Sunday, March 26, 2017

SONY Playstation Network Support Fail

The credit card I use for the Playstation Network quit working on the Playstation Network. (It works fine literally everywhere else.) Last night, I finally sat down to try to troubleshoot, so I could purchase the things that are sitting in my shopping cart. It... didn't work. Not even when I put in a completely different card. And when I went to the Support Forums, I found that I wasn't the only one who had this problem. So, this morning I finally found the link for their chat-based tech support. It...

It did not go well.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:02:42 AM): Hello, My name is Tech how may I assist you today?

Me (3/26/2017, 9:03:12 AM): So, my PSN account apparently cannot actually charge credit cards.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:03:46 AM): I’m sorry for any inconvenience that you are experiencing with your account, I'd be glad to look into this for you today.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:04:11 AM): Just to confirm we are working on the right account. Is the Online ID you entered at the beginning of the chat the account you need help with today?

Me (3/26/2017, 9:04:43 AM): Yes.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:04:49 AM):

Me (3/26/2017, 9:05:11 AM): Here's an overview of the problem; I'm the reply on this thread:

Me (3/26/2017, 9:05:13 AM):

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:05:21 AM): Let me ask you, are you trying to make the purchase from the console, or from the website?

Me (3/26/2017, 9:05:56 AM): I've only tried to make the *purchase* from the console, but I can't add funds to my wallet from the website, either.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:06:22 AM): Thank you for that information. Allow me to access your account and verify the events log, hopefully there is no lock on the account. Please bear with me while I check this for you.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:07:46 AM): I'm curious: if there's some sort of lock on the account, shouldn't the error message say so? All I keep getting is the "invalid credit card - check your information carefully" error, which at this point is starting to make me kinda stabby.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:08:01 AM): Thank you for waiting. After verifying your account events, the system shows that there are some failed attempts to add funds. These can happen when for some reason, such as miscommunication between the bank and PlayStation Network, the payment instrument is not accepted and gets rejected. As result, the system locks the account for a certain period of time; this is strictly, for security reasons.

In this case I will be sending you an email with suggestions that should help you resolve the issue once the block has been lifted. Again, please do not attempt to change your card or make purchases until the lockout period has ended.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:08:30 AM): ...And how long does this lockout period last?

Me (3/26/2017, 9:08:45 AM): Since I apparently have no way of seeing that the account is/isn't locked?

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:09:25 AM): In some scenarios the lock usually lasts from 24 to 48 hours depending on the number of attempts made, my best advice is to not to try within that period of time to not to extend the lock time frame.

My system shows that the last attempt was made on 03/25/2017 22:14:20 PDT

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:09:42 AM): In the meantime, let me provide you an option that does always work for these scenarios, and personally is my favorite one. You can add funds by purchasing a digital PSN card code. These can be purchased online and you get the code right away after completing the purchase online, and there are no extra fees:

All you will need to do is redeem the voucher by logging in and visiting the following link and click on “Redeem prepaid card”:

Me (3/26/2017, 9:10:23 AM): So, check me on this:

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:11:13 AM): Sure.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:12:01 AM): I had a card on file. I'd used it make a purchase back in... mid-February, I think. I tried it again a week or so back, and it said the card info wasn't valid. I finally sat down last night, re-entered the card data a couple of times, entered data for a completely different card, and now my account is locked *because of me trying to fix it*?

Me (3/26/2017, 9:12:54 AM): I realize you aren't responsible for your billing software, and I realize that sometimes these are actually issues with the banks, but that seems a bit...

Me (3/26/2017, 9:13:14 AM): ...well, infuriating, actually.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:13:49 AM): And that's leaving aside the issue where the system doesn't inform me that my account is locked.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:14:04 AM): Keep in mind that the credit card needs to support the AVS system the address on file for the card needs to be the same as the one on the PSN account, I will recommend you to verify with your bank if the card support the AVS sytem.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:14:39 AM): All right, I can ask them about that. But, again, the card *was* working.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:15:17 AM): How long have you been relying on this AVS?

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:15:47 AM): I totally understand It could be there some type of restriction on the cards that maybe was not there before.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:16:13 AM): We used this system for a long time.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:16:21 AM): I’d like to know if you have any other question or request I could help you with.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:19:08 AM): Are you still there?

Me (3/26/2017, 9:19:34 AM): Yes, I do have a request. Could you forward this to you IT guys, or whoever handles the billing software? I quick stroll through the support forums suggests that while the numbers aren't huge, I'm not the only one having this problem. And if the system is going to lock my account for security purposes, it should tell me A) that it has done so, and B) when I can expect the lock to be removed. I should not have to guess. But honestly, given that those same credit cards work fine elsewhere, this looks to me like a problem with the billing system.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:19:52 AM): Do you know for sure that my account actually *is* locked? I mean, is that something you can see?

