Gaming Youth is a persistent problem in China. The contradictions and struggles among relevant departments, companies, parents and children around the policies and laws of the game industry have begun since online games entered China at least at the beginning of the 21st century.
Entering the third decade of the 21st century, what should be done and what can be done by the relevant departments have been basically finalized, and more contradictions in the game have returned to the company and parents. For today’s Chinese games, there are many restrictions on underage users, at least in the system to pull out the root of “obsession”.
The remaining problems are at the practical level, such as in-game consumption that bypasses the system.
We listened to the customer service call at Tencent Games’s customer service center for two days, trying to understand three questions: can Tencent Games’s recharge be refunded, how much is the refund, and what happened to those in the news who didn’t get a refund?
The answer is clear and will be revealed below. However, the existing answer implies a disturbing reality.
No. 198 Tianfu third Street, Wuhou District, Chengdu, is the address of Tencent Chengdu Building.
There is a legend that Tencent transferred dozens of people from its customer service team in 2018 and set up an “outbound call group”, calling users one by one to ask “is that you” and was scolded by 90% of users as “sick”.
This legend is not false, and Tencent Chengdu is where this “scolding” customer service team is located.
Fortunately, it is said that after the introduction of big data and artificial intelligence, Tencent has stopped doing such thankless things. Unfortunately, if you don’t do this, there are other ways.
If you walk into the office of Tencent’s Chengdu customer service team, you will think at first glance that you are in the wrong place-it is hard to see an Internet company with THANK YOU FOR SAVING THE KID pennants from users hanging all over the wall.
After all, according to the traditional understanding, only if you sacrifice, sacrifice yourself, and do something stupid, someone will send you a pennant. So the doctors and the police work so hard to collect the pennant, while the Internet company lying there counting the money should have been insulated from the pennant, so how could it not even be enough to collect the wall?
The traditional understanding has not failed. What Tencent team usually does is to cooperate with the products to spit out the money earned. To be exact, if your child is worth tens of thousands of yuan or as little as one or two hundred yuan in Tencent Games, Tencent will return the money to you after verification.
Urban and rural areas
While some parents are still shouting the platitudes of “bringing calamity to the country and the people” and “spiritual opium” and tirelessly criticizing the addictive nature of games, more parents have already embarked on a more pragmatic path. If the game cheats me out of my money, it is spiritual opium; if the money is recovered, it should receive the pennant.
Once a friend from a small town in Northeast China chatted with me that when he was in junior high school, he would go to the county by bus every weekend and play PS3 in the shops in the county for a while. The bus is not very expensive, but the bumpy two-hour round trip is almost like a commute, not to mention on weekends. But in his eyes at that time, such a routine was as happy as a pilgrimage.
For an old driver who has played games for 20 years, or at least 10 years, this kind of “pilgrimage” mentality may be missed or forgotten. But in any case, one thing that should not be forgotten is that in such a vast China, many people came into contact with games in the 21st century-after 2010, to be exact, in the form of mobile games.
To be fair, “northeast town” is not synonymous with “backward” in China. For those parents who may not have played games so far, for some families living in the northwest and southwest, some of them will panic when their children bet hundreds or thousands of yuan on a virtual thing.
Some children lack the concept of financial management and lack of judgment on the scale of the amount of money. For children of single-digit age, game recharge may be one of the biggest expenses they have ever experienced in their lives. It is common for them to make misjudgments about the financial ability of their families, or lack of awareness.
So when Tencent customer service chose to return the money to such families, some parents’ reaction was more or less understandable as if they had lost their wallets at the train station. Recently, in July 2020, a grandfather from Shijiazhuang City, after recovering a large refund, asked Tencent for the customer service number and embroidered it on the pennant.
For example, some pennants will be embroidered with the praise of “helping to get rid of poverty”. It is a bit baffling if we do not understand the background of these families. But on the other hand, if a family with this logic holds a grudge against you, do you want to take it off?
The discussion of games is also inseparable from society and the times. For example, this year’s COVID-19 epidemic has raised the persistent contradiction between games and families by a few more steps.
Although it took only a few months for Chinese society to recover from the strict control of COVID-19 ‘s epidemic, the whole spring of suspension still led to the escalation of many family disputes. For parents, if they spend a few months in the same room with their noisy children, the cherub will always become a little ancestor.
