Saturday, January 29, 2011

PokerStars screw-up

When I received notification from PokerStars that I had been given an entry into the World Blogger Championship of Online Poker (WBCOOP) series of tournaments, I went to the WBCOOP web page, found the schedule of events, and entered an Outlook reminder to myself for each of them.

Here's the schedule, which you can still see here:

Note that today's event was supposed to begin at 19:00 EST, which is 4:00 p.m. PST.

Each of the preceding events had been just dismally disastrous for me, so today's final preliminary event was my last chance to win a spot in tomorrow's main event. In order to be sure not to miss it, I opened the Stars client two hours early, at 2:00 pm. I was puzzled to find that the tournament ticket was not showing up.

With the help of some Twitter friends, I discovered that the tournament had actually started at 15:00 ET, noon my time, as shown in the tournament lobby:

I was too late to register. I can't win a spot in the main event tomorrow.

It is probably true that if I had looked closely at each tournament ticket, I could have compared the details it listed with the published tournament schedule and noticed the discrepancy. After all, a few hundred other people apparently managed to figure out the right time. But I had checked the schedule well in advance, and had no reason to even consider that it might have changed. Why would it?

I also could have rechecked the schedule on the web page. But if I had, I would still have missed it, because after they changed the starting time of the tournament, they didn't bother to change the published schedule. The screen shot of the web page above, showing the originally scheduled time, was taken this afternoon, after I discovered that I had been shut out.

I realize that this whole thing is a freebie, and there's something uncouth about complaining that a gift isn't good enough. But dammit, this stuff isn't difficult. If you publish a schedule, people have a right to expect that you'll either stick to it or provide prominent notice of the change. PokerStars certainly knows my email address, but they did not bother to send all of us a message about the change.

Of course, it's possible that it was never changed, and that the web page simply had a typo on it from the beginning. Either way, though, it's shamefully sloppy and unprofessional. This episode has done nothing to brighten the already sour mood I've been in all week.

I fired off this email to Stars support:

I had a ticket to today's WBCOOP qualifying tournament. According to your
own web site, it was to be at 19:00 Eastern time, 7:00 pm. I logged on a short
time ago--nearly two hours in advance--and found the ticket was gone. After
probing around for a while, I discovered that the tournament was already in
progress (tournament #339187696), having started not at 7:00, but at 3:00.

Your web site still lists the starting time as 7:00, which is what I was
relying on. See here:

When did you change the starting time? WHY did you change it? Why
didn't you update the web page with the new time? Why didn't you email those to
whom you had given tournament tickets to notify them of the change?

If I get a reply of any substance, i.e., that's more than a bedbug letter, I'll let you know.


Here's the response:

Thank you for your email.

We are truly sorry if this situation has caused you any discomfort.

To make up for it, we have credited your account with a Weekly Round 2
ticket an additional 300 FPPs in your account.

If you have any questions feel free to email us at anytime.

Michael G
PokerStars Support Team

Harumph. It's a non-apology apology. They're not sorry that they screwed up--in fact, they're not even owning up to having made a mistake. They're only sorry if I experienced any "discomfort." It is so rare and refreshing when somebody at a big organization says, "Yeah, we made a mistake, and we're really sorry about it." I guess that's too much to expect from PokerStars. You'll notice also that there is no explanation, no answer to my questions about when the change was made, why it was made, and why they didn't send a courtesy email about it.

I'm grateful for the compensatory gesture, but I'm still left irked about several aspects of the whole thing.


The Poker Meister said...

Hey grump, I'm 2nd or third on the leaderboard. I was in the running for the $5k travel package... So much for that, now. I got screwed by the time change as well.

edgie212 said...

It was even worse for hose of us who were in the leaderboard hunt. Poker Meister Joel and myself were in the running, and both of us were screwed because of this. We didn't even get the letter you got.

Conan776 said...

Sucks, but FWIW, I thought the field was way tougher this year compared to last.