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:20:42 AM): I really apologize for the inconvenience this lock can take 24-48 hours to be remove i will recommend you that you try once the time pass contact us back with case number XXXXXXXX.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:21:23 AM): So you *can* see that there's a lock on my account?

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:21:41 AM): Correct.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:21:52 AM): Dear God.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:22:57 AM): All right. What happens when 48 hours has passed, and I try this again, and your system still refuses to process my credit card? I'm not real keen on taking the extra step to go purchase some sort of gift card, import that, and then purchase things. I put a credit card on file so I wouldn't have to do that sort of thing.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:24:01 AM): If the issue persist contact us back and will try to help you so far due to the lock on the account you will be unable to make any changes.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:24:22 AM): Also, at least one of the items in my cart is on sale. I have no idea if it will still be on sale in 48 hours. It's probably no more than a couple of dollars, but...

Me (3/26/2017, 9:24:44 AM): Does it keep the price it was at when I first attempted to purchase it?

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:25:07 AM): I recommend you to purchase the PSN cards and you will be able to made the purchase right now.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:25:14 AM): No.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:25:27 AM): Can you escalate this to someone who has the authority/access to lift the lock?

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:26:09 AM): Ok. In this case Please wait for the system to remove the lock because this lock was made automatically by the system and will be remove the same way.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:26:22 AM): CAN it be removed manually?

Me (3/26/2017, 9:26:36 AM): Is there someone in your hierarchy who can remove it?

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:27:05 AM): I'm really sorry but there is no option to be remove manually it was made automatically by the system.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:27:35 AM): And you have no higher level of support to escalate this to?

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:29:04 AM): There is higher levels but since the lock was made automatically by the system this could have happened because of events that can interfere in the communication, such as high traffic on the servers, several purchase attempts from different sites (for example, console and website) which enable the anti-fraud system on the PlayStation account, locking for a period of time the usage of credit cards or PayPal accounts.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:29:58 AM): 'Cause if that's the case, SONY needs to give you guys better resources. There's no good reason why you should be unable to help, or to get me to someone who can.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:30:02 AM): It will be remove on time frame provided I'm really sorry since this can not be remove manually for you I am sorry since I did not help you in the way that you wanted I have done everything possible

Me (3/26/2017, 9:30:11 AM): I know.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:30:17 AM): You've been lovely.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:30:33 AM): And I understand that there are limits to what you can do.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:31:24 AM): But this is asinine, and if you have any sort of channel for passing suggestions to management, you should probably point out that neither of us should be in this position.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:32:27 AM): Is there a corporate contact/customer feedback phone number somewhere?

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:32:52 AM): Thank you for your feedback Edward for sure i have take notes of this situation and i wish i can provide to another option.

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:32:59 AM): Phone support is available at 1-800-345-7669 and our hours of operation are:

8:00AM to 8:00PM Pacific Time, Monday-Friday

Closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:33:33 AM): Is that technical support, or customer feedback? (Useful either way, but...)

Tech (3/26/2017, 9:35:38 AM): We take the feedback for you and provide the information as well

Me (3/26/2017, 9:37:20 AM): Okay. I'll contact them and let them know that neither of us should be in this position.

Me (3/26/2017, 9:38:21 AM): Thank you. You've done everything you can. I'm still pretty angry, but it's at SONY and this benighted system. You've been as helpful as you possibly could.

TL/DR: They can't troubleshoot my account because there's a lock on my account. There's a lock on my account because I was trying to troubleshoot my account. The system does nothing to alert me that there's a lock on my account, let alone when the lock will expire, and the tech cannot remove the lock or get me to someone who can remove the lock. The only available solution is to wait for 48 hours, try again, and then -- when the credit card still fails to work -- to try to get in touch with support again.

I am... not entirely satisfied with this.

I hope to hell that the poor support tech's day gets better from here. It sucks when your job is to solve people's problems and you aren't actually given the tools to solve their problems. (That being the case, I've removed the tech's name from the transcript, because none of this is really the tech's fault.)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bloodborne Legos

So... Secondborn is supposed to be asleep. It's ten o'clock at night. But he keeps emerging from the bedroom.

He's been building Lego Bloodborne characters, complete with weapons. So far he's brought me one guy, with a threaded cane and a hunter's axe. He's trying to figure out how to make a saw-blade weapon. Meanwhile, he found a hunter's pistol and brought that out too.

