If you search for Valve's profile on the Better Business Bureau's website you might be surprised to find that Valve has the lowest possible rating, an F. People are not happy with Valve's customer service, and the company knows it. But like any alcoholic who takes rehabilitation seriously, Valve understands that the first step is admitting you have a problem.
Judging from the Complaint Resolution Log, most of the dissatisfaction revolves around billing issues and software glitches (though, there's an alarming number of fraudulently charged credit cards). The vast majority of these complaints, around 70 percent, have been left unresolved by Valve's customer service, resulting in the failing grade.
Here's the breakdown from the BBB's website:
By contrast—and this is insane—Wal-Mart has an A+, and Comcast has a B. Yeah. You read that right. Nothing about the world feels right anymore.
According to Valve, a sterling BBB rating isn't really important to their business model. They'd rather have the folks on Reddit and Twitter singing their praises.
One of Valve's "business development authorities," Erik Johnson, explained the company's position in an interview with Kotaku:
The BBB is a far less useful proxy for customer issues than Reddit. We don't use them for much. They don't provide us as useful of data as customers emailing us, posting on Reddit, posting on Twitter, and so on.
To be fair, the Better Business Bureau has no real authority over a company's success. It's merely a nonprofit organization that acts like a watchdog for consumers. And in a lot of ways, the BBB's approach is outdated.
Steam, for instance, is a decentralized, internet-oriented platform. It acts as a middleman between publishers and consumers. According to Ars Technica, 781 million games are available on Steam, and Valve can be held responsible—at least in the consumers' eyes—for any shifty billing practices and broken games.
So, if any of these BBB complaints are actually the fault of a greedy or inexperienced publisher, and I suspect many are, Valve is taking the brunt of that blame. But instead of shrugging off the responsibility, the company is taking the high road.
Here's Erik Johnson again:
The more important thing is that we don't feel like our customer service support is where it needs to be right now. We think customers are right. When they say our support's bad, our initial reaction isn't to say, 'No, it's actually good. Look at all of this.' It's to say that, no, they're probably right, because they usually are when it comes to this kind of thing. We hear those complaints, and that's gonna be a big focus for us throughout the year. We have a lot of work to do there. We have to do better.
Valve is one of the biggest gaming companies on the planet and is involved in a potpourri of projects that could change the industry forever. So, the fact that they're taking each customer interaction seriously is impressive.
Hopefully the sheer number of complaining gamers doesn't force GabeN's crew to adopt Comcast's philosophy and abandon customer service altogether. Though, they'd probably have a better BBB rating if they did.