Monday, September 15, 2014

Technical Difficulties

We did end up making it out for a few hours’ worth of fun at Farm Aid on Saturday. Turned out to be a nice, mild day weather-wise with plenty of cloud cover and a lot of good tunes. Felt a little uncanny to hear “Seven Nation Army” on a Saturday afternoon and not be at a football game, but rather watching Jack White perform it.

Got back to our own farm on Sunday where I spent a lot of it camped in front of the teevee for more football while also following various stories online.

As any football fan well knows, the daily (or weekly) fantasy sites have kind of exploded in popularity of late, with two in particular -- DraftKings and FanDuel -- having emerged as the current Coca-Cola and Pepsi of “DFS.” Commercials for both are dominating sports radio and television these days, meaning even non-participants are becoming more and more aware of their existence.

I couldn’t help but see from my Twitter feed during the hour leading up to the 1 p.m. kickoffs on Sunday that the FanDuel site had crashed, no doubt due to the heavy volume of folks entering contests and changing their line-ups at the last minute following injury announcements and other game-related news. I also noticed DraftKings swooping in to offer bonuses to the FanDuel folks should they want to transfer their balances over.

Later in the day there was a similar theme being sounded in my timeline when partypoker’s New Jersey site froze up during the $200,000 guaranteed Main Event of its Garden State Super Series. I believe there were more than 700 players in the $200 tourney -- meaning there was a decent overlay -- when the problems occurred and all the ongoing tourneys had to be canceled. “Technical difficulties” said the site in their explanation afterwards.

Both FanDuel and partypoker acted swiftly when it came to reimbursing players. I’m not sure exactly how FanDuel handled it, although I did see them tweeting to their followers that affected players could email them for refunds. Meanwhile I believe partypoker instantly paid back its players and then some according to their already established tourney cancellation policy, and from the comments of some who were affected it sounded like all was handled as well as it could have been.

That said, just like FanDuel has DraftKings to worry about, the New Jersey partypoker site is bracing itself for a formidable competitor as well as word is PokerStars is coming to NJ sooner than later via its new owners, Amaya.

Customer service is often more complicated than it looks, with the technical just-make-sure-everything-works side of things being as important (or more so) for a lot of people as being prompt with responses to queries, complaints, and the inevitable hiccups. The “online poker 2.0”-era in the U.S. has been a rocky one to say the least. Those who have tried their hand have been earnest with their efforts, I think, but have run up against many challenges that have worked against them.

It’ll be very interesting to see if that changes soon.

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