Bookies’ Customer Service

Why do some bookies struggle to offer the basics of customer service?  Take Boylesports for example.

I opened an account with them 7 months ago. At first I placed a few bets with them through their website; some months later I downloaded their iPad app (although it turned out it was their iPhone app that I had – but it didn’t really matter).

Whether I ever got this app to work I cannot remember as I didn’t use Boylesports very often – about two dozen bets in total during the whole 7 months (the majority on football – the rest on horse racing).  Whenever I started the app it would just put up a page with the Boylesports logo and the words “Location: United States”.  It wouldn’t do anything else – no matter how many times I tried.  I tried rebooting the iPad, I tried uninstalling and re-installing the app.  This time I made sure I downloaded the iPad (rather than iPhone) app.  The message on start-up was marginally more explicit  – words to the effect that I could not use the app in the United States.  BUT I was in England.  No other bookmaker apps were this obstinate.

So I fired off an email to Boylesports asking if they could throw any light on why their app thought I was in the US.  I explained that my iPad had never been to the US – it doesn’t get out much!  They replied with the statement “Your registration has been flagged by our internal security and there appears to be a mismatch between your country of registration and your IP location …. please provide an explanation for this mismatch”.  I re-iterated that my iPad had never been to the US and I hadn’t been there personally for over 15 years but couldn’t tell them why they had a mismatch.  Like most other home users, I have a dynamic IP address which my ISP allocates from time to time.

So Boylesports accepted that and said they would get their Security Department to unblock my account BUT no mention of why some goon had seen fit to block my account without first contacting me.  Why wait for me to go through the hassle of trying to get the damned app to work thinking that there was some problem at my end?

Five days later, of course the app still did not work – it needed another email to get the account unblocked.  All went well for a few weeks until the Punchestown Festival.  Then I started having bets declined for no clear reason.  An example: £2 each way on an 8/1 shot.  Four bets were declined over a two day period but no guidance on what would be accepted – I mean if a £20 liability was too much for them how about £10 (i.e. £1 each way)?

No point in maintaining funds in an account I cannot use so I requested an online withdrawal.  The default (or possibly only option – I am not sure) on the iPad app withdrawal form was to my Visa card which I had used to open the account.  I would have preferred it in my Paypal account but I couldn’t remember whether I had registered this with Boylesports so Visa would have to do.

Later that day I receive an email from Boylesports stating “Your account has been restricted. This means you can no longer avail of our fon-a-bet service, Horse Racing and Sports promotions.  You can still transact via our website or mobile website.”

I replied that I had already withdrawn all funds from my account following the declined bets and the “Location: United States” debacle.  Their response was along the lines of “We operate … a series of internal risk management processes …  This practice is a common risk management strategy … this is a comprehensive and robust process.”  What a load of ******.  Obviously it is entirely up to Boylesports if they choose to restrict my account but at least have the decency to tell me in advance rather than after the event; AND make it clear what business of mine they want if any.  If they do not want to not accept any bets from me at all – that’s fine just say so instead of saying “you can still transact via our website” then declining £2 bets.

To cap it all, the following day I get an email from Boylesports to say they have cancelled my withdrawal request “as our standard security regulation and for ease of use (joke?)” adding that I need to use Paypal.  Well, why show Visa as the default option on the withdrawal form?  Other bookmakers make it clear where you can withdraw to.

To be fair to bookies I have to say that I have had very good customer service from Paddy Power.  And some bookies I never need to even contact customer services – no reason to.  But Boylesports …..