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MMO Money Magazine

Writings on the business of fun: Virtual Worlds and Real Money Makes Online Gaming a Big Business. My economic view on the world of online games - without the hype.

Author: Inktomi

NCSoft to Hacked Aion Customers: "It's your fault."

Posted by Inktomi Wednesday January 27 2010 at 5:18PM
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 Just to follow up on a previous article about members of the Aion community having their accounts hacked and losing everything. I received a despondent call from my friend from Aion who had her account hacked. The story is pretty sad and very simple.

After she stayed on hold 3 hours to talk to an NCSoft rep she was greeted by a young woman who sounded polite yet annoyed. And after stating her case and producing the necessary proof that she actually was the account holder. The rep told her that it was her fault because she probably downloaded something, gave her password out or used it in a third party forum.

"Uhhh no", she said to these allegations.

After the rep scolded her repeatedly making excuses on how it was THE CUSTOMERS FAULT and restored her accounts with new passwords. They did not restore any equipment and explained it was because she was careless with her account information. Meanwhile there was no record of where or how she gave her account information out. When she stated that the only place she went was Aion Armory and the official forums she was greeted with, "Oh well ..."

Then she goes on to explain that this is unnacceptable for being on hold for THREE HOURS only to be treated as a criminal. The rep then goes on to explain that it's not her problem because there is not enough people to handle the high number of calls coming in due to this problem.

Way to be guilty before proven innocent and to pass the buck. Classic corporate america move.

Ok NCSoft officially you are a ...

Is that a way to treat good paying loyal customers?

Is this a proper way of marketing your product for future customers?

How can you actually train employees to treat customers as though they are the problem?

Now clearly we can see in Scott Jennings article today about MMO Fail-bombs that THE CUSTOMER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!

I might know one or two things about video games, not as much as others. I might know one or two things about economics, finance and maybe a little marketing.

But I do know one thing: The customer is always right.

And we speak with our wallets! And we should not tolerate this type of treatment.

I calmed her down with my Brooklyn Steakhouse analogy: If you went somewhere and they served you great steak with roach in it and then when you told the waiter the chef came out and blamed you? If you had this kind of bad service would you continue to eat there? Probably not. Because you are not only paying for the food, you are paying for the experience of having a nice dinner out.

I think the problem is we (the mmo community) are so starved for good steak we are ready to eat any old piece of meat. We don't mind if the waitress is nasty or if it is cooked wrong, we got a seat at a posh steakhouse. "Ohhh look honey, a fly in your soup!" As we pick out the fly and laugh nervously over it, we keep eating, picking through it slowly for any more instectia. 

I've seen quite a few businesses fail due to faulty marketing and poor customer service. So if you or anyone you know has had problems with NCSoft over their accounts, mainly due to it being hacked. Please let me know, I would like to hear your personal stories.

Play safe,

Inktomi

emperion writes:

I had to wait 3 hours myself, after having to wait all weekend since I could not contact them on Friday evening when I needed them because you can only contact them by phone Monday - Friday.  With their lack of johnny on the spot service I missed Aion double XP weekend.  Business that don't listen to their customers will fail.

Wed Jan 27 2010 7:28PM Report
Inktomi writes:

 Sorry about your experience emperion. A few friends and I are working towards a solution. I'll keep you posted.

Wed Jan 27 2010 7:35PM Report
AutumnalDusk writes:

NCSoft has a long history of not dealing with hacking problems..just take a look at "Combat Arms".

Granted, I'm *still* ticked at them for my pre-purchase, pre-release lockout at Aion's debut, but as stated, "we vote with our wallet", and that's another wallet they'll never have access to again, across not just Aion, but *any* of their games.

NCSoft= "No Care Soft"

Thu Jan 28 2010 8:14AM Report
joker007mo writes:

yea that sucks sorry to hear and hope everyone gets their accts back

and you know it amazes me that companies can act this way and still stay in business hopefully people will start opening their eyes to these types of practices posted this in a comment today

According to the Better Business Bureau, in the last 36 months, 86 complaints have been filed against NCsoft. NCsoft currently has a score of "C-" due to delays in responding to the complaints.

something to think about?

Thu Jan 28 2010 2:14PM Report
chriswsm writes:

I have never used any of NCSoft's games however I place customer service above all other functions of a company.    I will keep away from their products and services in future.

Thu Jan 28 2010 6:02PM Report
augustgrace writes:

I was watching the news a couple weeks ago and they were talking to a private investigator about how easy it was to get someones cell phone messages.  The investigator claimed that any investigator worth his pay, had someone at a cell phone company willing to sale records and messages.

This has got me to wondering, how secure is our account information?  Would it really be that hard for the currency companies to get someone from the inside to sale certain information?

