaw in your systems, not something your customers should suffer for. You cannot assume all your customers are potential fraudsters and refuse to refund them as ‘punishment’ for a crime just because your lax processes mean it’s remotely possible they may have committed it.

As you say, sadly criminal activity like this is an unfortunate element of modern online life. Perhaps then, you should provide tighter security for your customers like two factor authentication. If you don’t want to pay the cost of fraud, protect against it, don’t force your customers to pay for it.

Almost everyone I spoke to in your customer service centres, after 30 minute waits each time, was friendly and tried what they could to help but were ultimately powerless to do so thanks to your policies. Only one agent, the last I contacted was rude and told me Sony were keeping my money as a punishment.

The only person at Sony who gave me any faith in your company was the first guy I called who is in the recording you may have heard. He did what he could and clearly understood the issue and what was wrong about how it was being dealt with.

Whilst I appreciate the fact that you have refunded me, it’s useless to me now as I no longer own the machine and frankly I’m amazed that you think I’d still have a PS4 after all this. (The one in the Watchdog piece was provided by them which I reluctantly agreed to use for the show). I’d ask for it to refunded into my bank but we both know that’s not going to happen.

Thanks for emailing and good luck improving your services for others.

That would be a great place to leave it, but there's more.  A little investigation from a new user at RLLMUK shows that Sony (or at least its people) still don't quite get Internet security.

Sony's argument for no refunds is that all users are responsible for everything that happens to their account; and liable for any costs incurred.

This is despite the fact we still don't have adequate measures for protection - notably, two-factor authentication (that is, when you get texted a code to log in after entering your password). Steam, Origin, Google Play, iTunes, and even Xbox all do this.

However, after looking at Jon Budden's twitter (the guy who emailed Pockets and is Head of Consumer Services SCEE) - he complained a couple of months ago, on April 21st, to PayPal after his account got hacked and money spent! Unbelievable.

Maybe he should've had a stronger password. I guess it's do what we say and not as we do?

Note that this Twitter account has now been deleted.  As has his Facebook complaints about having to make five phone calls to chase something up.

Imagine making five phone calls, and sending countless emails, and complaining for six months and then still being told that a company is assuming you're a thief?  I think that may be worse.

I watched Watchdog and was stunned by the hypocrisy

The full Watchdog programme can be seen below.

The Sony part is on first, though later in the programme others have called in with their experiences.

Sony's response is pathetic, I'm afraid.  The website they recommend people to visit - https://www.getsafeonline.org/ - does not really relate to much on this website.  People have had accounts stolen who have followed everything recommended, including unique passwords and email addresses.  And let's not forget the issue is more about Sony refusing refunds even when content has not been used, or has been blocked on the fraudster's machine.

Amusingly, a page on that website - https://www.getsafeonline.org/business-news/sony-hack-highlights-major-shortcomings/ - looks at the Sony Pictures hack and recommends things that should be changed due to poor quality security:
  • Ensure all sensitive data is encrypted.
  • Do not store passwords in the same place as password-protected documents.
  • Use two-factor authentication.
  • Keep sensitive personal data separate from other data.
  • Carry out regular external security checks.
Do we have any confidence that Sony has done any of these?  We know they haven't implemented two-factor authentication, so consider us sceptical.

So, hypocrisy from Sony? You've not seen the last of it yet ...

When I hear the name Sony now I cringe and frown

A long and interesting blog post, which covers one of the stories set out here in more depth with a bit of a kicker (as briefly mentioned here):

However my Son, Ollie who was 9 at the time also has a Sony Account because he is the very proud owner of his own PS Vita, which most of you will know is a handheld portable gaming device and order to manage that and purchase certain games he needed an account. Now because Ollie was 9 he has what is called a Sub-Account, which in simple terms is an account with very restricted access, which sits under my master account, a child account under a parent account. So by me losing my account it meant we had lost full control of his account, although he was not banned himself he still had access to all the games and content he had purchased, we just could not purchase any more because it was funded from my now banned account.

So not the end of the world but as you can imagine I am kind of still upset by this, so I contact SEN Customer Services again hoping to reason with them and appeal to their human nature, I hit a brick wall, I am spoken to like I am a child, seriously, I'm like hello, I'm closer to 50 than I am to 40! I asked to be transferred to someone who can help right this injustice, I am told no, I tell the guy on the end of the phone that I am not hanging up until he at least tries to help me, to which he responds, "in that case I am terminating this call, Goodbye!...." and hangs up.

Watchdog obviously contacted Sony with their long list of viewers who had complained to them and Sony reinstated in full last week the accounts of the 2 guys who had their full stories portrayed on Watchdog, however at the same time, they actually banned my Son's Sub-Account, meaning he has now lost all access to his purchased content, so it seems instead of being helped by Watchdog, we have in fact been punished further.
 More details, including a possible resolution, can be found on the RLLMUK thread.

Monday, 1 June 2015

I most certainly did not want Outlast

From AaronionRings on Eurogamer:

They essentially stole money from me by charging me for a game without my consent. My account hadn't been compromised, I'm the only one with access to both it and my console. I got an email receipt as soon as they did this and I contacted customer support within minutes to get them to refund me because I most certainly did not want Outlast and I was not willing to let them just pocket the £16.

I had to guide one person to do her job and she became rude and unwilling to help after disappearing for 10 minutes, I got someone higher up in customer support to phone me and he was rude and yelled down the phone about how PSN is infallible and how no issues of any sort can occur because they're all accounted for. He didn't let me get a word in until I insisted on being able to speak and then he outright called me a liar without using the direct words before hanging up on me. I've nothing to gain by being rude and customer support tends to only go well if you're nice so I was polite throughout. I don't get how a company like this can have such hostile customer support.

They only offered any type of compensation when they realised I wasn't going away after contacting the director of public relations (or something like that). Their apology was not to offer me a refund it was ... sending me a code for 1 month of PS Plus. Oh and they sent me a used code. Brilliant. When I sent an email about that ... no reply. My 2 follow ups, a week or so apart likewise received no reply.

About 8 months or so later I receive an email from customer support offering £10 credit as a goodwill gesture for what I had to put up with and the person who sent it just needed to phone me to confirm my details. She phoned me and surprised me by being very polite and actually putting the credit on my account. I'm convinced she was an intern made to go through old emails noone else wanted to touch.

This took around a year total to get anything sorted and I didn't even get the desired result. Simply the best one I was able to get in the end. That's unacceptable. They're an awful company if your issue isn't directly covered by a warranty and will avoid responsibility if they think they can get away with it. It's not just the UK support either, I've read a heck of a lot of similar stories from the US.

As an extra note, the only reason I didn't issue a chargeback is because I knew they'd ban my PSN account and I'd lose access to my other purchases.