[Critical issue] Customer Service / Support / Appeal feedback

Grab a tea and sit down, this is going to be a long read.

Dear Amazon Games, please check your customer support team. You need to audit your customer support as soon as possible, they are providing a sub-standard service to your customers and you might not know about it until it becomes a catastrophic issue.

I’ll describe below the main reasons for what I believe are the key aspects of the issues, please bear in mind that all of the reports are player reports, sure there are people lying and trying to scam their way back into the game after cheating or have their ban justified, but with the amount of comments/reports of people trying to get unbanned, their stories and after several tries really getting unbanned, we can speculate that this is a real issue.

First let’s talk about the bans:


Cultural/Localization/Context on bans;

The Moderation Team, those that reviews the reports before the ban, needs to be more flexible. Currently we know that the “ban hammer” is very trigger happy, with the amount of people being banned for mass-reports, jokes or even slightly offensive language, this is huge. And I believe it’s because the moderation team lacks context, cultural knowledge and localization on the reports they are reviewing.
The game and it’s servers push for different languages; German, French, Italian, Spanish (EU), Polish, Spanish (SA), Portuguese, English (both EU and US). This is a huge accomplishment, but with this comes huge responsibility as well. You cannot let a software translation be part of this (or even someone with basic skill in another language), since as said, it will lack cultural context.

Let me give you a few simple example;

  • The 877-Cash-Now joke, long story short, the person was making a joke about all the spam the gold sellers were doing on the global chat, anyone from the USA would immediately know that this was a joke, since the TV commercial are also “spammed” during commercial breaks. Instead the person was probably banned by either providing a public phone number or was being treated as a real RMT (with a phone). This person got a permanent ban and after several appeals was finally reviewed and unbanned after 2 weeks. This is a great example of lack of cultural context.

You can see more about this story here: https://www.reddit.com/r/newworldgame/comments/q2zyie/update_to_877cashnow_permaban_mods_removed_my_old/

  • The next player got banned for having an offensive name. His name was LICKATUNG. That’s a pokemon, in case you didn’t know. But a simple translation could undestand it as a sexually offensive name.

You can see more about this story here: https://www.reddit.com/r/newworldgame/comments/qbd9e0/this_can_be_serious_offensive_name_ban_amazon/

There are many more


Mass Reports ban;

It’s a known issue, there’s no denial that this game has issues with opposition factions mass reporting others. Some people might even say that the reporter even ‘acted in an abusive behavior’, but I believe that the “moderation team” reviewing is being manipulated on the amount of reports and not the real context on the issue. There are even stories about some company Discord channels specifically to target people for mass reports. This needs to stop immediately. How? I don’t know! But if I may suggest on your report list, add in a category for the faction & level that the reporter and the reported are. If there’s a massive amount of ONLY the opposition faction targeting someone, it will be flagged as a “maybe false-flag”. Having the level of the reporter would matter so that people do not make ALT characters just for mass reporting. Other than that, I have no other suggestion on how to tackle the issue, without having a more efficient or flexible moderation team. If you have any other suggestions, please write it down below.

Here are a few people that claim they have been banned from mass reports;


Mute

Why isn’t there a 24hr/48hr (or even a Permanent Mute) as a disciplinary action against players with offensive language? The only bans should come only from VERY SERIOUS offensive language.


Ban Reasons

This has been slightly changed a couple of weeks ago, after the first dupe wave. Before we used to only have “Abusive Behavior” bans, now we have the infamous “Cheating” and a new one “Hacking”, These are not enough!

You need to let people know exactly why they got banned; “Serious Offensive Language”, Abuse of exploits/bugs", “Griefing” this would be an Abusive Behavior, “Use of bots/macro/3rd party software”, “Website advertising” or “Real money trading”, “Win Trading”, “Account Sharing” and many others. This is not only good for your telemetry, but it’s also, by many countries, a right of the consumer under protectives laws to know the specific reason the service/product was not provided/delivered/sold.

For people that doesn’t know, you can request your Private Data from Amazon.com, which includes a lot of Amazon Games personal data as well. Under that there’s a file called AmazonGames.Moderation.Penalties.csv. In there you can see any moderation penalties you have received (not sure if “warnings” appear in it). There’s a PenaltyType and a PenaltyContext column, but the penalty context are always empty, as you can see on the image below.

And please, if you’re going to ban someone for Offensive Language, include the chat lines where it was offensive.

For anyone that is going to bring up the Terms of Service / Code of Conduct, remember that it states on their ToS;

“We reserve the right to determine what constitutes unfair play and to take corrective action we deem appropriate.” - That is a very abusive practice and players should not take that lightly.

Here’s a great example, what every appeal should look like the least;

  • Player was banned for gambling on /dice. I didnt even knew that it was against the rules, as it is not specified on the ToS. But the appeal agent actually described the reason why he was banned.