Add to that the recent explosion in compromised accounts across the genre.

I'm beginning to lose faith in the ability of mmo companies to keep my account data secure.

Wed Feb 03 2010 1:54AM Report
DillingerEP writes:

Augustgrace, look no further then the 800 pound gorilla in Blizzard. Their practices have got me wondering about the very same thing. How is it that my account i kept open only 3 month's, get's supposedly hacked, lvl 40/lvl 22 (not missing much i know) deleted and ran sacked for whatever it was worth.

I never visited any 3rd party site, don't have a keylogger, barely logged into WoW official site, never gave out my info to anyone, even blizzard. Then recently i found out that goldfarmers magicially stole my account. I wouldn't hold it pass anyone.. selling people's account info, or Blizzard just suck's ass with having secure databases like NcSoft.

Same thing with Aion... never did anything wrong... yet shit get's hacked. NcSoft can go fricken shove it for all i care. Atleast Blizzard is happy enough to restore everything for you. But their the fucking assholes with shitty account security to begin with.... so they can pretty much shove it right in the ass to.

Wed Feb 03 2010 3:11AM Report
SnarlingWolf writes:

I've been playing MMOs since before UO, I've never once had an account "hacked". I think that is a fairly easy thing to avoid because it is essentially never achieved through brute password cracking.

 

"Hacked" accounts in MMOs always stem from a couple places, first is account sharing. For whatever reason people do this and it is obviously not smart. Second is from downloaded key loggers. These often will come from info sites on the game (wikis for quest information etc), 3rd party plugins, or even gold/item selling sites for the players who practice in such things.

 

But having played MMOs for all these years with always one subbed the entire time, I have never had an account hacked. In fact I have never had an account of ANYTHING hacked, because it can always be avoided with smart practices.

 

I understand people get mad when they lose their pixels, but almost every MMO has a statement in it's EULA that says it doesn't have to replace lost items and all items are owned by the company not the player. So stay safe, stay smart, and you'll never have issues.

 

And for the record I don't like NCSoft and I don't sub to any of their games because I find them all crap. Just pointing out that for every 10 stories I hear of how someone was wronged by an MMO company and "did nothing wrong" 9 of those turn out that the customer did a lot wrong.

Wed Feb 03 2010 10:34AM Report
Zerocyde writes:

"The rep told her that it was her fault because she probably downloaded something, gave her password out or used it in a third party forum.

"Uhhh no", she said to these allegations."

 

Uhhh yes? There is no other way for someone to get your account information. Computers aren't magic. "Hackers" aren't wizards with telepathy. If your username and password are unique, only you know them, you only enter them in on the real website, and you don't download stupid crap, then there is no way for your shit to get hacked.

Wed Feb 03 2010 12:25PM Report
lilleas writes:

working in customer service for at least the last 15 years you're statement "the customer is always right" is not always true in general terms and has basis in only specific situations most of the time but that is another topic entirely.

as far as how the rep handled the situation, they are not the right person for the job obviously and handled themselves and the situation completely wrong. stress is not our friend but don't take it out on a customer because this happened to them.

there are so many variables when it comes to getting hacked. the old "you clicked on porn noob you deserve to get hacked hur hur" argument is old and dry. this is not always the case. the "people" (see "hackers") that are hired by the gold selling companies are intelligent. its not always about looking at porn or questionable sites anymore. someone who knows what they are doing can put a script into a graphic on a website and the website owner doesn't even know its there. the website itself can be hi-jacked and yes if you aren't paying attention then you click on something you can get something nasty on your computer. with pop up blockers and script blockers these days, the so-called hackers have to be smarter and stay ahead of the game and this is how they will do it.

Wed Feb 03 2010 1:17PM Report
gritzy writes:

Alot of the problems with Aion are due to the poor ingame policing, the servers are overun with people messaging you with Phishing websites saying you can claim your free prize etc from Ncsoft with websites that are very similar in name to the official site. You get these messages 5-10 times per day easily along with the goldseller spams, in 6 months of playing ive not encountered 1 GM and as a result more and more people are getting hacked. To say NCsoft were even remotely close in customer service to giants such as blizzard would be a very sick joke, your going to get hackers with every game but NCsoft seems to just think ignorance will solve the problem.

Also, if you want to report a player for sending out Phishing messages or general abusing behavior u have to write a ticket between the hours of 9-5 or u cant make 1, so the working, paying players suffer.

NCSOFT = FAIL

Wed Feb 03 2010 3:48PM Report
Database82 writes:

I had my account hacked a while back and the the reps were very kind to me and restored my equipment a few days later. Mind you this was maybe a month after launch, it's sad to see that the customer service of this game go into the crapper and to think I actually contemplated returning to the game. NCSoft has had a history of poor customer assistance, but I've never seen it this bad though.

