Recently, Blizzard dropped the banhammer on a ton of players, players that were removed from the game for allegedly using the Glider software to bot.

I’m not even going to try to break down that statement. People doing it were intentionally cheating, and while some may complain, I’ve personally seen several emails by folks that were banned that had been using the software, that openly admitted that they new they were cheating, but figured they’d never be caught because the software was designed to be hard to trace, and that, as Monty Python might say, “It’s a fair cop”. they also mostly said leveling without botting was too boring once they had their first level 70, and if they wanted to get into playing another character in PvP they saw no reasoning to go through the grind of leveling it all over again.

/facepalm

I do have to give credit to those players whose emails I saw, by the way. I hate cheating in multiplayer games, but I have yet to see a cheater that got banned that objected because they thought it was okay. They knew it was against the ToS, and they were busted. They didn’t cry about it.

I’m sure they are out there… please don’t direct me to where they are QQing. Leave me my illusions, please?

Just last night I remarked in guild chat how delightful it was to fly around on my Hunter Miner, farming nodes of Rich Adamantite, at times when the zone and server are usually barren and overfarmed.

But as with all good things, there has to be some bad. And this is just particularly vile.

Blizzard banned a great many people. And at least one of those people seems to have a massive following asserting that they have known him and played actively with him for a very long time, and that he has never ‘botted’ or cheated.

I am talking about the Hunter Lamaa of Aetherial Circle, the same guild that so very many WoW bloggers are a part of.

TJ wrote a very good post about it, asking for other bloggers to issue a call to arms.

I do not know Lamaa personally. I’ve never even spoken with him, as far as I know. I can’t speak for his integrity, or what he may have tried while drunk and high on crack for two hours in the depths of a dark Saturday night of his soul.

Personally, I believe Lamaa, but I certainly can’t swear to his innocence before a court of Blizz law.

But there is a part to this story that slams home, with great force.

And that is Lamaa’s utter inability to make personal contact with anyone in Blizzards’ customer service that is willing to help him. That, in fact, he is just completely without any kind of helpful guide to getting an answer, explanation, or resolution.

I have stated before that my account was hacked a year and a half ago. I’m pretty sure I already wrote about the experience extensively elsewhere.

Even better, I mentioned just yesterday, is that I still have all of the emails that I received from Blizzard about my petition to get my stuff back. Emails that span a month and a half, and that were literally my ONLY recourse to getting my problem addressed, and that repeatedly say not to attempt to call about my issue, and that in the end let me know that they would not help me in any way, via a form letter. I think I might just make those into PDFs and upload them with appropriate blackouts for your enjoyment later.

Because my account was still active after I was hacked, I was able to post my problem in the official WoW Forums Customer Service section. Where my posts asking for help were first, filled with people (not Blizz employees) assuring me I must be a gold buyer, account sharer, moron or user of illegal software or I would not have been hacked. Then, without a Blizz reply, my thread was deleted. I tried several times to post my problem, with it getting deleted each time, and I started camping on the Customer Serice forum to figure out what was going on.

What I found out at that time, the week after Christmas, was that MANY people had been hacked, that MANY of them were posting anxious threads asking for help, and that within minutes ALL of them were being deleted. Once I recognised that it wasn’t a mistake or glitch, that there was intentional action taking place to remove any thread created by anyone that had been hacked asking for help, I stopped going to the customer service forum. I waited for my emails to update me on the status of my stuff, and I never went back. Why bother?

I’ve said it before… I love Blizzards’ game designers and programmers, the artists and writers. I love the game. Even after my experience with customer service and getting hacked, I still play, because I love the game.

But I see the customer service department for what it was then… worthless. Amlost criminally so. Just because you sell a product and make people agree to your terms of service before they can use it, does not in my opinion mean you are absolved from providing any customer service to them in the future. Nice trick if you can pull it off, though.

I had thought that there were now manned phone lines for help with account problems. I had thought that customer service had become MUCH more responsive to problems people experience when their accounts get hacked. I thought, basically, that the word I had gotten recently was that Blizzard had acknowledged the shameful nature of their customer service, and worked to correct it.

I sincerely hope that Lamaa gets the opportunity to receive what we expect as the very least that any company can provide in terms of customer service… someone to try and help him with his problem. 

I hope that, as someone in TJ’s comments said, the problem may be as simple as Blizzard wanting to help everyone to the best of their ability, but being temporarily swamped by the sheer volume of complaints and reported issues, both honest and not, and that it will only take them some time to investigate his particular situation and get it straightened out.

I really, truly do.

But believe me when I say, I was there the week that hundreds got hacked for Christmas… I was one of the ones affected… and I saw, first hand, how I and many others were treated when we tried to have our cries for help heard.

We were silenced… our pleas for help not merely ignored, but deleted by the Blizzard forum customer service moderators.

