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Zynga Puts Random Stranger In Customer Support Role 158

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-tried-plugging-in-a-toaster-and-dancing? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A server error has meant that for the past few months, a man not associated in any way with social gaming powerhouse Zynga has been getting customer support emails. When Zynga failed to return his messages, he started replying to the customers himself. Hilariously." Sadly (though perhaps some of his correspondents would disagree), the glitch has now been fixed.
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Zynga Puts Random Stranger In Customer Support Role

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  • by xophos (517934) * on Thursday July 04, 2013 @10:19AM (#44187835)

    Quite a creative reaction to a corporate screwup. :-)

    • Re:meh! (Score:5, Funny)

      by DavidClarkeHR (2769805) <[david.clarke] [at] [hrgeneralist.ca]> on Thursday July 04, 2013 @10:22AM (#44187863)

      Quite a creative reaction to a corporate screwup. :-)

      And it was probably just as effective as the actual fix.

    • Re:meh! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Black LED (1957016) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @11:12AM (#44188163)
      I'm a bit disappointed that they didn't post any of the customer responses. That would be the best part.
      • Re:meh! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Thursday July 04, 2013 @01:23PM (#44189047) Journal

        Probably because they were too full of cursing, anybody that has ever had to work helpdesk can tell you there is nothing more pissy and foul mouthed than an irate customer.

        But this being Zynga, the same bunch of numbnuts that hired the "just deal with it" guy from MSFT to be their new CEO? honestly this doesn't surprise me. what DOES surprise me is how long they have managed to stay in business when their entire "business" is built around ripping off others IP. Go look up the papers EA filed against Zynga and you'll see pretty much every "game" they have is just stolen property, they'd find some indie game that is starting to get buzz and have some Chinese coding house whip up a knock off (some times so exact that even the artwork is damned near pixel perfect copies) which they put up on FB reap the rewards.

        Personally as much as I hate the current IP minefield it just goes to show the indie game devs are easily fucked over, after all you couldn't just take the exact same script that they used for the latest Transformers, change the names by one letter (bumblebee becomes rumblebee and so on) and not get sued, or take the latest hit song and record a note for note knockoff and slap it on iTunes without getting busted, but Zynga can take some indie devs life's work, change a couple of sprites and the name and then make a pile of cash without worrying about squat. Hell if it weren't for them getting greedy and going after EA properties most of us would have never known its just a rip off house.

        • Re:meh! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by game kid (805301) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @04:58PM (#44190387) Homepage

          But this being Zynga, the same bunch of numbnuts that hired the "just deal with it" guy from MSFT to be their new CEO?

          I actually had to fact-check that one. Not because I thought you were lying but because I didn't think Zynga could be even more overt assholes than they already were. Sure enough you're right.

          • Congratulations. You have won the Cynics badge.

            No matter how bad you think things can get, Realitiy will always go one better.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            I think they should get the "facepalm of the year" award myself. i mean you are having serious issues with your gaming company...so you hire a guy that has spawned a million rants and inspires HATRED from gamers everywhere because his answer to any complaints or fears they have is to give 'em the finger?

            There is dumb and there is full retard, i think we can safely say Zynga has done the latter.

    • Re:meh! (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 04, 2013 @11:19AM (#44188211)

      Quite a creative reaction to a corporate screwup. :-)

      Creative? I thought it was rather meh.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Quite a creative reaction to a corporate screwup. :-) /em>

      I'm not so sure it's a corporate screwup. It seems more like some Apache admin wasn't too careful about populating the ServerAdmin value for the virtualhost with a legitimate value.

      This is probably one person's mistake, that noone else responsible for Apache server administration happened to spot.

      These are supposed to be webmaster contact addresses provided by the server, for reporting to provide more information for troubleshooting p

      • by sjames (1099)

        That's the initial error (which may or may not have been a corporate fuckup). The corporate fuckup was their inability to route due notification of the problem to the correct people in order to get it fixed or even to acknowledge they had received the notice.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          The corporate fuckup was their inability to route due notification of the problem to the correct people in order to get it fixed or even to acknowledge they had received the notice.

          Most companies don't provide a notification or support mechanism: unless you are their customer.

          And usually it will just be someone following a script. If your problem isn't in their script, normally you will be screwed.

          • by sjames (1099)

            And if that causes the company to ignore an important notification, it is a fuckup no matter how fucked up everyone else is..

          • by Moofie (22272)

            You just described the nature of the problem, and tried to say "See? No problem! As designed!" Good jorb?