Online teaching, which has been vigorously promoted this year, may add fuel to the fire. In many families without PC or multiple digital devices, mobile phones, one of the joys of parents’ homes, are also mercilessly possessed by their children under the excuse of online lessons. Mobile phone sharing has led to a large number of account sharing. During the epidemic, Tencent observed an unprecedented phenomenon of game account sharing, which naturally led to some minors spending lavishly on their parents’ accounts “without treating themselves as outsiders.”
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Of course, although the epidemic has led to a surge in the number of shared accounts, there are a lot of other troubles when there is no epidemic, such as parents complain that they are busy at work, and if they are not careful, their children will get into trouble. After careful consideration, the epidemic has brought relief to many parents: even if we don’t go to work, our children are under our noses.
Tencent was bypassed by children looking for shortcuts in accordance with the regulations in the notice on preventing minors from indulging in online games, “No recharge under 8 years old, 200 yuan per month under 8-16 years old, and 400 yuan per month for minors over 16 years old”. The identity authentication of the account is a adult, but the real player and consumer is a child. This year, Tencent Chengdu customer service accepts a lot of refunds for minors’ consumption.
But how to verify underage consumer has become a hassle. Readers familiar with the mobile game industry of china know that in order to prevent children from using parental information to bypass the restrictions, Tencent has launched face recognition on suspicious login and payment scenarios.
At first, some children still asked their parents to scan their faces to bypass the restrictions on the grounds that “facial scanning is needed for online classes.” later, Tencent simply added a rather exciting audio-visual prompt-“the Growth Guardian reminds you that you have successfully scanned your face. Please confirm that you will recharge the game.”
If adults encounter this scene in use, they may think that Tencent’s product team has eaten too much. As for customer service, in fact, Tencent has been unable to determine whether adult account users are minors by burying points for a long time, including, but not limited to, the use of screen pressure, gyroscopes and other small programs to find obvious children, as well as the most robust and simple play time (midnight, class) records.
However, the sudden outbreak has invalidated many measures: when sharing accounts, users’ usage records become messy. In the months after the suspension, even if the child was recharged at 10: 00 in the morning, it was because he was not in class in the first place, right?
This is also one of the reasons why it is often revealed in the news that “the x-year-old child recharged x, 000 yuan in the” xxxx “game, and the parents burst into tears, but there are few follow-up reports that” with the help of Tencent, the recharge has been returned. “
A refund for underage consumption is reasonable and legal, but for a game company, “full value can be regretted” is a bit of a twist. In fact, in Tencent’s records, the number of adult users trying to refund money by pretending to be minors has increased several times this year. Media coverage can lead to copycats, which is not new in the age of social media.
But what are the consequences of the lack of media coverage, or the long-term and systematic output bias of media reports?
It may be hard for you to imagine that the Tencent customer service team will still have a team called “Emergency response team” by 2016.
What does “emergency” mean? Literally. Although rare, but with Tencent’s user base, there are always some families that will magnify the problem infinitely.
“if you don’t give me my money back, I’m sorry, then we’ll just have to hit the kids. He (the Kid) doesn’t tell me the truth on the game account. “
“Hello, sir. (interrupted) “
“Don’t you say so? (slap) (swearing) (slap) beat you, you immortal son of a bitch. “
“Hello, sir. Please don’t get excited and don’t hit the child…. (interrupted) “
This is what I heard, a real recording from Chenzhou, Hunan, on October 24, 2020. Close at hand, unimaginable, but expected.
It is true that parents who are difficult to communicate are among the few extreme cases, but there are more extreme cases than this. Parents who stand on the rooftop with their children in their arms, parents who have issued death threats to Tencent, parents who really come to Tencent Building with dangerous equipment– although not necessarily Chengdu– may even have seen them, haven’t you?
Requiring customer service to properly handle threats is like asking the head teacher to fight the kidnapper with dramatic tension. Therefore, in this team of Tencent, there are veteran experts in the customer service industry, master negotiators and psychological counseling. However, this is not enough, in many cases, the phone call, the opposite is the public security. However, the perception of most customer service is that it is best to communicate directly with the public security. As for the reason, the above dialogue case has been well explained.
You can imagine the consequences of any “emergency” if it is not properly dealt with. Once there is a “legal system in progress” and “Today’s statement”, the whole Tencent company will inevitably have bad luck. In media reports, the game has become the main culprit of “domestic violence” and “jumping off buildings”, and the speeches of the customer service team are always mechanical and cold.