I speculated at the time as to why they did it… were they afraid that people would see that hacking was a major issue, and they wanted to prevent the sheer volume of complaints from being reported on a news site, scaring other customers away? Or was there some other reason, one that I just didn’t know? Were they afraid news that customers were getting hacked would hurt sales of the game after Christmas? I have no idea whatsoever.

It’s enough for me to know that I will continue to love this game, and play it, but I have no faith in Blizzards’ customer support to treat the customers fairly and with actual concern, and I will never, ever log into the game without wondering if I’m going to see my characters stripped naked again.

Good luck to you, Lamaa. God bless you. I wish you all the best, and I hope you get to play with your friends again soon and provide Massive Quantities of Sustained Ranged DPS.

WTB a phone number at Blizzard someone actually answers, to forward to Lamaa. PST.

38 Responses to “The banhammer strikes the just and unjust alike”
  1. TJ says:

    BBB… thank you for this post.

    I can see now that in my… haste? emotion? distress? I don’t know… that I possibly took the wrong tack with this and was misinterpreted. You, Ratshag and others have hit the nail on the head and went the way I should have gone. I appreciate that there are people with good heads on their shoulders, unlike me, seeing what the real issue is here.

    It’s a helpless feeling, to see your friend stuck like this with no response, no recourse. I hope people understand that I was acting under the influence of those feelings. I am glad that there are people like you around, with good sense, to get out the words that I could not.

  2. Dechion says:

    well put B3, I agree that the underlying issue is one of a customer service failure.

    Knowing that this was going to happen and that people (innocent and guilty alike) would petition for an appeal, a better system should have been put in place prior to the mass ban. Even a “we got your email and are looking into it” would be nice, I do understand from a business standpoint not being able to field 56,000 phone calls at once, but even an automated response would be something.

  3. Anna says:

    As usual, Bear, this is very well put. The problem is not that people got banned who weren’t actually botting – any automated or semi-automated system is going to have that problem.

    But you’d think that *someone* would have put two and two together, and said “gee, when we banned accounts in the past, sometimes we got it wrong, maybe we should have some sort of system set up in advance for this one” – especially considering the sheer volume of accounts that met with the business end of the ban hammer.

  4. Bellwether says:

    Urgh. Spot on, Bear.

    Let’s go take over. I bet we could do it better. ;)

  5. bigbearbutt says:

    TJ, I have no idea what you mean.

    I read your blog post, and that is what inspired me to write my post. I got from your post that you wanted bloggers to know what was happening, and to bring this problem into the light, because it hurts very damn bad when someone you know and love gets nailed, and they are utterly helpless to do something about it.

    Everyone experiences trouble sooner or later.

    Hell, if your internet goes out, what do you do? You get on the phone and call your ISP…

    What the hell are you expected to feel if your ISP doesn’t answer the phone? Or if the only way to report an outage is via the ISP website…. umm, hello? WTF?

  6. maddog says:

    Well.
    Not wanting to imply tha your friend actually used glider, from what i have read at other sites, Blizard got Names and Credit card numbers from ppl that had actually paid to get glider (since it is not free), and cross checked them with names and credit card numbers of its customers. And banned those that matched.

    If that is true (as i said, it’s only what i have read), the method is pretty failsafe, and leaves little room to prove otherwise.

    I don’t really now, i am just trying to be the devils advocate here for the sake of argument only

  7. maddog says:

    Blizzard customer support really sucks big time though, that is a fact

  8. bigbearbutt says:

    Thinking about it, I talked a ton about me me me on this, when that’s not what I intended.

    Thinking about Lamaa and anyone else caught in this situation just brought how I felt right back on me after all this time, most specifically how I felt by Blizzards customer service. I started out all optimistic and bouncy, a little depressed at the timing of my getting hacked, freaking getting hacked at 1 AM Christmas morning sucked, especially when I was online when my account got jacked. But I was totally optimistic, had screenshots from friends that were on with me, I was on vent the entire time the hack took place, my character was still grouped when the hearth and sharding began, everyone there saw it live, I seized my account back through a password change almost immediately, and I submitted my ticket to a GM instantly after recovery. It was like, if you’re gonna get hacked, I was poised for the utmost success in aiding recovery efforts.

    It was the runaround and total feeling of being screwed by Blizzard when I expected sympathetic help that really, really hurt.

    To anyone that has ever been hacked, I’m sure they could tell you, it’s like getting punched in the gut. When you are so into something so deep, you invest so much of your imagination into something external to you, and then it gets jacked or shut down, it’s really a damn hard blow. It’s excruciating.

    I’m really sorry I talked on about my old crap, when frankly, the issue here is, please, Blizzard, don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Take action now, bring in extra people, a large temp workforce if you have to, and expedite analysing people’s claims of being unjustly banned, and KEEP THE PLAYERS INFORMED.