    • Re:meh! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ganjadude (952775) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @11:47AM (#44188419) Homepage
      not a shocker that they didnt respond to them. when they bought dopewars from my previous employeer they never even told us admins that we were no longer working for them. The sooner that zynga dies the better for everyone.
    • Re:meh! (Score:5, Funny)

      by RedHackTea (2779623) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @11:53AM (#44188465)
      Were you trying this in the title? From TFA: " I talked to the engineers and they suggested holding down the M, E, and H keys, and while you have all three keys held down, try clicking the button then."
      • I couldn't read the screen anymore, to much coffee spit on it. OMG! How many users actually did this?
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Quite a creative reaction to a [corporate] [screwup]. :-)

      Quite a creative reaction to a [corporate screwup]. :-)

      I see what you did there.

    • Re:meh! (Score:5, Funny)

      by TheRecklessWanderer (929556) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @12:33PM (#44188763) Journal
      When I was in university, my buddies had a phone number that closely matched a big pizza place. If you hit the second number twice, you got his phone. It was funny at first and then got annoying, so if the phone rang after 11, there was a good chance it was an order. We would answer appropriately, and take orders. We would even hit the computer keyboard making it sound like we are typing in the information. Well, one day it happened, we got a complaint call from a customer wondering where their pizza was. Redial is awesome. So we told her we ate it and promptly hung up the phone. Misspent youth? No!
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        My office telephone number was one digit off of the number of a hotel. So occasionally (once a month or so) we would get calls for people enquiring for the hotel.

        So when hiring I told my new secretary that if she answered a call and got the question "how much do you charge for a night?" that this caller most likely expected to have a hotel on the phone, and was just enquiring for a room. And indeed we have had exact that kind of calls.

        Hotel changed their main number a few years ago so those calls have stopp

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 04, 2013 @10:26AM (#44187889) Journal
    I see this happen sometimes and it can usually be traced back to someone "borrowing" someone else's work on the UI side of things (CSS, JavaScript, HTML, etc) as a starting point and then never altering the important things.

    Instead, it belonged to Eric Mueller, who owns the domain themepark.com, which he uses for his web design firm.

    Given Zynga's code of ethics (or lack thereof), I would wager this e-mail found its way into "their" product by way of their mission statement [slashdot.org] which probably transcends game ideas into directly taking web designs that are, by definition, available to anyone with an HTTP connection. Stay classy, Zynga.

    • by DerPflanz (525793) <bart AT friesoft DOT nl> on Thursday July 04, 2013 @10:31AM (#44187917) Homepage

      Given Zynga's code of ethics (or lack thereof), I would wager this e-mail found its way into "their" product by way ...

      No, it was the email given in the standard Apache 500 Internal Server Error message, as you can see in the article. They put ***@themepark.com as contact address on the fb.themepart.zynga.com server.

      It was a configuration mistake, not a stolen site.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @10:36AM (#44187955) Homepage Journal

      it's obvious they were using themepark as a codename for the project when doing development.

      that's pretty fucking zyngalike right there though. "hey, let's make a clone of theme park, you remember, that old bullfrog game?" "yeah that's awesome I'll create the project right now.. what should we call the project.. hmm.. I know, themepark!"

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I was a developer on Coasterville. The original code name was "ResortVille", and was pitched as a game for creating elaborate resorts made up of hotels and vacation activities. The creative leads later narrowed the game's scope to a Theme Park fiction. Two of our senior developers had worked on Bullfrog's Theme Park game 20 years ago, so our team chose to codename the title "themepark".

    • by tag (22464)

      Given Zynga's ethics of code (or lack thereof)...

      ftfy

    • by mysidia (191772)

      which probably transcends game ideas into directly taking web designs that are, by definition, available to anyone with an HTTP connection. Stay classy, Zynga.

      Dang right... stealing Apache error pages.

      Wait a minute.... remote visitors can't download httpd.conf... how would Zynga get the ServerAdmin value then?

      Are you suggesting they hacked into their servers and got their Apache configuration too, because the Zynga folks don't know how to configure Apache?

      Or perhaps some insider from theme

  • I admit that the emails he sent were pretty funny, but, the people asking for help weren't the ones not fixing the email address screwup. He could have easily had a stock response set up to respond to each of these describing Zynga's mistake and unwillingness to fix it.

    I could see people not familiar with technology, e.g. my mom, who would think that clicking slowly 5 times was a real thing. Then, regardless of how many times I explained to her that it doesn't work like that, there would have been the on
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      I admit that the emails he sent were pretty funny, but, the people asking for help weren't the ones
      ...
      *p.s. - the canada day one was the best.

      M,E,H (then, of course, click 3 times)

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yeah they were people making money for zynga.
      stock reply would have cost him time(money) without providing any fun.

      what would have been really funny though would have been to send them to GoG to request theme park to be added to the lineup.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      I admit that the emails he sent were pretty funny, but, the people asking for help weren't the ones not fixing the email address screwup. He could have easily had a stock response set up to respond to each of these describing Zynga's mistake and unwillingness to fix it.

