Sunday, October 27, 2013

Battlefield 4 - EA Origin Pre-Order Fiasco & Amazon to the Rescue

I have done two things wrong here:

1. Pre-ordering a game
2. Pre-ordering on Origin

I believe pre-ordering a game is not a smart thing to do these days. However, I am making an exception for Battlefield 4. In retrospect, I should have known better than this. I've had similar problems with Mass Effect 3 when purchasing on Origin. 

I will try to never make these mistakes again. So here is what happened:

September 16, 2013 - First pre-order

Pre-ordered the Battlefield 4 Digital Deluxe edition on Origin website, not the Origin client. Everything went fine, the game showed up in the Game Library. 

I did notice that my credit card account was only showing a temporary transaction from EA for $1. I didn't care at that point because the game was showing on my account. 

October 01, 2013 - Exclusive beta

No problems accessing the beta. I got it on time, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

October 24, 2013 - Charged $419 for my pre-order

I was looking at my credit card statement, and I realized that there was still a $1 pending transaction from EA. This seemed suspicious to me because when I pre-ordered a copy for my wife, there was a $69.99 transaction. I decided to check my Origin order history, and much to my surprise, the price of the pre-order was showing as $419.94. 

I immediately sent a note to Battlefield and Origin on twitter, and they replied back very shortly, which was nice to see. 

I contacted a Game Adviser at EA, and that gentleman told me that I will be given a refund. I asked him if I will be able to preload the game, and I was assured that I will be able to preload the game on October 26, 2013. 

I don't blame the gentleman for telling me that I would be able to pre-load the game. He is a tech support person who is not responsible for the Origin order processing system. I do blame the management, they should have known that customers are going to face these issues, and informed the tech support to handle it better, than to give a canned response. 

October 26, 2013 - No pre-load option for Battlefield 4

I suspected I wouldn't get an option to pre-load, judging from the lack of a transaction on my credit card, and I was right. My wife was able to pre-load the game. 

Off I went to tech support, and again, it has been a frustrating experience. Here is the transcript:

Chat Transcript
info: Your approximate wait time is 0 minute.
info: You are now ready to chat with Akshay.
Akshay: Thanks for contacting EA Customer Experience, my name is Akshay. How may I assist you today?
Akshay: Hello
you: Why am I not able to pre load Battlefield 4. I know my wife is able to do so. 
you: I am not able to preload. Could you tell me why?
Akshay: Okay
Akshay: You do not need to worry, I will do my best to address your concern.
you: Thanks
Akshay: May I know your email id please ?
you: *********
Akshay: Okay
Akshay: Thanks for the information
Akshay: For the verification could you please tell me the answer of your *** ?
you: *******
Akshay: Excellent
Akshay: Thank you for your co-operation in verifying the account
you: Sure
Akshay: Do you mind holding for a minute while I come up with something useful for you?
you: Sure
Akshay: I'll be glad to help you inform you.
you: Thanks. Any idea why I am not able to pre load?
Akshay: Pre-load means that, starting at the listed time, you'll be able to go ahead and download your game early, but won't be able to play until the stated release time.
you: I get that. 
you: I am just not able to preload. I am not talking about playing. 
you: What I am trying to say is, I don't have the option to preload at all. 
Akshay: Okay no problem
Akshay: You'll be able to pre-load Battlefield 4 at least 24 hours before the game's release in your region. Some players may be able to pre-load earlier than others depending on when the game is set to release per region.
you: My wife is she able to preload while I am not?
Akshay: Okay
you: Origin made a post on Facebook that anyone in North America can preload
Akshay: Okay
you: Sir, if you are not able to help me, kindly get me in touch with someone who can. 
Akshay: The preload that your wife was preloading will also get struck .
you: What??
you: OK...I know about that link. I've seen it. What I am asking is, why am I not able to preload, when Origin posted that the preload is available in North America. 
you: If you do not have an answer, that is fine. Please transfer this to someone who can help me. 
Akshay: Could you please give me few moments while I verify that for you.
you: Ok. 
Akshay: Thanks for being on hold.
you: Sure
Akshay: I'll provide some troubleshooting to you.
Akshay: I hope it will fix it for you.
you: Sure
you: You dont seem very confident
you: Please dont ask me restart origin or my computer. I've done both
Akshay: Actually it has worked for many players.
you: Sure
Akshay: We will try to manually uninstall Origin Client.
you: Ok
Akshay: Please follow this link :
Akshay: You can uninstall it manually by following the instructions on that link.
you: Ok let me do that
Akshay: Sure, please take your time my friend.
you: Ok, I manually uninstalled Origin
you: Do you want me to reinstall?
Akshay: Exactly. You can please re-install it to your system.
you: Ok I am doing that now
Akshay: Alright,please take your time.
you: Yeah, nothing. Its still not showing the Preload option.
you: Listen, do you think you can transfer this issue to someone else? 
Akshay: Origin Clear Cache might fix this issue. So I request you to please give it a try.
you: OK, very well
you: Nope. nothing. 
you: Still the same. 
Akshay: May I know if you and  your wife are using the same ISP ?
you: Yes. We are both on the same ISP, we are in North America, and neither she nor I are using proxies. 
Akshay: No worries.
Akshay: Please let me check your order again.
you: thank you
Akshay: Alright, I've checked that your order is fine. There is nothing wrong with it.
you: Excellent. 
you: Still doesn't explain why I cannot preload though
Akshay: I really apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.
you: Oh not at all. Its not your fault. I just want to talk to someone who can actually tell me what is going on
Akshay: It seems to be a technical problem that has occurred due to large number of customers using the pre-load.
you: OK, thanks. 

