An Introduction to Complaints
Although the vast majority of complaints are Bonus related and do not necessarily reflect on the operational aspects of an online casino, you have to bear in mind that online casinos don’t generally like players trying to profit from “free money” without taking a risk of their own, which is why Bonus T&C’s are complex and cause many disputes. Something that Casinomeister’s complaint specialist Max knows everything about.
Max is the guy behind Casinomeister’s complaints service or Player ArBitration (PAB). He is a professional and licensed dispute arbitrator, which means that when you are looking to submit a serious complaint (and to get it resolved!), Max is your guy. More than enough reason to give Max himself the opportunity to write about his experiences with complaints, what to do about them, where to go and how to get your problem solved. So here ya go, everything there is and you need to know about complaints, from the complaints Meister himself!
- How to submit a complaint
- Posting your complaint in a forum
- Website complaints services
- The most common online gambling complaints
- Word of advice
How to submit a complaint
So, something has gone wrong at an online casino and you’re wondering what you can do about it. If it’s an actual complaint that you want to file then there is a pretty standard procedure to follow. In brief the process is (usually) as follows:
(1) Read the casino’s Terms regarding complaints. Not very exciting but this is what you have to do if you want a fair chance at getting your issue resolved. The Terms will almost always say that the first step is:
(2) Submit your complaint to the casino via their Support email (or equivalent). Ignore anything that their Terms say regarding “our decision is final” or such foolishness: it’s rubbish because no casino has that authority.
(3) Assuming the problem has not been resolved in (2) you have four choices:
(3.1) Accept the casino’s decision and forget about it.
(3.2) Post about your issue on gambling related forums (Casinomeister for example).
(3.3) File your complaint at a site that has a Complaints service for players. Our service is called Player ArBitration or PAB.
(3.4) Take your complaint to an official complaints resolution service: in the UK these are called ADRs meaning “Alternate Dispute Resolution”; across the EU such services are called ODRs meaning “Online Dispute Resolution”.
Assuming that (3.1) is not your desired choice, and there is almost certainly no reason why it should be, you’ll need to chose between the other options, namely forums, a Complaints service, or an ADR/ODR. A little info on each may help to guide your decision making process.
Posting your complaint in a forum
Posting your issue on the gambling forums is basically a gamble: you are betting that the negative publicity created by your post, and hopefully the many replies to it, will help “convince” the offending casino to do whatever it is you are asking them to do. In other words it’s a pressure tactic, a bit of arm-twisting to get the casino to see your side of things.
The problem is that it’s a total gamble whether it will work or not. Sometimes it does work and you get what you want without much fuss and bother. But just as often, if not more often, the casino does not cave in to your publicised pressure and you may have blown your chance to use any of the other avenues of dispute resolution available to you.
Many casinos, and many dispute arbitrators, will not agree to revisit an issue that has been flogged about on the forums. The primary reason for this is that the player will likely have “poisoned” the situation and already put the casino people in the worst possible mood to discuss resolution possibilities. Most times it simply isn’t worth rehashing an issue that’s already been dragged through the muck on the forums.
So, in the end, the forums are the riskiest way to try getting your issue resolved. Don’t let success stories of other players getting the goods without much effort blind you to the reality that posting a complaint on the forums is really just a wild, noisy, shot in the dark. Many people on the industry side of the fence simply don’t like being shot at and that bad will is unlikely to serve you well in the long, or even the short, run.
Website Complaints Services
Here we are talking about a service, usually (read: should be) free, offered by a player-facing website. Casinomeister is one example, there are several others out there though. Whatever their merits, we are all generally referred to as “3rd parties” because we are not directly involved in the dispute, only the casino and the player have that “honour”.
The type of service offered by these websites can vary from a completely private service (eg. Casinomeister) where everything said, done and discussed during the complaints process is private and confidential, to a completely public service where every word is published and on public display. Which way you choose to go is your business but keep in mind that most casinos don’t appreciate having their dirty laundry hung out in public. These are private companies that generally expect their confidentiality to be respected. Almost everyone who works in dispute resolution has had to recognize and accept this, one way or the other.
However they conduct their resolution process, private, semi-public or fully public, what matters to the player is the expertise and track record of the service in question. In our case we’ve been doing player dispute resolution since 2001, have handled over 5000 cases and seen close to €5M returned to players. Not to blow up our own horn but no one else in the business has that kind of experience.
What also matters to players is how well they can expect to get on with the people they entrust their case to. That’s often a little trickier to evaluate but the best way is to look at the site’s case records and see what they say about other player’s cases. That’s often an excellent indication of how you can expect to be treated. If there are no published records then someone is hiding something and you’ll want to be asking yourself why that might be.
Before moving on, I should address the issue of “more is better” in this context. Players sometimes think the best plan is to fire their issue off to every dispute resolution service they can find and let the best service get the issue resolved. The problem is that most of us know each other, there are only a handful of such services out there, and if we know that the issue has been, or is being, handled by one of the others we’ll likely shelf the complaint until the other service has done its work. Why? Because we all end up going to the casino for their cooperation and if the casino is busy discussing the matter with someone else they will almost always say “we’re already discussing this with XYZ” and end the conversation there. No one wants to be dealing with multiple parties arguing the same issue, and so they (usually) won’t. So my advice here is to pick a service that appeals to you and take your case to them: if that fails you can always take it elsewhere.
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