      I wonder if this will be used by Zynga later in a UDRP dispute as evidence of bad-faith use of the domain.

      If they named their game themepark; I imagine Zynga wants to be the domain registration owner of themepark.com.

    • by sjames (1099)

      I can imagine anyone would get a bit tired of receiving unrelated support requests after a while, especially when the responsible party won't fix it. It's hard to blame him for trying to at least have some upside in the form of funny replies.

      he COULD have suggested things that would harm the users or their computers. That would be a dick move. He could also have suggested things so that the users end up attacking Zynga servers.

  • Zynga's lucky (Score:5, Informative)

    by msobkow (48369) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @10:27AM (#44187903) Homepage Journal

    Zynga's lucky he treated the barrage with a sense of humour.

    He could have easily gone into "rant mode" about how people got his email address, torn a strip off them, and pissed off their customer base right royally.

    No surprise that Zynga screwed up, though. They're kind of famous for doing that -- as well as ripping off other designer's game ideas.

  • by Letophoro (1417231) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @10:32AM (#44187927)
    I have attempted to utilize Zynga's tech 'support' in the past.

    He's more helpful.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well they fixed the problem now that they hired another guy to answer the mails.

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @10:35AM (#44187947)

    I wonder what reaction one should expect from Zynga? Ummm... let try:

    1. sues the hell out of Eric Mueller for identity theft?

    2. "randomly" assigns Eric Mueller as CEO?

    3. Don Mattrick starts throwing brown bears and folding chairs?

    Other ideas? C'mon... we're speaking of a dying craporation here... be merry, creative (meh)

    • by arth1 (260657)

      Sad to say, I am fairly convinced that they already have looked into the option of suing the guy. Hopefully, concluding that it will not be an overall win to do so.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        Sad to say, I am fairly convinced that they already have looked into the option of suing the guy. Hopefully, concluding that it will not be an overall win to do so.

        well yeah, at least they would do wise to choose another court than one they had been sued at for copying competitors games.

        @themepark.....

    • by sjames (1099) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @11:52AM (#44188455) Homepage

      1b) Double down on the stupid and accidentally sue their actual support person.

  • My Oma did this too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GreenEnvy22 (1046790) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @10:36AM (#44187961)
    Several years back a new hotel opened in Niagara falls. Their phone number was 1 digit off my grand parents number. They started getting several calls a day, all hours of the day, looking to book rooms. They called the hotel several times and asked them to change their number but they refused and told my grandparents they should change theirs. My grandparents had that number for over 30 years so they refused. Eventually they got sick of being polite and telling people they had the wrong number, so they started "taking bookings". The situation was then quickly resolved when the hotel started having people showing up expecting a room. Hotel changed it's number and life went on. I know it sucked for the people who expected rooms, but they tried to be nice and polite for a few months.
    • by jabberw0k (62554)
      Or: "Just a moment, please." Put them on hold, dial the actual hotel, and tell the operator, "I'm going to put my mother on the line, but she is very hard of hearing so you will have to speak very slowly. OK?" and then transfer the call.
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        while funny it costs you a lot of money: the second (outgoing) line you need, the extra calling cost for the outgoing call - plus it has your own lines occupied.

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @11:24AM (#44188249) Homepage
      But was the hotel advertising the wrong number? If not, there's really not much they can do. Sure the hotel could change their number, but that would be a lot more hassle than you may suspect. They'd have to reprint business cards. They'd have to reprint advertisements, which could get expensive.
      • by rwise2112 (648849) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @11:47AM (#44188421)

        But was the hotel advertising the wrong number? If not, there's really not much they can do. Sure the hotel could change their number, but that would be a lot more hassle than you may suspect. They'd have to reprint business cards. They'd have to reprint advertisements, which could get expensive.

        Not only that, but no matter what number they choose, it's going to be close to someone else's number.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        true, bot on the other hand, a bunch of pissed off people who are pissed at the hotel will put a dent in the bottom line even faster than new ad material and business card
    • by jazman_777 (44742)
      My work mobile phone happens to be the same number as a restaurant, except a different (nearby) area code. So I get a couple of calls a week. I've gotten calls from the state department of revenue, too. Someone keeps trying over and over, and just can't figure out the area code thing.
    • by PRMan (959735)

      My number is one off from Domino's pizza if you write your 0 as a 6 accidentally. We have had several calls for Domino's over the years (less since they changed their crust). Mostly, I just tell them they have the wrong number, but this one stoned guy called me 3 times in a row at the same number, despite me telling him twice what the actual number was. The third time I just took his order and I assume he went hungry.

