Lessons From a Firewatch Refund Request on Steam

During my daily research this morning, I found an article about a Firewatch refund request on Steam. Some of you may be familiar with the the Campo Santo game Firewatch that was launched in February. It is a single-player, first-person video game that has you exploring the Wyoming wilderness as a fire lookout. Things become strange when you meet your supervisor Delilah over the radio. The game goes very fast on the first go-through, but this game is a lot like a movie that you want to see several times because you have missed something. Personally, I liked the game a lot. Which brings me to the main point of this article...

Firewatch by Campo Santo

On the news and opinion site, Kotaku.com, Patricia Hernandez filed a piece titled: Firewatch Developer Offers Classy Response to Steam Refund Request. Two things caught my eye with this headline: First, it was about Firewatch and I know there has been some blowback from the hit-and-run gaming community on the shortness of this game. And, second, refunds and unhappy customers....being business owners, Phil and I have had many run-ins with disgruntled customers over the years. A lot of it being no fault of our own, due to the fact that software and hardware is moving at such break-neck speeds these days mixed with the deluge of malware and malvertising that is reeking havoc on peoples computers and phones.

Please take the time to read the response from Jane Ng who is an artist with Campo Santo. I think she makes a very diplomatic and enlightening argument for the price and quality of Firewatch. As she goes through her experience and that of her co-workers and the love that they put into their work, I feel like I've finally found someone who “gets” what we do.

At the end of the article you see that the person who originally posted about a Firewatch refund, changed their mind. They now have a better understanding of what that $18 covers.

My Thoughts on the Firewatch Refund Request

As I have explained before, Phil and I left a nice home and cushy jobs in the city to move to a less crowded place and open our computer store. We both grew up with computers and we love most things about them. The things that we don't love are the massive amounts of malware and malvertising that exists only to break and steal. We don't love the ever increasing pace of closed systems. That is computers and devices that are locked down so that upgrading or repairing is impossible. This increases the amount of toxic waste that ends up in landfills daily.

Occasionally, we will get a customer, usually with an iPhone 6 series or a computer that has more viruses than a Romero film, who comes back to the shop within weeks saying (like fingernails on a chalkboard):

“Ever since you worked on my computer, phone, etc..” This is always followed by “It's still doing the same thing.” or “It is glitching.” or “It doesn't work at all.”

Usually, we find that the computer has some of the same viruses on it that it had when it first came in. Because we wipe and reload every malware check-in, we know that all threats have been eliminated. What the customer has done is go back to the place where they initially picked up the virus and reinfected the computer; however, they don't understand this and they blame us for “not fixing it right.” Or an iPhone 6 series leaves our shop working well and then after a few days of traveling in its owners pocket, the screen begins to separate and glitch. The owner of the phone then tells everyone that we have put the screen in wrong. Again, this is a case of the owner not understanding the limitations of the phone. You wouldn't repeatedly sit on your laptop, would you?

Now, I will say that occasionally, something comes back to our shop that is truly accidental and we accommodate those repairs accordingly. This shop is our life, we take great pride in our work and we try to keep our customers up to date on the technological snares that exist in the world today. We definitely don't make lots of money doing this, either. You might ask: “Why bother with a business that isn't raking in loads of cash?” My response is like Jane Ng's at Campo Santo; we love what we do. We gave up a life of eating out at nice restaurants and seeing each new movie as it hits theaters. Now we pick one or two movies a year to see at the theater and splurge on popcorn and drinks. We did this because we love having our own computer shop.

If you have a repairman that you use frequently or even an “IT guy” at your office, stop and think of them as fellow humans before you unleash the frustrations you have for the tech devices in your life. Maybe listen to them and know that they didn't build the device that is causing you such pain, they are merely trying to help make it work better.

Our Consumer Culture Run Amok

Our society which is driven by the Internet and media in general has created a new culture of knee-jerk reactions. Just try to slow down a little and think of the other person and the frustrations they are encountering before you make a move. You might notice that your own day will go a little smoother.


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