Friday, March 29, 2013

Be careful buying from steam while connected to a VPN or Proxy.

Bioshock Infinite is shaping up to be the biggest winner, and likely Game of the Year, even though - as of this writing - it has only been release for about a four days. For a game with such high acclaim, a price tag of $59.99 may be a great value, Unless you live in Japan.  In Japan, the cost is $69.99. Ten dollars more than in the USA. Why? Well, maybe it is because there are some rewards you can earn by pre-ordering. Those rewards include the original Bioshock title that started it all, Team fortress unique items, and Xcom: all included with the pre-order. The extra stuff that comes with the pre-order may very well be worth the extra $10.00, unless something goes wrong and you don't get your rewards.

I Pre-purchased Bioshock Infinite on Steam this March 28th here in Japan. I was a bit annoyed by the extra ten dollars, but, what the heck! It's worth it right? So I paid the price and bought the game. Then I noticed my rewards were not available to me. Where were they? I wrote a message to Steam Support and this is the current conversation.
1 Message by you on Thu, 28th Mar 2013 6:55 am
I purchased the game Bioshock Infinite, but did not receive my rewards. How or when do I get the three rewards that come with buying the game?

2 Message by Support Tech Ronald on Thu, 28th Mar 2013 2:24 pm
Hello Grin,Thank you for contacting Steam Support.Our records indicate that your purchase was completed after the title was released.The rewards in question were valid with prepurchases only.If you have any further questions, please let us know - we will be happy to assist you.

3 Message by you on Thu, 28th Mar 2013 5:08 pm
I live in Japan, and I paid $69.99 for the game. I paid an extra $10.00, I can't play the game yet and I get no rewards. I don't know what your "records" say, but they are not correct.Here's my purchase information. Please, either refund me $10.00 and let me play the game, or give me the rewards.Thank you.
Thank you for your recent purchase on Steam.If you’re new to Steam, install the free Steam application now: play your new games, just launch the Steam application on your computer and log in using your Steam account name: Your games will be available in Steam on the "Library" tab.Any Downloadable Content (DLC) you've purchased is automatically downloaded and will be accessible from within the base game on Steam. To view your new DLC from within your Library, right-click on the base game and select "View Downloadable Content."This email message will serve as your receipt. You can also access your Purchase Historyonline at any time by visiting Infinite (WW)69.99 USDSubtotal:69.99 USD
Tax:0.00 USDTotal:69.99 USD
Payment Info:MasterCard ending with ----
69.99 USD
Confirmation Number:135360408194969****
Date confirmed:Thu Mar 28 07:27:17 2013
So, here it is. I paid an extra $10.00 for no reason. I have no idea how they will finally respond, but I will post it when they do. The lesson here, be careful what you buy online.

Update 3/30 - 2013  11:15 JST.

I got a response from Steam and made a reply.  Here is the current conversation:

5 Message by Support Tech Ronald on Fri, 29th Mar 2013 12:21 pm

Hello Grin,

The release date is determined by the region where you are physically located and is not tied to the version of the game you purchased. The publisher or developer of the title determines the release date for their games. Please refer to the Steam Storepage for this title to determine the release date in your region.

Our records indicate that your account purchased this title in the US, after this title was released in that region.

Let us know if you have any further questions or concerns.

6 Message by you on Sat, 30th Mar 2013 6:14 am

Thanks for the reply. I appreciate the continued communication as I think we still need to work this out.

It appears to me that the cost of the game in the USA is $59.99. Since that is what it says at the following address.

However, I was charged $69.99 - which just so happens to be the cost of Bioshock Infinite in Japan according to your steam store. I added a picture attachment to show you the price in Japan.

So, either I bought it in Japan for $69.99 and deserve the pre-order rewards, or I bought it in the USA, in which case I deserve to pay the USA price of $59.99 and you should refund $10.00 to my card.

In case whoever answers this "question," has not read the previous posts, my purchase confirmation number is: 135360408194969****

This is a very interesting dilemma. I've posted it on my blog and I am getting quite a response. Apparently, there are other people with this or a similar problem. I can tell by the search queries they use to find my blog post.

For some clarity, I have discovered what happened. The computer I used to purchase the game was connected to a network with a proxy or VPN. It may have placed me somewhere I was not. Later, when I switched networks and attempted to load X-com and pre-load Bioshock infinite, I noticed I hadn't received the rewards. I suppose I may have appeared to be in the USA by your network, and that's fine, but why then was I overcharged $10.00?

Thank you, and I look forward to your response.

Grin Isobe.

So there we have it. The gist of this story is that I am being over charged $10.00 and Steam is deflecting the issue and not addressing the situation.  Instead, they are placing the blame for my complaint elsewhere and attempting to avoid changing anything.  We'll see how they deflect this most recent "question," I added. Perhaps I am a bit pessimistic, but have a feeling they will ignore the $10.00 and attempt to avoid a refund or provide any real "service." Stay tuned!

Update 04/03 - 2013  12:15 JST.

I got a response back from steam. Here's what they said:

7 Message by Support Tech Ronald on Sun, 31st Mar 2013 1:46 pm

Hello Grin,

Purchasing via VPN or proxy is not allowed in the Steam Store.

We will not be able to assist you with the rewards in question, as you have purchased them after the title's release via VPN or proxy.

If you have any further questions, please let us know - we will be happy to assist you.

The Steam End User License Agreement (that thing that pops up whenever you install or update steam and forces you to click the agree button before continuing - even though you probably didn't read the whole thing because it is 50 pages long, and filled with confusing language and legal jargon,) Strictly prohibits using proxies or VPNs when purchasing games on Steam.

This was a learning experience on my part. I should have read the EULA better and I should have connected to steam out of my proxied network. They were nice enough not to close my steam account for the violation. Perhaps because it wasn't malicious or done purposely, but they could have and would have been within their right to do so.

Tips for using Steam to buy games:

1. Don't buy from Steam.  You can buy games for less from online stores that include serial keys and downloadable digital copies or you can even download from steam after your purchase and activation. The only exceptions are Steam exclusive games. There are a lot of great Steam exclusive games, and if you want to purchase one, check tip number 2.

2. If you are buying a game on steam, don't connect to any proxies or VPN's when buying.

3. Read the EULAs of games and services that you buy or join. It is tedious, boring and may cause some pain, but better than the possible suffering you can sustain from breaking the EULA even by accident.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you thing of this article and occurrence in the comments section.  Want to say how much you love or hate steam?  Want to say how big of an idiot or victim you think I am?  Want to tell me your story?  Feel free to do so in the comments.

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