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Dear Sony, The PlayStation Store is Broken

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Dear Sony,

A little over a week ago I finally decided to give in and pick up your hardware. I'll make no bones about it, I bought the system because I needed a Blu-ray player, but I heard it can be used for games too so I figured, what the hell, let's buy Burnout Paradise – as there's a rather awesome complete bundle on sale. Little did I realize the amount of grief this decision would bring me, all because of one broken security system. I am of course talking about the marvelously non-functional Address Verification System you've implemented for credit card management. On the surface it seems like a great idea, but when it's excluding a good portion of your customer base for stupid reasons, something needs to be done.

My problems began, as I mentioned above, when I tried to buy Burnout Paradise. As this was the first time I'd ever attempted to buy anything from the PlayStation Store, I was prompted to add a credit card so I could put funds in my wallet. Frankly I was more than happy to because unlike the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and Wii Shop Channels, on PlayStation you only charge the actual amount required. No stupid money-in-limbo problems. Alas fortune was not with me for your system promptly informed me that I had entered incorrect information. Now I'm fairly certain I know my own place of residence, but hey, banks can be a bit weird and AVS systems can be stupidly anal, so I grabbed a bank statement and tried again. Nope, we're sorry but your information is invalid. On the off-chance that there might be something funny about adding it during the purchase phase, I backed out and tried from account management screen. Nope, same problem.

By this point I'd spent about 20 minutes trying to get this sorted and was getting rather annoyed. I know my address, I know it's correct with the bank and I don't have to deal with this kind of crap on either the Xbox or Wii. As a desperate last resort I tired entering the info for my other credit card and was now informed that they were unable to update my credit card information. A lock out that would last for 24 hours. Profanity filled my mind. That's the polite way of saying, "Now I'm really pissed off!"

Angry, I followed the advice of the onscreen prompt and phoned up Sony support. After several bland IVR entries I was into the PlayStation Network Support menu where I had two choices: Assistance connecting to PSN and Trouble Adding a credit card. This is a big enough issue to warrant it's own damn menu entry but nothing has been done to correct it? WTF Sony? After a moment of utter bewilderment at a recorded message informing me to do exactly what I had been doing, I was dumped to a menu where I could finally choose to talk to a real person. Well, I suppose you could call it a person, but really it was little more than a worker drone. Here's a sample of what talking to Sony support is like:

Sony Peon: "Thank you for calling Sony Support, can I get your name please?"
Canadian with Good Anger Management Skills: "Jason"
Peon: "So your name is Jason, J-A-S-O-N. Is that correct?"
Me: "Yes"
Peon: "Can I get your Last Name?"
Me: "Westhaver, W-E-S-T-H-A-V-E-R"
Peon: "So your last name is Westhaver, W-E-S-T-H-A-V-E-R. Is that correct?"
Me, wondering if this is a computer: "Y-yes"
Peon: "How can I help you?"
Me: "Something you probably get a lot of shit calls about. I'm unable to add my credit card and I know the address information is correct."
Peon: "So you're trying to add your credit card and it's not working. Is that correct?"

Look, I've worked in customer support and this is not how to talk to a customer. All it did was convince me I was talking to a person who had no free will, no desires and no soul. I was filled with an overwhelming lack of confidence in his ability to assist me and sure enough, I was right. After several minutes of explaining my issue while he repeated it back to me with, "Is that correct?" crudely grafted to the end, I finally got a response that didn't sound like a skipping record. "If you are entering your information correctly and the system is rejecting it then there is nothing we can do for you. Unfortunately you'll have to buy PlayStation cards instead." Yes how unfortunate that I can not use the system as designed. While that solution may be well and good for a lot of your customers, it leaves me with cash stuck in my account, and that's exactly what I was trying to avoid.