 

The poor ingame policing was bad when I still played and by far this game is the worst I have ever seen in my entire history of MMO gaming, I can safely save that when NCSoft goes belly up I won't lose any sleep. You'd think a game that has thousands of people paying $15 a week would get off their @$$ and do some work on the customer service department, but I expected this going into a Korean MMO only I did not know it would get this bad. I hope your friend gets her gear back, but seeing how this game is spiraling down the crapper I kind of doubt she will.

 

Chriswsm said is best, just avoid NCSoft games in the future. Maybe when their subs hit an all time low they'll get the picture and that yes when customers pay them we expect work to be done.

Wed Feb 03 2010 9:48PM Report
shylock1079 writes:

 I've never had an account hack.  I have been and mmo junkie since UO and have only received the occasional in-game mail about gold.  I've had my game active since Jan..and I've gotten a couple of ingame people posing as GM"s saying they need to verify information if I just click on a link....

 

The most recent and most cunning attempt was the weekend when I received an ingame tell saying that my account would be suspended...and for more information I should click on this link that was a www.aiononline.secure link....of course it was a keylogger site.  

 

I asked something about it before and the MMORPG consensus is that it is the players fault for being gullible.  I disagree.  When you pay for a game, you also pay for the security.  Children and such don't know not to click on such a link.  But fanboys will be fanboys. 

Mon Mar 01 2010 12:53PM Report
Jaedor writes:

It's really tough to be on the receiving end of comments like Snarlingwolf's. Those of us who don't share accounts, don't go to dangerous sites, don't click scam emails, don't do any of the things that put our pcs at risk and still get hacked are just not helped by it.

After multiple scans by multiple tools, nothing was ever found on my pc that would have allowed an account to be compromised. Yet I was booted out of the game as my account was taken over by an unknown person.

Stuff does happen and sometimes you can't find anyone to blame.

Mon Mar 01 2010 1:50PM Report
Bullwraith writes:

I have never opened an Aion (or any other NCSoft) account nor have I ever registered on their forums... Yet I still get 2-3 emails a week purporting to inform me that my AION account has been suspended, or may have been hacked, or suspicious activity has been noted... So just click on this link and log in to verify your account info.

 

Beware. They are everywhere.

Tue Mar 30 2010 3:14PM Report
Stormbow writes:

I quit playing Aion immediately after the 1 month of free time for being stupid enough to buy that piece of #$%^ game.  (How else do you describe a game where you have no choice but to adventure in zones where invisible level 50 players are killing level 15-18+ characters all day long?)

But that didn't stop my account from being hacked over 6 months months later.  But as any human being would do, what's mine is mine, so I started emailing No Chance Soft and over a week later, after WAY too much bull%^&* about proving the account was mine, they finally shut down the account and restored control to me.

What really got me was, as I mentioned, the account had been closed for over 6 months.  So how did some "hacker" get my account user name?  At this point, I'd have to go with "NCSoft is selling our account information to third parties" because there is no way on earth I would ever give ANYONE (or ANYTHING) my account name, let alone my password.  And I sure as hell don't use the actual game account names for any game's in-game or forum character names!

I also found it interesting that the "hacker" had to use multiple credit cards before they could "hacktivate" my Aion game account.  (Only a complete retard saves their credit card information online!)  I know this because I got several emails saying that my "VISA" (I don't own any VISA credit cards) was used to activate my Aion account.

Interesting to me here was, to use those credit cards, someone had to have the names and addresses associated with the cards, and the verification codes off the back.

So, yet again, I am forced to believe that NCSoft passed out information they'd gathered from their suckers .. er, customers ... to "hackers" and I will never patronize another NCSoft game for as long as I live.

Fri Apr 02 2010 6:06PM Report
Kriminal99 writes:

Where have you been?  Blizzard has been doing this for years with WoW customers.  Even when I am 100% certain that noone hacked my computer, they tell me I have lax security on my computer. 

In reality it is probably their servers that got hacked, and in order to maintain an illusion of professionalism they blame the customers instead. 

Tue Mar 27 2012 5:43PM Report
Mors-Subita writes:

I love how everyone talks about how this is the fault of evil ncsoft. NCSoft, like most large corporations, is a bureaucracy... As such, the head doesn't always know what the left hand is doing...