    Keep the players affected informed every step of the way. Don’t leave people hanging for weeks and weeks without knowing what’s going on. If yo’re going to leave it as a mass ban, then say so, and cut the cord cleanly.

  9. Ratshag says:

    @maddog – if you think cross-checking two databases is foolproof, man, have I got one huckuva nice bridge ta sell ya. Did they check names and cc numbers, or did they check for names and/or cc numbers. Did the database from Glide consist exclusively of people who had purchased WoW botting software, or who had purchased one of their other products? Or had purchased a product from a different software company which then merged? How carefully was the cross-referencing algorithm tested for accuracy? For bugs? Fer all we know, they used a “sounds like” check fer names to guarantee a hit on every one.

    If Blizz thinks somebody’s broken the ToS, they has a right to ban’em. But if they’s relying on info from a third party database rather than actual evidence of impropers, then they owe it to the customers to do more than say “talk to the hand”

  10. Ngita says:

    Ratshag its more then databases, Their was a post from someone who was banned and admitted it. Now what he was upset about was his “clean” account had been banned which had “barely” used glider was banned. He leveled 1-40 using glider. But that was months ago. He was also upset because people who’s accounts he had logged into to disenchant stuff had been banned as well, except account sharing is also against the tos.

    Their have been also reports from the army. Basically they are totally clean except they use the same fixed IP address as people who do use Glider. Blizzard bans everybody useing that same IP address. I am not saying the are right but thats how people get banned who have never used Glider.

  11. Kumata says:

    The bans have been made for a number of reasons, the primary one being that the account was played on a computer while an automated play program (or bot, in most cases Glider) was in the computers active memory.

    @ maddog: Can you provide details for the sites that are mentioning the Glider CC/name list. I’ve beeen following the Blizzard vs Glider court case fairly closely and I haven’t seen anything about the judge forcing Glider to provide details and I don’t see Blizzard using a list obtained from less than legal sources (to much potential risk for their lawyers to let them).

    @ BBB: when your thread was deleted was there a large conglomeration thread already in existance? I know from personal experience that the moderators in the customer support forum are fairly brutal about consolidating major issues into a single location. For me it has been Oceanic latency thread.

    @ Ngita: the bans are not IP address related, it’s more the common issue of a shared PC. “I didn’t know that X had installed that program.”

    @ Dechion: the Blizzard Account Administration systems sends an auto-response once your email has been received indicating that it is in the queue and waiting to be processed, I believe (but cannot confirm) that it also checks to make sure that the sender email address matches to an account as well.

  12. sid67 says:

    It drives me nuts to keep reading what I am going to call the “Lamaa Defense” from now on.

    The incorrect presumption is that Blizzard didn’t do their homework and one of the good guys got banned. That’s simply not true. TJ believes it. Because she believes Lamaa. But every single botter who has ever felt been uncovered in this fashion responds in exactly the same way to their guild.

    The reality is that Blizzard does a tremendous amount of due diligence to ensure they do not have false positives. I would say they are entirely TOO cautious about it. I can assure you that if Blizzard took action, then they had very compelling evidence that the TOS was violated. The fact of the matter is that they simply don’t take action UNLESS they do have compelling evidence.

    The “Lamaa Defense” is a one sided story that is based on “trust him — I know him and he would never…” while the Blizzard ban is based on factual and compelling evidence.

    In these types of banwaves, there are never “lone wolf” false positives. Using a G4 keyboard or running on Linux is not going to get JUST YOU banned. It will get lots of people banned and the truth is sorted out by sheer numbers alone.

    The reason it’s never just you is because the detection used in these banwaves is looking for a very specific telltale signs that are unique to the bot programs they are targetting. By random chance alone, no lone wolf is going to have some unique setup that triggers a false positive by himself.

    Now I ask you — would you rather Blizzard customer service spend time, effort and energy on someone they have already investigated and found guilty or the poor schmoe who got his account hacked and is waiting to get his items back?

    Now also consider that bans rarely ever get reversed. It’s not because of poor customer service, it’s because Blizzard already felt they had enough compelling evidence to warrant a ban. If they are just suspicious, they issue a 72 hour suspension — then ban if further investigation proves it. What possible “new evidence” can Lamaa provide in defense?

    The tone of that email is abrupt because Lamaa has already been tried and convicted. Argue the fairness of it, but there is almost no possible evidence that Lamaa can provide in an “appeal” that will trigger a reversal. In all my experience watching it (and I do very closely), the only bans I have ever seen reversed were when the person claimed they didn’t have control of the account.

    I feel for TJ on two counts. One because she loses an online friend. And two, because that same friend is lying to her.

  13. sid67 says:

    BTW — Detection was based on a change in the 2.4.2 client, not a Warden update and certainly not credit cards. Blizzard has never banned based on credit card information. It’s not sufficient evidence on several levels. Blizzard bans on proof, not on conjecture or account linking.

