A frozen video game and a long wait for help

When Linda Cameron’s video game freezes, she turns to the seller for help. But despite a promise of a prompt reply, it ignores her. What now?

Question: I’m having a problem with Big Fish Games, a site that lets you subscribe to video games. One of their games froze up and I wanted a coupon for a replacement.

I’ve sent four emails to the company but the only response I’ve gotten is a form letter to say they’ll respond within 24 to 72 hours. That was over three weeks ago!
I would like a coupon for a replacement game. Can you help? — Linda Cameron, Juneau, Alaska

Answer: How annoying. A video game that freezes up your phone or computer can be a sign of shoddy coding — programming with poor structure or inadequate documentation. It’s no different than buying a lemon from a car dealership. You deserve better.

Big Fish, which operates on a subscription model, shouldn’t be selling buggy games. There are so many great games out there that work. Why dilute your store with the substandard?

But Big Fish, which promises a new game “every day,” protects itself from claims against them that arise from nonworking programs. “In no event shall Big Fish Games or its suppliers be liable for any damages whatsoever — including, without limitation, damages for loss of business profits, business interruption, loss of business information, or any other pecuniary loss — arising out of the use of or inability to use the software,” it says in its end-user agreement, the legal agreement between you and the site.

That about covers it.

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Big Fish offers contact information on its website, but it doesn’t exactly make it easy to get through to the right person. You have to do a little sleuthing to figure out its email naming convention, which is firstname.lastname@bigfishgames.com. You might have dropped a line to someone like Jon Grande, Big Fish’s senior director of product management, to let him know of your disappointment.

I can think of no excuse for waiting three weeks for a response that should have taken less than a day. You weren’t even asking for your money back — just a replacement.

Even though you contacted Big Fish several times, I couldn’t see a ticket number on your messages. When you send an email, it should generate an automated ticket number that can be used to track a request. I urged you to send one more message, if for no other reason than to generate ticket number.

Separately, I also contacted Big Fish on your behalf. The company agreed to send you a coupon for a new game.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • LDVinVA

    Surprised. I had a problem with one of their pc-based games and they immediately gave me credit to get another game.

  • sirwired

    FYI, you quoted the wrong part of the contract when stating she had no recourse… the part of the contract you quoted is a standard liability disclaimer that if their product doesn’t work, and that causes something else bad to happen (like corrupt your OS or something), they won’t pay up. (Doesn’t every warranty on the planet contain similar language?)

    The part of the contract saying they don’t have to do anything in regards to broken product is the previous paragraph, which states the software is being sold as-is, without any warranty at all.

  • Mel65

    I’ve been a Big Fish member for years (honestly, mostly cuz I forget to cancel and it’s cheap). I play a lot of their “Hidden Object/Mystery Games” when traveling. I’ve had a few over the years that failed to load, displayed oddly, or just plain didn’t work correctly and every single time got a response and either a fix or a new game within a day or two. Odd that they were so non-responsive here.

  • Monica Lynn Kennedy

    I’ve had problems with Big Fish myself, that I haven’t resolved after months of trying. I transferred my game collection from my old computer to the new. When I tried to turn on the game the first time of all of the new games, I’m prompted for some kind of special key code. They don’t provide that, and I kept all my receipts and checked to see if it was buried there. No luck. When I emailed them, I got canned responses and they wanted a list of all the effected games. When I emailed them the spreadsheet, including over 50 titles and date purchased, I got another canned form letter. Once they realized it was more than one or two games, they didn’t want to be bothered.

  • Mel65

    How did you do the transfer? I’ve gotten several new laptops since being a member and all I do is go out to the site and reinstall all the games directly from the big fish website. My daughter also downloaded all of my games onto her laptop and has never had an issue or been asked for a special key. The only thing we’ve ever had input is our password.

  • PsyGuy

    Aren’t these games like $.99? Why is this an issue requiring advocacy?

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