EA support & The Sims On Stage.

I’ve been playing with a Web application called The Sims On Stage.

Basically, its an online community where people can share artistic tidbits such as songs, poems, videos, karaoke. I’ve been having fun with the karaoke part.

One of my ways of working through this is that when I hear a song I want to consider recording, I add it to my list of favorite songs.

I stumbled upon a little « bug » on their Website. It’s a simple UI bug: every list in their application is broken up in pages of 20 items. Nothing wrong with that.

But in the list of favorite songs, they forgot to put in the page navigation controls – you know the « next page » and « previous page » links that we are all so fond of…

The functionality is there… see, if you go to my list of favorites songs, you’ll see 20 items. At the time I’m writing this, I actually have 27…

Notice the lack of « next page » link in there. Well add a « startAt=20 » parameter to the URL and you’ll get the songs on the second page.

All this stuff being beta, and myself being a developer, user and tester of the system, I decided to report the issue to Electronic Arts.

I am no confronted to the « dreaded » first line of response.

There’s nothing wrong with first line support in itself. Its frustrating when you can do you own first line, but first line has a reason to exist and I do my best to remain calm and help then realize that I need second line – it also backs me up in case I was being stupid and just didn’t see an obvious solution 🙂

Anyway, I go through the hassle of creating an account for support (yes – its not the same account as for accessing the service) and submit the issue using what I believed was a simple enough message.

Navigating the favorite songs in Sims On Stage, there’s no links for changing pages.
The functionality is there, if you use the page parameters as they appear on other sections of the Website… the links are just not displayed.

Of course, I should have known better… this is usually to dry, straight to the point and technical… words like functionality and parameters are not common to all people. And, in my experience, most people just ignore words they don’t understand.

I received this typical first line answer:

Thank you for contacting us here at Electronic Arts Technical Support. I’m sorry that you?re having difficulties with The Sims On Stage.
It sounds like you need to install or reinstall the Flash plug-in.
Instructions on how to uninstall Flash can be found at this link.
… (various links)
If this does not correct the issue please it could be a problem with your current browser. Depending on your hardware configuration a different browser than the one you are using might work better. Try to switching to another browser like Firefox, or Internet Explorer 7. If you are using a Mac you most likely have the Safari browser. Please try it. Otherwise try switching to the Firefox browser. You can get it from www.GetFirefox.com.

And it is follows by an invitation to search through knowledge base.

Okay, so, first line answers usually go with the solution that fixes 95% of the problems and, in the case of Sims On Stage, yes, reinstalling Flash probably fixes most issues.

Of course, if someone would’ve taken the time to actually read my original email and have at least working knowledge of the product they are supporting, they could have figured that flash had nothing to do with it…

Nevertheless, no to be deterred from my willingness to help with bug squashing, I reply with the following, hoping to clearly illustrate the problem and give the impression that I don’t really care about getting help, but I am more about trying to help them…

Hi there.
This has nothing to do with flash.
Its the Web site.
If you go to the « favorites » section of « My Studio » and go through the favorite « Songs » – the one that you tag because you want to record them later…
If you have tagged more than 20 songs, you’ll need page controls to navigate – you know, the « previous » and « next » links. In the « songs » section, the user interface does not show page controls.
This is a bug in the Web server part of your application – the one that generates the HTML. It has nothing to do with the client side and even less so with flash 🙂
You should let this issue reach the development team so that they can fix this small oversight for the next update of the web server software.

A few days later I’m getting hit with this response:

Hello Eric,
Thanks for contacting EA Technical Support! I am sorry that you are having difficulties with The Sims On Stage.
Customer feedback is greatly valuable to Electronic Arts. To comment on any of our titles, please post on the appropriate game forum. These forums are maintained and monitored by the community leaders and production team. By posting on these forums you will be able to submit direct feedback to the appropriate person. Please make sure that you follow the EA terms of service when posting. You must have an EA member account in order to post on the forum.

Follows links to forums (in which, by the way I have found no forums related to Sims On Stage).

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting the feeling someone is not reading… or just plain not understanding my emails.

I think my willingness to help them with beta testing has been squashed…

(Oh, and feel free to listen to my songs and give me ridiculous amount of points)

January 31st: UPDATE

It seems that my whining actually worked… I have been notified by one of you readers (Thanks Tx!) that there is now a « Next » button where there only was a void.