  14. Bellwether says:

    sid, you talk about unwavering faith in Lamaa, but you seem to have the same faith in Blizz. They’re a big company with a lot of accounts, and people slip through the cracks. In my new guild, a member got a suspension for “point selling” on his warrior, who had…a 1600 rated team? With barely any points, and any plays? Things happen, people screw up, and hey, Blizzard makes mistakes. You can cross-check a million different databases, but with so much information to cover, it’s extremely likely there will be innocent casualties. To feel as if Lamaa could not possibly be innocent because he has friends who are vocal, and those friends have friends who are vocal, and what are the odds of that?, is discounting the possibility that he could be innocent. Placing unwavering faith in Blizz or in Lamaa are two sides of the same coin. And honestly, knowing how they would be inundated with customer service calls after these mass bands were performed (first arena, then Glider), they should have been prepared to handle all of it.

    And yes, I would prefer Blizzard go through every single claim, even if most of them are illegitimate, because there are people who slip through the cracks, and they deserve to be discovered and have things set right.

    Also, assuming someone is lying to someone else, someone you don’t even know, is overly presumptuous of you. She knows him personally; you’ve taken offense to something someone has said online. There is always a chance he is lying, but there is no way you can prove it, just as there is no way, in your mind, he can prove his innocence. You can take him on faith or disagree with him, but calling him an outright liar, especially when you lack proof, is being presumptuous and claiming a use of intangible and “gut feeling” evidence you deny others.

  15. Jagoex says:

    BBB, I went through a very similar experience with Bliz a good while back, after I was banned for what they eventually called “Creative Geometry.” Wtf is right.

    Here are a few links that you and Lamaa may find helpful (also posted over on TJ’s site):

    http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=3686744709&sid=1
    http://jagoex.blogspot.com/2007/12/anatomy-of-48-hour-ban.html
    http://jagoex.blogspot.com/2007/12/banned-what-to-expect-from-account.html
    http://jagoex.blogspot.com/2008/01/ban-update-still-chasing-answers.html
    http://jagoex.blogspot.com/2008/01/banned-final-review.html

    Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions.

  16. m@ddog says:

    @Ratshag.

    As i said, it’s only what i have read and NOT my opinion. BUT. Concerning databases, if u have a cc number and the name that goes with it, (witch are unique, and there is no room for mispelling or anything), you can cross check them with another database. If blizzard managed through court orders, to get a list of purchases for the glide bot, then….

    Probably some ppl got banned for other reasons (like the G15 software BRK mentions) witch is totally crap, especially if they cannot get through to Bliz support, witch is the actual matter at hand.

  17. m@ddog says:

    Oh. And i got the info at

    http://youreholdingme.blogspot.com/ (a.k.a Mana battery bitch)

  18. Saresa says:

    I think the major issues here are that Blizzard is not really responding with anything more than ‘form’ emails, nor are they showing any real sign of investigating in the case there may be false positives. Now, as for Lamaa’s honestly, I don’t think the question should even have arisen. I know personally, if this were me and I had used a bot, I would have been honest about it with my guildies. BBB even commented on the honesty that abounds regarding this. Admittedly, my post on the issue may have been a bit indignant, it certainly was off-the-cuff (what the heck, I am an impulsive person, and am quick to jump to judgements). I just abhor the thought of someone being punished unfairly, especially by the somewhat creepy sounding Warden. Just the name sends shivers down my spine (think the scene out of ‘The Lion King’ – ‘Mufasa!’ ‘Ooooh… say it again’ “Mufasa’ “OooooOOoooh’… and replace Mufasa with Warden!). Eh, I am rambling. I think you all get what I mean.

  19. bigbearbutt says:

    @ Kumata – thata an excellent question! You sir, are very quick to see potential answers. I appreciate that. Unfortunately, I have to say that no, there was no one thread that people were being directed to post on. In fact, the most compelling reason that I had at the time for coming to the conclusion that customer service was trying to hide the severity or widespread nature of the hacking problem at that time, was the ffact that there was NO thread regarding hacks left undeleted in the forums at that time.

    These days not only do we and Blizzard openly acknowledge and discuss hacking, and ways to prevent it, but we also have official forum threads with advice on how to safeguard your account and your computer.

    At the time this happened, thsoe did not exist. Hence my comment that most forum asshats liked to state publicly that anyone that got hacked must deserve it, because smart players that know what antivirus and spybot S&D are never get hacked.

    No, at that time there was no official acknowledgement of the problem, and it really was that brief period where more and more reports started coming in that this might be affecting more people than you might think, but it seemed… seemed… that Blizzard was hoping that if they simply ignored it, it would go away.

    Now, well, I think we all know what happened. We take security concerns for granted now, because we know, realistically, that it can happen simply by mousing over an ad with embeds on IE on a clean and professional website.