Not being one to roll over and take it like a bitch, I took my search for an answer online and found that several dozen people had been able to get around this problem by using the PlayStation Store for PC (and several thousand more getting the same error code). So I wandered over to http://store.playstation.com and was redirected to a UK site that told me to use my console. Now I realize this is the fault of a bad cookie and I should have been redirected to the Media Go site, but I've repeatedly switched to the US PlayStation site and it's never bothered to update the cookie so some of that frustration falls on your head. After some further research I discovered that the Web Store was now a part of Media Go and I would need to use this software to access it. After the experiences I had with ATRAC software and the legendary XCP rootkit disaster, I'd feel safer installing StarForce. But seeing as this was my only option, I soldiered on and downloaded the software anyway.

Following the unpleasant installation that also forced me to install Quicktime, something I had been avoiding, I was finally able to access the PlayStation Store on my PC. I logged in, clicked the account management icon and was immediately redirected to a publicly accessible webpage that loaded in Firefox. Now forgive me for my following rudeness and unprofessional banter but, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!

I just went through all the trouble of tracking down a piece of software, installing it and other mandatory software that I did not want, just to be redirected to a damn web page your fucking website could have linked to in the first place! This is completely unacceptable. I understand the desire to get people using your software and I have no problem if you want to force people to use it to access the store, but if your account management page is just a normal public web site, just let me access it directly!

Anyways, after all of that the service still isn't verifying my credit card, so today I called my bank and had a talk with them and you know what? They were surprisingly helpful. Not only did the personal answering the phone talk to me like a real human being, she actually volunteered that she had the ability to view the incoming verification requests so she could tell me what was wrong. Guess what Sony, the problem is on your end. You are submitting different information than I entered into the form. Specifically, you're getting my expiration date wrong by a month. The issue isn't even address related. I'd call back to Sony support and ask them to look into this, but after the experience I had with them I don't trust them to do little more than write my complaint on a piece of paper, neatly fold that paper up and throw it at the nearest basketball net adorned waste receptacle. I have no confidence left in your company's ability to help it's users. I am more than happy to forgo buying Burnout Paradise and all PSN content, than continue to deal with this nonsense.

The worst part of the whole affair is that it's neither new, nor restricted to just me or just my bank. Since day one users have been complaining about the Credit Card verification system, but as far as I can tell nothing has been done to fix it. In the end my problem wasn't related to the AVS, but a far more serious issue. It's one thing to deny a card because the address doesn't match to the letter, but it's another to submit the wrong information to my bank in the first place. On top of that, I've now twice been locked out from entering my information for 24 hour periods. It would be one thing for a bank to do this, but why are you compelled to? Especially when you know the AVS will require several verification attempts by users.

It's not like these problems are hard to over come if you try. Just do the following:

  • Drop the 24 hour lock outs
  • Fix the submissions so they're at least sending the bank the correct information
  • Provide an alternative if the AVS fails. Try setting up a web interface that uses Verified by Visa or Secure Code instead.
  • Let your support staff be themselves. A happy call centre employee helps your customers and makes them feel confident.
  • Don't be evil

Until then I think I'll take my business elsewhere.

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About Jason Westhaver

  • Matt Presto

    “Frankly I was more than happy to because unlike the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and Wii Shop Channels, on PlayStation you only charge the actual amount required”

    You wouldn’t have a problem on the 360 if you didn’t fiddle around with a credit card, just go out and get Microsoft points and there you go, no hassle.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jason-westhaver/ Jason Westhaver

    Matt,

    Actually I would because I’d still be adding a lump sum of points which is exactly what I’m looking to avoid on PSN. I’ve been buying content on Xbox LIVE since launch and never once have I had a 0 points account balance.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jason-westhaver/ Jason Westhaver

    UPDATE: I’ve now tried adding my second Credit Card and low and behold it has the exact same problem. Two completely different cards with different banks and Sony won’t let me add either one. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.

  • Michael Prince

    Wow, sorry to see all these problems, I guess I was lucky when I signed up as I had no issues at all since I have had my account. You do make a lot of valid points and the fact that they cannot manually enter your information is complete and utter bullshit.