What is not reported in the media is that Tencent set up this team to exist for the purpose of refund, refund and refund. There may be a variety of reasons why refunds are not successful in extreme cases, and the most common reasons are as follows: parents are ready to make a fuss in the public opinion field without even providing a game account or a top-up account.
The estrangement between children and parents is not only personal, but must be social. For post-80s parents and post-00s children, the dispute over games is a struggle between digital aborigines and digital immigrants. For those left-behind children in remote areas, when they have disputes with their grandparents, they are simply unable to speak the language of digital aborigines and digital refugees.
Poor communication is not a rare situation. In fact, it is a common occurrence. Have coffee with a Tencent customer service and she can give you three complaints, all of which take place within a working day. To this end, the usual materials for customer service include all kinds of materials that guide users to prepare materials-text, pictures, videos, from querying game accounts to finding payment details in Wechat wallets (by the way, after several fixes, it is now very difficult for non-users to delete Wechat billing records).
With such help, parents who can solve problems smoothly have become the vast majority. It should be said that as long as it is not refusing to communicate or deliberately finding fault, the “technical problems” have been basically overcome by the experience of the customer service team. However, there are still some problems that are difficult for Tencent to explain, such as “Apple tax”.
The 30% “Apple tax” may be part of the common sense of life for wage earners in first-tier cities, but many people may not think carefully about the logic behind it.
On the one hand, across Apple’s closed data, there is naturally an extra lock in verifying consumption and confirming users (in fact, for frequent requests of this order of magnitude by Tencent Games, it has been proved impossible to check every consumption quickly); on the other hand, if you can’t verify it quickly, Tencent won’t be able to pick that 30% out of Apple’s hands.
In order to avoid more trouble, Tencent finally decided that 70% of the consumption of Apple’s system can be returned as long as it is credible and not “deceptive”. The remaining 30% requires the cooperation and patience of users. Actually, it’s hard. But this 30% is undoubtedly the last straw to crush some parents. As some of the media are relatively old-fashioned and reporters are old, there are occasional reports that “Tencent only gives 70% refund”, and public opinion often makes a fuss, scolding Tencent for its “incomplete refund.”
Of course, the media may not be blamed for this: when readers are given popular science “Apple tax” in the city evening paper, whose page is so rich?
Good news doesn’t go out, but bad news travels fast. The media is not clear about the Apple tax, but it can quickly convey the message that “it can be refunded anyway.” In order to deal with more and more refund fraud, Tencent customer service team has established a principle. When the evidence is inconclusive (in fact, the proportion of such cases is very high, close to 100%), Tencent will still give refunds to users who complain about “underage consumption”, but users need to accept three conditions:
- A family can only accept a complaint about this kind of consumption once. One day, the child’s mother said that the child spent 200 yuan, which was deducted from her WeChat, and Tencent refunded it. The otherday, the child’s father said that the money was deducted from him and then returned– this is not allowed.
- Strictly speaking, a refund without evidence is not a refund, but a “care money”. There is only one such care payment, and Tencent will urge parents to change their passwords and upgrade their account protection. the next time they find that minors have embezzled, they can only go through a “refund” process, and there will be no more “care money”.
- If you receive a “care money” after a complaint, your game account will be closed.
To put it simply: as long as it is proved to be a child’s consumption, not to mention 2 times, 20 times can also be 100% refunded; but if it can not be proved, then the opportunity for a “care money” refund is limited to one time.
The implementation of this condition is like taking a phone call from the bank to buy insurance. You have to confirm it over and over again and make sure you understand it bit by bit. After you say yes, you can’t go back on your promises. The result is quite good. When most parents are reminded by the customer service of the “gentleman’s agreement” when such a situation occurs for the second time, they will pat on the forehead and back down in the face of difficulties.
However, there are always some people who go back to the old way. What if you don’t give me a refund? First hit the child on the phone, then the death threat, and finally the rule of law is in progress. Anyway, the game company is “immoral, spiritual opium, fucking Tencent“.
What is even more helpless is that the situation is even better. Although you have to be cheated, at least there is no worse follow-up impact. To make matters worse, some people are taking advantage of this situation to engage in illegal and criminal activities. There are two most common forms:
- Claim to be “connected” and “have access”, and act as a “refund intermediary” if parents do not know that Tencent can get a complete refund, and accept fees, such as 50%. In the end, parents can get a certain refund, but they will think that Tencent has a black heart and only refund half of it.
