If you don’t know what GreenManGaming is, it’s a site where you can buy CD Keys for downloadable games (legally) at discount prices. They have discount codes and sales similar to Steam’s summer and winter sales, and most of the time are selling actual keys you can activate on Steam. They have a good product lineup going, I still get to use my favorite game store’s library (Steam), sales are far more frequent than on Steam itself, and I seldom pay full price for any game anymore.
That being said, the GreenManGaming shopping experience has to be the worst ever, and since they were so helpful about it, [edit: at first] I’m here to spread the word. Let’s step through my shopping experience last night – what I can only assume is a typical experience at GMG. I’ve bought from GMG before, but this was the first time I took advantage of a major sale. Here were the finer points of my experience:
- GMG has massive sales at times with hundreds of games being on sale at once. Games were up to 90% off in this sale, and they also had a stackable discount code for an additional 20% everything in your order as well. Awesome!
- Items you place in your cart (they call it “basket”) mimic tangible keys. By placing something in your basket you’re literally reserving a key for yourself temporarily. Typically this means no “out of stock” surprises at checkout, what you’re after WILL be available. Again, awesome! So far, so good, right?
- I add an item to my basket, and notice a red timer has appeared, only on the basket page. Hmm. Starts counting down from 15 minutes. Being active (page refreshes and clicking links) don’t seem to reset it, keeps counting down. At the deadline presumably it releases your items back to the store for other customers. Cool, no biggie.
- Man, this site has hundreds of games.. there’s probably a ton I want to buy during this sale. I add another item to my basket after shopping for a while. But.. wait, the timer says only 7 minutes remaining. The timer does not reset when you add an item?! No.. Yep. Adding another item to your cart does NOT give you another 15 minutes to shop. You read that correctly.
- Shit, I’m now in an unexpected hurry. Oh look, a better deal that contains an item already in my basket! K, I’ll add this and remove the other one. Where’s the remove button? The hell? Oh.. I can set the quantity to zero for that item, that should do it. Hmm, no Apply button either. Will “Continue Shopping” button work? No?! The item is left in the basket with a QTY of 1!! What the hell man?? Yep, that’s right.. canceling the entire order is your only option if you don’t wish to purchase all of it. Once it’s in your basket, it’s all or nothing.
- Well shit, I’m not buying it twice, so my only option is to trash my basket. Alright fine, added my two items back, and have ~13 minutes left this time to pick more stuff. Whatever. Luckily none of my keys were actually the last one available, huh? Lot of good that “holding” feature did there..
- I keep shopping around, have a little extra time now, and this new trailer for Project Cars looks cool. Let’s watch it. 30 seconds in the music has ramped up, this game looks pretty sweet! Maybe I- WHAT JUST HAPPENED? The video disappeared and now I’m looking at the screenshot next to it in this image flipper thingy? Okay… guess I’ll start it over.. WTF, AGAIN?! Damn it, this stupid image flipping carousel is flipping to a new image in the background after a while and stopping the video from playing. WTF dude. Guess I’ll have to watch the whole thing on YouTube inste-.. SHIT, my timer!
- Screw it, quickly just add that game I guess, add a couple more.. AN ERROR? NOW WHAT? “Your basket limit of 5 items has been reached. You can come back and start another transaction after you check out if you want to purchase more items.”
- Really? …. Really? You’re limiting me to 5 items at a time purchased from your store, including DLC for games. That is just.. damn it, screw it 4 minutes left, I have to check out like now.
- Crap, the voucher. Let me find and enter that code.. OK cool. Phew, made it to checkout w 2 minutes left this time.
- Pay with PayPal, here we go.. yep, take me to PayPal’s site to confirm. Huh, password invalid? Oh, hah mistyped couple times nevermind. Alright cool back to GMG to complete transaction..
- WHAT?! “0 items in basket”? No order confirmation? WTF just happened? It just took me back to the homepage and my cart’s empty! Fuck, visit PayPal again.. was I charged? Nope.. well wtf, why not?
- Wait.. SERIOUSLY?! THE TIMER KEPT GOING DURING CHECKOUT AND PAYMENT TOO, AND EMPTIED MY CART BECAUSE I DIDN’T CHECK OUT IN THAT 2 MINUTES? I am.. WOW. Fuck this.
At this point I’m in awe. I’ve never seen a store, especially an online one, that does so much, intentionally and unintentionally, to get in the way of me perusing their items and purchasing them. I thought that’s what stores were for?? I’d now spent roughly an hour shopping around their site and had nothing to show for it! It’s literally like they don’t want me to buy their shit! How does a company function like this??
I was frustrated and decided to give up for the day. This was absurd. Picking everything I’d like to buy as part of a 1-time-use coupon sale within 15 minutes is near impossible. I instead opened a support ticket titled “Can you make your site not suck?” and described the issues above, along with some frustrated langugage. I’d paste it but it’s more or less restating what I just described above, except I mostly only focused on the nonsensical timer and didn’t bother to mention the rest.
Their helpful staff person Matt got back to me the next day.
Could you make your site not suck?
Green Man Gaming & Playfire
Thanks for your ticket. First of all, I would kindly ask you do not use profanity in your ticket. Any further use will result in your ticket being closed without a response.
