Does Sony have a data problem? Maybe. Maybe not, but they do have a customer AND service problem.
First, let me give you some disclaimers. I am not an IT expert, and I could be totally wrong. Take what I say with a shaker of salt. I could be tinfoil-hatting this thing way out of proportion, but I don’t think so (said every internet loon in a tinfoil hat ever).
I think Sony has a data problem on the PlayStation Blog. I visit the PlayStation Blog quite frequently. It’s a great source of news, and I can access the PlayStation Store easily. If you login, you can place a comment on a story. You can even have questions answered by developers. It’s not a bad system, and, for the most part, it works well.
After you login, you will see your PSN ID in the top right corner. That is your clear indication that you are logged into the site. The site recognizes who you are and is letting you know that you are associated with this ID. I am not trying to be dense here. I want to drive this point home to illustrate why this is a problem.
When I visit the PlayStation Blog, I will see the wrong PSN ID logged in at the top right of the screen. It’s not all the time, but it is at least once every other week or more. I have looked up these IDs, and they belong to real gamers with real trophies. Why am I seeing their information when I visit the PlayStation Blog?
Before I talk about Sony’s poor customer service response, up until very recently it seemed to only impact information displayed on the PlayStation Blog’s main page. When I clicked the link to go to the PlayStation Store or read any articles, my correct user ID shows, or no user ID is displayed. My correct account balance, all $0.78, is there. So far, the store has always shown the correct information, even if the wrong ID shows on the main page.
With past PSN data breaches in mind, I called PlayStation’s customer service last year. After waiting on hold for a long while, a very nice person takes my call and puts me on hold while she checks on my problem. She tells me it is just a placeholder on the page. We verify the store info is correct, and my account doesn’t appear to be hacked.
I push back a little on that answer, asking about needing to be logged in to make comments, but she assures me it is nothing to worry about. There is no problem, and that is normal. The IDs are just placeholders.
Like the busy and naïve doofus that I am, I thank her, and hang up. A few hours later, my correct ID is now showing on the page. That’s interesting, considering I didn’t do anything on my end to make that change. If it’s normal to have placeholders, why did it change?
I don’t think much about it until it happens again. I decide to look up one of these placeholder PSN IDs, and I realize that these are real people. I have been duped. Before I can call again, I have to wait until I can spare almost an hour of time to wait on hold.
I go through my problem with the guy who answers my call. I clearly express that the previous person was wrong or lying. He can tell that made me unhappy, and he opens a ticket with IT to look into the issue more thoroughly. Cool, I think. Someone is taking my problem seriously, and someone else is going to investigate it.
He tells me that they will look into the issue and let me know. This part is important, because I asked him to confirm that at least two separate times. He said that they will let me know the outcome. They sent me an email with my ticket number shortly after the call. They have my info easily accessible. It should be easy to send me a quick message with the result. He assured me they will let me know something in 7-10 days. That’s more than fair.
About three weeks later, I still hadn’t seen a response of any kind, and I was still seeing different PSN IDs pop up. Once again, I called PlayStation’s customer service for the third time. I gave them my ticket number from the email, and I was told the ticket had been closed.
At this point, I asked for a supervisor. The guy who initially answered the phone was nice, but I needed to appeal to a higher authority for more traction. I was angry, and I let the supervisor know. I recounted my tale, and expressed disappointment in how I believed I had been told incorrect information twice now, while the problem was still ongoing. I also didn’t appreciate the ticket being closed with no follow up sent to me.
He listened and put me on hold. When he returned, he said they were performing updates to the site at that time, and it should fix it. He was not willing or able to do or tell me anything else. I asked him what I should do if it happened again in the future. He told me I should call them back. I asked how that would lead to a different outcome than my past calls, and he said that it would let them know it was still happening.
Just to recap, it is a problem that requires updates, but they don’t do anything when I tell them it is happening. They may give me wrong information when I call, but the solution is to keep letting them know it is happening and waste my time on hold. As a customer, I am angry and disappointed, but I still have the problem.
When I visit the PlayStation Blog, sometimes I see my ID, sometimes I see no ID at all, and sometimes I see another gamer’s ID. I have not called PlayStation customer service back to report the ongoing issue. Why would I? I only have wasted time, misinformation, and frustration for my efforts.
I don’t know if this is a sign of a bigger problem, or if it is just some data leak somewhere that doesn’t really matter. For now, visiting the store still pulls up the correct ID, and I have two-stage authentication for extra protection.
I still think seeing another person’s PSN ID is a problem, but it’s not a priority for PlayStation right now. I can’t continue to pursue something when I receive incorrect and inconsistent answers. All I can do is make you aware and hope that I am just being concerned over nothing.
That’s where this was originally going to end, but I recently had something new happen. I keep seeing other PSN IDs, but now I can see them inside articles. When I read the comments, I noticed something else – I can write a comment as that person. I have not done that, and I have not tried to submit a comment as anyone else. I close the window and load a new page. The other PSN ID goes away, and, after checking two different situations here, going to the store has loaded up my info. So far, the store info is safe.
This is ridiculous. I shouldn’t see your info. I shouldn’t have access to write a comment as you. Sony needs to take this issue seriously, before this becomes a problem for its customers. If you see this, please don’t troll another gamer. Maybe you can reach out to PlayStation, and they might listen to you. Just don’t take what they say at face value. I learned my lesson, and I’m taking this info to all of you in the hope that it will finally be fixed.
Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.