The problem was not solved, and wasted my time talking to tech support. I checked my credit card account, and I didn't see the $1 pending transaction anymore. This seemed like a good thing at the time. I thought the order was finally going to be processed.

I then started playing some Battlefield 3, and while I was customizing my jet, I noticed that I didn't have EMC Jammer anymore. I knew I used this before when I received my vehicles unlock as a part of the pre-order for the Digital Deluxe edition, so it was strange that battlelog was showing some of the items in the progression were yet to be unlocked. I thought this might be a glitch in Battlelog. 

October 27 - Pre-order gone

I logged into Origin thinking the preload might be available, and what did I see? No Battlefield 4 in my library. It was gone. I looked at the order history, and here is what I found: the disappearing vehicle unlocks made sense. EA/Origin/Battlelog decided to cancel the pre-order for me. 

I was extremely frustrated, and I went to the customer support again, even though they have not been helpful at all so far, and only wasted my time. I did not mean to be rude, but after so many problems just to place an order, I lost my patience, Here is the transcript: 

Chat Transcript
info: Your approximate wait time is 0 minute.
info: You are now ready to chat with Marinel.
Marinel: Thanks for contacting EA Customer Experience, my name is Marinel. How may I assist you today?
you: I pre ordered BF4 in September, and now the game is gone from my library, and in my order history there is a refund for $0.00 which I never asked for
you: Could you tell me what happened. 
Marinel: I'm sorry to hear that your having issues with your Origin purchase, Unfortunately your chat was connected on the wrong queue. Let me go ahead and connect you to our Origin team so they can better assist you, please stay on the line as I connect your chat session. Thank you!
you: Sure
info: Please wait while we get this chat session where it needs to go.
info: You are now ready to chat with Ujjwal.
Ujjwal: Thanks for contacting EA Customer Experience, my name is Ujjwal. How may I assist you today?
you: I pre ordered BF4 in September, and now the game is gone from my library, and in my order history there is a refund for $0.00 which I never asked for
you: I want to know what is going on here. Ever since I pre ordered the game I have been having trouble with it
Ujjwal: OK
Ujjwal: Please tell me your order number.
you: Its int he screenshot
Ujjwal: Alright
you: Click on the screenshot link please
Ujjwal: OK
Ujjwal: Let me check
Ujjwal: Have you attached it with case number 10305790 ?>
you: I have no idea what you are talking about. 
you: Here is my problem - I pre ordered BF4. And now the game is gone from my library. Can you help me or not? If not, direct me to someone who can
you: Check this link -
Ujjwal: I am sorry the link is not opening on my end
you: Well dont worry about it. 
Ujjwal: Please send me the picture of it.
you: Oh my god. 
you: How in the world am I going to send you a picture man? I sent you a link, what more do you want?
you: Please transfer me to someone else. 
you: Right now. 
Ujjwal: I know but due to privacy it is not opening
Ujjwal: I will give you a link
you: Ok, fine. Transfer me please. 
Ujjwal: To demonstrate to attach the screenshot.
you: What?
you: Are you going to transfer me or not? You got 30 seconds before I close this
Ujjwal: OK
Ujjwal: Let me dio this
Ujjwal: For you
Ujjwal: *do
you: Hello anyone there?
Ujjwal: If you want I can give you phone support.
you: We are done here. 
info: Your chat transcript will be sent to **** at the end of your chat session.

At this point, I decided to buy the game for a discount on Amazon, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to be charged by Origin for the last pre order. I went to the tech support again, and this time it was less frustrating: 

Chat Transcript
info: Your approximate wait time is 0 minute.
info: You are now ready to chat with Alejandro.
Alejandro: Thanks for contacting EA Customer Experience, my name is Alejandro Jr.. How may I assist you today?
you: I purchased Battlefield 4, now its gone from my game library
you: Also I noticed that in the order history, there has been a refund issued for $0
Alejandro: I see. I am very sorry to hear that. Let me see what I can do for you. Can I have your full name and the email address associated to your account please?
you: ***
you: ***
Alejandro: Thank you ***. Can I please have the answer to your security question ***?
you: ***
Alejandro: Thank you please wait while I check on the account.
you: Sure
Alejandro: Thank you for waiting. I have checked on your order and unfortunately the pre order was cancelled due to the authorization on the card failing. There can be a number of reasons for this type of error to occur such as changes on the information on the card. For now since the order was cancelled you can go ahead and reorder the game.
you: Man, that is so weird. I don't know what is going here. First I was charged $419 for the game, and now the pre order was canceled
you: Should I even bother with buying this on origin anymore? 
Alejandro: I am very sorry to hear that you are having problems with your battlefield 4 order. As of this time our team are working hard on fixing this issue and we ask for you continued patience while we improve our services.
you: Are you sure I wont get charged twice for this if I pre order now again?
Alejandro: Yes the order has been cancelled already so you will not be charged twice.
you: Ok, thanks
info: Your chat transcript will be sent to *** at the end of your chat session.

With that confirmation, I went over to Amazon. 

I bought the game, and I got a $5 credit, and I was able to start my pre-load - all within 10 minutes. 

Moral of the story - don't pre-order games, and if a pre-order must be placed, don't use Origin. At the time of this writing, it has a lot of issues.