Live Chat - Customer Support

Now that I’ve explained a little bit of the whole system, let’s talk about the main issue; customer support. Remember that you are paying customers, you have rights (and obligations), and it does not matter if you have played the game for 1 hour or 720 hours.

The lack of preparation and customer service skills of most agents are horrendous. This is coming from someone that has had over 15 years working at the front line of the customer services industry, including call center. I know that there’s a lot of rude customers out there, I would be the first in line to say that. But that doesn’t excuse customer support to be disruptive.

We understand that Live Chat does not have the technical skills, nor access, to review any bans. But they should be able to at least give you the proper reason for your ban, as some have done. See below;

But don’t even give you the chance to talk about the issue so that when they escalate / propritize they give additional information about it, they just want to clear the queue and move on. Here are a few good examples of live chat agent, just closing on you;

  • Agent purposely waited over 4 minutes to reply, replied that the chat was “idle for 2minutes” and disconnected, this is the best example of customer support malpractice; Imgur: The magic of the Internet

  • Agent was asked on how to detect duped items so that the player can avoid it, gave false information AND closed the chat; https://i.imgur.com/vrreMDu.png

  • Agent asks for 2 minutes, and after that closes the chat - https://i.redd.it/1jny167ka7181.png

  • And we shouldnt exclude forum support from this issue either. Here’s a Forum support replying to thread 5 days later of the issue;


Web Ticket - Ban appeal - Customer Support

This issue deserves a whole thread, but only requires one main point; Why isn’t there a Ticket ID Number when you make an appeal? This is beyond basic “ticketing”.

Without a Ticket Id # we are unable to track the ban appeal (or even a tech support ticket). Is this intended so there’s less transparency?

It even does not allow player name to be less than 4 characters, but ingame you’re allowed to;


Ban Appeal Support / Customer Support

Simple and short: The “moderation team” does not review the appeals properly, at least most of them don’t, there are a lot of people saying that they needed to appeal 3, 4, 5 even 9 times to get their ban reviewed and eventually ended up unbanned.

It’s understandable that with this amount of customers, a vendor / company is required to manage all of the support, it’s normal in any industry. But most of the time, there are several internal regulations, policies to follow, audits and minimum customer satisfaction to be achieved (and I’m not even going to touch on the subject of compliance), which clearly has not been the case of Amazon Games support. Even if you compare Amazon.com customer support, you will notice there’s a huge satisfaction gap.

Amazon Games needs to do an urgent audit on their “moderation team” vendors, because there are several issues with it.

  • And the best example there can be; Player made a JOKE about gold selling (He literally said at the end of the phrase that it was a joke), got reported and permanently banned. After 13 days of several appeals, he never got unbanned, but after posting on the forums, Dev LawRich decided to finally look into it, and saw that it was wrong to ban him. Now do we all have to bother a Developer with a PM or a forum thread to look into our bans? Because the “moderation team” should be able to handle it, yet they didn’t.

And I don’t want to sound like a dick, but why that player only? Was he special? Several other “community managers” have said the forums are not the place to deal with bans, yet here we see that it was dealt with and it was very efficient and swiftly.

  • Someone got a warning message ingame about abusive behavior, and was instructed by Live Chat to raise an appeal ticket to check the reasoning of the warning. He received an email back saying that the Ban was confirmed and wouldn’t be changed, but there was never a ban. It’s ridiculous how transparent that the moderation team DOES NOT REVIEW the appeals properly.
  • Some agents don’t even care and just copy-paste the reply, resulting in HTML issues, making the email unreadable.

  • Some don’t even bother editing the email;

  • Some ticket appeals are even ending on different inboxes, even if you appeal directly through their website.

  • Unbanned after several appeals
  • Player was unbanned after getting different appeal emails, even an email AFTER the unban;
  • Player was in the “incapacitated” state for 7 days, support wasnt able to help him;
  • Here are just a few more people telling of how bad the customer support is;

These are just a few examples, which I took a little of my time to sum up the whole situation with the customer support. There are plenty more, if you use the search options on Steam Discussion, Official Forums or Reddit you will get the vast magnitude of the issue. These are players that want to play your game, they feel that they have been falsely banned, want to get back into playing the game, but can’t reach the appropriate personnel to help them.

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Shortly after posting, I got a private message;

This issue is real people!

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ftfy

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Excellent job my friend… developers and mods must take place with these issues now…

These are the real problems of the game…

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To add to this thread I have 3 tales of bans that should never have happened

  1. Our company crafter that we pooled gold into for full sets of gears and trophies was banned because “his account looked suspicious”, likely due to use using him to craft all our gear. He is still premabanned with appeals ignored.

  2. A friend was banned for leaving a zone after killing a boss and then later coming back. Support claimed he was exploiting by leaving the zone then coming back to farm the boss. No word on an appeal.

