How many of you have played the Live Search Club games on MSN? I found them one day when I was playing the Java-based games on their games page and tried the first release - Flexicon which combines using Live Search to answer the interconnected crossword puzzles and if you complete the game and have all of the answers, you get 25 tickets - these "tickets" accrue much like Gather Points and when you reach the number you need to "purchase" something from the prize page, they subtract your tickets from your total and send you the prize. Simple, elegant and good for lots of prizes at all levels. The first three times I redeemed tickets I got movie tickets that are accepted at our favorite movie theatre complex. I liked to play games and it was trivia and crosswords combined so what could I lose? That answer comes later.
Some of the things they had as prizes suddenly went up in purchase price and, as I have said before, my hubby builds computers for the household and they offered a copy of Microsoft Windows Premium VISTA Home edition for 20,000 tickets. I asked Mel if he could use a new copy of VISTA and he said sure so I began gaming to get a copy of the software. They have several games on the site and some return as little as 3 tickets per win (also they award partial credits if you just can't discern their answer form their clues) to as much as 25 tickets per win. At that rate, it takes quite a while to build a 20,000 ticket account. But I played a couple of hours per day to keep adding to the account.
When we went to San Antonio, in July, to Mel's professional convention, we took the laptop and while I was in the room I played the Live Search Club games and noticed that there were some people showing more than 30,000 tickets in their accounts while I had less than 10,000 so I looked at the leaderboard and those folks had been on my level only the week before so I knew something was up - they had either found a glitch in their reporting program, had set up "bots" to play the games endlessly to collect tickets or something - I am not a programmer but my husband who is said someone was exploiting an error somewhere. That was not fine with me but I was not one of the exploiters so I had nothing to worry about, right? Wrong!
In October, I finally got the 20,000 tickets for the copy of VISTA. I was not being lazy, they ran out of new games to play and there were weeks when there were no games I could play. So, for August I waited for new games and they finally debuted at the end of the month so I was able to play again and work toward my 20,000. I applied for the software on October 3rd and received a confirmation from their prize division called Incentive Logic and was told the software would be mailed out on November 29th. Then we made plans to go on the cruise in December and I worried that I would not be home to receive the package so I looked for a way to contact them to ask them to send it later but their customer service page kept saying I had invalid words or symbols in the request and it would not send through. Instead, the page notified me that an error had been reported to their customer service division. That was all well and good for them but did nothing for me.
After the cruise, I checked the mail we had put a hold on before we left for Florida. The VISTA copy was not there (I had received the movie passes in regular mail and hoped they used the same venue for other prizes). I then tried to contact Live Search Club again and got the same message about invalid words and symbols. Mel told me to try taking out all of the things except punctuation. I did and still got the message. He tried sending them a message and got the same message. Then he said to take out ALL of the punctuation and see what happened. We finally got a message to them by removing all punctuation and everything that was not a space or a letter. Mel sent a message and I sent a message - he got an answer and I did not. Wouldn't you expect Microsoft or one of their divisions under their MSN flag to use a user-friendly email system. But, no.
Today, I received a somewhat answer to my inquiry about the missing software.
"Thank you for contacting us with regard to your recent activity with Microsoft Live Search Club.
Any promotion of this type comes with these risks, which we anticipated and have been actively watching for. We're committed to providing a positive experience for the millions of users that are enjoying the games. We regularly review game play and have a set of criteria by which invalid activity is easily identified. When find this type of behavior, we cancel any prize orders or ticket accruals made by that account, based on the Microsoft Terms and Conditions."
I read this to be calling me dishonest and a cheater. I have written two mildly upset emails to this email already today and this really irks me because they are hiding behind a corporate identity and making me sound like a cheating player for whom they cancelled my hard earned tickets. I am not perfect by any means but I do resent and abhor being passively called a liar and a cheater. This is not over because I have not heard back from them as to the questions I posed in the two emails I have already sent. To my mind, they should have notified me of the cancellation if they cancelled and allowed me to respond to the unspoken charges. I know they are the almighty Microsoft but they may find that a riled Southern female is up to the challenge of their nerviness.
There is no way to contact these people by phone - only email and they do not list any recourse as they say they have the option to cancel at their discretion but I want a chance to be heard and an apology if they feel I was wronged. I want my day with Microsoft, MSN and Live Search Club.