Around Thanksgiving last year, I decided to take advantage of a sale at a popular online gaming company. After researching various titles I might enjoy, I settled on a game and purchased it through the store. The game installed fine, but wouldn't allow me to start a new game.
I don't have a lot of patience when it comes to troubleshooting games. Games should be a break from work. I enjoy a good RPG such as Diablo that I can play with my sons or daughters. When this new game wouldn't launch, I searched Google for help, but after a few hours, I hadn't made any progress.
The holidays came and went. I went out of town for a week, got the kids back in school, and decided to take another look at the game this past week. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the game. I tried changing permissions on game folders and launching the game as the administrator. But nothing would work, so I decided to contact support and request a refund. Within a few minutes, an email arrived from the company: my refund was denied. The reason? This company only issues refunds if the game was installed less than two weeks ago. I tried a second time, spending more time detailing what I'd tried and made it clear I've not played the game a single time. Again, my request was denied. The denial email didn't include a name or phone number I could call to plead my case.
So I paid for a game I've not been able to use. And the experience has soured my experience to the point where I can't imagine I'll ever purchase another game from this company. I've already spent hundreds of dollars with this company, but that clearly doesn't matter to them. The rules are the rules.
This is one of the problems with some companies that only do business with online: they tend to keep their customers at a distance with fewer opportunities to make a connection with their customers. I've purchased thousands of dollars of products from Amazon, yet I've never once spoken to anyone in their customer service department because every interaction I have with them is through an online form. My loyalty to them goes as far as they can provide me with a low price and quick shipping.
Contrast this experience with another one I had recently with Warby Parker. They make eyewear at decent prices and have one of the best online purchasing experience I've found. I've purchased a total of two pairs of eyeglasses from them over the past three years. I purchased a pair of glasses for my spouse, who loved them. So I decided to give them a try. They have worked well for the past two years, but have developed a streak across both lenses making them almost unwearable in bright light.
I decided to see what Warby could do for me so I went to their website. Instead of filling out a cold form, I was directed to an online chat where a customer support agent was available immediately. I explained the issue with my lenses. The Warby agent apologized for the hassle and promised to take care of me. Over the next couple of minutes, I had the authorization to return my frames, at which time, Warby would install new lenses. The agent provided her name, phone number and email in case I had any other questions. The experience was the polar opposite from the one I had with the online gaming company.
Warby has earned my future business. Even though they are primarily an online company (they have a few physical stores) they have learned the value in making a connection with their customers. Not only that, but I have the name of a person I can contact if I need to. I wish all companies that do business online would provide not just a phone number or form, but the name of a person I can contact when something goes wrong.