Every Tuesday before my Tuesday night MMO event, I usually go hit up Nicholas the Traveler in Guild Wars. I punched in my fairly strong password changed from the alleged NCSoft password snafu, and received notice that my account was deactivated (code=45)! A quick Google search of code 45 showed that it dealt a lot with bannable offenses, such as botting or PvP match manipulation. So many bad emotions flared through my mind, but at the bottom of the barrel was hope.
I knew I had done nothing wrong. My biggest rational fear (thought up after a dreamless sleep) was that I had transacted with a true [evil] botter in buying items for Nicholas. Otherwise, I don’t even use the unofficially allowed mods. I don’t bot. I barely PvP anymore, and only in pretty friendly arenas. So, I had a false confidence that all would be right in the end.
The first thing I did was start a support ticket. NCSoft’s phone support is pretty weak as it seems open less than 1/4 of the day. Their online ticket support either via the support website or email is much faster in generating a ticket number. I’ve found in my couple decade life that having a ticket number for customer support seems to immediately grease the wheel. Anyway, I knew what the next step would be… proving I was me.
Interestingly enough, NCSoft’s identity verification relies mostly on CD keys or account creation keys. You know, the ones we all keep framed in our scrapbook. (I actually do keep mine. In their CE boxes. In storage. 800 miles away.) Or they like to know which address I created some account at. This might be fine for a house owning 40-something that intends to die in said house with a handful of bacon on his favorite rocking chair, but in the last 10 years I’ve had 7 mailing addresses. Finally they wanted credit card numbers, which have also changed in the past 5 years. I gave them what little I could, and I prayed.*
My ticket was escalated. Great! Something clicked. They weren’t just shutting me down like so many horror stories I’ve heard on the forums. I called them anyway as soon as their phone lines opened.
See my friend had just had an issue with another big MMO company: Turbine. On opening day of Lord of the Rings Online Free-to-Play, my friend bought a dance emote. The store glitched, and he received three copies of the same emote. Of course, he was charged for all three. He duly submitted a ticket, and had not heard from Turbine for about two weeks. Finally he decided to call them up. After being on hold for an hour, the issue was dealt with in about 5 minutes.
So, I figured pressing NCSoft on multiple fronts would help me get my account back or figure out what had gone wrong that much quicker.
The gentleman that answered was very polite and helpful. I called under the pretenses of, this time, being unable to access my NCSoft account. He had to repeat NCSoft’s patented identity verification system, and I failed most of his questions. I also learned new things like I actually have a City of Heroes full account. I guess he felt some of my honest emotion through the phone, and we pressed forward juicing any of my useful personal information out of the turnip of my life that we could. It really comes down to the fact that I don’t really know much about my NCSoft account, and apparently I know less than I should about my Guild Wars account. Nick finally decided that I had met the criteria, and he put me on hold.
See, Nick, was smarter than me. As soon as I gave him my personal email, I think he pretty much saw that I was really calling about the active ticket regarding my blocked Guild Wars account. When I was on hold, fearful that he and his supervisor were laughing at my apparent lack of identity, Nick was actually fixing all my wrongs. In my email I started seeing tickets being closed and passwords being reset. Things were going back as they should. Thank you, Nick.
It turns out that someone in an unnamed foreign country, foreign to us Yanks anyway, had accessed my NCSoft account and then my Guild Wars account. NCSoft went ahead and shut down my accounts, and Nick said I had done the right thing in calling them up. It just would have helped a bit more if I could easily prove I was an account owner instead of an amorphous, nameless blob. Thankfully I have not noticed anything missing, and I have received much preemptive love from friends and guildies for replacing missing loot.
Of course what this has really done is get my butt in gear for changing passwords for sensitive information. This was a loss of some extension of my self. Ironic, that I felt that loss and barely passed NCSoft’s fabled identity criteria. I don’t want that to come about again. I felt betrayed and violated. They had taken something from me. The shock seriously took the wind out of my sails, but it thankfully had a storybook ending. I’m sure there’s a message in here somewhere.
only after disaster
*Not in any religious sense. That would be silly. More of a sensing and willing to the Force, ether, or what have you.