  20. bigbearbutt says:

    Sid… Sid, I can see your point. You clearly are intelligent, and very well educated on the topic and very articulate on describing Blizzards’ process and the means they have used to minimize the possibility of ever affecting the account of someone that was not 100% guilty. You seem to have studied the means Blizz used to detect botters, and are convinced that it is impossible for a mistake to have been made, and that therefore every single person that was banned must have been guilty, without possiblity of any mistakes having been made.

    As I said in my post, I am not personally marching to Seattle to demand Blizz restore Lamaa, bcause I do not know Lamaa and cannot personally attest that he is 100% innocent, even if I believe he is. I instead am trying to bring to light the horrible experience anyone with this kind of problem will face when they try to get it resolved.

    As well phrased as your comment is, as deep as your understanding of the detection methods used may be… I have to say that I personally disagree with your stated belief that it is impossible for Blizzard to have made a single mistake.

    And I base that statement off the FACT, not rumor, not ‘heard from a friend what heard it from some guy in a pub’ but FACT, that I experienced a long, drawn out, horrible experience from customer service over an issue that I did not cause… and the result was that Blizzard did not ever return to me any of the gear that I had D/Ed.

    Allow me to quote the final email I received;

    “Unfortunately, we were unable to verify the loss of the reported character assets. In order to assist you in continuing with normal play, a basic set of Bind on Equip items have been provided for the above listed character(s). These items are not bound. They are for you to use, sell or equip as you deem necessary. The upcoming Burning Crusades will afford you and your character new content that will improve your overall gaming experience. ”

    This was not even a personal reply. This was a FORM LETTER. Think about that. Your personal account got hacked. And after a month of form letters that your account is being investigated being auto-generated (while you are still getting CHARGED for teh account, thank you), getting a form letter that they tried their best but oops, unable to verify. It was happening so much, that instead of being able to take the time to give me a warm, ‘We really are sorry, but nothing we can do”, they gave up and ptepared a form letter.

    If you have followed the hacking issues, then you know, with a character that has been in the same end-game gear for over two months, since my resto druid was in a static pattern while waiting for luck in drops in 40 man content, that this is untrue. It is simply untrue. They took a month of emails telling me they were still investigating, before finally sending me that. A month.

    They were not unable to verify, they chose NOT to verify… in hindsight now, we know that they were swamped with thousands of hacked accounts in a short time frame, and Burning Crusade was within weeks of release. You can clearly see from the email that rather than try to give me my stuff back, they just gave me random greens and told me I’d get new gear in Burning Crusade. Too bad a lot of that gear was irreplaceable quest rewards and unique items that the hacker simply destroyed to free up bag space… or out of spite, i don’t know.

    Now I will speculate.. this is not the act of a customer service department that spends time checking each person’s account history personally before enacting a mass account ban. You assert that they check each person individually before taking action. I think that the simple fact of how long it took them from the time I submitted my problem, and started to receive automated “we are still investigating your claim” emails to the time I finally got sent the “so sorry, unable to verify” email proves that they are NOT looking at anyone individually until WELL after the fact.

    They took action, initiated the ban based on whatever criteria they chose to, and are now being reactive in waiting on complaints.

    Blizzard’s customer service DOES make mistakes… they do NOT have a 100% successful track record when it comes to assuring that individuals are treated fairly. A year and a half is NOT that long a time for a large corporation to make sweeping bureacratic changes in the way they handle customer complaints.

    I will agree with you that I am sure, before they ban accounts in general, they do everything in their power to prevent affecting innocent people. But this was not done on a case by case basis, this was done as a mass wave of bans.

    And I think, not know but think, that every time I have seen Blizzard do something on a large scale, there have been occassional unintended bugs that then needed to be hotfixed. The small errors that were unintended, but that they did not know were going to come into play until they actually enacted their sweeping changes.

    I admire your faith that Blizzard has only the players’ best interests at heart.

    I really do.

    But please, don’t get so upset that there are those of us out here that are calling out Blizzards’ customer service based on past personal experience. Bringing problems to light cannot harm anyone, it can only help to spur someone into taking a closer look into how their process is designed, and maybe encourage them into considering new ways of reaching out to open a dialogue with their customers.

  21. Ratshag says:

    So. We have maddog saying the bans were based on credit card numbers, which is “almost foolproof” (and maddog, that is most definitely your opinion, no matter how hard you duck), and we have sid67 saying Blizz never uses credit card numbers, but instead goes on “proof”. Since none of us has special access to Blizz’s legal department’s inner workings, I think it’s fair to say that none of us really knows what method or combination of methods were used to determine who got the banhammer. Blizz sure isn’t talking about it. To assume that a large corporation, operating in an area where it is answerable to nobody, is incapable of making any mistakes at all is, I would argue, naive. And not having a functional appeal system in place to correct mistakes is crappy customer service.

