Despite its stellar success, Pokemon GO has been riddled with bugs since its initial release in early June. And despite recent patches to the game, things seem to have gotten worse. In the free-to-play mobile app’s latest patch, the in-game system for tracking and locating Pokemon in the real world suffered a major downgrade, and Niantic is refusing to grant refunds to players.
It used to be that nearby Pokemon would be displayed in a pop-up menu with little footsteps indicating their distance from players. Three footsteps meant the Pokemon is still a good distance off; two meant you were heading in the right direction, and one footstep indicated that you were practically right on top of it – or that it was on top of you. But earlier this month, the footstep indicators stopped working properly, remaining at three footsteps regardless of the player’s distance. In the latest patch, the footstep system has been eliminated altogether.
If this weren’t frustrating enough on its own, players have wasted in-game credits on Lure Modules, Incense and other in-app purchases in hopes of collecting Pokemon, only to discover they have no way of tracking the ones they’re after. Gyms and Pokestops have also been buggy, and players in general are becoming frustrated with having little more to hunt than birds and rats. Perhaps most irritating to Pokemon GO players is how Niantic is refusing refunds – by simply not providing the option to request one. In fact, Niantic explicitly denies any obligation to refund unhappy players in its Terms of Service.
Niantic provides a contact email address (email@example.com) in both the Apple and Google Play Store; however, players will have little luck there. An automated message from Niantic is the only response one will get. It reads:
“Thanks for your interest in Pokémon GO. Your email (to firstname.lastname@example.org) has gone to an unmonitored inbox.
“To reach the Niantic operations team and get support for Pokémon GO, please visit our help center (https://support.pokemongo.nianticlabs.com/hc/) and select one of the contact options under “Submit a request’ in the upper righthand corner.
” – Automated Response from Niantic”
The automated email simply redirects players to Niantic’s official support page, which offers no resolution. Normally, Google Play itself allows refunds up to 48 hours after purchase. However, after being swamped by complaints and refund requests, Google Play itself has removed the refund option. This is more than likely temporary, and Google Play advises users to contact Niantic directly.
Pokemon GO seemed to be headed for the stars, but if customer complaints aren’t addressed soon, it may be blasting off in a fashion more comparable to Team Rocket.