Thursday, June 13, 2013

OUYA Review...Or Why Customer Service Is As Important As Your Product

I'd like this to be an actual review of the Ouya. Certainly, they would probably like a positive customer review for future buyers. Unfortunately, I can't provide that. Why? Well, despite being an early Kickstarter funder of the project and dropping my $100 down for a unit (along with money for two additional remotes), I still have not received my Ouya.

As an avid gamer (rare for a 50 year old mother) I hopped on the Ouya bandwagon the week it came out. I promoted the shit out of it to friends, family and twitter followers. I signed up for notifications and watched Kickstarter daily as their sales numbers went through the roof. I cheered them on! Because, seriously, how could I not get excited with the prospect of it? I even put money in my son's bank account so that he could buy his own, as he was going away to college and wanted to be able to take it with him.

And then it was done. Funded. In production. The updates were sporadic, which is understandable with a small upstart company. I get how business works. I know all about multitasking. I waited patiently for each and every update. I followed them on Twitter and Facebook. I visited their Kickstarter site. I followed game developers who were working on projects. Damn, I was so fucking excited for this little game console.

They began shipping in March. I waited. I waited and waited and waited. I watched as they said they'd completed US shipments. I emailed because I'd heard nothing. No reply. I watched as the number of units shipped climbed. I waited. I emailed. No reply. I emailed again. No reply. They began announcing shipments of foreign units and special units. Still my son and I had not received our Ouyas or any information regarded them. We both emailed and posted our concerns on Kickstarter.

And then it happened.

My son's Ouya arrived 6 weeks ago. He purchased his two days before the fund raising ended. But there was no sign of my Ouya. I emailed. I posted messages on Kickstarter, Twitter and Facebook seeking information. Nothing. No response. No acknowledgement even of my posts. I began spamming them with tweets, trying to get some sort of response. Nothing. I even emailed and tweeted Julie, the founder. Again, no response.

I was concerned that my Ouya order had been confused with my son's since they were coming to the same address. I was concerned that my order had fallen through the cracks. As the days and weeks went by, I desperately tried to get someone to respond to me. What I was able to gather from other Ouya purchasers was that all the backers who ordered extra remotes were in the same position I was - wondering and waiting about our units.

And then finally after what seemed like my hundredth time trying to reach anyone even remotely related with Ouya, another frustrated person on Facebook gave me an email address to contact them. At this point, Ouya was claiming all units had shipped. I'd received NOTHING. I emailed and received an automated response. I waited a few more days before I finally FINALLY received an actual reply. It was a bit of a confusing reply in that it said my Ouya was already on the way, but later in the email said it would be going out soon without the additional remotes (which will be coming "at a later date") and I would received some sort of confirmation shortly.

Two days after that, I received a notice from Ouya that my unit had been delivered to DHL with a tracking number. That tracking number is still inactive with DHL. I still DO NOT HAVE MY OUYA.

I call BULLSHIT!!!

This is where the importance of good customer service comes in. You see, I don't think they know where my Ouya is. I don't think they even know if the Chinese company has manufactured it or if it's actually somewhere in the warehouses of DHL. I don't think they have any handle at all on the whole scope of this project. I think they raised the money, created the device and then handed it over to the manufacturer without any oversight on their part of the manufacturing/shipping progress, process or quality of it. (And I'll get to that word - quality - in a minute.)

Now, I don't know how they broke things down. I asked if they shipped by date funded and was told no. I know they didn't ship alphabetically by name, because mine would have gone out at the same time as my son's (unless they did confuse us and I was lied to by their rep). Maybe they worked backwards from last funded to first funded. However they decided to do it, I can only say it wasn't organized with any common sense.

What Ouya should have done is hired an administrative assistant (or two or three). They're cheap enough salary wise and hell, they raised $8M, so it's not like they couldn't swing the cost. $12/hr., 40 days a week. I used to work for a temp agency that hires people out who do things like that. I was one of these amazing people. I used to go into companies all the time, with no knowledge of what the company did, be given a task that might last a day or a week or a month and just run with it. I was good at what I did, and you can be damn sure that I would have been on top of whatever snafus were going on behind the scenes at Ouya.

They should have had a dedicated person and email for anyone inquiring about their Ouya, because with that many units in production there are GUARANTEED to be problems. It's inevitable. An administrative assistant dedicated to answering customer questions would be worth their weight in gold.

Ouya should have had person with a master list of all the units sold, whether they had extra remotes, whether they were special units, shipping addresses, contact info, etc. WHATEVER. This person should have been coordinating with the factory. As units were shipped, they should have been cross referencing them so they knew exactly what went out to who and when. It just makes sense to have someone monitoring this, one contact person handling customer inquiries into their units, one person with a master list updated as frequently as possible from the factory, doesn't it? I mean, seriously, doesn't it?!?

Apparently not.

So here I sit. No Ouya to play with. No Ouya to review. All I can review is the lack of service from the company. At this point, I wouldn't recommend doing business with them if every other game system company went out of business and they were the only company left on the face of the earth. I wouldn't recommend them if someone was threatening to stick a burning poker in both my eyes so that I could never play another game again. I wouldn't recommend them if they showed up at my house tomorrow with a gold Ouya, a lifetime supply of free games and Dave Grohl (I lust for Dave Grohl but that's another story) get the picture.

Ah...but here's the thing. Remember when I used the word "quality" a few minutes ago? Remember I said my son did get his Ouya? His goal, as a gamer, a programmer and a game developer, was to make games for it. He was so excited when the system arrived. He opened it. He turned it on. He spent about three hours with it. They say anyone can develop for it - but the software they recommend is not usable with the unit. You can't program for it the way they have it set up. They say there are hundreds of games for it. Where? Where are these games? How do you find them? He couldn't figure it out. The kid has a genius IQ, can program in his sleep and created his first game at the age of 10!

According to his its a nice desk decoration. He is NOT happy. And he couldn't get responses to the problem with their developer software, either. He's given up.

His Ouya is sitting in his room next to his computer. He hasn't touched it since the day it arrived. He has, however, found that he can use the remote with his computer and he's enjoying that immensely, so I guess that's something.

On a scale of 1-10, I give my experience with Ouya a big fat ZERO. I don't think mine is ever coming. I hope the company is having fun partying outside E3 because they aren't taking down anyone. Unless they get their act together, this console is a joke. Their customer service is definitely a joke. Their organization of the production is a joke. I'm at the point where I don't even care if my Ouya shows up. I honestly believe it isn't going to - I don't think the factory has even made it yet! And I don't think the people at Ouya have taken their heads out of their heaping pile of cash long enough to realize they have a problem. Or maybe they have and they're laughing at all the idiots who invested in them as they spend that buttload of money.

I can tell you this. If someone asks me about the Ouya - even if it eventually comes and even if its a fucking awesome product - what I'm going to tell them about is the PISS POOR SERVICE from the company. I'm going to tell them that if they buy one, they'd better not expect any help if they have a problem. I'm going to tell them you get what you pay for. And I'm going to steer them toward Playstation or Nintendo or Microsoft, because at least they get that it's important to respond to your customers in a timely and intelligent fashion.

So fuck you, Ouya. Fuck your promises. Fuck your product. Fuck your customer service.
A VERY disgrunted, disgusted and dissatisfied backer
You can take your revolutionary gaming system and shove it up your....oh, whatever.