Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FF14 - Payment Headaches

With the numerous complaints SquareEnix customer service representatives fielded for Final Fantasy XI, the developers made a promise to fans that they would use a different system for XIV. Well, they were true to their word, and they came up with one convoluted system similar to Xbox Live Points and a third-party scam-worthy billing system. Thanks SE for kicking us when we're down.

After a post on BlueGartr, one of the premier forums for FFXI, people haven't been happy with the new system. It's making the PlayOnline method seem a million times better.

This time around, SE handed off cycled-billing to a third party company based in the U.K. Meaning wonderful currency exchange rates. Yippie. Here's how it works: you create another profile separate from your SE account, give your payment info to ClickandBuy, and they'll bill you on a monthly basis. The nitty-gritty comes down to the Terms of Service.

  • A third party only as part of the reorganisation or a sale of the assets of ClickandBuy, or having ensured that steps have been taken to ensure your privacy rights continue to be protected.
  • Other ClickandBuy Group of companies.
  • Countries outside the European Economic Area ("EEA"). By way of example, this may happen if any of our servers are from time to time located in a country outside the EEA or one of the providers is located in a country outside the EEA. These countries may not have similar data protection laws to the EEA. If we transfer your information outside the EEA in this way, we will take steps to ensure that your personal data continues to be protected.
Basically they reserve the right to transfer your data to another company at any time, should they go under, if there are server issues, etc. So your info can be shared openly between ClickandBuy and some other random company of unknown origin.

4.11 Maximum Execution Time: The time for a payment transaction to be executed is the next three business days after the date of the transaction. Where a ”Business Day” is Monday to Friday, 09:00 – 17:00 (UK local time), excluding public holidays in the United Kingdom.

So if you want to update anything during a weekend, when MOST people playing games, you're screwed until Monday in U.K. time.

There is also a 12 month inactivity fee if you don't use your account. In order to close your account you need to call and email in to the company, and in some cases they are required a faxed form that you need to fill out. There is a $2.50 authorization fee when you first sign up, as a means of verifying your identity. This is suppose to drop off within 24 hours, but some people are seeing it as a physical charge. It's the only system available for a good number of international customers, which incurs additional fees as well as a currency exchange fee (5.9%, gah!) Even better, there's a cancellation fee of roughly $20.00.

The other option is to buy Crysta, visa-vie Microsoft Points. Meaning you need to keep track of your points and update them on your own. Right now, the only way to buy points is through PayPal (my sworn enemy) and send a payment to SE on a monthly basis. But supposedly you can use PayPal's debit/credit payment and not really open up a PayPal account to buy Crysta, AND should be able to set up Crysta as a reoccurring payment until you're low.

Crysta is currently the cheapest method since it's a 1 to 1 conversion and there's not additional fees. There's also a discount if you buy a 3 or 6 month plan, sort of. It's pretty much Microcrap points with an SE twist.

There is a third option of UltimateCard, via PlaySpan. Which also works like Microcrap points, but with the potential to buy a card in a retail location rather then giving your information to random companies online. While there are no cards available YET, this might be the best option since SE is wanting to be insistent about bum-screwing their customers.

What I don't understand is why they are going through all of these hoops to outsource billing. It would have been so much easier if they relaxed the PlayOnline restrictions (so you can use AMEX and Discover like MOST of the world) and merged XI billing with XIV. Especially with the incentive SE has given to XI users to have a discounted XI membership if you sign up for XIV, it just makes sense to have one billing cycle for both games. What's the problem SE? Tired of making money so you sent your billing to a bunch of other companies? If another option is presented, my collector's edition purchase has been a waste. Thanks again SE.


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