Hacked Facebook Users Forced To Buy $300 Oculus VR Headset Just To Talk To Customer Support

from the too-big-to-function dept

Back in 2014 when Facebook bought Oculus, there were the usual pre-merger promises that nothing would really change. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, who has since moved on to selling border surveillance tech to the Trump administration, made oodles of promises to that effect after selling the company to Facebook for $2 billion. Facebook itself also promised that users would never be forced to use a Facebook login account just to use your VR headset and its games, and that the company wouldn’t track your behavior for advertising.

Like every major merger, those promises didn’t mean much. Just about a year ago, Facebook and Oculus announced that users will soon be forced to… use a Facebook account if they want to be able to keep using Oculus hardware, so the company can track its users for advertising purposes.

Fast forward a year and things have been flipped a bit on their heads.

Facebook users who have their accounts hacked and subsequently locked say it’s impossible to get anybody at Facebook support to even listen to them. There’s no real customer support helpline, and like many places COVID has made customer service staffing harder than ever. There is apparently an online form you can use that requires you provide your driver’s license and other data to unlock your account, but Facebook users say it’s apparently less than useless:

“Instead, Facebook tells users to report hacked accounts through its website. The site instructs them to upload a copy of a driver’s license or passport to prove their identities. But the people NPR spoke with said they had trouble with every step of this automated process and wish Facebook would offer a way to reach a real person. “I sent these forms in morning, noon and night, multiple times a day,” Marsala said. “Nobody got back to me, not once.”

But if you actually buy something from Facebook they actually at least try to care. So, following in the footsteps of some Reddit users, hacked Facebook users have been buying $300 VR headsets (then often returning them unopened) just to get help:

“I ultimately broke down and bought a $300 Oculus Quest 2,” he said…Sherman contacted Oculus with his headset’s serial number and heard back right away. He plans to return the unopened device, and while he’s glad the strategy worked, he doesn’t think it’s fair.

“The only way you can get any customer service is if you prove that you’ve actually purchased something from them,” he said.”

Granted this probably won’t work for long. And Facebook recently announced it was halting sales of the Oculus Quest 2 for now because the device’s foam face plate was causing skin irritation for some people. Still, it shows that at the scale Facebook operates at, semi-consistent content moderation isn’t the only thing the company finds impossible. Basic customer support for people locked out of their accounts at no fault of their own is also too much to ask. Which then again raises the question: if you can’t function as a business at the scale Facebook operates, maybe you shouldn’t exist at that scale.

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Companies: facebook

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Comments on “Hacked Facebook Users Forced To Buy $300 Oculus VR Headset Just To Talk To Customer Support”

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17 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

This doesn’t even make sense since unlike content moderation there’s no subjectivity and it wouldn’t be expensive at all.

Do you have the documents? Yes –> unlock account. No –> don’t.

Not that you should hire people in India for $2 an hour, but someone making $2 an hour would be easily capable of handling these requests.

Coffee U (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The main problem (I think) is because this is handling people’s identity documents. I.E. Facebook doesn’t want remote moderators doing this with whatever software they’ve got on their laptops and/or the ability to easily copy it off without looking odd to later sell. It will/would be a horrible case for FB if it’s shown that people scanning/picturing their identity documents send them in and copies go to be sold for fraud.

So they’re likely only letting the better paid/trained employees who are also only using FB equipment (and thus in an office/call centre) which limits their capabilities.

At the same time, bots and fake russian/chinese accounts got a horrible rap (with cause) during Covid, and the last few elections in the US.

Melvin Chudwaters says:

I enjoy the irony of this quote:

"The only way you can get any customer service is if you prove that you’ve actually purchased something from them," he said."

As if you’re a customer at all until you’ve purchased something. Before that, the whiny victim was the product. Or maybe it’s more correct to think of someone like that as human livestock.

Anonymous Coward says:

In the UK, what Facebook is doing is a direct flouting of the Consumer Credit ACT.

Basically for £80 you can sue them not only for the cost of any hardware you bought (Your first Quest 2 Headset) but also all games you purchased for it (Steam or Oculus Store) PLUS damaged for the time you had to waste sorting this out.

You can do it online via https://www.gov.uk/make-money-claim

because Facebook refuses to even speak to anyone who hasn’t made a recent purchase, this means they’ve abandoned all forms of arbitration or discussion, so it moves right onto small claims.

Where you can claim upto 100x the cost of the hardware/software you bought.

Betcha Facebook would settle out of court pretty quick rather than face the horror of a successful small claims court…because that way lies a flood of people who want 100%+ of their purchase cost back.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

Betcha Facebook would settle out of court pretty quick rather than face the horror of a successful small claims court…because that way lies a flood of people who want 100%+ of their purchase cost back.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t settling optional for the person filing the lawsuit? I mean, if they really wanted to, can’t they force the case to go to court?

Rekrul says:

Like every major merger, those promises didn’t mean much. Just about a year ago, Facebook and Oculus announced that users will soon be forced to… use a Facebook account if they want to be able to keep using Oculus hardware, so the company can track its users for advertising purposes.

I see a golden opportunity here for some company to produce an Oculus compatible headset that doesn’t require an online account.

"Announcing the new Viewtron VR headset! Why buy this over an Oculus product? Ours doesn’t force you to register a Facebook account!"

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Funny I’ve still never bothered to sign into any of the Facebook collective…
One I hate people
Two I hate facebook

Dear Facebook users,
If you think this policy is really bad & facebook is screwing you over… QUIT.
You will not die without Facebook, hell your life might get better without 2000 updates about babys first poop, look at what I ate, see how awesome my life looks compared to yours…
You will never force Facebook to do a god damned thing you want if you lack the conviction to walk the fsck away.

Given how much Facebook cares about users more than anything else seeing a few thousand leaving after posting they are leaving because Facebook has failed its users & puts their profits over customers might be a tiny little wake up call.
100K leaving might get a PR spin campagin.
500K leaving will make Zucks blink.

Something something you are the product, why are you accepting being sold in shitty back alleys for pennies?

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