Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bwin Blows (and blost a bcustomer)

There's a ton of stuff I could put into this post, including quoting all the emails that have been sent back and forth, but I'll keep it as short and to-the-point as I can (which is still pretty long).

Basic timeline:

Wednesday, June 9th: I open an account at BWin. I deposit $5,000 (their maximum deposit), which is probably a lot for most people, but not exactly an outlandish amount if you're planning on playing the midstakes. I play about 150 hands or so, figuring out how their software works, configuring Holdem Manager, yadda yadda. Some quirks I'm not happy about, some features I wished they had done differently, but game selection looks pretty good and there are no deal-breakers in how their software is built. I'm reasonably content.

Thursday, June 10th. I log a more substantial session, something like 600 hands, trying out what multitabling is like and how I can tile the windows and stuff like that. I win a buy-in or so.

I don't log in on Friday.

Saturday morning, I can't login. Says my password is incorrect. I thought that perhaps I didn't remember it right (I obviously use new and different passwords for all sites, and they're random strings of numbers and characters; easy for my memory to play tricks on me), but I go through their password recovery procedure and have a new password emailed to me. Try to log in. It won't work.

"What the hell?"

So I go back to their webpage and try to log in there - maybe there's something wrong with my client? Success! I can log in on their webpage! Except now there's a little information box that tells me that my account has been closed.

What the hell?

I browse around. No information available as to why my account has been closed. I check my GMail spamfolder; no email from Bwin. I email them, but when I hadn't gotten a reply in the afternoon, I called them. Turns out that their security team have closed my account because they were doing a "routine review." In order to re-open the account, I have to supply them with the customary passport/utility bill combo.

Do you see the problem here?

The problem, of course, is that they closed the account without notifying me. Without telling me why they did it, or for that matter that they HAD done it, and I had to contact them in order to find out what they needed from me. I think that's outrageous. Blocking my $5k without telling me why is not a good way to handle a new customer.

Now, if this was the matter of just an individual security team member accidently forgetting to send an email to me, I would have shrugged it off. On the contrary, though, I was informed (both over the phone and in writing) that this is in fact standard procedure: They do NOT inform customers when they close their accounts. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. What kind of weird rationale could possibly be behind this? I can't think of any. And trust me, I've tried to think of one.

Either way, within minutes of having been told that I need to upload a photocopy of my passport and a utility bill, it's done, and a few days later (Tuesday) I get an email saying that they've re-opened my account. Here's where things really turned sour. Basically, my confidence in how they handle their customers was already shot to hell, and so I went ahead and ran the "cash-out test". That's to say that I wanted to find out if they were the kind of company that would put up a fuss in order to prevent people from withdrawing.

And they were.

"It has come to our notice that you requested a pay-out before having wagered the total amount you paid into your account on our website. Please note that pay-outs generally can be made only from obtained winnings"

At this point, I asked for a supervisor to call me. I was called back a few minutes later, and was told that this rule (about "waging the total amount I paid into my account") was stated in their Terms and Conditions. I told her that it wasn't. She told me that she was certain that it was. I told her that she could keep repeating that all she wanted, and while probably almost no one ever reads the T&C for these things, I'm that one pesky guy who does (my mom is a lawyer and has taught me well) and I then proceeded to bring up their Terms and Conditions and started reading them to her over the phone. After a minute or so, she told me that I didn't have to read all of it to her. So then we were at an impasse: She claimed that there was a rule that was "clearly stated" (her words) in a text where this rule was nowhere to be seen.

She promised, however, to email me a link to the rule in question. Turns out that it was in the FAQ, not in their T&C (quite a difference, if you ask me), and its wording is:

"- If you request the withdrawal of the amounts you paid into your account instead of using them to participate in our broad line-up of services, bwin is entitled to cancel such requests instead of paying out the money as requested. "

I repeat, emphatically, that their T&C does not state anything of the kind. This information was available in their FAQ under the heading of "Why Is My Cashout Not Processed?" or something of that nature. I think it's fair to require customers to read the terms before depositing. I don't think it's reasonable to require them to read through the entire FAQ as well.


At this point, quite a few more angry emails (some of them less-than-totally-polite from them as well) ensued, but I did finally get my money back. It's impossible to say exactly what caused them to change their mind, but I'm betting that me informing them that they pay to advertise on my blog might have had something to do with it. I assume they don't want bad press in a blog they pay to advertise on. And yet, here this post is. Why? I got my money back, at last, possibly specifically in order to avoid this post being written - is this me being vengeful and petty?

Actually, no. I'm not above being vengeful and petty, but this post was written because of a very specific suggestion of mine that was summarily dismissed: Namely that they change their Terms and Conditions to reflect the policy that they enforced on me. If they have a rule in place that you have to wager a certain amount before being allowed to cash out, they should really state that. That's all I asked. Update your T&C. I have to wager $5,000 in order to cash-out - how much of it had I wagered when I requested the cashout? I don't know. It doesn't say anywhere. The supervisor lady on the phone couldn't find out either, she had to send a request to a separate department to find out and they were going to get back to me about that (they never did).

So, Bwin:

For closing my account without notifying me, for blocking my cashout in reference to something in the T&C that isn't there, and for ignoring a simple request to update your T&C to reflect what is apparently a well-known rule internally, you officially suck.


I'm back at Party Poker. The contrast was made very explicit when I emailed Party and asked if I perhaps would be allowed to come and hang out for a little while in their VIP lounge at the Rio when I arrive in Vegas, and they explained that although that lounge was intended exclusively for those playing in the WSOP, all I had to do was ask for Sinead when I arrived; she had been informed that I might be showing up, and it wouldn't be a problem.

Thanks, guys.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bwin sponsors Real Madrid. That's enough for me not to play there. ¡Visca Barça!