      I also had a number that was the combination of part of a Disney number and DINE which w

  • by wvmarle (1070040)

    'nuff said

  • He's a business owner and he did this in the name of his business. Probably not a good business move but I'm glad he did it because it's pretty funny.

  • Wrong number (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Thursday July 04, 2013 @12:01PM (#44188535) Homepage Journal
    Many years ago a buddy got some new phone lines. One had just been a reservation number for an extremely large restaurant. After a few days of folks trying to make reservations through him he called the restaurant and offered them the number back if they'd pay the transfer fees. They declined. So he started taking reservations. "Four for the Ponderosa Room at 7pm? Under 'Caruthers'? Not a problem; please check in with the Hostess when you arrive." After a week of this he called the restaurant back, and offered them their reservation number back. For just the fees? Oh no, assholes, now it's gonna cost something! He got some nominal amount, just 'cause he was pissed about his time & trouble.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 04, 2013 @12:02PM (#44188545)

    I got a worse one which happened to me personally...

    About 10 years ago a local heating/boiler/airco installation company put accidentally my phone-number as the 24/7 support number on their invoices.
    (The last digit of mine is a 3, theirs had a 2. Probably a typo by whoever made the design for their logo on the pre-printed invoice-paper.)

    So I started getting calls for repair at all hours of the night.
    Usually by quite pissed customers, whose heating had broken down on a cold night, who grabbed the latest invoice to look up the number.
    So I pick up, still half asleep, and someone yells at me "That @#@$%@ heater is broken again, send someone to XXXXX asap".
    Before I can respond they have already broken the connection.
    About 1 hour later I get another (very) angry call "Where the bloody *@^%#%&@ is that blasted mechanic @&*#^@#^*&".
    Again connection broken before I can get a word in.
    Had 4 of these calls the first night. 7 the night after.

    Worst thing was that I couldn't disconnect the phone.
    I didn't have a cell-phone at the time and my father was in hospital with a critical heart-condition.
    Every time that phone rang it could have been the hospital.
    I also had on-call duty for my job.

    The 2nd night, on one of the calls, I got someone reasonable on the phone who explained to me who they were thinking they where calling.
    So I contacted that company the next day.
    To their credit they send a new mailing to all their customers that same day, but I kept getting 5 to 10 of such calls per night, for 2 weeks running.
    After that it gradually petered out, but I still get one every 3 or 4 months when someone finds the number on an old invoice.

    Needless to say I got a cell-phone that same week for real emergencies and an answering machine for the land-line during the night.
    (Can't do without the land-line. Still need to do dailup to ancient industrial controllers with 4800 baud modems. )

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      but I kept getting 5 to 10 of such calls per night, for 2 weeks running.

      I think this says more about the quality of their products / services than it does about their screwups.

    • When I had a new landline number assigned to me 15 years back, we found out the hard way it was the old fax number for a business. Nothing like getting half a dozen calls an hour all day and night, each one a series of high pitched whistles and beeps. After complaining to the phone company numerous times, they finally gave us a new number after two weeks. Gee, thanks.
  • I have a very common email address that was somehow not taken. Apparently someone had put my email on a Soda machine in some Canadian Law office and unfortunately for me, the machine took their money.

    Some lady from this office must have sent me about twenty emails about the machine 'eating' her Coins. I ignored it at first and finally I had to tell them that the email address they were contacting, was not the correct one. So after I got the lady to get the address on the Soda machine, I proceeded to contact

    • by Vreejack (68778)

      For almost a year I have been getting calls from the Quebec area wanting to talk to William Marshall in the US Treasury. Next one I get I'm just going to have to tell them that Mr. Marshall no longer works at the US Treasury and has been dead for almost a century.

  • by dotHectate (975458) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @01:02PM (#44188935) Journal
    I worked in a call center where our 800 number was similar to an AOL support number. We would frequently get people calling to cancel and they would refuse to believe that we were not AOL and we were just trying to keep them as billable customers. Oh well...
    • Had the same with a credit card company's customers. It baffled me how callers could argue and tell me that I am the credit card company in question. Been drunk at work but never so much so I'd forget where I'm working.

    • by AdamWill (604569)

      Yeah, my number is one digit off from some company's support line, I get their calls all the time. I've been tempted to start messing with them but never have, yet...

  • I contributed to the user documentation on an open source project many years ago. We used the software on our systems, so my email address was listed among the contact information for support on our copy of the distribution.

    Of course, no one set the correct contact information on their own installations (in hindsight, I should have set the email addresses to null before distributing) and I still get support emails from clueless users to this day.

  • My favorite incident of a wrong number is when a woman thinks she's calling JC Penny to ask about her curtain rods and accidentally calls in to a radio talk show in Minnesota. The show's host (TD Mischke) just goes with it perfectly seamlessly.

    Oswald_rods.mp3 [mischkemadness.com]

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