- Some parents simply take advantage of the “care payment loophole”, disguise or even instigate minors to recharge money with adult accounts, sell their accounts, and then call customer service to apply for a refund. If the refund is successful, the sold number will be blocked, which is equivalent to no capital and ten thousand profits.
If you think “naughty children” are abhorrent, you might as well take a look at what our adults look like. Yeah, that’s it.
Ironically, we always treat our children as a blank sheet of paper, thinking that they will not be stained by anything dirty, even if they are left behind by their parents in the countryside, or their parents are selling accounts for a profit. Ohh, there is an exception: when children play games, they go bad.
However, history has repeatedly told us that children are genuine human beings, with their own feelings and thoughts, real needs, amazing means, and strong motivation. The game card is too expensive, you can steal money from mom’s cabinet. Internet bars do not allow adults to enter, you can use the adult ID card. The game needs identity registration to prevent indulgence, you can use the parent account. Game payment requires face recognition, which can deceive parents into facial scanning.
The hard truth is that children are so powerful in both motivation and means that the smartest product managers and programmers have failed to block minors’ spending on games for more than a decade. What taught our children that they were so scheming from an early age that they dared to deceive game companies and adults?
Some parents think that it is all the fault of the game. If the money is lost, the ID card is registered by someone else, and even if you pay for the child’s facial scan in person, you can exclaim, “Fuck, I don’t know.” If the old man’s money for seeing a doctor is misappropriated by the child, the big villain must be the game company, and the little villain is his own child, and he who can only cry in front of the camera must be innocent and honorable.
With such innocent parents who can handle things clearly, why not worry about the children who have been exquisite and daring since childhood?
There are a lot of things that parents don’t know. One of the cases often encountered by Tencent, for example, is a Wechat account that recharges many different game accounts.
No, we’re not talking about a thousand games owned by Tencent. What we mean is, for example, in a random game, a child takes a parent’s account and gives money to the accounts of more than a dozen or dozens of classmates.
In some cases, the child is just vanity, foolish and generous to his classmates, and it is over to recover the recharge. But in other cases, children are reluctant to cooperate with the investigation, even when communicating directly with customer service, and even appear to know little about it.
In many cases, they really don’t know. A veteran customer service worker who has worked for Tencent for more than a decade laments that some children go to school with their parents’ mobile phones and then encounter bullying on campus and are forced to reveal their passwords and become “small coffers” for the child king. This situation can sometimes be questioned by parents, but sometimes it is only found out when checking the records-thankfully, it is better to “reveal the truth” than to muddle through.
To be fair, it is a headache for many parents not to find out that their children are bullied as soon as possible. On the other hand, avoiding sharing mobile phones with children, or at least not revealing payment passwords to children, is a minimum privacy habit that adults should develop. If you can’t get your child to set up his or her own payment account, own WeChat account and own pocket money account, please remember: your child has little ability to handle large amounts of money, so please don’t give them your payment password.
In the Internet age, this is a lesson that some parents should make up.
My child has saved his pocket money since he was five years old. Knowing that her weekly pocket money is so small and hard-won, he will not do hundreds or thousands of spending activities, but save up to buy what he wants. “
That’s what a mother told me. I think that in today’s China, white-collar parents in big cities may try to let their children establish a correct view of money from an early age and develop appropriate financial management and consumption habits. For those parents who are powerless, please keep an eye on your ID card, password and cash, and don’t blame, beat and scold your child if something goes wrong.
If you think that “the child is still young”, then think about it another way: why do all kinds of our content, such as live streaming, video and music, have “teenage mode” and content that is suitable for children and not suitable for children? identity, money and passwords are naturally perfectly compatible with children.
I have always been a staunch opponent of the game “facial scan” payment. For no other reason, games are different from other national applications, covering a large number of children. The security risks of the game may lead to the disclosure of a large number of children’s identity information.
But the reality is always intriguing. On the one hand, on Weibo and Wechat, there are always some parents posting pictures of their children, even if some people are kind enough to warn that “it’s not safe”; on the other hand, many parents insist that Tencent Games log in and pay by facial scan, even if the latter covers hundreds of millions of users. After several tradeoffs, Tencent chose to launch face authentication only for suspected minor users, but on the basis of a large number of users, this has always become a disturbing reality.