  • http://breakingwindows.com Ken Edwards

    Matt Paprocki has this same issue. He cannot use his credit card on the PSN. If you take a look at the Google results for the error, it does not take a genius to figure out this is a wide spread problem that Sony should not be ignoring – but they are good at that aren’t they, just look at ApocalyPS3.

  • Thunde

    When i first buy my psp for 6 months ago i could buy games easy on psp store but now i get the same invalid credit card as you do :/

    I have try to buy Disidia in 3 days now. Its impossible. And if i want to register a new account it say my email adress is invalid :@.

    Sony why cant you have same store as apple or Perfectworld have? Just fill in your information and click buy :)

  • Yayabev

    this is horrible ive been trying to get call of duty 6 stimulus package for ps3 it comes out the same as your problem and its getting on every1s nerves including mine SORT IT OUT SONY

  • Pissed off too

    Amen brother, I just had my first taste of the PSN store last night trying to get the COD MW2 maps and couldn’t believe all the hassle. Like you I entered everything as shown on my statement and no luck. Called my bank and they verified ten $1 holds. In all of my time shopping online I’ve NEVER had the address verification fail. EVER. Just think of the money they are losing.

  • Pissed off too

    Quick follow up, after talking with Mastercard it looks like the info that Sony is trying to verify doesn’t match because of the way my bank entered my info.

    For example mine shows up like this
    John Doe
    Nowhere, Saskatchewan, A1B23C

    However PSN is wanting my postal code to show up on the next line instead of right after the province. My bank is unable to change this, apparently all of their members are signed up the same way and when they send the info to Mastercard it is interpreted incorrectly.

    They way I see it there should just be a standard for this AND companies that are verifying addresses should build some flexibility into their software for instances like this.

    Or they could just accept paypal and not worry about it at all ;)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jason-westhaver/ Jason Westhaver

    The thing that gets me is that there are lots of other ways to verify information. Mastercard and Visa both offer password protected options, yet almost no one uses them.

  • Sean Loughran

    Hi Jason,

    It’s now May 12th, and I would have you know I am running into the same exact problems. I can’t believe how every store on the web has been able to take my CC’s, but not SONY. This is SONY; a huge multi-national company and they can’t figure out how to take my money???

    I’ve been trying for three days to get DLC with no success. I have to say, after this, any game I want DLC for I’m going to get for my 360, it’s that simple.

  • fuchikoma

    SecureCode is just as bad as broken AVS… I’ve used a few sites that demand it, and the exchange is basically “Set up a SecureCode now!”
    “Ok, this shouldn’t take too long…”
    “Please enter your phone number.”
    “Ok, no prob…”
    “That’s not your phone number!”
    “The hell it isn’t – it’s the only one I’ve ever had!”
    Then I call the bank and they say “yeah, there’s a three digit number on the back of your card…”
    THAT’S NOT THE SECURECODE… Then, they’ve never heard of AVS either.

  • Jake

    I can completely relate to you, as this was just occurring to me about 30 minutes ago. The fact that you can’t buy a product and are locked out for 24 hours is an absurdity. The premise that multi-national corporate giant cannot incorporate a credit/debit purchase system, something your standard grocery store can manage without a hitch, is really pathetic. I hope they lose tons of money and that several executives get fired and jump off the windows of their high-rise apartments as a result.

  • dino

    To add a bit more mistery I created an account and added 9.99€ some time ago to buy a ps-1 game for my psp. It waorked out fine with no money in limbo. Now a month later after finishing the game and finding some other gems from my teens on psn I wanted to buy another game. But… “Credit details are incorrect”, the same details that granted me my first buy….. I’m completely boggled (tried 3 days in a row)

  • Tim

    I’m in the same boat as the rest for you. The problem happened after I requested a refund for multiple charges that showed up on my account. You see, I believe the PSN was getting hammered the day PSN Plus went live. I had a heck of a time trying to paying for it, but in the end I finally got the charge to go through, only to find out later I was charge three extra times for it. After being bounce around to a few different departments I finally got some kind of finance manager to give approval, to the supervisor I was working with, to get the refund. Ever since then I’ve been running through the gauntlet like the rest of you trying to get any of my credit cards to go through. After making sure all my ducks were in a row I called the sony help folks backs and finally got to a supervisor who told me after all of the obvious stuff has been taken care of there isn’t anything more they could advise, other than get a PSN card. He also mentioned that he has heard of this problem happening a lot more. He felt a solution would likely happen when the PSN is taken offline probably during the weekly update. Well, it’s been over a month since that phone call and I still can’t get any of my cards to go through. If someone knows of a better way to get into Sony ear about a fix please let us know.