To put that in perspective, I had a problem with Magic: the gathering tactics(Free to play from sony) and called their customer service. They gave me a stupid answer(similar to what was given to the woman in the story)... Long story short, I reached out and touched someone... Got a VP from their head office on the phone, explained what was happening, what I had done to confirm it wasn't on my side, and the absolutely unbelievable responses I had gotten from customer service. I got my stuff fixed(and they gave me some in-game stuff for my trouble) and the head CS for the game posted on the official forums that they were going to be reviewing ALL of the cases like mine that had been closed. I know some other people who were contacted cold and fixed after that.

Point of the story? NCSoft(or at least their execs and the people who matter) might care. Some functionary at some level decided that that type of response was a good idea and made a policy... And someone needs to explain to him that he is a moron.

Sat Jun 16 2012 4:14PM Report
pcphantom writes:

I know this is an old article with comments spread out over years now but I just felt the need to throw in my 2 cents for those reading in the future like those that find this on Google as I have.

 

First things first. There are a lot of comments from people that know nothing about hacking talking about how it's impossible to hack someone's password. Actually, those of you that believe that are statistically a victim waiting to happen as you clearly don't know enough to protect yourself because hacking solutions exist that you can't even comprehend.

Here are some examples:

1. Blizzard had their "Android/Apple App Authenticator" database hacked. This are achieved by exploiting the server that held the unencrypted information. When this happened, everyone that had a downloaded authenticator for WoW's extra security had all information necessary to steal their account taken. This was hundreds of thousands of accounts and more in the end got stolen that blizzard would even discuss.

2. Most of your information is for sale whether you like it or not. This information gathered by everyone from Google, Apple, Microsoft, or whatever web browser or email site you use helps build compiled databases about mass numbers of people. Getting enough information about people to access accounts and change information is crazy easy.

3. Brute force hacking your personal information isn't crazy likely. Brute force hacking things like email providers (such as gmail)... oh yeah and if you don't know that get back in the closet because you're not ready to come out yet. People will often do something like steal mass email addresses, download the mailbox contents via pop3/imap programs, then search them for emails from companies they can profit from exploiting you in. In reality the odds of having an inbox hacked are quite high even from "big" email companies. Even Microsoft just switched their global server base to Linux because they kept getting exploited and their database was becoming unmaintainable.

Just an example. I had an email I didn't use very often, it was an older one with Gmail. It just so happened that this email was the one I used to create my Facebook account. Though I rarely used either one day on my phone I got a notification of an email on that Gmail. Thinking it was spam I glimpsed only at the preview and noticed it was my Facebook password was reset. I then went to my computer to read the full email and it wasn't even there. So I checked Facebook and it was really changed. I quickly changed it again along with my email address used for Facebook and my Gmail password. I never had the issue again but later, Gmail in response to massive amounts of hacking being done to their email databases added "2-step verification". They didn't do this because their customers are dumb or incompetent. They did this because they couldn't protect peoples information and accounts. Can they still be hacked? Sure, don't doubt it for one second, just the number of people capable has been reduced.

Though it is an issue I have rarely ever had, I too had a WoW account hacked. Mine however was hacked 2 years after I quit playing. I didn't even use the email associated with my WoW account anymore, not for a long time. It was reactivated with a scroll of resurrection, stripped of everything, then my characters were deleted. Blizzard did slowly restore my account (barely before my scroll trial period ran out), I changed all my information, let my time expire and didn't play for years again. It was hacked again a couple years ago and I went through the same routine. I still don't even play WoW. One thing I notice though is every email I own gets phishing spam for WoW, Diablo III, you name it. The later a game I've never even played.

It just happens, it's random, and when it does there's nothing you can do. Companies should respect this and treat their customers with empathy rather than saying "oh well, we don't think it was on our end, bummer you have no reason to stay with us anymore".

NCSoft is horrible about this. I've played their games since I beta tested Lineage (the original) and they are a rude narrow minded company full of corruption with a history of horrible customer service. My thoughts, be lucky they didn't make you pay for an international call to hold for 3 hours. They're the skeezy type of company that would call you back collect.

Wed Jan 29 2014 5:10AM Report
pcphantom writes:

Oh and please keep in mind after reading a comment above. Yes, NC SOFT IS the type of company that would sell your information. In countries that do not honor intellectual property such as, I dunno, Korea, where NCSoft is based out of it's not even illegal. It is very common in countries like this for them to sell your information among other companies they deal with. This could be account information, email, password, pin, password hints, security information, you name it.

Then these companies try that information in other games gambling they can login with your information.

NCSoft themselves owns gold selling companies and sell gold in their own games. Messed up because then afterwards they decide if you spend enough they want to keep you or if they want to ban you.

It's believed many companies do things such as this to add funding to their games. It's widely believed blizzard does this with China and that is why they will not put forth efforts to stop their gold selling problems (keep in mind as of now over 2/3 of all WoW players are in China).

Wed Jan 29 2014 5:19AM Report

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