  22. Heilerin says:

    I think that Blizzards customer service is not designed to support a player base as huge as this. They are overwhelmed and have an inefficient process in place to deal with customer issues.

    In a corporation it is normal that one hand does not know what the other hand does — in this case I am sure the banhammer was put down initiated by the Legal department + management, then they went to the sysadmins, telling them to ban/flag all the accounts that ‘match this name and/or CC number’ (similar to what Ratshag said). All of this happened without considering the impact on the player base and the defcon 1 stage that at that point the customer service would get pushed into.

    Unfortunately, the default responses from the customer service department / helpdesk / standard 8/5 $8/hour reps are the canned responses that they have been provided by management are very remote from being even close to customer friendly.

    Such is the way of an American Corporation That Has a Retail Orientation. I dont work for Blizz, but I work for one of those kind of companies. It f*cking sucks a**.

    Long story short, it will time to sort this out. However, if your friend actually purchased the Glider software, then it will be hard to prove for him that he never used Glider and violated the EULA in the first place.

    He unfortunately got caught in the all-out war / crossfire that is going on between Blizz and the Glider owner right now.

  23. m@ddog says:

    As i said, the info about the cc cross check is from http://youreholdingme.blogspot.com/.
    I can’t prove it, no one can actually, i am just reporting it.
    And of course Blizzard can, and does make mistakes, whether it cc info, warden information or anything else. And, in their effort to keep the game clean of botters/cheaters/gold sellers, there is bound to be some ‘Collateral Damage’, (a much loved expression in many other situations to cover things we do not like).
    And there is an appeal system. The problem is that (assuming there where 50.000 bans), and 49900 if them where just, ALL 50000 of them are gonna cry foul, and try to prove their innocence. And in this hailstorm of e-mails, even those who are right are gonna get delayed, or even ignored.
    As sid67 said, this is just your side of the story (which i have no reason to believe is untrue), while the mass ban is the side of a company which has an >10.000.000 customer base, and wants to keep everyone happy, so they will keep paying her each month. And mind you, even looked under a strict economic perspective, it’s more important to Bliz NOT TO BAN an innocent than to BAN a botter/gold seller, cause the botter will probably buy a new copy and start all over again.
    And one last thing. Each opinion in here is mostly based in individual experience. BBB’s experience with customer support was truly disappointing, and he has every right to be bitching about it. I have some friends in my guild (i play on a EU server mind you, horde side) who got hacked, even pre-TBC, and all of them got everything back eventually. Top delay was about 3-4 weeks. It’s not optimal, but it’s something.

  24. Mossop says:

    I am playing on the EU realms and can say after being hacked due to an Advert on Alakazam.

    I found Blizz Customer service ‘shocking’ I not only was told to wait before I could get my account. I was never given any information regarding the status of my account and when it would be available. I was patient and did not call back to get the account repaired. It was only by a rl mate who told me to call and I could get my accoutn repaired (4 weeks and a friend had to tell me!!!!) I called and got my account back. To completly rub salt into my wounds I was expected to pay GOLD to get my gear back. (A friend lent me this). I was fuming (this is a game, but Blizz stated I was at fault for letting my account be hacked). I thought it was there property which I paid to play? I am still bitter about this and can understand why the innocent feel so aggrieved.

    This happened 2 years ago, and I must admit that the customer service is below poor. I am still upset at the fact that Blizz treated me like sh*t.

    I wish you all the best in highlighting this. (on a side note, you ever seen your server shown as up when it has been shut down by Blizz, after the 15 min warning… funny how they remove or hide the bad news).

    Mossop

  25. Raymond says:

    I’m on the Hyjal server and my account got hacked a couple of months ago. My experience was really good. It went basically like this:

    Monday night I discovered my account had been hacked, my lvl 66 tune had most of his stuff stolen, mostly farming items and whatever was not soulbound and nothing was stolen from the guild bank which was odd.
    Tuesday morning I created a customer service ticket.
    Tuesday evening I got an ingame chat from a GM, they asked me what was the highest level item I knew was stolen. They asked me check my computer for standard hacking stuff like keyloggers. I am a LAN admin so my computer is secure like Ft. Knox.
    Wednesday evening I had everything returned with some extra farming stuff and about 150 extra gold.

    All in all the experience was good.

  26. Blacknimbus says:

    I can attest that Blizzard does hand out bans to those who haven’t use exploits. I received a 3-hour suspension last year out of the blue.

    Offense: Bug Exploitation
    Details: A character on this account has been found to have repeatedly exploited an in-game bug to allow the character to move through the air without the assistance of a flying mount.

    Since I had no idea how to ‘exploit an in-game bug’ or would care to do so even if I did, I went back and forth with them via email. Basically what they said was, ‘yes you did’ and that was it.