  3. The other day live on stream I received a 23 hour bans whilst a company was complaining about the leading syndicate guild being a Pve guild because they don’t do open world PvP. I merely said “then why can’t you take everfall from them?”. Their company mass reported me, support confirmed this was misuse of the report feature but made me wait the ban regardless.

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Posting now, will edit when I’m home. TLDR, I’ve got plenty of screenshots from my bans to share.

Edit:

This is from my most recent ban -



image

image


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So after that last one, I replied:

“What type of low effort response was that?”

And I get this beauty…

The support system has failed me. The true end game boss is getting banned for no reason and then fighting your way out.

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If anyone got wrongfully banned, that stinks. But the vast majority were probably legit cheaters/disruptive jerks.

I think digging deep into the edge cases will happen, but not before much more important things get addressed in the game.

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I totally agree that many people are trying to get a free unban card. And there are probably minor amount of false-flags. But the question I’m raising is to the whole transparency and how they are currently handling all the bans.

For sure there are more important things right now, but I imagine they are dealt by totally separated teams. As the community managers have already pointed out they are the “moderation team” and not a developer.

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I can appreciate the awareness you’re trying to raise. And although I’m not in the game development business at all, I would imagine the kind of transparency you’re advocating for would take a lot of resources (employees/time/money), which I doubt was planned for in their initial expectations/budget.

In any case, you’re advocating for justice - and I think we’re all onboard with that.

Are you looking for a job? Because i think AGS need to hire you to run something there. And soon.

Great post in so many ways.

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Apparently Amazon Games have had 500 million U$ investment per year, for the past couple of years. So I doubt they have any REAL issue with budgets. I say REAL issue, because they are probably trying to cut costs every corner to make the game somehow profitable, which is fine and understandable, they are not an indie development company that is making the game for fun (by gamers for gamers!).

But the issue is that this kind of customer service/support actually makes not only AGS look bad, but also Amazon.com. I havent cancelled my Prime yet, because my family really likes Prime Video shows, otherwise I would have cut any ties with them, just because of all the trouble I have been thru.

Developers are trying their best to make the game less buggy, make improvements, fix issues, work during holidays, etc. And then out of nowhere comes a random outsourced vendor that do customer service and makes the customer have a really bad experience (and I’m not talking only ban appeals, but technical support or even general support too) and it all goes to shambles because of that experience.

They need to pay closer attention to that!

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And just like the emails that have been sent to Customer Service, this post will be ignored by New World.

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Big guilds are avoiding talking about how big this issue really is in mass reports, and weaponizing reports because if your enemy knows how effective it is, it only gets worse.

Well here’s the reality, it’s really horrible right now, and you may never be able to appeal it. I am the guild crafter for a 200 member guild, and it has fully stopped progression for all these players. So kudos to whomever on Ohonoo decided to do it, you’ve successfully used their horrible system to your advantage.

The report/appeal system is by far the worst of any game I have ever touched. You cannot make any progress, nobody can tell you anything about why you were banned, and you get automated messages on your appeals that lead you nowhere and make no sense.

I can guarantee if someone took 5 minutes to look into my ban, they’d realize it made no sense, but it’s such a large obstacle course to get someone to give a damn apparently. Nobody wants to bring their appeal issues to the forums, but we have no other options, we’ve all tried everything else. This system has to change, we need community managers to be our voice in how significantly abused and awful this system is.

Here are the different things they’ll respond with when you do a ban appeal. 99% of them are unrelated to the reason you were even banned and don’t provide any information or decision… I have at least 20 useless responses from them at this point.






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You just know they are forwarding all that stuff somewhere in india to save a few bucks. Most of my live chat experiences were answered by people who barely speak english or know anything about the game to begin with.

This game’s customer support is making gamigo look good

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Ouch. A 200 player company only has one crafter? That’s an intense responsibility!

We have other crafters, but I was the dedicated crafter. For services like Weaponsmithing which requires a ton of resources to get to 200, and the difficulty of obtaining the full set, it’s not easy to get multiple crafters in those positions.

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As a guy that is at 190 ENG completely by himself… I understand. (Ok, some friends handed me some sandpaper once).

I’d love to have a big company feeding me mats!

Pre launch I advocated for crafting to be as difficult as possible, so the reward at the end felt rewarding. I don’t regret it… but goodness 190-200 scares me.

Edited my previous post to paste pictures from my most recent ban.

I got a 24h ban for “cheating” once. No idea what was considered cheating… only thing that comes to mind is that i connected via VPN to my workplace. Ofc I used appeal option, and almost instantly got a response (copypasted) telling me that it’s not possible to remove the ban and that it was a pleasure to help me with my case.
Help me.
Srsly.

I received zero details on this “cheating” thing. I stopped working thru VPN, I use Team Viewer now :smiley:

Same got perma for „cheating“ used appeal 2-3 Minutes got the same copy paste anwser
I am using reWASD for Controller