Our basket functions correctly, as designed. You have 15 minutes to choose your items and make your purchase. If that timer expires, so does your basket. This is to prevent items potentially being kept “on hold” indefinitely.
In regards to the video trailers, I have tested this myself using 3 different devices, 2 PCs and a macbook. On all 3 devices, and the 5 or 6 game pages I tested on, all games ran through the entire duration of the trailer. The only time it did not, was if i clicked the play button while the carousel jumped from image to image, but clicking on the box you wish to view does not cause this.
Green Man Gaming & Playfire
This friggin guy. Yeah, I was a bit cross. But really? You think I’m making this up?
Yeah, you’re right, I was just making it up.. great customer support. It happens. Chrome, Windows 7. Probably the majority of your user footprint. And it’s annoying.
I understand the timer – I know why it’s there, I appreciate the benefits behind holding a key for me. However what use is it if I don’t reap the benefit, 5x over, when I lose the entire thing for no good reason. The timer should restart anytime I add anything to the basket, not just count down 15 minutes from the first thing added. Losing my entire basket, by design, while perusing your store has to be the single most frustrating online shopping experience I’ve ever seen, and it’s intentional. Moreover, the timer does not pause at checkout so you can actually complete your transactions via Paypal and such, so that eats into my countdown time too! God knows what kind of issues that could cause if I’m mid-payment (I was) and you guys expire the basket.. jesus.
Lastly, why is there a limit of 5 things I can put in my cart?! Who does any of this crap?! Let’s recap with a fun scenario:
>You walk into Best Buy.
HI SIR, I’M MATT. I’LL BE YOUR PERSONAL SHOPPING TIMER.
AS SOON AS YOU PICK UP SOMETHING I’LL START COUNTING DOWN FROM 15 MINUTES. IF YOU’RE NOT PAID AND OUT THE FRONT DOOR BY THAT TIME, I’LL SPILL YOUR BASKET AND KICK IT ALL AROUND THE STORE FOR YOU
..why in god’s name would you do that?
IT HELPS RESERVE ITEMS FOR OTHER CUSTOMERS.
..wait, what? you want to put the items i’m about to purchase.. back on the shelf rather than let me purchase them.. so that other customers /might/ purchase them?
CORRECT. OH ALSO IF YOU AT ANY TIME ADD A 6TH ITEM TO YOUR BASKET I WILL REMOVE IT.
..any particular reason for THAT one?
I.. UH.. 6 IS TOO MANY. YOU CAN COME BACK LATER.
anything else you’re going to annoy me with?
YEAH. YOU CAN’T REMOVE ITEMS FROM YOUR BASKET EITHER. THERE’S NO WAY TO DO SO. OH AND IF YOU TRY TO GET CRAFTY AND SET THE QUANTITY TO ZERO I’LL JUST PUT IT BACK. WE THOUGHT OF THAT. YOU CAN HAVE ME EMPTY THE WHOLE THING FOR YOU THOUGH LIKE I MENTIONED BEFORE IF YOU WANT.
well Matt, this is the worst shopping experience I’ve ever encountered. have to hand it to you, you guys put some effort into this. nice work. i’ll see myself out now.
OH HEY THOSE TRAILERS YOU TRIED TO WATCH AND COULDN’T? I WATCHED THEM FINE. YOU WERE PROBABLY LYING.
cool. i bet. thanks Matt.
Yeah, I was a bit of a jackass, but again – frustrated and then got dismissed dude! I expected to be ignored at this point so was having some fun – thought maybe a real life example might wake them up. If not, whatever.
I checked the ticket shortly after and it looked like it had been deleted. This was going to be the end of this article.
The next day however… I got a message:
Green Man Gaming Limited
My name is Daniele and I manage the customer support team here at Green Man Gaming.
I have read through your ticket and I appreciate your feedback and the time you took to send it to us. As a frequent online shopper, I fully get how the timer can be annoying at times and the timeframe is quite short. However I understand why we have put it in place and how it benefits our customers in terms of allocating products to users as they check out.
I have escalated your feedback about the timer and the trailers internally, for further consideration. Rest assured that we are constantly looking to improve our site and the feedback our customers give us about our shop is invaluable!
The 5 items per basket limitation has already been changed, and we are currently rolling out an increased basket functionality to our users. I have put your account forward for this functionality. It should be enabled in the next few week.
If there are any other issues I can help you with, please let me know.
Green Man Gaming & Playfire
I was flabbergasted once again. A manager showed up, paid close attention to my suggestions, actively fixed the production site before getting back to me? What a 180! Impressive Daniele, very impressive. This, ladies and gents, is customer service.
I don’t know what to say.. I’m honestly impressed. Thanks for your response and taking my not-so-serious feedback seriously. I appreciate looking past me being a frustrated ass and making improvements.
I was rather frustrated with GMG before this, almost enough to boycott the service. Danielle saved the day. If I can find an appropriate way to thank her for this, I will.
Anyway, I thought this whole interaction was worth documenting, and went from the worst store experience I’d ever had, to one of the best customer service responses I’ve had. Hopefully they continue to fix the rest of the problems and I will have made an impact.