    I haven’t bothered to post a complaint on the official boards because I’m not all that interested in hearing from 12-year olds that I’m a cheat and a liar. I know what the score is.

    But Blizzard does make mistakes and they aren’t all that interested in your side of the story at that point.

  27. Tekkub says:

    @Raymond “I am a LAN admin so my computer is secure like Ft. Knox.”
    …well then how did you get hacked? :)

    @Blacknimbus “an in-game bug to allow the character to move through the air without the assistance of a flying mount”
    Quit jumping off buildings in Outland without your mount.

  28. Frostfyre says:

    Hey BBB,

    I too found myself at the mercy of Blizz’s customer service about a year ago now when my account was hacked. What made it worse was I was overseas at the time and my cousin the US was standing beside me in Shatt watching me shard all my gear.

    Two things happened that put a sour taste in my mouth towards Blizz’s customer service. The first was my cousin petitioning a GM in game notifying them that I had been hacked. He informed them that he was standing beside my toon watching my gear disappear off of it. The GM told him their hands were tied until my toon did something that was against the TOS. By the time that happened, the hacker had gone through all my toons and sold/sharded/unlearned professions. It was devastating.

    Now I’m in a small remote town at the base of the Swiss Alps. There is very little here by means of communication. I get a spare night at the hotel and decide that I’m going to sign on and farm for a bit. Surprise! It won’t let me log on. It’s then that I go to my email and see the note from Blizz saying I had been permanately banned. I couldn’t post on the forums…I couldn’t do anything. I made a free account to simply chat with customer service on the forums and war horrifed with the GM responded back to me that I had done something very bad and deserved it. Yes he/she said that on the public forum that simply added fuel to the trolls that were already feeding off my post of confusion over what had happened.

    It took me 2 weeks before I finally got them to notice me and to look at my account. 2 weeks of repeated emails of forms saying banned. And then one day an email saying they had found evidence that my account hadn’t been in my control, etc. etc. etc. Relief? Yeah. I manage to find a fax machine (this town had one traffic light… small?) send over the required documents, etc. and get it back. I sign on to look at the damage and within minutes I’m banned again. And I have to go through the whole process again! Another week of me emailing the folks (there’s got to be someone there alive right?) before I had to refax all the info again. Once I got the notice the account had been unlocked yet again I just left it alone.

    At the end of the day it was a nightmare having to deal with them.

    <3 to everyone who has ever had this happen. It’s devastating on many levels.

  29. Raymond says:

    @Tekkub

    Someone could as easily hack the Blizzard servers. Notice that Blizzard does not tell you how many unsuccessful attempts have been made to access your account. Or give any sort of stats on hacker activity on their servers.
    Also who validates add-ons for malicious code? The first thing I did was delete all of my addons, do a virus and spyware sweep (Spybot search and destroy is awesome with McAfee Corporate edition) then I reloaded addons one day at a time. That way if I got hacked again I would be reasonably sure which addon was the culprit.

  30. Raymond says:

    @Tekkub

    And I also changed all of my online banking and email account passwords in-case they had gotten any of my account information off the servers.

  31. sid67 says:

    I have to say that I personally disagree with your stated belief that it is impossible for Blizzard to have made a single mistake.

    To be clear, it’s not that they can’t make mistakes – it’s that this particular type of mistake doesn’t happen to a SINGLE individual. When Blizzard makes mistakes with this type of detection they are mistakes of great magnitude. In other words, it wouldn’t be just Lamaa but anyone in Lamaa’s situation.

    My point with regards to customer service is simply the facts. If Blizzard banned Lamaa, they didn’t act unless they felt they had very compelling evidence. Lamaa has little to no chance of being able to provide any supporting evidence to the contrary. At the end of the day, a nice appeal process isn’t going to change the fact that Blizzard thinks a thing and Lamaa has no way to disprove it. This call to action to improve the appeal process can’t change that.

    I 100% agree that it is grossly unfair to be hacked (which I have – my bank account too), but the situations are not even remotely comparable. In the “hacking” situation, Blizzard has done little to no investigation. Your situation really is unique and should be treated with care and consideration. You are a VICTIM who obeyed the rules. By contrast, a ban doesn’t take place until Blizzard has already done the investigation and found you guilty. So in the “hacking” case, we have no investigation and a victim. And in the “banning” case, we have strong evidence indicating that the person making the complain is guilty. The guy getting banned is asking for a second chance, while the hacked victim is just looking for his first chance.

