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SimCity launch awarded a 'Shonky' over sneaky business practices (update)

Independent Australian consumer organisation, Choice, has awarded EA Australia with an "award" during its annual Shonky Awards for the SimCity launch.

SimCity was released in March and suffered ongoing crippling connectivity problems. Choice put the spotlight on EA Australia specifically because the game's Australian support line was a 1900 number with a $2.48 per minute fee, incurring additional costs for Australian gamers.

"That's right — after forking out up to $100 for the game, you're then expected to cough up for after-sales support that's normally free — as it should be," the award's description states. "And this shonkosity is even worse when you consider it's their fault you're ringing in the first place!"

According to Choice CEO Alan Kirkland, the Shonky Awards highlight products and services that are "sneaky, slippery, unscrupulous and sometimes unsafe" and "encourages businesses to lift their game and put consumers first," lest they receive a Shonky. This year's other award winners include EnergyAustralia, Qantas Frequent Flyer Toolbar and Kleenex.

Kirkland also sent a letter to EA Australia, obtained by Kotaku Australia, outlining that Australian consumers should not pay to exercise their consumer rights and suggests that the company drop the phone fees.

We have reached out to EA Australia for comment.

Update: Snezana Stojanovska, EA regional PR manager, responded with the following statement:

"We apologise to our players in Australia who were charged while calling to get support for their games. We agree with the sentiment that customers should not have to pay unreasonable costs for support, and have taken immediate steps to rectify this situation.

During the Australian evening hours, we switched the premium service number to a Melbourne local rate phone line as an interim solution. In addition to phone support, players always have an option for free live chat, email support, and community resources on Answer HQ, EA's online support community.

Thank you for your candid feedback, and we hope these changes improve the support experience for our Australian customers."

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