  • Matt

    Amen, so I went out and bought a playstation netword card to add cash and guess what. Playstation is down for maintenance today. What a bunch of asshats.

  • beowuff

    Still happening with both my cards. Cannot add funds. Now wishing I would have gotten an XBox360 instead of a PS3. Hear that Sony?

  • Skepastah1

    i have a problem 2 lol, i wanted to buy 1 cod6 map pack i clicked on “Buy now” it asked me for a password so i used the password i would normally use and it didnt work, ive only got diffrent passwords and i tried them all and they didnt work, i went to account infomation and it said turn of password on checkout so i turnt it off, went back to buy it and it let me, but after i brought it, it said i had brought 7 of them :S. will playstion charge me for every one, and can i get refunded for the 6 i didnt want ?

  • SleeperService

    It’s now December & I’ve got exactly the same problem. Had exactly the same qualms about installing s/w from these evil mofos, bitched about the freak’n quicktime install & spent the last 2 hrs chasing my tail. I will now a) uninstall media go, b) remind myself to never, ever, ever buy any f’ng thing from those wankers at sony.

  • alfgarnett

    I’ve had this same issue since september with a perfectly working card. It used to work, and now it doesn’t. Fiddling with the expiry date doesn’t seem to solve things.

    Someone at Sony has programmed a duff form processing module, and I’m amazed they don’t seem to want to do anything about it, as it must be costing them millions!

    What a monumental load of ******

  • Tengku Amir

    It’s January 2011 now. Fuc* you, Sony.

    6 months ago, I bought a dynamic Uncharted 2 theme with my MasterCard. 4 and a half months before that, I bought a cool Lightning Final Fantasy avatar.

    Last night, I played FIFA 11 with my friend. I was so jealous of him. Know why? Because he had bought the LIVE Season. So I told him I’ll be getting it too.

    Tried to buy it at the store. Failed.

    “Credit card is bla blah blah…Please check your settings”

    Got into a tangle trying to find account management.

    Found it! Yes! I can finally purchase the LIVE Season!

    Oh wait! What’s wrong with my original credit card? It’s not yet expired? Then? Why is Sony sending me stupid messages about how it is invalid?

    Why should I change my credit card settings? When it has EXACTLY no problems at all?

    Oh well, I think I ought to just change it.

    Visa debit card? Failed.
    MasterCard credit card? Failed.

    What now?

    Is it my address? Is it my name?

    I tried over 50 times (I swear) with 2 separate PSN accounts. Did I get lucky? NO.

    Did I put in the wrong information? NO.

    Why does Sony have to verify our fuc*ing address?

    Even if the HAVE TO, I still put in the right information. So what should I do now, Sony? It’s been 2 days now and I have read over 30 threads!

    I feel like I should have bought an Xbox.

    That way, I can buy pirated discs, mod my Xbox, hack my avatar, etc etc

    What a waste of time, Sony.

    You’re a disgrace!

  • Tyler Kelly

    It is now November 2012 and i am still having all these problems, and to top it all off i tried on my console on the pc and guess what I a get shit all

  • Brandon Ellrich

    November 23rd 2012 and having the same problem.

  • David Oosthoek

    Same problem. December 30th, 2012. Tried all the advice on the official website as well, and this still sucks.

  • Frode Hanssen

    Same error 19.01.2013. Tested everything as i could google up, but still.
    Guess it’s the verified by Visa that mess it up.