    @Ratshag
    The credit card rumor is based on Blizzard making that request in the court case. I don’t believe the judge in the case has even ruled on that issue yet. And even if he finds in favor of Blizzard, history tells us that they wouldn’t use the information to ban accounts. They simply don’t account link in this manner. A player can get banned by Blizzard today and then turn around and create a new account with identical subscription information. The whole idea of “cross linking” accounts is mostly rumor. In the hundreds and hundreds of ban reports and speculation threads I have read have, there was never any solid evidence that linking accounts based on subscriber information alone. In the cases where it appears like some cross linking may have taken place, the accounts appeared to have been personally investigated by a GM who specializes in cheats and exploits. Even in those cases, the same network address (IP) is the most likely explanation for the cross-link because the reports never mention offline accounts that are getting banned.

    In addition, Glider users who did not use Glider 1.6.0 between May 13th and May 20th did not get banned. The two major botting authors both came out and publically admitted they made mistakes and didn’t catch the new detection scheme. It wasn’t an update to Warden, but to the 2.4.2 client itself. The other major botting system based on ISX, also received bans and they didn’t share any credit card information at all.

  32. Mannyac says:

    The bottom line is that Blizzard is only concerned with their bottom line. The fact that a .5% (50,000) of their 10 million players got hacked doesn’t really bother them. They are still collecting their money because most of those people are most likely still playing. Now if all those people quit…maybe, just maybe the loss of about 3/4 million bucks per month would get their attention.

    JMHO

  33. Raymond says:

    If Blizzard was solely concerned about the bottom line, they wouldn’t ban anyone at all for anything that did not crash their servers. Why eliminate paying customers at all?

    But because Blizzard is now offering cash prizes for online competitions it would seem reasonable that they need to make fairness a priority.

    But here is some other math for you…..

    If one person botting makes 10 people quit because they see the game as unfairly played. The “Hell yes” you axe the botters as efficiently as possible.

  34. Tekkub says:

    Raymond…
    “Also who validates add-ons for malicious code?”
    Addons themselves cannot have malicious code. They are executed within an environment entirely controlled by Blizzard. They are also entirely plaintext, so anyone can READ them and see what exactly they do. They’re forced to play by Blue’s rules. Your addons CANNOT be used to hack your account.

    All the major addon sites validate files that are submitted to ensure they don’t contain viruses. As far as I know, none of the sites allow executable uploads anymore either, only zip/etc archives. So really the only thing to worry about there are vulnerabilities in your zip extractor.

    However, addon updaters have became a major target. Incgamer’s updater got hijacked a number of times. Ace’s updater had a trojan in an embedded ad (not a keylogger, just a random trojan… the ads have since been disabled until the issue is resolved with the ad provider). As with the rest of the internet, you just need to be wary of any executable you download and the ads you are being served.

  35. Blacknimbus says:

    “Raymond says:
    May 23rd, 2008 at 9:44 am

    @Tekkub

    Someone could as easily hack the Blizzard servers.”

    The funny thing is that a few of the ‘Blue’ posters did get hacked in 2007. Someone got a hold of their accounts and started posting key loggers on the forums.

    http://www.wowinsider.com/2007/06/12/keyloggers-2-blizzard-employees-0/

    You think they’d be a little more understanding.

  36. nekoken says:

    Frankly I have no idea why you continue to play the game after your customer service experience at the hands of Blizzard. Customer service is part and parcel of the package when you are paying for a service. Companies with bad customer service depend on people who are willing to overlook how poorly they treat their customers.

    Personally, I would have cancelled and never purchased another product from them again. But I believe in reciprocity. If they want my money they need to earn it.

    Blizzard has done this kind of thing before when they banned the accounts of a number of players who were using winex under linux to play. It took weeks if not months for Blizzard to admit wrong-doing and to work on rectifying the situation. That’s unacceptable in my opinion.

  37. SuxToBU says:

    Bizz Customer Service /rofl /cry
    Not quite totally off issue; bear with me :)

    Blizzard have designated a number of US servers as “Oceanic” so that those of us down-under get to play at populated times.

    Weekly/Fortnightly server maintenance for all US realms happens 5-11 am PDT, which means 10pm AEST (Aust eastern standard time). This isn’t TOO bad, get some wife-rep by logging off early; but when there’s extended maintenance 3-11am PDT = 8pm AEST… wife rep’s one thing, not being able to play at all for a whole night?!!!…. /DT’s

    This has been the case since the year dot. “That other MMO” (AoC) gets released and magically Blizz start advertising Oceanic servers will have their maintenance schedule at 5-11 am AEST.

    I am a practical man, somehow I just cannot believe 3 years of outcry was finally heard by Bli$$ard, the only thing that got their attention was “That other MMO” may steal some of their customers away. Perhaps this mass ban was designed to show they do care about the paying public; perhaps it’s just a political stunt that has backfired.

  38. lorilie says:

    I rec’d a 72 hour suspension today. I have never botted and I hadnt even heard of glider until I started reading about this ban situation. Yes I have addons but all from a reputable site. I have of course emailed blizzard but due to the history of poor custormer service Im not expecting much. I just want to know what they think i did wrong.

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