Perhaps in the eyes of some people, the privacy of minors has never been privacy, and their personality has never been personality. Some children become paper airplanes in the hands of their parents. when they pick them up from the mud puddle, they complain that the environment is dirty, the paper airplanes can’t fly well, and they don’t fly to the sky in an instant and become a Phoenix.
In the actual operation of Tencent customer service, they have become mediators of family conflicts, psychological mentors for some children, and popular science craftsmen who teach parents to use digital products. China is vast and diverse, and when the digital world falls fairly on every user, the outcome must not be fair. Therefore, it is inevitable that large Internet companies at the forefront of the digital world have the obligation to “pass on and help” the backward.
But on the other hand, where is the boundary of this obligation or responsibility?
We may say that Tencent has the responsibility to mediate family disputes, dredge the psychology of children, help teachers investigate campus bullying, assist the public security to capture the game underground industry, refund black intermediary …… However, does Tencent have the right to do so? Does any Internet company, or game company, have the right to launch such a service, or to intervene so deeply in the families of game users?
As the old saying goes, “it is difficult for honest officials to break household chores.” Let’s assume that Tencent can handle household chores more or less poorly, but is this necessary, or is that what it should do? An enterprise can sum up the system of “care money” and “three agreements” in long-term practice. however, is this the best solution to the refund dispute?
The answer is very realistic. The care money system has even given birth to more underground industries and fraud. At the family level, we only know that “Care payment” has helped many users get their refunds back, but whether it has helped parents manage their accounts and passwords, and whether they have allowed their children to develop normal gaming and spending habits-judging from those cases that have applied for care payments for the second, third or fourth time, I am afraid the effect can only be said to be very subtle.
From the point of view of the game itself, not to mention whether the refund method of the “silly son of the landlord” like Tencent is suitable for the entire game industry, if this eventually becomes a common choice in the industry, can those companies that are far smaller than Tencent be implemented as scheduled? will it give rise to more underground industries?
We can even observe that Tencent, which has always been “horse racing” or “internal competition”, has different views on this matter. We can fully guess whether a series of wrenching and unsatisfactory practices by the customer service team can be fully understood and eventually carried out.
It is clear: the current game customer service practice is far from the optimal solution, and people engaged in this industry, I am afraid to continue to suffer for many years.
Finally, let’s take it for granted to mention the other side of the contradiction.
In the protection of minors’ games, which is a major issue throughout China in the new century, game companies and parents are the most often caught contradictions between the two sides.
The history of this contradiction is so long that it is almost no longer a specific issue, but a mutual spray based on positions. In the eyes of some players, parents are always wrong, and “take care of their children, save the game” has become a menstrual slogan; in the eyes of some parents, the struggle is always escalating, and the media and public opinion must be grasped. With the various proposals of the National people’s Congress and the Chinese people’s political Consultative Conference in recent years, we can see that the efforts of parents have also escalated.
As a child born in Beijing, I spent my childhood with FC, SFC and “YuYu Hakusho” on Sega. In the hearts of many gamers like me, the mainframe is the core of the game, representing the advanced productivity and direction of the game. Even in China, which is generally exposed to games less than 20 years later than in the West, there have been some wry-laughing terms such as game disdain chain and “core players”.
At the beginning of the article, I mentioned a friend in Northeast China. I am a few years older than him. At the age of junior high school, I have long been disenchanted with games, and I no longer have a child-like mentality of “pilgrimage”. Or, to be exact, games have long been a part of my daily life. Even in a high school with heavy academic work, I didn’t get much criticism for opening games every week-although I was still rebellious in the eyes of my teacher, I successfully passed my first choice. I didn’t become an Internet addict in anyone’s words.
In retrospect, I think as a big city resident, I have already learned to get along with games, machines and the Internet. My mother has played SFC, for many years, and she certainly doesn’t have the outrageous idea of “addiction”, “Internet addiction” and “mental illness”.
For more gamers today, not to mention their parents, even themselves, may not know how to keep a normal mind in front of fun games, how to distinguish between virtual and reality, how to combine work and rest, and how to live a not-so-bad life while enjoying the game.
There is no other, as long as proficiency is enough.
I believe that for the whole of China, as long as we do not abandon common sense and basic legal concepts and empathy, most players and families can learn to get along with games sooner or later, just like me and my mother.
Let’s start with digital aborigines.