Zynga accidentally makes random man customer support agent

Tori Floyd
CoasterVille (Image courtesy Facebook/Zynga)

Dealing with customer service agents over the phone or email is rarely the highlight of anyone’s day. Now imagine how much more unfortunate it would be if you were the person receiving those complaints, and you weren’t even hired by the company.

That’s what happened to Eric Mueller, a U.S. web designer, who started receiving emails from frustrated players of the Zynga Facebook game CoasterVille.

Mueller told Kotaku that despite never actually having played CoasterVille – or any Zynga game, for that matter – he’s been receiving emails because of an incorrect error message. On occasion, users would hit an Internal Server Error screen, and be told they should contact the server administrator, listing Mueller’s @themepark.com email address. Themepark.com is the domain he uses for his web design business.

So for months, Mueller’s been receiving these emails from disgruntled players. He tried contacting Zynga about the error, but when he didn’t receive a response, he decided to have fun with it, and started emailing back with “helpful” hints.

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These are just a sample of the responses Mueller gave, as published by Kotaku:

I know that For Canada Day, the engineering department wraps the ".ca" servers in Canadian flags, and then sets a plate of poutine on top. This sometimes can cause the server to overheat, and sometimes even get gravy into the login/logout module. I thought that might be what was going on, but I checked with the Canadian server techs and they are telling me that Canada Day passed without incident and the servers all enjoyed their break and are back to running fine.

However, I told them that wasn't the case and explained the problems you are having with the game, so they suggested another fix specifically for Canadian players. Here's what they said to try: do you have a hockey jersey? If so, you should lay it across your keyboard, and then try to enter the game. If that doesn't work, put the jersey on and then give it another shot.

Can you tell me if you are on Mac or Windows? And, would you say you move the cursor (mouse) slowly, or quickly? Sometimes it helps to move the cursor more slowly on Facebook as you are going into the game. I would see if that makes a difference. It can also make a difference if you put the cursor in all four corners of the screen before clicking into the game. Please let me know if this does not resolve the issue.

This is actually a known issue with the Coasterville server, and I have a solution from our engineering team. It is a little bit strange, but here's how it works. You need to go to 5 of your Facebook friends and post this message on their wall: "I love brown bears, folding chairs and little curly hairs!"

I know that seems odd :-) but the engineers have assured me that by connecting that message with your friends on their Facebook walls, then the game will see the message and it will cause it to avoid the problems that you've had. It has something to do with how the server was set up, and posting that message triggers special key words that are embedded in the game and assure the game's integrity. When the game sees those key words, it will know the server is configured properly and should be able to proceed without any other errors. (As a side effect, I am also being told that can also help the games load faster, too.)

It doesn't matter which five friends you pick, and they don't need to be playing any of our games. The system just needs to see those keywords on five walls.

Zynga said that the error was a rare loophole and has since been fixed, which unfortunately, also puts an end to Mueller’s fun.

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