As with so many other things involved in parenting, I can't decide if this is a righteous blessing, or a sign of my impending doom.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Results-Driven Deity

Saw this on Facebook:

And I just... I can't stop laughing.

Can you imagine if Jesus' ministry was results-driven? Can you imagine if Lord Almighty was results-driven?

"All right, human beings. Listen up. That is it. I gave you a perfect place to live. I gave you one rule, and you broke it. I sent you out into the world, and you trashed it. I wiped out the entire sinful lot of you and preserved only the truly faithful, and left them with written instructions so nobody could get confused. And what did you do? You spread right back out and went galloping straight back to sin and iniquity! I came down there and lectured you Myself and left you with a further set of instructions. And look at you now! Just look! I boiled the whole thing down to two rules: love Me and love your neighbors. And what are the two things that you consistently fail to do? Well? That's right.

"I'm sorry, humanity. But after extensive review in committee, We've decided to cancel your funding. We're just not seeing results. You will not be renewed for next season. The good news is, I'm not going to unmake you Myself. No need, really. You'll manage it all on your own. Probably something with North Korea, but that would be telling. Good day, My children."

Friday, March 17, 2017

Opening Scene for Ash Knight

This is the opening scene for something I never finished, but probably should have:

Edrin crouched atop the thick stone wall that surrounded the temple grounds. He balanced easily, despite the rough irregularity of the surface. Chunks of glass had been set into a layer of mortar along the top of the wall, but those were only meant to discourage casual intruders. Edrin's feet found places between them, and the leather of his boots, though soft, was thick enough to protect the places where they pressed against his feet.

The area below him was dark and empty: an open area of grass and a few scattered trees. Edrin dropped into it, then pressed himself back against the wall. Nothing moved; no one cried out. He crossed the grass with steady strides, knowing that if anyone emerged from the buildings ahead there was nowhere he could hide - and knowing also that sprinting for cover would draw all the wrong sort of attention if someone did happen to glimpse him.

A covered walkway ran along the back of the nearest building. He reached it, crossed between two decorated stone pillars, and stopped again. Still there were no sounds -- no human sounds, anyway. The wind stirred softly between the trees and ran its invisible fingers through the grass, while insects whirred and buzzed in the darkness. The Temple Guard would have people nearby, but for the moment Edrin was alone.

He crouched, focusing his energy, then sprang into the air. His hands touched the edge of the roof, and guided him over. His feet landed lightly against the graveled surface of the rooftop, and he straightened. The walkway beneath ran from the Temple offices to the rear gate; the messenger would almost certainly come this way. All Edrin needed to do was wait.

He lay back on the gravel, stilling his thoughts and focusing on his breathing. He could restore his energy, at least a little, before the messenger arrived. Then he heard a door open, and cautious voices drifted across the night air. He turned his head, but still couldn't make out the words. Now he could hear footsteps as well, moving down the walkway. Or perhaps I'll rest later.

He waited until they had passed, then sat up and leaned over the side of the roof. Hanging his head down, he saw three men. The front and rear were heavyset, muscled, and armed; the one in the center was smaller, and carried a messenger's pouch. They seemed wary of the darkness -- as they should be, he thought -- but Edrin had no trouble picking out the Temple's sigil (a divided circle) on the carry-pouch. He swung down, and dropped lightly to the ground. No one appeared to be following the three men, so he fell in behind them. His steps were silent on the flagstones, even when he started to run.

A staff came into his hand as he reached them, formed from the stuff of the Heavens and layered with the curses he desired for this night's work. He brought it across, clipped the rear guard on the side of his head, and swung back to catch the messenger with a mirror of the same strike. Both men were falling as he passed them, and the lead guard was just beginning to turn when Edrin brought the staff down upon his head.

He skidded to a stop as the men hit the ground, and the staff shimmered out of existence. Reaching down, Edrin slipped the pouch off the messenger's shoulder. It was heavy in his hand, just as it should be. He opened the clasp, and saw a mixture of coins and promissory notes. That was good, but the presence of the guards was even better. A messenger might be counted on for discretion, but guards... sooner or later, guards would talk.

The time for discretion was past. He sprinted back across the grass, sprang to the top of the wall, and dropped easily to the street on the other side. It would have been easier -- and far, far safer -- to ambush the messenger outside the walls of the temple, but Edrin meant to send a message to High Priest Mathal Turvis: your status will not protect you.

The first pouch had been simple: it was carried by a solitary messenger who was not expecting trouble. This time the messenger had been accompanied by guards, which was all to the good as far as Edrin was concerned. Next time would most likely be a trap, so he would have to vary his pattern to avoid it. He could not afford to be seen.

Smiling under the hood of his cloak, Edrin walked away from the temple.